Overall point: Marketing automation is a powerful tool, and with great power comes great responsibility. When marketing processes are automated successfully, automation is a significant benefit to businesses. It frees up valuable time, removes the need to manually complete onerous tasks and should make your customer’s journey to the point of purchase and beyond seamless. When marketing automation is done badly, the results can be embarrassing to the company and irritating to the customer or prospect.

Getting the basics right can help to eradicate the errors and frustrations of poor marketing automation. The checklist below will help to put key elements in place to ensure success.

The benefits of marketing automation

Automating elements of your marketing, such as how your website works and your email marketing doesn’t just make your life easier it should do the same for your customer. A series of well-targeted emails when a customer signs up to your mailing list builds a relationship between the customer and your business. It also helps to personalise your customer’s experience and push prospects along your sales funnel by keeping your brand front of mind.

Internally, automation removes the need for repetitive processes to be completed manually. It frees up you and your staff to focus on more creative tasks, or to devote your attention to customers that are at a crucial stage in the buying journey. Keep in mind however that the machine of automation needs constant feeding: from set-up to maintenance, you’ll have to put in the same degree of effort that you want to see out. While you won’t have to complete manual tasks you’ll still need to create good content and quality messaging.

Business or consumer; product or service?

Let’s pause for a moment and consider why the nature of your customers matter – and the nature of your product. For businesses selling products and services to consumers, an extra 10% off sale items could just be the tipping point that prompts that customer to buy the item they’ve been eyeing for a while. Likewise, an online office stationery company offering bulk discounts on toner could just dissuade the person with the chequebook from using a stationers down the road.

For businesses selling a high value service, automation can prove trickier as buying decisions are likely to be more complex than a matter of cost. Messages every seven days with your weekly specials are too much if you’re selling a high-value consultative service. You need to show your value in other ways with drip-fed, quality content.

Marketing automation checklist

  1. Goal: Have a clear, achievable objective in mind. Everyone wants more leads, more customers and more sales!
  2. Strategy: A detailed outline of how you will achieve your goal will put you on the road to success. Consider who your customers are and how you can add value. Create a plan that supports that and how marketing automation will help you achieve it.
  3. Analyse: Look at what the metrics are telling you. Stick with what’s working and trim what isn’t. Adapt as necessary and don’t be sentimental about something that isn’t working.

The most important thing to remember is that while automation may be performed by machines, the people you are marketing to are just that – people. Just because a technological tool allows you to send marketing emails or SMS messages every minute of the day, week or month, don’t! Just because it allows you to personalise your communications to the tiniest detail, don’t go overboard. Think about how you would like to be treated and apply a bit of caution and restraint to your methodology. Less is often more! The temptation to get carried away with what the technology allows you to do can be hard to resist; overlooking the basics could do more harm than good, so resist you must.

You’re not Amazon – yet!

When big data and automation get together well, it’s a formidable force, as anyone that’s ever had dealings with the likes of Amazon will attest. Marketing automation is so prevalent now that it’s just a part of our lives – another way in which companies communicate with us. The key is to consider what marketing automation will add, and what it might detract.

For businesses that aren’t of Amazon-esque proportions the human touch is one of their greatest assets. Think carefully before eradicating those qualities. Because when automation falls short of the mark the outcome can far outweigh the intention, becoming equal parts off-putting, confusing and annoying. Is that how you’d like customers to view your brand?

If you’re interested in this topic, why not call me for a chat – I’d welcome the opportunity.