Marketing Automation: The Basics

Marketing is not an all-or-nothing proposition. Just because you don’t have a team of experts creating optimized content for every trending platform (if you do, kudos and if you want to, call us) doesn’t mean that your efforts are wasted. One of the fundamentals of a successful marketing campaign is consistency, so as long as you are being consistent, you stand a chance at getting noticed. 

The problem with consistency is that it’s difficult. As a business owner, a solo marketer, or a member of a small team, you wear a lot of hats. Dedicating the same amount of time at the same time each day or week can be an impossible task. That’s where marketing automation comes in. 

What Is Marketing Automation?

Let’s start with what marketing automation isn’t. It is not relying on canned responses to prospect inquiries on messaging platforms or spammy automated cold outreach campaigns. Marketing automation is the use of software to automate repetitive tasks such as email marketing, social media posting, and even running ad campaigns in a personalized way.

DofM_Content Marketing Funnel Graphic

Properly automating certain tasks can free up some of your time without sacrificing the authenticity of your messaging, allowing you to preschedule content to maintain that critical consistency, while also freeing you up to focus on other things. 

The Rules

Marketing automation is powerful, but with great power comes great responsibility. (Thanks, Uncle Ben.) There are a few key rules to follow to make sure it works for you and to ensure that you don’t fall into some of those spammier practices. 

Let’s consider a simple email nurturing campaign. An example of an automated email workflow might look like this:

  1. Send an invitation to download your newest eBook to a targeted list of customers
  2. Send a thank you to all the people who immediately download the offer
  3. A few days later you follow up with them again, now offering a case study on how your company can help with that same topic
  4. When someone downloads your second offer, you send a notification to your sales team to follow up personally now that the lead is far more qualified 

(If this tickles your fancy, learn more about how automating your emails can help grow your business and help you get reviews here.) Now, let’s take a look at some of the basics of marketing automation in the context of this campaign. 

Rule #1: Don’t Automate Your Current Process If It Isn’t Working

If you’re already manually emailing people about a new content offer and they aren’t engaging, automating that process isn’t going to make it any more effective. First, you need to revisit your goals and your audience. Is your list clean? Are you reaching people at the right time with your offer? Randomly firing off emails to people who don’t want to receive them is the fasted route to the junk folder. 

Rule #2: Don’t Blast General Messages

Broad announcements don’t need to be dripped out to your audience over time. Those messages will end up in the trash, and make it much more likely that people won’t open your next one. If you have an announcement to make, make it in your usual channels - email newsletters, social media, etc. 

Reserve your automation powers for more personalized campaigns aimed at a singular goal. In our example, it’s nurturing an existing lead through the funnel to qualify them for sales. Whether your goal is to educate a prospect on your product or service, to stay top of mind during a long sales cycle, or to nurture existing leads with helpful and relevant steps to lead them through the buyers’ journey, make sure your messaging is highly targeted and timely. 

Rule #3: Marketing Automation Supplements Your Efforts, It Doesn’t Replace Them

Marketing automation is not a magic bean for generating new leads, but all too often that is how people treat it. If you are struggling to bring in leads to your business, marketing automation likely isn’t going to help. Instead, you’ll end up with a sophisticated set of workflows to nurture the middle of your funnel (those people already in your orbit but not yet ready to buy) and an excuse not to focus on your brand awareness and lead generation efforts. If you aren’t employing other marketing strategies to fill your funnel, what good is a solution for driving people through it? 

Take another look at our email workflow example. It wouldn’t work very well to generate new leads, would it? First, you shouldn’t be emailing anyone who hasn’t opted in to receive communications from you. Second, if you are attempting to reach new leads, how do you know that eBook is a good fit for them? You don’t. You first need to build awareness about your brand on social media or through search, monitor your visitor’s activity and engagement on your website and other content and then qualify them for this campaign. 

If you’re ready to make your small team feel much, much bigger give us a call to discuss how marketing automation can be used in your business. The DofM is one of North Carolina’s only HubSpot Solutions Partners, and we stand ready to answer your questions! 


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