If you’re just getting started with marketing automation, then you’re probably ready to begin learning how you can use it to strengthen customer relationships, improve lead generation, and boost ROI. After all, that’s why you invested in marketing automation in the first place, isn’t it?
The first step to building a truly effective digital marketing automation program is to integrate your email, search, social, CRM, and web analytics systems. From there, marketing automation can help you streamline traditionally manual processes like customer segmentation, email marketing, and campaign management.
Want to become a marketing automation pro? Get started by following the ten steps below, inspired by our new (free!) Mastering the Art of Marketing Automation white paper.
1. Choose a marketing automation tool—and learn how to use it. Most marketing automation providers have an extensive library of resources for beginning users. Attend online training classes or, if you prefer to learn at your own pace, seek out web-based tutorial training options or free webinars so you can learn how to get the most out of your new tool.
2. Integrate your existing CRM with your marketing automation tool in order to sync lead, prospect, and customer data across platforms. With this integration, you’ll be able to view all of your prospect activity from within your CRM, automatically assign leads to sales reps, and more.
3. Experiment with autoresponders by automating simple, recurring emails. Since welcome and thank-you emails will be sent over and over again as you gain new subscribers and followers, they are perfect for testing the marketing automation waters. Experiment with autoresponders (email communications that are sent automatically when a prospect takes a certain action, like downloading a white paper) to see what kinds of messages you can automate.
4. Try some simple email personalization techniques like using substitution strings for preset subscriber attributes. If you’ve integrated your CRM with your marketing automation platform, you have plenty of information you can use to start personalizing your communications, rather than sending a generic email blast to everyone in your database.
5. Schedule your first social post. Use marketing automation to start making both immediate and scheduled social posts to all of your different social channels, all within the same interface. Just remember not to get so carried away with scheduled posts that you never log on to your networks—your audience still expects a human on the other end of your social messages.
6. Identify the information that you need to collect for your marketing campaigns. Start with first name, last name, and email address, and then go from there. For example, if you’ve always wanted to start a birthday club, make sure you’re gathering the data you need (i.e., birth date) to make it happen. But remember that people don’t like to feel interrogated, so limit your forms to the information you need to collect, rather than the information you’d like to collect.
7. Integrate Google Analytics and Google Adwords with your marketing automation tool to consolidate all of your important metrics into a single system. Using this data, you’ll be able to see where your prospects are coming from and their conversion points at the individual level. At this point, you’ll also want to establish the key performance indicators (KPIs) that you’ll use to track and measure success.
8. Begin building basic landing pages, email templates, and forms using industry-accepted best practices. Many automation providers offer implementation services that will walk you through creating these assets, from template design to the content included in each. Landing pages and forms are essential to lead generation, so it’s critical to start building them right away.
9. Start monitoring visitor and prospect activity by inserting basic tracking codes onto your site. The granular information (collected by your marketing automation system) is the fuel that powers the marketing automation engine, so this is an important step to address as soon as possible.
10. Build your first drip campaign. Drip marketing, or lead nurturing, is a powerful lead generation tool that works by sending a series of “drip” email messages to your prospects over time. Even the simplest drip campaign can help keep your company top of mind, so your prospects are already familiar with your product or service when it’s time for them to enter the buying cycle.
Want to learn how you can get even more advanced with marketing automation? Check out the full Mastering the Art of Marketing Automation white paper, which walks you through a 3-stage process for automating your marketing campaigns.