If it weren’t already easy enough to see in our last chapter, the future of marketing automation is bright. Creative use cases, successful businesses, and growing marketing teams are all thriving with marketing automation. Before we dive into this final chapter of Marketing Automation School together, let’s quickly recap what we’ve learned in our first four chapters. So far we’ve:
- Created a baseline for our understanding with a marketing automation definition.
- Explored the many marketing automation uses in play.
- Simplified the complex world of marketing automation software.
- And investigated a variety of real-world marketing automation examples.
Before we send you forth into implementing, growing, or optimizing the automated elements of your business’s marketing, we’re going to talk about the future of marketing automation. As you move forward in this chapter, we’ll talk about some best practices to ensure your future success, some marketing automation challenges to sidestep if at all possible, in a fast look into what the future of marketing automation holds.
Get ready for the final chapter of Marketing Automation School; let’s dive in.
3 Marketing Automation Best Practices for Future Success
While we’ve indeed explored some example workflows that have brought success to businesses of many types, there’s a laundry list of best practices worth exploring when it comes to your marketing automation. The list below isn’t exhaustive, but whether you implement a few of them or many of them, you’ll find yourself more organized and more effective, when it comes to your marketing automation.
1. Scale Your Best Marketing
It’s essential to know that as your business grows, your habits will grow with it. That means that the things you’re doing now, both good and bad, will be amplified in your business as time goes on. The same goes for your marketing automation. If you’re using a sales funnel that simply doesn’t perform well, it won’t matter how many new leads you drive into it, if it’s just not that effective. As you grow make sure you’re only scaling your very best marketing tactics and campaigns.
- Use Naming Conventions
One essential elements of scaling your marketing is using naming conventions. When you first start automating your marketing with a software tool, you may begin by naming your campaigns and workflows the first thing that comes to mind. This is normal, and for the sake of speed, many people just want to name their campaign and get started.
Over time, however, this can become very problematic. What if your business adds new products or services you want to market, and that adds multiple new campaigns and workflows to your business? What if new people get added to your marketing automation software as users, and need to find or edit things they haven’t created? What if you’re A/B testing and creating workflows and campaigns with only minor differences in them?
Inventing a naming convention at the very beginning, and using it strictly when building your workflows and campaigns is essential to preventing confusion, disorganization, and errors later on. How you decide on your convention is entirely up to you. When naming your workflows and campaigns, think about including elements like the date or a time period, the product or service it’s for, the purpose of the workflow or campaign, and any other specific, defining information.
What would you most like to change about your current marketing automation software?
- Tag and Track Everything
If you wonder whether or not you should be applying a tag, logging behaviors, or tracking events, when (or if) something happens, the answer is probably yes. The reason for this, is that you can’t retroactively go back and search, sort, or act on data you don’t have.
For example, you may only have two or three visits to your pricing page a day right now. You might think, “Why would I tag those two or three people each day, when it’s so few?” But the reality is, if you don’t start tagging them now—it won’t be possible to reach back to get that information. And over a year’s time, that translates to around 1,000 people visiting your pricing page. If you’ve tagged those people, and can segment and send them all a promotion at the same time—that’s knowledge and data you’ll want to have in the future.
Even if a piece of information isn’t do-or-die essential at the moment, it may be incredibly informative later on. If you default to gathering more knowledge, tagging your subscribers more aggressively, and tracking more events (instead of less), your future self will thank you.
- A/B Testing
Whether it’s your workflows, your email campaigns, your subject lines, your landing pages, or a combination of all the above plus more, it’s essential to A/B test every process in your business. Think of it this way: if your business gets 200 new email subscribers a month, and those subscribers convert to customers at a rate of 5%, you’re getting 10 new customers a month. Not bad, right?
But think about what happens once you start getting 2000 new email subscribers a month. If you never test that same email campaign, you’ll get 100 new customers a month. But if you can improve the conversion rate of that campaign just 2% now, imagine what that compounds into eventually.
Raising your conversion rate from 5% to 7% now, before that growth happens, means an eventual difference between 100 new customers a month, or 140 new customers a month. That’s an overall difference of a 40% increase in monthly growth.
Start testing everything now, and as you grow, you’ll benefit greatly later.
2. List Management
At one time or another, we’ve likely all heard the truism, “The money’s in the list.” That’s why managing your list, especially as you grow, is so important. Since your list is a group of potential customers; the more care you give it, the more likely those potential customers are to become actual customers. And the quality of that list, will be the deciding factor on whether or not that happens.
Think of your list like a garden. Gardens need care and attention to grow properly. They need pruning in order to grow healthy, they need nourishment over time, and they need water regularly. Your list also requires nourishment, in the form of assistance, knowledge, and good content, watering, in the form regular communication, and pruning, in the form of simply removing people from it who are no longer valuable members of your list.
- Link Click Surveys
Managing your list can be as simple as asking questions, and letting your subscribers tell you what they want. Using trigger links in the emails you send, you can tag and identify your prospects based on which links they click (or whether or not they click them at all).
Using your marketing automation software, create a set of links in your welcome email message (or any other messages you choose) and ask your subscribers questions that will help you know more about them. Give multiple choice answers as links, and depending on which one is clicked, you can assign a new tag or even send someone a whole new campaign or piece of information.
This will help you segment and target your prospects better, while also providing them a better experience with your business, as your interactions with them will be more tailored as well.
- Lead Scoring
As we’ve discussed in multiple other chapters of Marketing Automation School, any software tool worth its salt will offer lead scoring capabilities. Lead scoring is also a way to help you manage your list. Using segmentation, you can prioritize the nurturing and promotions you execute based on the scores of your leads.
For a fast sales promotion, send a limited time discount to a segment of your list that hasn’t yet made a purchase, but scores higher than an 80 in your lead scoring algorithm. Testing these types of list promotions can teach you a lot about how your subscribers are interacting with you, and also increase your conversions.
3. Look Big, Start Small
When you first start imagining what it would look like to automate significant parts of your business, the thought alone can be overwhelming. That’s why an important best practice is to both look at the big picture, but start small. Here’s a few ways we recommend doing that.
- Take Stock
It seems intuitive, but the reality is that sometimes people don't actually know everything they're doing when it comes to the marketing of their business. Have you run any social media ads in the past? How effective were they? What is your highest performing lead magnet? Are you already sending welcome emails? What’s written in that email? What are all the ways that a new subscriber can get onto (or off of) your list?
Taking stock of your marketing is one of the best places to start, when it comes to growing successfully. In order to end up where you want to be, you have to know everything about where you are right now. If you take stock in an organized and thorough way at the very beginning of your journey into marketing automation, you'll be much better prepared to grow over time.
Which factor is most important to you when selecting marketing automation software?
- Work Backwards in Little Steps
One of the best ways to start (and the best ways to grow), is to pick a goal, and then step by step, reverse engineer that goal. Think of it this way: if you don’t know where you’re going—how will you get there? Make sure the goal you pick is something concrete and actionable, as it relates to your marketing automation capabilities (i.e. We want to increase our conversion rate of new leads to consultations by 5%).
If you pick a big, ethereal goal, like, “We want to double our revenue by next year…” you still won’t have a good starting point for making decisions and next steps when it comes to your marketing automation. By choosing concrete things you want to see happen, in small doses, you’ll find yourself making incremental improvements all the time.
Speaking of small doses, it’s important to take little steps when it comes to marketing automation. You may eventually want to build a massive funnel, that incorporates all of your lead magnets, products and services, using lead scoring, trigger links, and more. But the reality is that if you start from nothing, and try to build out that entire automated marketing campaign at once, you’ll find it takes much longer, with worse results.
Take action now, build something small, and revise later with the information you learn, and you’ll see quick wins build into something great.
3 Challenges in The Future of Marketing Automation
In any new pursuit or software that your business takes up, there are bound to be challenges to overcome and pitfalls to avoid. As Marketing Automation School comes to a close, and you either enter the world of marketing automation for the first time, or are continuing onward in your journey, there too will be difficulties ahead and hazards to sidestep, if at all possible. Below, we’ve tried to prepare you for a few of the main concerns, so you can avoid worry and risk, and get back to running your business.
1. Sophisticated Technology
- What’s the challenge?
Even the easiest marketing automation tool on the market (we like to think that’s Drip) has a learning curve to it. The truth is, however, some of those learning curves are much steeper than others. This is often why the larger and more expensive marketing automation platforms require you to pay for onboarding services and mandatory training, as well as sign long contracts.
Their aim is to lock you in for long enough that their steep learning curve doesn’t frustrate or scare you enough to go elsewhere. Regardless, high-performing and complex technology can take some time to learn, and depending on the platform you choose, there can be high degrees of friction just to accomplish small things.
On a scale of 1 to 5, how important will marketing automation be to your business's success in the next year?
- How can you overcome or avoid it?
The best way to overcome this challenge is three-fold. First, do yourself a favor by choosing a marketing automation platform with an intuitive user experience, so it doesn’t take tons of time to learn. Second, try not to lock yourself into a long contract with required, paid onboarding, if at all possible. You could get stuck paying for something that doesn’t bend the way you, but you’re stuck paying for it for years to come.
And third, do your due diligence right away to learn the tool as much and as well as possible.
Choose a tool that offers plenty of free training so that you can be as prepared as possible to tackle your biggest marketing challenges.
2. Integration Necessities
- What’s the challenge?
Unless you’ve bought into the idea that an all-in-one marketing software solutions (which we don’t recommend) are truly the way to go, you’re probably using multiple applications for your marketing. You probably have a service to host your videos, a shopping cart software, a software for your landing pages, and your marketing automation tool, among others.
Integrations are essential because they fill holes in your marketing. To do all of things you need to do as a marketer, your challenge may be wrangling your all-in-one solution, or it may be wrangling all your different tools together, all to make your marketing actually do what you want it to.
- How can you overcome or avoid it?
The best way to overcome this challenge is two-fold. First, don’t buy a bundled stack marketing automation tool. The “solutions” they offer are usually bolted on and difficult to use. Buy the best tool for the job, and then check the integrations page of any and every marketing automation tool you consider before buying, and be sure you have access to the integrations that you need, from both sides of the fence.
3. Cross-App Communication
- What’s the challenge?
Even though your apps might integrate, they might not communicate. That means it’s hard to know what your leads and prospects are doing across the variety of marketing elements you offer. For instance, one person on your list might have visited your website, watched a handful of videos, opened and clicked some emails, followed you on Twitter, and chatted your pre-sales live-chat on your website to ask about pricing.
But do you know the people that did all of those things? And can you see that one individual interacted with you in multiple different ways, across multiple different apps? Having a holistic view of your leads and prospects is a definite challenge for most marketing teams.
- How can you overcome or avoid it?
The difficulty of this challenge is that there isn’t yet a perfect solution to it. The more time passes, the better our marketing automation tools are getting at tracking website visits, video views, social encounters, email clicks, and more.
And while there is still a challenge is making your webinar software work with your email service provider, work with your affiliate system, work with your landing page builder, and more, new tools are coming to help orchestrate all of your marketing apps to work together, not just from an integrations standpoint, but from a communications standpoint as well, so that you can start to see a clearer, more whole picture of each person you interact with through your marketing.
As all good things must come to an end, so must Marketing Automation School. We’ll say farewell in just a moment, but first, we want to quickly summarize what we’ve covered, and deliver some parting words. Throughout this course, we’ve come to know nearly all there is to know about marketing automation:
- In our very first chapter, we arrived at basic, initial marketing automation definition, in order to all start off on the same foot together.
- With our baseline created, we explored the variety of marketing automation features, and the ways they’re being used in businesses today, in our second chapter.
- Next, in our third chapter, we covered the wide world of marketing automation software, including the types and major players in this space.
- Then in chapter four, we took you through a set of real world marketing automation examples, that demonstrated real workflows in the wild.
- Finally in this, our fifth chapter, we discussed ways to both prepare and look forward to the future of marketing automation, and what it just may have to offer.
At this point, it should be easy to see the future of marketing automation is bright. For those that are willing to get their hands dirty and master new technologies and tools like Drip, opportunities for growth abound. That’s because marketing automation tools are the perfect combination of action and knowledge. The ability to know exactly how your leads, prospects, and customers are interacting with you, and then act on that knowledge by engaging with them in a one-to-one conversation is priceless.
Further beyond what marketing automation can do, is the fact that it can do it automatically. Your ability to grow is heavily dependent on your ability to scale as a business. Without accepting the fact that you’ll need to be automating significant portions of that business in order to grow quickly, you’ll be left in manual mode, forever unable to keep pace.
The good news is, a marketing automation tool like Drip can not only put you on pace, but it can rocket you ahead of your competitors, no matter what market you’re in. With our free marketing automation plan and unparalleled education resources, Drip is here to help you succeed in any and every way we can.