The term “automation” calls to mind images of robots building things on an assembly line.
But it’s a concept that can – and should – apply to your inbound marketing strategy.
Marketing automation simply means using software and technology that automates your marketing, helping you streamline and prioritize your jobs.
It lets you send information and content to your prospects based on their interests and concerns and on how they found your business in the first place. It lets you interact with them while helping them along in their buyer’s journey, and ultimately increasing sales. According to Hubspot, businesses that use marketing automation see a 451 percent increase in qualified leads.
Now that we’ve talked about what marketing automation is, here are some things it is not. Automation allows you to personalize a prospect’s or a customer’s experiences as they interact with you. Messages, calls-to-action buttons and page copy can all be personalized. It allows you to automate things like e-mails and social media posts, allowing you more time to plan and create content.
It’s Not Something You Switch On Once And Let Go
Fans of The Simpsons will know what we mean when we talk about the drinking bird. It’s a toy bird that bobs its head up and down over and over, as if it was drinking water. In one episode, Homer Simpson uses the bird at his nuclear power plant job to push buttons on his keyboard, steps away from his desk, and winds up almost causing a meltdown.
That’s a pretty good illustration for the dangers of thinking marketing automation is something you can just set in motion and then not worry about. Instead, it needs regular care and attention to work properly. Check to see where your audience is engaging, and be sure to engage back.
This is especially important to keep in mind when it comes to social media, where automated replies to messages can lead to public relations disasters. Earlier this year, Coca-Cola pulled the plug on its automated #MakeItHappy Twitter campaign after a prank by Gawker caused the soft drink maker to tweet quotes from Hitler.
Earlier this year, Dominos made its own flub on Facebook. A customer posted “Best Pizza Ever! Pan Pizza : ) Keep up the good work, guys!”
Domino’s response? “So sorry about that…” followed by a link to customer service.
Oddly enough, the pizza chain said that the response came from a “real human,” not a bot. Either way, the story underscores the importance of being aware of what you’re saying at all points of your marketing campaign.
It’s Not Just For E-Mail
While email is an important component of any marketing campaign, it’s not the only part of marketing automation. And when we say e-mail, we’re not talking about e-mail blasts that go out to entire customer lists with the hope that someone will make a purchase.
Automation lets you send out highly-targeted, personalized e-mails addressing specific issues. For example, you could invite leads to download your latest e-book, and then target everyone who took you up on that offer with the chance for them to download a case study. The people who download your second offer are the ones your sales team needs to focus on.
It’s Not Spam
We all know what spam sounds like. Impersonal yet ingratiating, awkward sentence structures, sketchy information, and ultimately irrelevant and unhelpful.
One of the myths about marketing automation is that it’s just spam, but that’s only true if your marketing is done badly: If you’re broadcasting, rather than engaging, and if you’re not listening to what your customers and potential customers are saying, then your efforts will seem like spam.
A good, automated marketing strategy should give you more time, while still maintaining the same level of quality and authenticity in the content you create.
If you’re interested in improving your business’ inbound marketing efforts, IQnection can help. We can assist you as you try to automate your marketing, while also ensuring it retains a human touch.