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How to series: 5 simple automation flows to get you started

If you're wondering how to get started with automation, we've got five simple marketing automation flows you should consider using to get you up and running.

What is marketing automation?

At its heart and simply put, marketing automation is the process of automating a marketing function. Today, the sophisticated marketing flows and campaigns produced by some of the world’s biggest brands are due in no small part to this automation.

There are so many reasons why marketing automation has become an industry buzzword. With nearly 20 years of software, guidance and businesses set up specifically to cater for it, it’s no surprise that 'marketing automation' has come in and out of our consciousness over time - and now we are now talking about it again. In this article, I’m assuming that you have worked in marketing for a short period so you are familiar with some of the core marketing theories around personas, user journeys and conversion rate optimisation (CRO).


When do you need to invest in automation?

You need to invest when the time is right! That tipping point tends to be when a business has already gone through a period of growth and is at the point where you cannot expand the marketing team quickly enough (slow growth is good growth). There tends to be more marketing tasks that need to be carried out than there is resource. 

At this point, a marketer’s time could easily be spent doing the mundane ‘marketing admin’ tasks that come with running a campaign or managing digital assets: sending follow up emails in drip feed campaigns, form submissions, scheduling social posts, etc. You want your marketers to do the creative, big-thinking stuff you employ them for and limit the amount of work that can be taken care of by an intern (or a machine).


Which marketing automation software should I use?

There’s so much good stuff out there, that it’s probably better left to you to review sites and others to summarise the entire market. However, the ones we have experience with and would recommend to clients (depending on their needs) include:

  • Hubspot
  • Marketo
  • Infusionsoft
  • Kentico EMS
  • Pardot
  • Mailchimp
  • Campaign Monitor
  • Google Data Studio

These tools vary on their price-points, actual functionality (Mailchimp and Campaign Monitor being specific to email, for example) and target audience, but they are all designed to help the marketer achieve better lead generation, engagement and ROI.

It ultimately depends on what your goal is, what resource you have, what resource gap you are trying to fill and the budget you have to invest.


How do I get started with marketing automation?

Once you’ve selected your software and want to dip your toe into the proverbial water of automation, here are 5 easy-to-implement flows to get you started:


 ‘The event follow up’


Rather than a generic ‘Thanks for registering’ autoresponder, consider taking users on a journey before the event. This makes sure they are not only engaged with you right up to the event but also allows you to set expectations, provide additional value, and demonstrate your professionalism and authority. It also helps decrease the chance of drop outs, in some cases by 107%.

This ‘real life’ flow uses Kentico’s automation feature in their EMS offering to essentially provide a series of updates on the event that sets expectation and at the end of it, even segments the attendees into those that have engaged with them leading up to the event and those that have not.

Things to bear in mind

This step assumes that you have:

  • Set up email templates
  • Know the contact groups you wish to segment into
  • Identified an ideal journey to take your potential lead on


A drip feed campaign

Drip feed campaigns are a great way to slowly ‘nudge’ your prospects / leads / customers along the journey you wish them to take. This example, taken from HubSpot’s workflow automation, shows a user. The system follows up with something else that is highly relevant to that first piece. If you know they have engaged with this second piece of content (by tracking a click to the resource or you measure a pageview) you can probably make a case for reaching out to them. If you choose to talk to the prospect after this, you have a starting point for conversation and roughly know the level of knowledge of the person you are preparing to speak to.

Things to bear in mind

This step assumes that you have:

  • A fantastic initial piece of content to draw users to (like our Google Ads Strategy guide)
  • A second piece of related content to reach out with


Lead scoring prospects

Lead scoring is often a subject that, in my opinion, gets over-complicated and under-used. It’s starts with a very simple spreadsheet, which defines the actions a user can take on your site that are worth something to you.

Not only will this help you laser focus efforts for your site, but it will also help you naturally optimise the site to help hit the goals you’ve laid out in your DMMM. If the activities you measure and score help you identify targets then you can start to see where in a user journey you can optimise, where the most value comes from and what the most engaging content you write is (given that users take direct action as a result afterwards). This should help:

  • Optimise your site content
  • Better plan your content strategy
  • Make better strategic use of CTAs
  • Understand the user journeys (from an engagement perspective) and better help you define your personas


Things to bear in mind

This step assumes that you have:

  • Identified personas you want to work with
  • Can track when an activity is performed


Go get your NPS score!

5 simple automation flows to get you started  - Distinction Thoughts - Marketing automation - Kentico - NPS automation

A positive Net Promoter Score (NPS) should be top of your list of priorities if customer experience is at the heart of your product/service. In a world full of different review platforms, the humble NPS score is still one of the most trusted and valued customer feedback you can receive. This Hubspot article is a fantastic summary of how easy it is to set up on their platform.

Here’s how it looks in Kentico:

The trigger in this automation flow is the NPS form being filled in. What we’re doing here shows that not only are we garnering scores from our customers, but we are putting active promoters of our business into a contact group and further clarifying WHY others gave the score they did (and in one instance sending them something for free).


Quickly re-engage inactive leads / old customers

There are so many business reasons why you would want to re-engage customers that have fallen away or leads that have gone quiet. It’s much easier to sell to someone that already knows who you/your brand compared to someone new, and leads may just need some ‘nudging’ to get over the line. Whatever your reason is for the re-engagement, a little bit of automation can save you hours (if not days) of time, as well as the manual effort of getting back in touch.


Bonus round

We’ve also seen clients use very simple automation to help:

  • Put staff through training programmes
  • Assist with after sales support
  • Cross-sell and up-sell products
  • Abandon shopping cart re-engagement
  • Reward loyal, high spending customers
  • Trigger social posts to go out when a new blog is pushed live


Summary

Automation should not be seen as a behemoth that only big brands with endless budgets can utilise. As long as you have the tools to help you, you can achieve so much with some of these practical examples that will save (over the course of a year) potentially thousands of manhours. As a result, you can pay employees to get on with the jobs that they were employed to do in the first place!

If you want to chat about automation and how you could use it then do reach out to me on social media or drop me an email.

Author:Henry France

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