Marketing has always been a crucial part of doing business. Regardless of how good a product or service is, if the right people don’t see it or hear about it, they won’t be able to decide to pay for it. You risk your product or service dying in obscurity. On the flip side, marketing is now much more complicated than it has ever been. With a lot of buying decisions being made via social media, email, mobile applications and other channels, it has become increasingly difficult to stay fully engaged and effective across all those channels.
That’s where marketing automation comes in. As the name implies, the goal is to remove the need for staff to be involved with every single aspect of the marketing strategy, and instead to outsource, so to speak, some of those tasks to software applications. There are myriad benefits of doing this, including the freeing up of staff to focus on strategy rather than repetitive tasks, reduction of costs and the ability to gather more extensive analytics. Also, studies have shown that over 80% of customers notice personalization, appreciate it and use it actively to make buying decisions. In essence, it’s essential for improving sales.
It’s even more important nowadays when there’s a push toward minimizing the presence of staff in-office for health reasons. Here are four steps to get your company’s marketing automation system up and running:
1. Identify the right tasks
Since marketing automation has become such a big deal, there has been a proliferation of software solutions promising to automate almost every single marketing function. That doesn’t mean you should automate every single one, however. It is important to evaluate your current system to see where you’ll get the most benefits and where you would still be best served by having a member of staff in charge. For instance, it makes sense for most businesses to implement auto-response emails but automating live chat responses might not be the best option in every instance, since the conversations are typically more complex, and customers would be expecting immediate solutions.
2. Choose the right tools
Just as there are a multitude of tasks that you could possibly automate, there are a multitude of tools with which to implement the automation. Not all of them are created equal, however, nor will all of them fit seamlessly into your current system. The first step is to conduct evaluations of the product offerings to examine the features while referencing the specific tasks you want to automate as detailed earlier. You can then narrow the options down to a shortlist and try each one. Most products use the SaaS model and will typically allow you to test-run it for a week or two at least. It’s crucial, at this point, to focus on the platform’s ability to integrate and share information because a CRM system is only as valuable as the information it contains. You want to ensure that your tools are sharing all information to give you a holistic view of each lead, channel and your marketing strategy itself.
3. Train your team
After getting the tools in place, the next step is to make sure your staff can maximize the features. Many businesses skip this part because they take the marketing copy of the tools at face value and assume that the software will truly be “plug and play.” In reality, market automation software often contains very complicated features, and even though your staff may be able to navigate the basic aspects, you won’t get the most value possible until you’ve organized comprehensive training for them. Ideally, staff members who will be using the tools should also have some input in selecting the tools to be used by the organization by test-running them and giving feedback that will help you make the right choice.
4. Track and update your strategy
Another common mistake among companies implementing marketing automation is to set the system up and just let it run. If you do that, you will not be able to get the crucial insights you need to improve the experience for your potential customers or ensure that you can convert more of them into paying customers. The answer doesn’t lie within your number of likes and followers either. Businesses that fall into the trap of focusing on vanity metrics often miss the more important ones that will actually impact your bottom line, such as the speed of response to customer queries and how much organic engagement is happening around your brand. Track the relevant stats religiously and make adjustments as necessary, and you’ll be well on your way to maximizing the benefits of marketing automation, increasing your sales and improving your bottom line.