marketing automation

What Does It Really Mean Series: Marketing Automation

Marketing AutomationThere are so many buzzwords being tossed around these days in the marketing world that it’s hard to keep up. It’s important that you understand what these terms mean so that you can make an informed decision on what’s right or wrong for your company. That’s why I’ve created this new series: What Does It Really Mean? I’ll take each of these confusing buzzwords, one by one, and explain them to you in “real people speak”. The first in our series is Marketing Automation.

What is marketing automation?

Although the term marketing automation makes it sound as though the art and science of marketing has become entirely automated, nothing could be further from the truth. There is much more involved than the click of a button. Marketing automation is a category of software that can automate certain repetitive tasks such as social media, lead management and tracking and monitoring campaigns. Marketers use marketing automation to help us keep up with the many platforms we’re often engaging with on a daily basis. It allows us to be more operationally efficient and help you to grow revenue faster.

How can marketing automation help your business?

  • Save time and money. Labour intensive process that traditionally have been done manually, such as scheduling social media, can now be automated, saving time and money and increasing productivity.
  • Increase efficiency. Multiple campaigns can be scheduled well in advance and fewer touch points reduces errors.
  • Simplify multiplatform management. Consumers can be found on any number of platforms and it seems that more are cropping up daily. It’s become increasingly difficult to keep up with the management of all of these platforms. Marketing automation can help monitor multiple platforms on a daily basis.
  • Improve lead management: Marketing automation systems can integrate with your CRM system so that you’ll be able to nurture your leads, not lose track of them.
  • Improve customer retention. Marketing automation collects data that provides relevant insight to your customers, allowing you to anticipate your customers’ needs.
  • Personalize the experience to the user. Marketing automation tools allow you to personalize your relationship with every customer with strategies like lead qualification.
  • Track and monitor. Marketing automation can help track your marketing expenditures and monitor the responses to your marketing campaigns.

What are the pitfalls of marketing automation?

The number one pitfall of marketing automation is not having the resources or training to make it work. This is why I strongly recommend that you engage with a reputable marketing agency. Left to your own devices, you may automate the wrong processes. In addition, many people are under the misconception that marketing automation does marketing and lead generation for you; but that’s not the case. You have to build a pipeline of targeted, pre-qualified leads before you engage marketing automation. Only then can it help you manage and nurture your leads.

How can you integrate marketing automation to complement your marketing activities?

I read an article recently that described marketing automation software as the “Swiss Army Knife” of the software world because it’s so versatile. Marketing automation software works with your marketing activities; it doesn’t replace them e.g. it can leverage your data to tell you which leads are your hottest prospects and give you greater visibility into which marketing campaigns are generating the best ROI. It can streamline manual processes, improving efficiencies, increasing productivity and saving time and money.

Marketing automation can provide many benefits for your company as long as you have a clear plan and a strategy to execute. In order to realize the benefits, you need a marketing automation expert on your team. CreativeWorks Marketing has the one-two punch – expertise in marketing and marketing automation. Take advantage of our 20+ years of marketing knowledge and contact us today.

3 Things to Consider to Overcoming Privacy Concerns of Cookies

CWM TuesdayYou may have heard of the term “cookie” or come across it in your online experience. But what does it mean? What does it mean for consumers? And what does it mean for you as a business owner or manager?

Have you ever noticed when booking travel destinations online that the next day or time you are on the internet, ads or messages will appear from other travel sights? This is not a coincidence – this is as a result of cookies tracking your purchasing and surfing behaviours.

Cookies are therefore a key tool that we marketers can use to track customer behaviour and purchasing choices. They can help your business understand your customers so that you can provide them with tailored content specific to their behaviours.

From a marketing perspective then – cookies provide us with a pull-push approach, but the challenge is we need to make sure our campaigns are transparent and therefore we need to utilize cookies in a way that the customer does not consider invasive of their privacy.

I wanted to share with you a few tips that will help you overcome privacy concerns raised by cookies when planning your next online marketing campaign.

  1. Show transparency

The most important thing to consider when using cookies is that privacy is the biggest concern. Let your customers know when they visit the site that you are using cookies to provide them a tailored experience.

One popular approach is to provide a notification on your website. For example, a website will post a notification like this:

Company X sites use cookies and similar technologies. By using company X sites, you are agreeing to our revised Privacy Policy and Terms of Service, including our cookie policy.

A simple notification like this serves to provide both knowledge and consent. The choice is then on the consumer to continue using the service. Your customers will appreciate that you are being transparent with them, and that they are being given a choice.

  1. Value-added, permission-granted

Make sure you have a strong value proposition. Based on consumer behaviours in downloading Apps, if you can provide them with the tailor product/service they need, and the value is there for them, they will grant you permission to track them.

  1. Make it part of a larger strategy

For a cookie to be effective, it should be used as part of a larger marketing automation strategy. Just simply placing cookies on your site only tracks users on your site, and does not give you much “intel” on what your customers are doing and where they are going online. You’ll need to track them across many sites, to gain a richer understanding of who they are and how you can push them targeted content.

With all of the exciting automated marketing technology that is available to us today, we need to always put our customer first and ensure they are not feeling their privacy is being compromised.

Do the benefits of cookies overcome its potential danger to privacy? Do you have other online strategies for understanding your consumer behaviours?

How To Kick-Start Marketing Automation for Small Businesses

indexThere is so much “talk” about marketing automation, and we all know it is here to stay, but there is very little talk about what this means for small businesses.

Online conversations surrounding marketing automation have predominantly been about choosing or reviewing the marketing automation tools with players like HubSpot, Marketo, Pardot, and Eloqua. However, many small businesses are not even at the “tool” step in their process – they still need to understand how this applies to them, and if it can dramatically increase efficiency and output as it claims to do for so many larger brands.

I’ve outlined below a few tips on how to get started with your marketing automation. I hope that it will help you determine if this is even something worth investing your time, and if so, whether to start on a small scale or outsource it to a marketing agency.

Assess Your Needs: Before you can determine if you need MA, first review your current level of online marketing tools including PPC, web, and social media. Look at what is working and what is not. Look at your lists – how large are they and what type of responses are you getting from them? Are you running individual online campaigns that require manual segmenting of email lists? How much time do all these tasks take and what revenues/leads are being generated by them?

Create a Strategy: For best results, you need a marketing automation strategy and it should be revisited regularly, adjusted, and optimized. You need to clearly spell out what type of MA you are willing to invest in, what lists you will use or acquire, and most importantly from where you will get your content.

Content Development: In the world of MA, content is still king, so you will need a content library. Do you have an in-house resource or will you work with an agency that can provide you with content? These need to be value-add pieces that resonate with your audience.

Just the Basics: Consider starting out small with a technology that offers very basic functionality, but once in place can yield significant results. Even if you don’t have time initially to take advantage of all of the capabilities of marketing automation, just building one or two early-stage lead-nurturing campaigns can increase your quarterly volume of qualified leads by 120%— a very small time investment for game-changing results.

We as small businesses are set to become some of the biggest beneficiaries in the age of automation, but whether it’s the right time for your business or if it’s even the right fit for your business is worth exploring.

Do you think you know enough to start assessing the value for MA in your business?   If not, what would you like to know more about to help you decide if it’s right for you?

Kick Start Your Automated Marketing – Not With Technology

Screen Shot 2015-07-21 at 8.35.58 AMMarketing automation (MA) can seem quite a complicated, misunderstood, multi-faceted beast to some organizations because it is more than a centralized platform to handle all online communication – with its many moving parts and strategic decisions, it’s hard for many to get started.

The media would have us believe that MA is all about choosing the right technology and voila, you have MA! Well, sorry to break it to you, but buying the technology is a small part of the story; it’s really all about creating a framework and a strategy.

Knowing your MA strategy will require you to do all of the thinking upfront BEFORE you invest in the software, I have outlined a few key aspects you should consider to kick-start your MA program:

  • Conduct some research up front, including outlining what you want to get out of this program, and making sure to put your audience at the centre of your MA
  • Build an MA team comprised of key stakeholders from customer service, marketing, sales, and product development. You may want to include an agency representative or MA consultant at this point.
  • Conduct a situation analysis outlining where you are now, what systems are in place, what content, and what data do you have today and what is planned for the full rollout of the program
  • Set business objectives to be clear as to why you are doing this, including ROI, reducing overhead, KPIs, communicating better with a target audience, or improving the customer experience
  • Develop strategies for scoring, nurturing, website, and content marketing framework
  • Set tactics with a 12-month view but look at a 3-month window with tactics and clear goals
  • Set responsibilities to be clear who is going to do what when, and if a controller is needed (externally or internally) to help measure success, and create and measure the program to a project plan
  • Review the various MA platforms available to decide which is the right one for your business e.g. Hubspot, Infusionsoft, Pardoc, Marketto are a few leaders
  • Begin implementing by adding a tracking code on your website, landing pages, etc.
    • Assess your reach including how much traffic, social media engagement, email contacts
    • Document audience personas and then create segments to better understand who these personas are (company size, level of person in company, etc.)
      • Processing leads from initial engagement to opportunity enables you to build and nurture workflows in line with the objectives laid out in your tailored strategy.
    • Align segments with your CRM campaigns (e.g. SalesForce opportunities)
    • Building content framework is key to this type of program so keep building on it depending on your objectives. The content could be awareness content like whitepapers and webinars, or inbound-focused with downloads.
    • Leads will not be created by this software, but rather will be created by your ability to provide or repurpose amazing content which the software then serves up
      • You will target, segment and personalize on relevancy, which turns sales into customer service. Nurturing your customers from cold to warm enables you to give them what they are looking for.
    • Analytics will score each visitor interaction on the basis of profile and behaviour, resulting in a prioritized marketing database.

MA allows us to imagine a world where machines and not your staff perform the majority of your marketing activities including reviewing analytics, creating performance reports and data visualizations, writing and scheduling social media updates, determining blog post topics, copywriting, curating content, building strategy, and allocating resources. The result of implementing a solid MA program is that the marketer’s primary role will be to collect and enhance algorithm-based recommendations and content, rather than to devise them.

Are you armed with the knowledge to launch your automated marketing strategy or do you need some help? What help would you need to get started? I look forward to an active discussion!