It’s not uncommon for marketers and business owners to think of Marketing Automation as a scary, unreachable process.
(Pssssttt … I did too when I started out.)
The term itself sounds a little futuristic, overwhelming and something perhaps only large enterprises are capable of applying.
Even Wikipedia makes it sound too complex and corporate, for what it is:
Well, you’ll be glad to know that clever Marketing Automation needn’t be ridiculously difficult.
The trick is: To first know exactly what you can / need to automate, which relatively affordable tools to use, and then how to action them for outstanding results.
I’m going to show you 3 nifty hacks to:
1). Gain high ROI on the above decisions
2). Earn your brand attention above the ever-increasing crowd
In addition to automating recurring (and sometimes mundane) biz tasks, think of Marketing Automation as (typically) multiple pieces of software talking to each other, taking your website visitors through a seamless, semi-autonomous journey of nurturing until they become customers — before another nurturing process begins, and so on.
It’s a remarkable way of making it seem like your brand and people are always physically present, which = more sales and greater retention.
Your customers will think so, too. They’ll also spread the word to their friends and colleagues…
With equally apt human input, the biggest corporations or even the humblest of freelancers can incorporate Marketing Automation to improve efficiency, enhance customer experience, and widen margins.
There are simply no valid reasons to exclude this mighty, profit-yielding force from your tech stack and overall business strategy — considering the wealth of opportunities and digital tools (AKA martech, or marketing technology) available to us in 2018+.
Just take a quick peek at the stats:
“Almost 90% of marketers use more than one martech tool on a regular basis.”
(Source: Walker Sands Communications
(Graph Source: SharpSpring)
(Infographics via Scott Brinker)
That’s almost 5,000 martech companies in total, counted in 2017!
This year, there are just shy of 7,000.
So please, don’t fall into the 18% of marketers not using ANY automation:
(Original Graph Source: Smart Insights)
You should now be utterly convinced as to ‘why’ you need Marketing Automation.
(Because you really do.)
Now discover the what, when and how…
Get ready to win the battle for precious attention; converting your visitors almost like clockwork, while stunning your competitors all at the same time.
HACK #1: Score Visitor Behavior (Using AI)
This is the only 100% ‘under the hood’ technique I will cover here — the remaining hacks will be presented to your online guests in some way, but this particularly private method should be a priority in any marketer’s book this year onward.
Scoring your website visitors is the very foundation of eye-catching Marketing Automation; you can’t accurately offer tailored content, products or services without knowing who your visitors are, what they want, and when they want it.
By closely monitoring and assessing (scoring) their actions through your digital properties, a much clearer picture is painted.
This paves the way to personalization.
However, up until recently it was only truly viable for B2Bs to first entice anonymous visitors to exchange their contact info — by filling out a form or other means of data capture — transforming them from a random visitor to a scorable ‘lead’.
What happens once those dots are connected?
A consequent blend of cookies, URL and link tagging allow Marketing Automation software to identify and track leads as actual people with email addresses and attributes.
To demonstrate, take a peek at this simplified version of lead scoring:
(Graph via Kentico)
It’s all about building a gradual persona of each visitor, enabling you to nurture those who are interested without annoying those who aren’t.
This progressive profiling is like gold dust, creating an incredible experience via an intimately personalized journey (up next).
Prior to the explosion of Artificial Intelligence, there have been numerous ways to achieve light personalization and show relatable content to these ‘anonymous’ people — some a little more clunky than others — but all of them demanding somewhat more manual input than ultra-modern martech.
Here are a few methods:
- Using cookies to merely recognize a new or returning visitor, along with other surface details e.g. IP country and the device they are using to browse your site (not ‘scoring’ as such, but still offering a slight degree of personalization to seemingly casual visitors)
- Encouraging visitors to exchange data and subscribe to marketing content, including email newsletters or eBooks (allowing your automation software to assign points to their behavior based on your criteria and their tendency to buy in future, dictating what material they see or receive next — the lead scoring process)
- Implementing (or forcing!) a website sign-in function combined with Customer Relationship Management and automation software (offering a wider range of personalization, along with the use of lead scoring)
Well, it’s now possible for B2Bs to intelligently cater for anonymous visitors, too.
Even before they’ve handed over any personal data…
Why is this so damn remarkable?
“Only ~3% of B2B website visitors leave their contact details. That means 97% of potential clients leave without trace.”
That’s a heck of a lot of ‘untraceable’ activity to miss.
It’s such a huge amount; I feel the need to elaborate it slightly.
“97% of potential clients leave your website without a trace.”
Using the power of machine learning / AI to identify potential prospects (i.e. those businesses regularly checking out your site) allows for a number of opportunities, minus a large chunk of human labor:
- The automatic gathering and notification of what companies are potentially interested in your offerings
- The ability to serve personalized content to the people / decision-makers of these companies, without lifting a finger to begin the cycle
- The necessary amount of data required to begin Account-Based Marketing (ABM), followed up by salespeople at the optimal times
- Triggers and alerts so you don’t neglect any changes in visitor behavior
- A stronger likelihood of impressing, and gaining their data in the end!
Unmask ‘Anonymous’: Tools To Use
Increasingly, we are living in an automated world. Let these pieces of kit learn, do the hard work, and get you noticed.
Vendors are listed in order from most expensive at the top, to entry-level at the bottom:
— Marketo (A leader in AI-driven personalization that integrates with many other tools)
— Visiblee (Sales-focused software that applies machine learning to notify you of prospects)
— VisitorTrack (Utilizes AI and a firmographic database of 100+ million companies)
HACK #2: Provide A True Customer Journey (Using AI)
Let’s move past anonymous visitors and get to where we want to be. ☺
If people choose to trust you with their data and become leads, show them how amazing you are and stay firmly in their minds — regardless of your industry.
They are beginning a journey with you, after all.
Recurrently feed them awesome, useful content and unexpected bonuses to keep them warming to your brand.
This strategy is known as ‘lead nurturing’, and it applies to both B2B and B2C models (yep — consumers can be nurtured, too — and they should be).
“79% of marketing leads never convert into sales. Lack of lead nurturing is the most common cause of this poor performance.”
(Infographic Source: B2Bmetric)
Impressive experiences are always the result of meeting your leads and customers on their journey with you; rewarding their interest while also intercepting any negative signals.
Under no circumstance should anybody be forgotten, regardless of their stage in the sales journey (because this journey never ends).
A customer’s first purchase is an achievement, not a victory. It should be seen as intention, not finalization!
“After just one purchase, a customer has a 27% chance of returning — a likelihood that increases with each buy.”
(Infographic & Stats Source: smile.io)
That said, how do you actually visualize the individual customer journey?
How do you accommodate their unique, variable expectations and needs in real-time?
Marketing Automation saves the day once more — because this (at scale) is definitely not possible using humans alone.
A true journey is one where the lead or customer decides what comes next, rather than an inflexible ‘if this then that’ flow chart drawn up by you as a marketer.
Optimove (PostFunnel’s sponsor) makes it possible to manage and optimize these ‘infinite’ journeys, micro-bundling data from past behavior, preferences and actions to allow superior nurturing.
It’s super clever stuff, as this explanation outlines:
“Instead of pre-planning the various journeys that a customer might take, this approach focuses on dynamically segmenting very similar customers into many small micro-segments, based on what we refer to as their behavioral DNA.”
(Source: Pini Yakuel, Founder of Optimove)
Optimove’s predictive modeling engine alerts you as to how these bucketed leads or customers should be treated at any given moment of engagement or disengagement — whether they would like a pop-up offer, online chat, or an ad on Facebook!
[Of course, types of personalized engagement can also be automated within the software.]
It’s 2018. People don’t want to be repeatedly bombarded with the same message they didn’t like in the first place. In contrast, they do want to be kept up-to-date and in-the-know by a brand they love. Be that brand.
Here’s a snapshot of a micro-segmented customer journey on a basic level, including triggers:
There’s no better way to ensure customers buy again, again and again.
Remember: It costs up to 7x more to gain a new customer than to keep a current one happy.
In terms of software price (as I mentioned at the beginning), there are so many automation vendors available — most marketing needs can be fulfilled at every budget constraint, within reason.
The industry is moving exceptionally fast, so it’s best to get on board ASAP.
Here are a few other ‘journey planning’ options to check out…
Decode ‘The Journey’: Tools To Use
Vendors are listed in order from (what I estimate to be) most expensive at the top, to entry-level at the bottom:
— RedEye (Prestige software that intuitively automates customer lifecycles and reacts to their needs)
— Selligent (Utilize data science and machine learning algorithms to boost conversion, visitor engagement and loyalty)
— Salesforce Einstein (Predict engagement, driving smarter marketing via AI-assisted segmentation)
HACK #3: Effortlessly Produce Content (Using AI)
We’ve now covered two vital aspects of Marketing Automation — the core strategies and tech at the cutting edge of customer loyalty.
No doubt, superior content is the third and final ingredient to complete this engagement-focused blueprint.
And you may already have guessed by now — there are tools to help!
Before diving in, I would hope you (as a marketer) know the necessity of Content Marketing. But just in case you don’t, here is a selection of stats to spark your enthusiasm:
(Graph Source: Brilliant Noise via SlideShare)
(Graph Source: MarketingCharts)
“Small businesses that blog gain 126% more lead growth than small businesses that don’t blog.”
[BONUS: I expanded more on content creation and how to create a never-ending supply of topic ideas, right here.]
The problem with exemplary content that gets noticed? It takes sooo much energy, expertise and time to produce and then distribute. It’s always absolutely worth it when done properly, but the road to success can cause a lot of strain — particularly on smaller businesses out there.
On top of those hurdles, what if your content just isn’t up to scratch and/or irrelevant in the end?
Content is never optional, so this issue must be addressed…
Here’s a possible route of content automation you can try in 2018+:
STEP 1: Let AI Write Your Content
The robots have officially invaded. :-O
While nothing comes close to the intelligence of a human writer (at the moment), exploration of this automated time-saver might be right up your street if you run a smaller operation and need ideas to build upon — and I do emphasize ‘build upon’.
Articoolo asks you to enter just 2 – 5 topical words, from which it creates an entire piece of content in a matter of seconds, using its AI engine.
It can even rewrite articles for you!
(As my very human hands type this, I admittedly shudder a little.)
Funnily enough, the site also uses a forced sign-in as you begin to enter your subject, slightly less obtrusive than the site I linked as an earlier example.
They know the importance of capturing data and leads!
I’m sure the tech will only become more advanced with time, as it continuously learns. Definitely keep an eye on this one — it’s quite rudimentary at the moment.
Try it yourself, or check out a brief article on ‘Content Marketing’ it churned out here.
Now, if you have a ton more cash to invest in content, just take a look at this…
It can spot intricate trends and opportunities, which is then transformed into readable report material that could mistakenly be thought to emanate from a professional, human analyst.
Designed to be used internally, you can only imagine the potential for this software in terms of public-facing content.
An incredible option for data-heavy content in corporate industries!
(Always add a dash of human for best results.)
STEP 2: Let AI Check Your Content
If your content creation software isn’t intelligent enough, you might need to proofread your content…
By ‘you’, I actually mean these tools:
Grammarly is the go-to content checker for many — putting a stop to any mistakes in your digital content, anywhere.
It smoothly integrates with your browser, email client and Social Media networks.
You’ll be happy to hear Grammarly is also free, with an option to upgrade if required.
Satisfied with your grammar?
If you write marketing-related material, here’s the real test that goes far beyond surface analysis — also provided without charge.
Zest has recently launched its new Content Assessment Machine which is part algorithm, part human (always the best mix).
Not only will your marketing content be scrupulously checked for errors and relevance — it will be privately graded on awesomeness (well, that’s my own description) and VALUE to its readers.
As a bonus: Upon acceptance, you will then attract the many eyeballs of the Zest community.
Give it a whirl.
And for the enterprises out there: Don’t miss Acrolinx!
When content production isn’t an issue on such a large scale, brand consistency can however, suffer.
This AI tech analyzes all your business content; ensuring its voice, tone and style is nothing but on point — each and every time.
When you have teams of writers around the world, a piece of tech like this may be a godsend.
STEP 3: Let AI Optimize Your Content
You’ve created your content (partly) using an intelligent machine.
You even asked the machine to check your content for typos and brand consistency…
Now, what about SEO?
If your content isn’t naturally showing up on Google, you’re missing the biggest opportunity any marketer could ever hope for:
“70-80% of searchers ignore Google ads, focusing on the organic results instead.”
(Graphic & Stats Source: imFORZA)
The trouble is: It costs money to hire an SEO professional.
And usually a lot of money for the right one…
WordLift is a one-of-a-kind WordPress plugin that leaves people wide-eyed. You won’t find another technology like it today, because it’s way ahead of the game.
The software cleverly translates your website content into detailed metadata that is easily readable by machines.
This includes search engines, chatbots and digital assistants such as Siri and Alexa.
Meaning: You are able to literally make your website talk across many devices, instantly multiplying your content’s visibility!
With the proliferation of voice search and new digital devices that don’t rely on text alone, affordable automation like WordLift is a powerful ally in our modern, virtual world.
Test the tools, and combine all of these automation hacks for an enviable marketing strategy that earns you attention.
The time it takes you to prepare, is not a scratch on the time it saves (and the profit it generates) in future.
Let us know how you get on…