How to Move Marketing Automation Beyond Email

Ann All

Updated · Jun 23, 2014

By Natalia Dykyj, Vocus

Marketing automation holds the promise to solve a lot of the pain that marketers live with on a daily basis. Once marketers make the leap into automation though, they sometimes end up using only a few of the tools at their disposal.

The obvious first step for many marketers is to automate their emails. That makes sense. It’s one of the tasks they perform most frequently, so automating messages is not only a natural transition but a great quick win for the time and effort they’ll save.

But that’s where most marketers get stuck. They see the value and the possibilities of marketing automation, but they don’t know how to apply automation techniques to their broader cross-channel campaigns.

Ultimately, marketers who learn more about their leads by leveraging all of the intelligence automation provides will reap the greatest benefits.

Here’s how you can move beyond one-dimensional uses of marketing automation to a more well-rounded (read: profitable) skill set.

Target Buying Behaviors

The first step is understanding your customers and which types of behavior are most indicative of buying readiness. If you’re a B2B company, that means talking to your sales team. They talk to prospects all day and are best able to recognize profitable patterns among them. For B2C companies, that means looking at purchase paths and referral information for customers making a purchase, be they first time or repeat buyers.

For example, you may notice prospects who visit a specific page on your website – say, your pricing page – are more likely to buy. The ones who visit your blog? Well, they’re still looking and not ready to buy yet.

Leveraging these insights can lead to more effective and more profitable marketing automation. Here are three ways to determine how ready a contact is to buy, and if they’re not, how to nurture them until they are:

  • Lead scoring is a clear way for marketers to quantify a prospect’s behavior and determine how deep they are in the buying cycle. You should rate prospects by their engagement using behaviors like email opens, content or coupon downloads, visits to specific pages on your website, and even their social engagement. Higher scores indicate they are closer to that buying decision point.
  • Customized journeys help you send the right information to the right person based on where they are in their buying journey. Leads who are early in the buying process are not ready for an aggressive sales pitch. They’re looking for ideas, research help and advice. The key here is content that will help educate and build affinity and trust toward your brand.  
  • Automated workflows help you deliver the right message at the right time. Workflows help you follow up more immediately on your high-value behaviors. Don’t passively let your contacts go cold; engage with them in a timely fashion and with relevant content that builds upon their specific action or interest.

Identify Right Buyers

Behavior isn’t everything. You also need to know who you engage with so you can target your messages and offers appropriately.

For B2B companies, not every person who engages with you is going to have the power to make buying decisions. For example, your sales team may not want to deal with anyone below the director level because they don’t have control of the budget. And if you’re a B2C business, think about what personal information you need in order to send the most compelling offers.

Most marketers have only an email address for their contacts. So you end up sending a single, generic message that doesn’t resonate. Work on capturing that demographic, personal information by sending them to landing pages that provide offers that require them to provide the information that you need to most effectively target your communications.

Start Slowly with Marketing Automation

Marketing automation opens the door to a lot of possibilities. Don’t get overwhelmed!

Start small and gradually incorporate more and more behavioral and personal insights into your marketing campaigns. This will go a long way toward helping you realize the fuller value of automation.

What do you say? Ready to use automation for more than just emails?

As director of Product Management at Vocus, Natalia Dykyj is responsible for product strategy and roadmap execution for the Vocus Marketing Suite. Natalia has spent her career developing products in the areas of digital media and marketing. Prior to joining Vocus, she led product strategy and delivery for several digital products at The Washington Post, and led global product management at MIVA, an online advertising company.

Ann All
Ann All

Public relations, digital marketing, journalism, copywriting. I have done it all so I am able to communicate any information in a professional manner. Recent work includes creating compelling digital content, and applying SEO strategies to increase website performance. I am a skilled copy editor who can manage budgets and people.

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