Whether we like to admit it or not, automation plays a major role in our 21st-century lives. From marketing automation and email apps to Siri and Alexa helping us schedule our calendars to smart homes turning our lights on and off. Not to mention the technology that enables your car to almost park itself or remind you of a vehicle in the blind spot.
If we accept that automation is in our personal lives, why are so few companies really optimising it for business? It comes down to the simple fact that business owners want to be in control. They want to create, manage and adapt customer experiences themselves as some believe that marketing automation is less personable.
That’s part of the problem as people just don’t understand that the right combination of tech and human interaction can provide a highly personalised experience.
Marketing Automation In Business
Successfully marketing your business comes down to a few things, starting with effective market research. You need to know your target audience to provide them with the best, and most relevant, content, products or services.
While it’s not impossible to do things without marketing automation, it does make it a heck of a lot easier. When you know your target market and the type of content they’re after, combining a marketing automation tool and personalisation can lead to tremendous success. Here’s how to do it.
Segment Your Leads Using Free Offers Or Specials
Everyone person you deal with is an individual and treating them as such is essential. For some businesses, segmenting leads according to their expected value and place in the pipeline make sense but it doesn’t guarantee the best customer experience.
By now, you should know that buying lead lists is a very bad idea and should be avoided at all costs. It doesn’t matter how good the company says their lead data is, you won’t know until it’s too late. The ideal process to follow is a ‘user-first segmentation strategy’.
How To Implement A User-first Segmentation Strategy
One way to achieve this is by using free content and services. Not only is it mostly cheaper than buying lead lists (and better) but it also encourages reciprocity. Here, prospects feel the need to reciprocate by signing up for your service or free offer which means you are generating more organic qualified leads.
This is known as the reciprocity principle which comes from psychology and UX design. It has been described as “a social norm of responding to a positive action with another positive action, rewarding kind actions.” (Wikipedia).
What you offer is only limited to your budget and creativity. Think about quizzes, surveys, eBooks, whitepapers, how-to guides, first-purchase discounts, free trials or free products. Another powerful offer is invitations to exclusive events. By incorporating coupons and discount offers into your email-automation system can help scale the delivery.
Related: ‘Different Types Of Market Segmentation’
Use Buyer Personas To Identify Your Target Audience
As mentioned earlier, the right content comes from knowing who you are targeting. There is no better way to do this than by using buyer personas. This means you need to understand them in terms of their questions, challenges and needs. There may be several personas depending on the type of business you run but make sure they closely match your likely prospects.
There are three distinct types of data you want to collect from your customers:
- Identity – Age, sex, occupation, social media accounts and properties the customer may own
- Behavioural – Clicks, communication and downloads (all actions a customer takes online)
- Volunteered – Opinions, motivations, history etc. Information that requires more than a simple binary answer
Once you have set up buyer personas, you can start creating content and build your marketing automation campaigns. This is where personalisation comes in but it’s more than just a first name.
Recommended: ‘How To Create Buyer Personas From Real Data’
Follow A Multi-Channel Approach
With more people being online across various platforms, it’s no good targeting your audience using just one or two marketing channels. Don’t rely on the ‘shotgun approach’ and random email blast campaigns as it could turn out to be an expensive exercise bearing little to no fruit.
To be successful at marketing automation, your campaigns should feature a multi-channel approach with many touchpoints. These include dynamic website and email content, social media, re-targeting and physical interaction from your sales team. If you did your market research correctly and identified the right buyer personas, you should know which channels to target and at what frequency.
Marketing Automation And Personalisation
Marketing automation isn’t a silver bullet and nor does it miraculously generate leads out of thin air. These systems need the input of people who put in place methods of collecting the right type of data. The information they collect will ultimately determine how much (or little) you can personalise communications.
Too many companies are sending generic, one-size-fits-all emails only featuring your first name as a method of “personalisation”. Fact is, there are many ways to get creative with email personalisation. You could use colours or specific images to customise emails according to the recipient’s gender. A car service company can send customised maintenance reminders which include the person’s information as well as vehicle details.
If you think about all the data points you’ve collected, i.e. age, gender, location and occupation, use these attributes to tailor your communications as much as possible.
Using Dynamic Content And Timing
Often in business, the simplest automation is the most valuable, especially for companies with multiple products or service offers. Some companies use dynamic content on their social media ads based on the user’s current weather conditions or physical location. A clothing company could show jackets, scarves and gloves when it’s raining or snowing and swimwear or skirts when it’s warm and sunny.
Another good idea for dynamic content is holiday marketing campaigns. This can include national and religious holidays and while it may depend on your core customer base, it provides a great opportunity. If it’s Halloween, show some pumpkins or scary decorations to attract more attention. Christmas marketing is a given and you can also tweak the content to wish a user happy birthday, for example.
Maximise Your Home Page
More than half of marketers agree that email marketing campaigns are still one of the most powerful methods but don’t forget about websites. According to an Econsultancy and RedEye study, only 1 in 4 company marketers were actually personalising websites. That’s rather surprising since the main benefit of website personalisation is a drastic improvement in conversion rates.
A dynamic home page can provide your business with the best possible opportunity for personalisation and marketing automation. You can set up your website and marketing automation to trigger depending on certain traits of people looking at something specific. For example, female visitors aged between 25 and 45 could see a different home page than those older than 45.
Related: ‘What Is A Dynamic Web Page?’
Need Help With Your Marketing Automation Efforts?
Considering that your website is the first and primary interaction for many prospects, why not invest in a dynamic website? Whatever you decide to do, make sure it speaks to their specific needs. Using a ‘catch-all’ approach on your website or landing pages won’t truly speak to a specific visitor’s needs.
For those concerned about losing control, the best marketing automation tools and tactics actually give you more control. While it’s near impossible to create a custom experience for every likely prospect on your radar, with a little bit of effort and good market research, automation technology can.