Seven Fundamentals for Marketing Automation Success
Marketing automation is a software solution combined with a process that enables companies to automate marketing tasks and messages to improve efficiencies and grow revenue more quickly. Nucleus Research reports marketing automation improves productivity by an average of 20 percent.
Sounds great, right? More revenue. Less overhead. Less time investment. Where do I sign up?
However, many HealthTech companies make the mistake of purchasing marketing automation software—such as HubSpot, Marketo, Pardot, or Act-On—without an actual plan in place. And because each of these marketing automation software packages comes with a heavy price tag, be sure you make the most of your purchase.
Make sure you have a process planned out so you can hit the ground running.
To get started with marketing automation, practice these seven fundamentals:
- Choose the Best Marketing Automation Software for You (If You Haven’t Already)
- Create Actionable KPIs
- Map Your Content
- Create a Game Plan
- Start Small
- Carve Out Time
- Analyze and Repeat
As the marketing industry grows, so will your automation options—so you’ll want to make sure you take the time to vet all of your potential providers. As you consider your marketing automation provider, be sure to inquire about the following:
- Software functionality: Does it do what you need it to do?
- Software ease-of-use: Does it feel intuitive to you?
- Integrations with other products: Does it work well with your other software packages?
- Support: Do you like the interactions you’re receiving?
- Educational content and thought leadership: Can you self-learn on the company’s site?
- Testimonials and case studies from similar clients: What are other people saying about the solution?
- Price — How does it stack up against the other options when you add in all features and compare “apples to apples?”
No marketing plan is complete without a goal and measurable KPIs. Set a few measurable goals for your marketing automation plan so that you have an idea of what success looks like.
Goals can be related to:
- Total number of leads, MQLs, or SQLs
- Email open rates and click-through rates
- Number of leads that go through lifecycle changes
- Number of contacts enrolled in workflows
- Demo requests
- General conversion rate
Conversion Rate is likely the easiest to measure and a great place to start using marketing automation software. For example, in HubSpot, each marketing automation workflow comes with the ability to “set a goal.” This goal can be anything from a lifecycle stage change to a form submission.
The workflow tool automatically calculates the conversion rate based on the number of total contacts enrolled, and the number of those who met the select goal. For example, this workflow above for a B2B SaaS company is geared toward MQLs. A prospect is automatically enrolled when they are marked as an MQL. If the MQL fills out a demo form or becomes an opportunity based on lead-scoring, they “meet the goal” and the conversion rate is automatically calculated.
When you purchase marketing automation software, there’s an urge to jump right in — but wait! There’s some homework you need to do first.
Content mapping is the process of aligning your company’s content pieces with your personas, stages of the funnel, and/or consumer pain points/priorities. If you skip this important step, you’ll find marketing automation a bit more time-consuming and cumbersome because you’ll constantly be searching your own website for content relevant to your workflow.
This process also helps you prioritize which content you’ll work on next in order to fill in gaps in any planned email automation.
For example, let’s say that over the years you’ve written 100 blog posts. Hypothetically, let’s also say that 60 of those blogs are top-of-the-funnel content, 30 of those blogs are middle-of-the-funnel, and only 10 of those blogs are product-related. This might indicate you should ramp up your efforts on the product front for those at the bottom-of-the-funnel.
Similarly, maybe 80 out of the 100 blog posts are written for marketers, and only 20 are written for C-level executives. If your goal is to get more C-level executives in your funnel, you may want to amp up your content production for that persona. The same methodology is true for mapping content to pain points and priorities.
Here’s an example of what a piece of our content map looks like here at Golden Spiral.
We have our content mapped by:
- Type of content
- Content title
- Buyer’s Journey
- Pain point/priority
This way, for example, if we wanted to create a workflow to nurture prospects from awareness to consideration for purchasing a website, we’d have a library of content to choose from that can be easily filtered.
You should plan as much as a full week to map your content, depending on how much content you have, and the amount of detail you’d like to include.
Your content is the raw material you need for an automation plan. It’s one thing to say, “We’re going to send X emails per month.” It’s another thing to write them. Whatever you automate—social, video, podcast, email, ads, notifications, SMS—you must have the content to support it.
Once you’ve set a goal and mapped your content, it’s time to create a game plan. Prioritize what processes you will automate.
It is easy to get excited (and just as easy to get overwhelmed) by all of the new opportunities available to you with marketing automation. So, create a game plan on which workflows are most important to your marketing and sales teams.
Ask your teams:
- Which processes would be easier if they were automated?
- Which types of workflows would you like to have?
- What’s the toughest part about email marketing for you?
For many companies, either nurturing leads into viable MQLs or converting MQLs to SQLs is a commonplace to start. Smaller companies, in particular, don’t have the bandwidth to manually reach out to every single person who downloaded an eBook, so automating a series of emails for those who did, can save the marketing and sales teams time, while hopefully creating more qualified leads.
Based on your overarching goals and your marketing and sales teams’ priorities, list out 3-5 workflows you’d like to create.
Then, go to a dry erase board or a legal pad, not the software. Map out what you want to see before you approach the computer. Does the flow make sense? Where will it get bogged down? Save yourself hours of testing by going low tech to work the bugs out for each workflow.
Not every automated email sequence needs to be long and intricate. Sometimes the simplest workflows can be the most effective. While you are busy setting up more complex workflows, consider setting up some simple one-step emails, including:
- A simple follow-up for anyone who submits a “Request a Demo” or “Contact Us” form
- A one-step automation to follow up after a content download
- An “empty shopping cart” follow-up for someone who visited a product page but didn’t request a demo (note — this only works if the individual is previously cookied.)
Setting up some of these simple processes can help you hit the ground running quickly and provide some immediate gratification (and ROI of your software).
This is likely the most important step. Because marketing automation is, well, automated, you’ll be doing a lot of work on the front end to save time in the long run. So, be sure to carve out time in your days and weeks to:
- Map content (if you haven’t already)
- Write new content you need for your workflows
- Write email content for workflows
- Design emails (if necessary)
- Set up workflows
Once your automated workflows are set up, it is time to sit back and relax (kind of). You’ll want to let your new automated workflows run for a few months to get plenty of data so you can analyze what’s working and what’s not, and then strategize ways to improve. You will also want to use this information to create new workflows that make an impact.
Some key data points to analyze:
- Email open rates
- Email click-through rates
- Workflow goal conversion rate
- Number of enrolled individuals
Marketing automation is about saving you time in the long run, but you need to invest time and resources from the get-go to make it worthwhile. If your HealthTech company is interested in getting started with marketing automation and you’d like a partner to help, we’d love to talk to you.
Updated from October 11, 2018