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What Is Marketing Automation Used For?

Marketing Automation School - Chapter 2

One of the most impressive and exciting parts of marketing automation is that there are nearly as many uses for it as a smart marketer can imagine. When it comes to technology in the marketing world, it’s starting to feel like our only limits are our tools and our imaginations. That’s why it’s essential to know how most marketing automation platforms are being used, as well as how they can potentially be used. Once we create a baseline of knowledge there, we can put those possibilities to use in our own marketing.

In this chapter of Marketing Automation School, we’ll dive into the most common features shared by almost all marketing automation solutions. We’ll paint the clearest possible picture of the purposes marketing automation can serve in a business setting. Once complete, you should know exactly what you can do with marketing automation software to take your business to the next level.

Are you ready to see how marketing automation is being used in the 21st century, and the multitude of ways you can use it to take your business to the next level?

Then let’s get started.

Capturing Leads

While not necessarily the primary purpose or use of a marketing automation platform, capturing a lead is often the first step of marketing to someone. Good marketing requires a solid relationship between you and your prospects.

And since any relationship requires two parties, that means you need to acquire that second party to really begin taking advantage of everything marketing automation has to offer.

That’s why many businesses use their marketing automation platforms to capture leads.

More often than not, that means collecting email addresses of people who are interested in you and your business.

Of course there’s a wide variety of places you can, and almost certainly already do, generate leads from—but any marketing automation solution worth its salt should integrate with, or actively provide you, as many in-roads to your marketing automation database as possible.

Some marketing automation platforms provide these types of lead capture features natively, while others may require connecting with an adjacent service or software. Regardless, most platforms attempt to be as helpful as possible in this process in order to help make your actual automation more successful.

5 Lead Capture Features with Marketing Automation

When considering a new (or taking stock of your existing) marketing automation platform, look for one or some of the following five lead capture opportunities. Below, you’ll find answers to what each of these things are, and how they work.

  • Download Forms - When a visitor to your website wants to download a piece of content, they can simply enter their contact information (as many fields as you decide) and automatically be sent or provided the requested downloadable piece of content. In most digital marketing circles, this is known as “gating” your resources, as a download form is an information gate for the content itself.
  • Blog Subscriptions - A similar form can be used when it comes to converting visitors to your blog into leads or prospects. Triggered pop up forms, or embedded sidebar or hero forms can change a passing visit into a lifetime customer. Once you gain a prospect's email address off your blog, you’ll be able to send out weekly digests of your blog content, automatically drip out your most popular content pieces, or encourage leads to take the next step with your business—whatever that may be for you.
  • Webinar Attendees - Does your marketing automation platform integrate with your webinar software? You can save your business a massive amount of time by capturing leads from webinar registrants or attendees, and working them into your marketing automation workflows of your personal design. Capturing leads from webinars allows you send replays, follow-up sequences, and more.
  • Landing Pages - Landing pages are a critical lead source for any business that’s looking to grow. With a concentrated call-to-action, exact instructions for what a user should do once they arrive, and an enticing offer, landing pages are a perfect way to convert a visitors into leads. When assessing your existing marketing automation software, or searching for a new one, make sure it either allows you to create landing pages in the software itself, or integrates with a world class landing page software like Leadpages.
  • Pop Up Forms - Interruptive lead capture forms, more commonly known as pop-ups, can be an extremely effective way to add leads to your marketing automation campaigns and workflows. Whether they deploy on a click, after a certain amount of time, or when a visitor is about to leave your page, you should again find a tool that either provides these forms or integrates seamlessly with the lead capture service of your choice.

Email Marketing Campaigns

Once you’ve got a lead in your hands, the next step is to begin a conversation with that person. One of the most common and core uses of marketing automation software is the sending of email marketing campaigns. Email marketing is the most common way businesses communicate with people once they’ve entered their marketing sphere.

Using email marketing, you’ll be able to schedule and trigger different messages based on a wide variety of actions and behaviors that your leads and prospects take. You can send messages based on whether or not a person has clicked a certain link, visited a certain page on your website, subscribed through a specific form or landing page, and many more ways.

5 Types of Email Marketing Campaigns

To give you a fast idea of how businesses are using email marketing in their day-to-day functions, here’s a fast rundown of five different types of email marketing campaigns that marketing automation software can be used to send. Many of these campaign types are things we use at Drip ECRM every single day.

  • Subscription Trial Campaign - A subscription trial campaign is a short sequence of emails that follows up with a trial user of your subscription service (whether that be a SaaS, a membership website, an educational resource, etc). This sequence is a quick way to get follow-up in place that can later be expanded with even more educational content.

    For example, if your business is a SaaS (Software as a Service) company, and someone subscribes to a trial of your software, you can set up an automated email marketing campaign that trickles out over time. You can request feedback on your product, highlight key and important features, offer discounts for converting to a paid member, and more.

    Want to see how it works? Just click this link to start a trial of Drip. You’ll see our subscription trial campaign in your inbox over the coming days, as well as have access to the newest and best marketing automation tool on the market.

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  • Cart Abandonment Campaign - One of the most valuable email marketing campaigns you can create with a marketing automation platform is a cart abandonment campaign. By tracking your website visitors, you can know when someone has made a move in the direction of a purchase, without actually completing the purchase in full.

    For example, if you have an ecommerce store that sells candles, and a visitor adds two candles to their online shopping cart, but leaves your website before making a purchase, a cart abandonment campaign can convert them into an actual customer.

    These campaigns often feature a series of emails reminding a visitor of the products they left behind, encouraging them to act quickly, and potentially offer a discount or coupon for fully completing their abandoned purchase.

  • Welcome Campaign - A welcome campaign is very much what its name implies. Are you familiar with the saying: “You only get one shot at a first impression!”? This is why a welcome campaign is both so valuable and so important.

    It’s your only shot to make a good first impression with your new subscriber, connect with that person, and stand out in both their mind and their inbox. It's safe to say that a welcome campaign is one of the most important kinds of campaigns you can have in your marketing automation arsenal.

    For example, a welcome campaign can do many things like introducing you and your business to your new subscriber, it can set expectations for what they’ll receive now that they’re on your list, it can restate the benefits of being a subscriber, and it can drive both engagement and attention.

  • Mini Course Campaign - A mini course is an educational resource sent out piece by piece over a predetermined period of time to a new subscriber. Often, mini courses are designed to position your business as an authority in your space, by offering free assistance and information to your prospects or leads.

    For example Drip, as you may know, is a marketing automation software. We want visitors to our website to be able to learn more about marketing automation and the evolution of email marketing into marketing automation software. In order to do this, we offer a free mini course on this topic that comes directly from our co-founder Rob Walling.

  • Follow Up Campaign - A follow up campaign is also exactly what the name implies: a sequence of emails sent after an occurrence you determine, in order to follow up with a lead or prospect. Most often, this type of sequence is sent to a lead or prospect after they’ve taken a specific action with your business.

    For instance, if someone downloads an ebook from your resources section, a follow up campaign could be a series of emails over the coming weeks that highlights important takeaways from the book, asks for feedback or if they have questions, and possibly recommends a commensurate product or service towards the end of the campaign, in order to convert that lead into a customer.

    Want to see how it works? Visit the marketing resources section at Leadpages, and download any of the valuable content pieces you find there. You’ll see the resource delivered to your inbox immediately, as well as a follow up campaign coming to your inbox over the coming weeks.

These are just a small handful of the various email marketing campaigns you can deploy and use on autopilot with a quality marketing automation tool. Many more can be created custom for your exact business and the needs of your marketing, for whatever purposes are important to you.

Nurturing Leads

Marketing automation users also often depend on their software to assist them in the process of nurturing leads. Lead nurturing can look extremely different from company to company, based on the product, service, price point, sales methodology and more.

Regardless of the specific mile markers in the process, marketing automation is an essential tool for many businesses when it comes to nurturing their leads. Regular communications, invitations, and interactions all contribute to warming your leads up over time to help them become more ready for a purchase.

4 Lead Nurturing Techniques with Marketing Automation

In order to clarify the uses and capabilities of most marketing automation software, especially as it relates to nurturing leads, here are four basic techniques that can be achieved using most marketing automation platforms.

  • Webinar Invitations - After one of your leads takes a certain number of actions on your website, or downloads a certain number of pieces of content from you on a specific topic, you can send an automated invitation to them, requesting they join a webinar on a topic or product of your choosing.
  • Content Marketing - Similar to the follow-up campaigns mentioned above, marketing automation will be essential to your your content marketing efforts. It can help you schedule and drip resources out to your leads to help nurture them to the point of making a purchase, based on the traits you have or have not identified about them. You can send them content related to their interests, readiness to buy, actions they’ve taken on your website, and more.

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  • Custom Website Content - One of the best ways to engage in lead nurturing is by personalizing as many interactions as you can with your prospects. Using a combination of tracking and a dynamic code language known as Liquid, Drip allows you to nurture leads by displaying actual website content that’s tailored to what you know about them. For example, if your business serves a multitude of different niches, and you’ve identified which prospects are from which niche, you can display custom, dynamic website content that’s just for then. This level of personalization is truly the next generation of lead nurturing with marketing automation.
  • Appointment Scheduling - As with webinar invitations, you can send automated invites your leads to schedule an appointment with your business. Whether it be a phone call, an in-person consultation, or an actual service appointment, you can nurture leads by automatically asking them to engage with you at just the right moment.

Again these are just a miniscule handful of the different lead nurturing techniques and strategies that marketing automation allows you to put into place. Now that you’re familiar with some of the tactics that make lead nurturing such a popular use for marketing automation, you can begin to strategize and imagine the ways it could be implemented to nurture leads in your own business.


In the first chapter of Marketing Automation School, we answered the question, “What is marketing automation?” One of the more prevalent themes in our first chapter was the use of “If, then…” logic, and the importance of asking oneself, “If this happens, then what happens?”

Workflows are where your company’s “If, then…” logic will manifest most readily—and they’re one of the most popular uses for marketing automation software today. In most marketing automation tools, workflows are a series of triggers, events or actions, and outcomes, that create an automated journey for your prospects and customers, depending on their behavior.

Most marketing automation platforms worth their salt will have a workflow editor with a visual component to it, which dramatically increases the usability—especially when it comes to more complex and extensive workflows.

If you’ve never created a marketing automation workflow before, your first ones will no doubt be relatively simple. But over time, you’ll more than likely see an increase in the complexity of your workflows as well as the variety of purposes your workflows will serve.

5 Common Types of Marketing Automation Workflows

We’ll get more in-depth when it comes to marketing automation examples later in this course, but in order to help you both understand what workflows can look like and the purposes they serve, we’ve assembled a shortlist of five common types of marketing automation workflows below.

  1. Lead Conversion - Once you have a prospect’s email address, what does a conversion look like to you? It could be a wide variety of things—from scheduling a demo, to joining a webinar, to downloading an ebook, or making a purchase.

    General lead conversion is one of the most common types of marketing automation workflows, and it often involves a series of targeted communications that push a lead towards taking the next step in your marketing funnel.

  2. Post-Purchase Follow-Up - While many marketers view the making of a purchase as the end-goal in a marketing journey, that’s not always the case. In fact, after a purchase is made, the process of maintaining a customer and creating a repeat customer is just beginning.

    Post-purchase follow-up workflows can request customer feedback on the purchase they just made, encourage full utilization and adoption of the product, ask for reviews or referrals, offer loyalty coupons for future purchases, and more.

  3. Demo or Consultation Intake - When a prospect or lead has seen or attended a demo or received an initial consultation - what happens next in your marketing funnel? Do they receive an invitation to your next best practices webinar? Are they sent a progressive email marketing campaign? What if they visit your pricing page twice in one week, after receiving that demo or consultation?

    These are all behaviors than can be either accomplished or addressed with marketing automation workflows. As a demo or consultation is such an important step in most marketing funnels, many marketers use automated workflows to communicate and react to a variety of prospect behaviors in order to hopefully close the sale.

  4. SaaS Trial Onboarding - Marketers in the SaaS world know how important the first 30 days of a customer’s experience with your product can be. This is especially the case when looking to convert a new customer from a trial user to a paid user. Marketing automation workflows are an essential element of onboarding SaaS trials because of the wide variety of 1-to-1 automations that can be implemented.

    Using marketing automation workflows, you can send communications that highlight important features of your software, encourage users to check out features they haven’t yet taken advantage of yet, encourage them to convert to a paid plan, and much more.

  5. Ecommerce Coupon Fulfillment - When you offer a coupon to a potential buyer, you do so with the desire that they actually take advantage of that coupon. Encouraging them to finally take that step and make their first purchase is made much easier using automated workflows.

    You can see which pages your prospects are viewing, which products are of highest interest to them, send them a series of communications that encourage their purchase, and progressively increase their coupon value if necessary, until a purchase is made.

Marketing Analytics

It takes measurement to know whether or not your marketing efforts are successful. That’s why another one of the most common uses for marketing automation is the analytics your platform can provide. Since these types of software platforms can quickly become central to your sales and marketing efforts, the analytics they can provide are not only helpful—they’re essential.

3 Must-Have Marketing Automation Analytics

Depending on your particular business and the strategies you implement, you might look to and rely on your marketing automation software to provide you with different types of analytics. Regardless of your specific needs, however, there are a few analytics that your marketing automation platform simply can’t without. Below, we’ve outlined a few of those essential pieces of data you should look for.

  1. Conversion Metrics - Conversion metrics essentially mean - of the number of people who’ve arrived at this point in my workflow, how many people are taking that next step? When you have answers to which steps in your workflow are converting well (or not-so-well) you know where you can improve and strategize based on that data.

  2. Split-Testing Metrics - Marketing automation can be complex. With so many varied outcomes, it’s important to test what you’re doing. In the same way that conversion metrics can tell you where to focus your attention, split-testing your communications and landing pages will refine your marketing workflows over time.

  3. Email Metrics - Since email marketing is such an integral cog in the marketing automation machine, it’s essential to have comprehensive email metrics that allow you to measure the effectiveness of your communications and the health of your list. Are your emails getting opened? Clicked on? Are people responding the way you intend? Having answers to these questions will create a solid base of knowledge for you to improve your communications.

Tagging and Segmentation

One of the most important features of any marketing automation platform is the ability to tag and segment the leads you generate. Features like tagging and segmentation allow you to progressively gain more knowledge about your leads, prospects, and customers—and over time, these details will allow you to speak directly to a very specific audience.

Traditional email marketing platforms generally only allow you to have contacts related to one list—or that person can appear on many different lists—but the lists themselves are separate and different. This means that a contact appears multiple different times inside of your email marketing platform, as they relate to different lists contained there.

Since email marketing platforms are usually priced based on the number of contacts you have, this means many businesses end up paying significantly more money when a single contact’s email addresses appears in their account multiple different times, as they relate to multiple different lists.

With marketing automation platforms, tagging and segmentation allow you to have one comprehensive list of contacts, and each individual contact can exhibit many traits and attributes using tags. This is why so many people choose marketing automation over email marketing. Because they can use it for granular identification tagging, and then they can segment based on those tags in order to communicate in more specific and effective ways.

When segmentation is not limited by a static list, but can rather be created on-the-fly, tailored to the exact group of people you need to talk to for a specific campaign, your messages can be much more targeted and yield higher conversions.

Lead Scoring

Another popular feature of many marketing automation platforms is lead scoring. As you interact with your prospects over time, whether that be through landing page visits, website visits, content downloads, or emails received, opened, and clicked—you begin to see broader picture of what one individual contact looks like.

How do they interact with you? Are they only visiting your blog on a regular basis? Do they open and click on most of the emails you send? Have they visited your pricing page in the past but never actually made a purchase from you? Each of these factors can contribute to the score they receive as a lead. Not all prospects are qualified to buy what you’re selling and not all are actively engaged in what you have to say, and lead scoring allows you to separate low-value prospects from high-value ones.

Lead scoring is particularly useful when dealing with long sales cycles, where a lead might take many actions over a long period of time before they are convinced to buy. Lead scoring is an effective way to pinpoint people who have a high likelihood of converting, and can help you focus your personalized sales efforts only on the people who are qualified and likely to purchase.

What is lead scoring?

The methodology changes from platform to platform, but the purpose remains: lead scoring is designed to algorithmically communicate to you how ready a prospect is to make a purchase. A score (usually between 1 to 100, or sometimes 1 to 10) is applied to contacts in your database that rates how warm or cold they are.

Most often, you as the user or platform administrator are able to decide what the threshold is for a user to be designated warm or cold. These scores are based on interactions that are trackable from within your marketing automation solution.

When you start lead scoring your prospects, you can use their lead scores to trigger automated follow up sequences for highly-qualified leads, or to send only your best leads to your sales team.

You can even set up an automation to notify you when a prospect reaches a certain lead score, so you can follow up personally.

In Conclusion

This list is by no means exhaustive. Again, using the above features and uses of marketing automation, with some additional imagination, you can continue to uncover a variety of further tactics, strategies, and purposes that can make marketing automation an even better fit in your own business. In fact, as you’ve read through this chapter, you’ve more than likely been doing some imagining of your own on which uses can help you better accomplish your goals.

Maybe you’ve got a new idea for your own business, with some insight into how tagging and segmentation could help you have more specific successes. Maybe you’re aware of a gap in your current marketing automation platform, that has you considering if maybe you’d be better off with another solution that has more user-friendly automation workflows. Or maybe - just maybe - you’ve been using an email marketing platform that isn’t capable of at least half of the things we’ve mentioned above, and you’re looking for something bigger and better.

Whatever boat you’re in, we now have a refined definition and understanding of what exactly marketing automation is, as well as full breakdown of many popular features, uses, and things that can be accomplished with marketing automation.

Next up, in Chapter 3 of Marketing Automation School, we take you inside the world of marketing automation software. We’ll cover what to look for in a tool when selecting your very own, as well as give a brief summary of some of the most notable companies in the market. We’ll also cover the different types of marketing automation software available in order to help you understand more ways to automate your marketing processes and dramatically grow your business.

We’ll see you in the next chapter!

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