The world of marketing automation is vast, diverse and complicated. To a start-up that has not yet dipped its toes in these waters, the sheer amount of information and options can be intimidating.
Marketing Automation is supposed to make life easier for users. However, start-ups are likely to make wrong decisions if they do not comprehend clearly what they are getting into.
We have put together a 5-point decision-making guide that will help you create an appropriate marketing automation plan for your business venture:
- Automation is the means, not the end
Automation is supposed to aid the core tasks of marketing and not replace them. Having an e-mail manager will not help you in defining the marketing goals/strategies/objectives for your business. Who are your target customers? How do you segment your markets? What is the USP of your product/service? The marketing plan needs to be defined beforehand, not after investing in automation.
- Focus on objectives, not on tasks
Why do you want a social media management tool? Is it to ensure that posts are regularly updated? Or is it to increase engagement with customers in an environment where they are comfortable?
The answer to the above question will reflect a tremendous difference in how one is approaching the automated marketing reality. The correct approach will always be the one that zeroes in on objectives and aligns activities accordingly, not the other way round.
The most important strategic goals of a marketing automation strategy are Increasing lead generation (61%), lead nurturing (57%) and sales revenue (47%). Next are Improving customer engagement (36%), marketing productivity (29%), improve measurability (28%) and campaign targeting (22%). – Infusionsoft “Marketing Automation Trends Survey” (2016).
- Choose the right tool and use it the right way
The earliest of marketing automation tools have been around for more than 20 years, and the digital marketing revolution of the past decade has fostered the development of hundreds of tools/software/platforms, such as Infusionsoft, HubSpot, Act-On, Marketo, MailChimp, etc.
Some factors have to be considered while making this decision-
- The size of your start-up
- The targeted customer base
- The industry segment that you fall in
- Your marketing objectives
- Are you looking for a holistic package or the best in class tool for a particular activity?
- Integrate marketing activities
Your marketing strategy is likely to comprise of both automated and conventional marketing components. You might be pursuing multiple marketing objectives simultaneously. Further, you might opt for using various tools/services for executing your plans. It is essential to see the larger picture and ensure that individual activities/tasks across various marketing initiatives are in line with it.
Getting lost in the jungle of marketing options often ends up weakening your brand strength rather than adding on to it.
- Walk the line between sales and marketing
Is marketing automation same as online sales? No.
Can it be used to promote sales? Yes.
Should my marketing automation activity fall in the twilight region of marketing the brand as well as giving a gentle nudge to the prospect to buy my product/service? Absolutely.
While the overt and obvious push for sales are a strict no-no, a proper marketing automation program ends with a subtle call to action. The entire activity is deigned to take prospects in various stages of the conversion cycle to the purchase stage by informing and persuading them about the value of your product/service.
While there will be inbound marketing done purely for the purpose of informing and engaging with prospects, it too will aim to turn the prospect eventually into a customer.
The most useful measure of marketing automation performance is conversion rate, say 70% of very successful Marketing Automation users. – Infusionsoft & Ascend2 “Marketing Automation Strategies for Sustaining Success” (2015)
This post was intended to provide some tips for designing an automated marketing strategy from a macro perspective. There are still some considerations when it comes to putting automation into practice.
There is a plethora of information available online (and here) that discusses various aspects of the marketing automation puzzle comprehensively. Make use of these resources to come to the right decision regarding marketing automation plans for your start-up!