A Beginner’s Guide Marketing Automation: Do You Need It?

It’s 9 am. You start work bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, but as 10 am ticks round you can't believe it’s only been an hour. Hump day posts on social media have never resonated so well. Equally, sending direct messages to new followers, welcoming them to your brand’s community, and sending out your mid-week newsletter has never felt so draining. And then, the emails come. A Solution? Automation.

Marketing automation is a tactic which leverages technology to engage with prospects during different parts of the buyer’s journey. You can automatically push out valuable, highly personalized content that encourages prospects to move through the marketing funnel.

Twitter DMs and newsletters? Let tech take care of it.

It doesn't just free up your time, but insights derived from automation (like who clicked what links and who opened what emails) means you can market the right way, to the right person, at the right time. And when you're in a start up, there is never enough time, and never enough leads.

People often think 'robots' when they hear automation, but that's not the case | Source: Unsplash

Get rid of repetitive mundanities

You already know that the traditional way of getting things done shouldn’t always be the way. You're a late-rising innovator, so you get it. But what is the right way for marketing?

Nurturing leads can be a long and arduous process. While you’re already sharing social media updates, new blog posts, and trying to figure out a whole bunch of backlink hacks, you've got other things to be taking care of. Automation can give you a helping hand in several different ways.

First, choose a platform. We’re a Hubspot agency, but we also use a range of other tools like Asana and Webflow which are great for smaller companies. It’s good to centralize your efforts though to make sure you’ve got a clear strategy in place. But, some things don’t tick all of the boxes so make sure whatever you use functions the way you need it to. This is reflective in research by Marketo in North America, who found that 65% of international companies opt for a centralized strategy.

Okay, but how do you even identify those tasks? Take a look at both your production and engagement strategies from a birds-eye view. Where do tasks overlap? Which ones are repetitive? This is key in decreasing inefficiencies in terms of time, resources and money. An obvious one is sharing new blog posts - instead, set up a tool that lets your social media followers know as soon as you’ve hit that ‘publish’ button.

If you have a little bit of time left, how about start writing your own bucket list
Get rid of repetitive tasks with automation | Photographer: Glenn Carstens-Peters | Source: Unsplash

Email is a great example

The world we live in is dynamic and fast-moving. But some things haven't changed much: emails are still very, very effective tools of marketing. That's why automating mailshots is the best way to highlight the benefits of tech - because they’re time consuming and boring, but don't we love 'em?

Emails need to be standardized, instant and personalized, and your processes need to be scalable. There’s just too much room for error when a human tries to send out bulk, but personalized mail - so just don't. It only takes one typo or one wrong name for prospects to be put off. And in those early stages of running a company and marketing, there's no time to move fast and break things. (But here's a great source for saving face if it does happen.)

Let's be honest, you're also saving yourself a good chunk of your day, and stress, for other tasks. Because how much can you really be spending on forging meaningful relationships, exploring innovative ways to nurture leads or building momentum for your new brand when you're copy, pasting and changing names in hundreds of emails all morning?

Email isn't the only think you can and should be automating | Source: pixabay.com

Automation is so much more than mailshots

Relationships have never been more important. Customers want more and, often, marketers aren’t equipped to deal with such extensive and fluctuating expectations.

One of the benefits of start ups and scale ups is their agile nature, but you don't go making decisions without hard evidence. And that’s why automation is not just about getting rid of boring tasks, but about the wealth of data that is produced when using software designed for marketing professionals (hello, analytics!).

You already know that, these days, anything can be tracked. So there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be monitoring your website visitors, email clicks or social interactions. Armed with new insights, a good marketer continuously revisits their automation strategy to assess what’s working, what isn’t, and to reshape and grow it alongside their company.

Always check back to see you’re actually getting results. There's no sitting back to relax - remember that this is part of a much larger strategy.

You can even take advantage of A/B testing to see what works best, and for who, down to the colour of your CTAs and the placement of images. These insights make your strategy more accurate, efficient, and personable. The more data, the better. You can really get to know your audience and what resonates with them on a level simply not possible otherwise.

Focus on granular detail will help you combat one of the biggest misconceptions from those in the tech space: email marketing is spam, sharing content more than once on social media is spam, etc, etc.

Nope. Spam is spam because it’s irrelevant, not because it’s promotional. Make yours relevant - target the right people, through the right channels. Everything you do should be backed up by your buyer personas, so it should never catch someone in the wrong place.

Looking for the best mailing tools? Here are some you should have on your radar

Done right, your lead generation and nurturing efforts will benefit exponentially from a more personal and targeted marketing strategy. You’ll also have greater control over social media marketing, email marketing, and management activities. All backed up, of course, by metrics and analytics.

Data Studio
Using automation results in a wealth of data | Photographer: Stephen Dawson | Source: Unsplash

So how do you know if marketing automation is right for you?

More than likely, if your marketing strategy is built on the inbound methodology and you’re spending time improving lead generation and nurturing campaigns, with a splash of sales performance, you’ll thrive with a bit of marketing automation under your belt.

You should also never be sending each campaign email, response, and blog post manually. Nor should you be updating or managing hand-built email lists. At this stage in the technological revolution, it’s a bit archaic.

The biggest red flag of all, though, is if you’re spending more time building and updating operational processes than you are actually use them. Abort mission.

At this stage in your business, it might feel rushed to invest in expensive marketing tools and spend hours data inputting, but it's more costly in the long run (plus, there are loads of great, affordable tools out there).

And automation is not just for the marketers in the room. The sales team also benefits from a greater understanding of prospects and a more accurate expectation of leads - MarTech acts as a bridge between departments. So get pitching to your colleagues!

Once implemented, you’ll soon be reaping rewards. Do make sure you sync up with sales and implement follow-up processes (after you’ve successfully delivered tonnes of high-quality leads), though.

Make sure you automation strategy includes follow up processes | Photographer: Kaleidico | Source: Unsplash

Did you skim this post?

  • Automation means to leverage technology so you’re not doing the same, repetitive tasks day, day out
  • You shouldn’t manually be sharing social posts or sending emails
  • This frees up time so you can do other, more important stuff
  • Use insights to optimize content, channels and general efforts
  • You, your customers, and your sales team benefit
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