Whether you are in B2B or B2C, whatever your activity and the size of your business, marketing automation can be a precious ally to save time and improve your ROI. Goodbye repetitive tasks, hello efficiency, improved customer experience and guaranteed return on investment (yay!). This article will help you see more clearly in marketing automation, to put the first bricks of your strategy and to find the tool to set up your communication. Let’s go !
Marketing Automation: Definition
Marketing automation is often integrated with email marketing or CRM solutions, it automates certain marketing tasks according to predefined scenarios or according to certain activities of the user on the site (we talk about trigger marketing : viewing a key page, requesting information, downloading a white paper, etc.) or following a marketing campaign.
There are going to be several possible marketing applications:
1: Loyalty: by sending a series of emails leading the person to discover your brand and become attached to it.
2: Relationship marketing and customer relations: by processing certain basic requests from your customers in an automated or semi-automated manner.
3: Acquisition or lead nurturing: by setting up prospect education scenarios to get them to take action by buying your product or service while saving time for your sales team and your sales force.
When it comes to automation, it’s not just a series of non-personalized emails. The messages can be personalized according to your CRM and your data management strategy.
Behind this somewhat barbaric word ” automation »Hides solutions that are often simple to implement and accessible even to smes and tpe.
The benefits of automation
They are multiple, those that I appreciate most for my part are:
1: Significant time savings, rather than sending the same email each time a prospect or other contact is made, the email is sent automatically and moreover is personalized. When you are an independent entrepreneur, you can save time to advance on what really matters and for large structures, saving time is synonymous with better ROI, why not do it!
2: Customers and prospects have an almost instant response based on their actions on the site. As you know, on the Internet people expect to have an almost instant response, automation helps ensure that this need is met. By automating what can be automated, you save time in order to better treat the most palatable prospects. You can also have a scoring system to identify the most promising leads and orient your commercial actions accordingly.
3: Thanks to intelligent scenarios, the customer and prospect relationship is personalized, we are squarely in the famous one-to-one relationship. You can also increase your customer lifetime value by making additional sales.
4: Like any business, you want to make all of your prospects and customers discover the scope of your services. Once everything is set up, you no longer have to think about it, each new registrant is assigned a scenario to introduce them to your great services and products.
5: Connected to your crm solution, your prospects and customers are qualified as the scenario progresses. As a result, your salespeople can focus their efforts on the most palatable prospects.
6: AB Testing: marketing automation tools offer AB Testing solutions, you can test different versions of your marketing operations to find the ones that work best for your audience.
7: The icing on the cake, it’s simple to set up and inexpensive for basic needs sufficient in 90% of cases.
Let’s take a look at some examples of applications.
Some examples of automation scenarios
Example 1: Marketing solution providers (B2B)
In B2B, you probably know the famous content marketing technique of the white paper. You write high quality content in your area of expertise and offer it for free in exchange for filling out a form.
The prospect, once having filled in the famous form, is integrated into the database. There may be a first segmentation depending on what the person indicated in the fields of the form.
He will then receive an automated email inviting him to download the white paper, followed by a series of emails to qualify him. Depending on their actions (opening, click, action on the site, etc.), the prospect is qualified and gradually receives information around their needs. Depending on the scoring, he may be invited to a webinar, be included in certain commercial actions or be contacted at the right time by your commercial team.
Example 2: e-merchant (B2C)
Following a purchase on the site, the system connected to the crm tool checks whether it is a first purchase or not. If this is a first purchase, a commercial email is sent a few days later to offer a reduction coupon in order to retain the new customer. If this is a second or even third purchase, the loyal customer is identified and the system offers to join the loyalty program.
Example 3: the CWT Advertising & co’m case
Several automation scenarios are in place on our site:
- Our subscribers receive a series of emails over a few months inviting them to discover our different services;
- People interested in our training have a series of adapted emails to save time in the commercial relationship.
The lead nurturing
Lead nurturing is often used in B2B to sell rather high-end services, but it can perfectly adapt to all types of products and services.
It is a technique which consists in maintaining and developing the marketing relationship with prospects by regularly providing them with qualitative content (both editorial and commercial) in order to gradually build a relationship of trust with them. You place yourself as an expert in your field and gradually bring them to purchase.
It is often used for services / products with long purchasing cycles. Generally, we distribute standard educational content: white paper, expert advice, thematic newsletter, etc.
Some inbound marketing tools allow you to combine lead nurturing and scoring of the prospect in order to adjust the appetite score according to the actions of the prospect. The goal : save your sales staff time so that they can contact the best prospects.
The concept of lead magnet is also important. A lead magnet is content offered to a prospect in exchange for their contact information. The goal is to significantly increase the transformation rate of your collection forms.
Some examples of lead magnets:
- White papers, ebooks and other reports related to your business;
- Checklists accompanying the prospect step by step in solving their problem;
- Templates (calendar, budget, email, etc.) saving your prospects time;
- Access to a video, mini training or webinar;
- Tests and quizzes.
When you create a lead magnet, it is important that it is related to your activity and especially in line with the needs of the prospects you want to reach. This is to attract the right people and not tourists!
In our case, we have created a “blog success” guide that we offer to new subscribers to our newsletter.
If you want to know more about the key steps to harvest emails using lead magnets, you can read our previous article by clicking here.
Before action, think about it
Before launching into the choice of automation tool, it is important to put your strategy in black and white in order to see more clearly and choose your tool based on it.
Some steps to follow and questions to ask:
1: What are the objectives of my site and my automation strategy (acquisition, loyalty, …)? And above all, how is the prospect / client journey made to achieve this objective. Have the different steps in mind to start visualizing the scenario you will need.
2: With regard to the different actions, which can be automated? Which ones require human action and how could automation chew human work?
3: In order to write human messages and avoid the precisely automated aspect, it is essential to know your target well. Set up specific personas for each of your targets. The more you have a precise idea of the profile of the people you target, the more you can adapt the messages so that they hit the target!
4: Then identify the personalization variables which you will need to personalize your messages (first name, last name, situation, age, profession…) knowing exactly what you need, you will be able to build your forms and your database accordingly.
5: Then build your first messages.
After this first reflection, you will already see much more clearly and can choose your tool in any event.
The tools to simply set up your automation strategy
To set up your campaigns and automate your marketing actions, you are going to need at least 3 things:
- A site or at least a landing page;
- A lead collection form;
- And of course email software with automation features.
Don’t panic, almost all email solutions these days offer such features. In our case, we use WordPress coupled with the Gravity form plugin to collect the data and Mailchimp for the automation part.
To help you in your choice, I have selected 4 for you, but of course, the best is to test each of the tools, possibly request a demo in order to appreciate the tool and see if it meets your objectives. Web marketing.
ActiveTrail: a visual automation and cross channel marketing tool
ActiveTrail offers advanced marketing automation features. Thanks to the triggers and the segmentation tools offered, you can realize automation scenarios with little onions! Dynamic segmentation will allow you to segment your lists based on demographics or interests and send targeted messages accordingly. The segments update automatically according to the behavior of the user.
We appreciate the very visual editor allowing you to easily manage your scenarios (see the example above) as well as the cross channel side. We can, in fact, connect different marketing channels such as: emails, registration forms, pop-ups, SMS, and much more.
The subscription starts from 7 € and you have a free trial to get started with the tool.
Click here to test ActiveTrail for free
Sendinblue: well thought-out automation scenarios
Sendinblue offers via its email marketing solution accessible free of charge up to 300 emails per day then from 19 € / month a particularly efficient automation device. I’ve already had the opportunity to test it and the possibilities offered are quite impressive. We can easily have scenarios composed of different branches based on different indicators. A must-have.
Test for yourself, the first campaigns being free.
You can also read our test again: SendinBlue Automation: finally a Marketing Automation solution accessible to all!
Mailchimp: the benchmark for email marketing
I’m no longer introducing Mailchimp, the little monkey’s email marketing solution with cutting-edge features and affordable rates. This is the tool we use for our newsletters, our commercial emailings and of course our automation strategy. Very good for basic needs, small flat for the automation part where only linear scenarios are proposed. You can have conditions of course, but no multi-branch scenario depending on the condition as Sendinblue can.
To test Mailchimp for free up to 2,000 subscribers and 12,000 shipments per month, click here.
Blowgun: another alternative for automation
Last option: Sarbacane which also offers automation options more or less similar to those of Mailchimp.
To test, click here
As seen above, now almost all email marketing solutions offer marketing automation options, choose according to your needs, these 3 options are just tested and approved by us. Prefer known and recognized solutions in order to ensure good deliverability of your messages.
If you have more budget for your automation tool, you can also turn to inbound marketing solutions like Hubspot or Webmecanik.
Marketing triggers / activation levers for your campaigns
Whichever tool you choose, you should know that automated marketing automation actions are always associated with activation levers which are also called marketing triggers.
It’s important to master them well in order to set up your automation rules in an optimized way.
We will find for example:
- Subscribe to a list (after filling out a form for example);
- Unsubscribe from a list;
- Click on a link present in a previous email;
- Opening / non-opening of an email;
- Consultation of a key page on the site;
- Purchase of a product on the site;
- Adding / removing a specific group (example if you have prospect / client groups: triggering when switching from prospect to client group) …
These are the main triggers found on almost all tools. After some of them will have their specific triggers, to study also when choosing the tool so as not to have unpleasant surprises.
In parallel with these triggers, you can also, depending on the case, add conditions (if xxx such action, if yyy such other action) and timers (trigger after X days…).
In short, you will have something to have fun 🙂
Tips to go further
Once you have chosen your tool and implemented the first version of your marketing automation strategy (because yes there will be several, the first version will be a basic version that you improve based on the customer data collected, data analysis, customer feedback …), here are some tips to go further:
1: Work and rework the segmentation of your database. Only a good segmentation will allow you to have messages that your prospects and customers will appreciate and which will fulfill your marketing objectives.
2: Consider different series for each of your personas. Each profile of customers with specific needs does not all serve them the same scenario.
3: Use the conditions / trigger marketing to perfect your series of emails. Opening, clicking, adding or deleting a group, visiting a page, purchasing … the tools offer many possibilities, use them!
4: Always have a view on performance statistics of each step of your automation, use AB testing to gradually improve your strategy.
Follow the results of its marketing automation campaign
Like any online marketing action, your automation strategy will need to be followed. Consider setting up a dashboard and analyzing feedback from your campaigns on a regular basis to make adjustments and improve your performance.
To do this, you can rely on the statistics provided by the email marketing tools seen above. They will allow you to judge your opening rate, your click rate and according to the tools and the connection made with your site of your transformation rate. But often, this last indicator will be more studied through your audience analysis tool.
If you’re on Google Analytics, be sure to tag all of the redirect links in your automation campaigns. And to analyze in the most detailed way possible, you can tag each link differently to determine which links bring the best returns. Note that some tools, including Mailchimp, have options to automatically tag all the links in emails with Analytics. A real time saver.
To more easily track your links with the UTMs offered by Google Analytics, you can use the “Campaign URL Builder” tool.
Also remember to check that your Google Analytics goals are all set to track all of your transformations. As a reminder, go to Administration> View> Objectives to configure them.
And for follow-up with little onions, you can set up a dashboard mixing the analytical data of the automation tools with that of your audience analysis tool via an Excel or a Google doc. Google Doc has the advantage of facilitating teamwork through document sharing.
The importance of data for a good automation strategy
As you know, we are in the air of big data! But the goal is not to have a maximum of data and to play with data science but rather to collect the right data, the ones that will be really useful and collected in a legitimate way (beware of the GDPR).
Segmenting your database will be essential in order to deliver the right message at the right time to the right person and thus hit the bull’s eye! CRM marketing tools will be your allies, you can, of course, use the CRM tools integrated into email marketing solutions but you can also have your own CRM marketing solution coupled with emailing software. Everything is possible most solutions offer facilities to connect to your CRM software.
Also be aware that tools do not do everything, without an adequate strategy, there is no point in breaking the bank in a CRM tool oversized in relation to its needs.
Coupling automation to other marketing levers
To be effective, an acquisition or loyalty strategy must be thought of “multichannel”.
Your display campaigns, your community management actions or even your Google Ads campaigns may allow you to bring new prospects into your automation scenario. Once the prospects are in the database, you will also be able to edit them via retargeting / remarketing campaigns on Google or Facebook while having a parallel CRM qualification advertising campaign. Everything is possible, have a global vision to perfect your digital communication strategy!
Training to be guided step by step in your automation strategy
If you are new to marketing automation, we have a mini online tutorial Tuto & Co’m which will guide you step by step in the implementation of an automation scenario from thinking to implementation with Mailchimp. Since the tools have fairly similar functionalities, it will also help you if you have chosen another tool.
To find out more about our mini training, go here.
Do you have a question about marketing automation? Do not hesitate to leave us a comment !