Today, marketing automation is a useful, even indispensable tool for your relationship marketing activities. Your time is a very valuable resource, and it is important to use it wisely. So, spending most of your time performing repetitive and easily automated actions is not exactly efficient.
What’s more, the principle is very simple: you prepare your messages, establish your sending rules and the technology takes care of the rest. Of course, developing your strategy is an important part of the process and will take more time. However, you only have to think about it once at the beginning and adjust it a few times afterward to make sure it’s still relevant over time. However, if it’s a campaign that has a definite start and end, that’s even better! Simply develop your strategy, set it up and leave it alone until it is completed (unless there is an error to correct or other exceptions like this).
In marketing automation, several relationship campaigns are possible, and here are some examples:
- Welcome a subscriber to your mailing list;
- Transaction confirmation;
- Abandoned shopping cart;
- Reactivation of inactive contact;
- Lead nurturing (to learn a prospect’s purchasing cycle);
- Satisfaction survey after a transaction;
- Birthday greetings;
- Renewal of a contract;
- Expired warranty;
- Uploading documents to your website;
- Contact request via a form on your website;
In fact, the wonderful thing is that this is by no means an exhaustive list. Indeed, the majority of your campaigns can be automated. Simply set up a sequence of communications that repeats from one contact to another, thinking about the trigger and its end(s). Even for the creation of one-time campaigns, there are ways to automate them as well.
Despite the effectiveness of automated marketing, we still see many of our clients not using this strategy, or just starting with simple automated sequences. Whether you’re new to the field or more advanced in your approaches, we still want to show you the keys to successful marketing automation.
Above all, it is important to know that any automated marketing sequence must meet a clear objective. So, before you even begin to develop your scenario, you must have this objective in mind. Because without a goal, you won’t know what to measure. Whether it’s an awareness, sales, or loyalty objective, it will be your starting point and guide all your actions. It will also tell you, at that point, what performance indicators (or KPIs) you will want to track throughout your campaign. Although the analysis stage comes later in the process, the KPIs should be established upstream to facilitate this.
Marketing Automation, exactly like storytelling
Automated marketing often involves a series of messages that aim to encourage your customers or prospects to take action. In the example below, we present an automated process in which a visitor to your website subscribes to your newsletter. Following subscription, an automated welcome message is sent to the person. This message contains a discount coupon for their first purchase. A reminder is sent one week later if the coupon has not been used.
Think of your automated marketing sequence as a story. This story has, of course, a beginning, an adventure, then an end. It’s the same with your automated sequence. And when you create your story, you need to answer three questions that are essential to understanding the story: When? What? and Who? These three issues are also critical to the success of your campaign. These are the three pillars we will address:
1. The right time: The when?
Several elements fall into this category: there is the timing of the campaign, the delay between each communication, the timing of each action in the sequence, the triggers, and then the end. These are all very important temporal elements in your sequence.
So let’s start with…
The time of the campaign
If we go back to our comparison with telling a story, this element is a bit like placing our story in time. The timing of our campaign can be very important. This is even more true if you’re doing a campaign related to a specific period. For example, your campaign is for the summer season, or you’re doing a campaign for Valentine’s Day… Regardless of the event, and even if there is no specific event, it is important to think about it.
And then there’s…
The initial trigger
If you want your message sequence to work, you will need to determine a campaign trigger. Triggers can be multiple, just as there can be only one. This depends on the different possible entries in the sequence and the different actions that trigger the automated process.
What triggers your sequence could be just about anything:
- An action taken by your contact: the download of a resource, a purchase made, a completed form, a subscription to the newsletter, a download of the mobile app, etc.
- A specific date: Christmas mailing on December 25th at 8:00 am
- One goal met: One client spent at least $150, three visits to the website in 5 days, four separate purchases made by the same client in one month, etc.
- Any behavior whatsoever: Abandoning a shopping cart, interest in a specific product category, adding items to favorites, new contact or customer, not opening an e-mail, product viewed, etc.
- An import of your contacts.
These are just a few examples of the many possibilities available to you.
Now let’s move on to…
Waiting time between communications
The rule you use to determine the best moment to conduct every action is very important. An automated marketing tool should offer a feature where you can determine your sending times based on a part of a date, e.g. x days before a certain date, x months after, x weeks after, on the day of, etc.
There’s no miracle formula to determine the ideal timeframe. As a guide for deciding the day, date, and time, use the purchasing cycle of your products or services, or any information you have about your customers’ shopping habits.
And last but not least…
Here, it’s very simple: each branch of your automated marketing scenario must have a defined end, so you know when it has come to an end. You can reactivate your contact as many times as you want, but without an end, your sequence will be composed of several branches of open scenarios that will not have a determined end. So be sure to set a limit to the number of times your contact can ignore your actions and insert an endpoint at that point in the sequence. For example, after three ignored (i.e. unopened) emails, the sequence will end.
2. Relevant and personalized contents: The what?
The content that your marketing automation sequence will contain depends greatly on your type of campaign. Here are a few examples:
- Nurturing Campaign: Content that gradually leads to sales, non-aggressive, educational content, and gives arguments in favor of your business.
- Welcome Campaign: Educational content about the company, may contain a welcome promotion, but not aggressive, the tone is more welcoming.
- Shopping cart abandonment campaign: go all-in in order to restart the purchase process, more aggressive, may contain a promotional offer.
- Birthday card: Promotional content, the tone is attentive, we show that we care about our customers.
Okay, you get the idea! Another aspect that will have an impact on your content is the number of entries of your contacts. For example, for a sequence aimed at new subscribers to the newsletter, these contacts could have subscribed in different ways (website, event, store, profile modification form, etc.). This could affect your content in one way or another. And even if it does not affect your content, you should still be aware of this when creating your content.
But the most important thing, of course, is to always be relevant. Relevance comes through personalized content. As mentioned above, an automated campaign is usually integrated into a communication scenario responding to an Internet user’s action (registering on a form, downloading a document, making a purchase, etc.). And using personalized content, adapted to this business relationship and its context, certainly allows you to win the hearts of your contacts. As we all know, mass content is not attractive to a future customer, or even to an existing customer.
There are a few ways to put personalization into an automated sequence:
- Create multiple branches with multiple conditions that will be placed within your scenario. For example, a store that sells eyewear could offer models based on eye color to match. The If’s would then be if blue eyes, brown eyes, etc. Based on that, product proposition would differ to harmonize the whole.
- Use dynamic content in the messages that are part of your sequence, which manages the assignment of multiple content options from parts of your mailings in the sequence.
Dialog Insight includes these advanced customization options. If you are or will be looking for a technology solution, make sure that personalization is a well-thought-out aspect in the automated marketing module.
3. An up-to-date subscriber database: The who?
The third essential element of an effective marketing automation sequence is getting the right message to the right people. To do this, the contact selection rules must be very precise and your database must be kept up to date.
For example, make sure you have up-to-date renewal data so that you don’t invite a customer to renew if they have already done so. Also, do not send a notice of an abandoned cart if the customer has just completed the transaction. According to your automated scenarios, you can define the ideal frequency of updating your data: real-time, daily, weekly, monthly, etc.
Contact selection is always done at the beginning of the campaign, in the trigger. A scenario can affect your entire database (if the information is present, of course), for example, to send messages during a contact’s birthday month. In a year’s time, a good percentage of your database will have been affected. Other scenarios can be much more selective, notably based on specific behaviors (visiting a web page, consulting products, registering for an event, etc.). In between, there will be sequences that will affect larger portions of your database, such as contacts that are recognized as a type of persona, or based on their level of loyalty in your system.
Make sure you choose these selection rules carefully since all selected contacts will be exposed to at least one action in your sequence. Obviously, the more the sequence advances in time, the fewer contacts you will have that meet the criteria, especially if they do not interact with your messages.
Finally, when you set the selection criteria for your groups, also consider the number of contacts who have this field completed in their profile. For example, regarding the birthday campaign mentioned above, if the date of birth is not often collected in your forms or other … it will be difficult to have a very effective campaign since few people will enter the sequence.
There is a lot to think about when developing your marketing automation strategy. On the other hand, if you bring together those 3 pillars, i.e. the right timing, relevant content, and sent to the right people, you will be on the right track.
Naturally, you must always keep an eye on your automated campaigns. Ensure that your messages are always current, check your results, and make changes if necessary.
Automated marketing strategies offer many opportunities. To ensure that everything goes according to plan, please feel free to ask our experts for advice.