When you are running a business online, you really want to make sure that you get ALL the benefits that you can. In order to do this, you might start looking online for different techniques and tactics than the usual ones. One technique or term that you may have run into is called Marketing Automation.
What exactly does this mean?
What are the benefits of marketing automation?
Do you have to be some huge company to take advantage of it or can anyone do it?
I’ll answer these and more questions for you, let’s dive in!
What Is Marketing Automation?
Marketing Automation is just what it sounds like; it automates marketing campaigns and other facets of marketing and makes it flow more easily and allows you, the owner, to work in a more efficient environment. Even if you’ve heard of this term before, there’s a good chunk of people out there that don’t. use.
Marketing is the bread and butter for ANY business online. Its the way to gain sales, get more customers, get more leads and of course to build a rapport with a customer. Over time as you build your business and you start to become more and more successful you might find that with successful also comes struggle. The struggle to keep up with everything going on. Struggle to reply to all the emails and support emails you get. The struggle to gain data insights. The struggle to keep everything organized. The struggle to post blog content. Eventually, this can lead to a really chaotic and stressful situation.
Are you making money?
Yes. But, with that comes a whole slew of headaches that you probably never thought possible. Hiring a marketing team would be one way to fix all of this, but marketing firms can become very expensive and while you are making good money, it might not be the kind of money where you can afford to hire some big whig marketing firm to carry out all of the duties for you.
This is where marketing automation comes into play. Marketing automation is not about people, that’s not the definition anyway, or how this works. Its all about software. Whatever can help you automate marketing efforts can be considered marketing automation. One fine example of when to use marketing automation is for your email lists. A dozen or fewer people to deal with in a list is easy. But, once you start getting 100s or even thousands of people to your newsletter or email lists it can be a whirlwind of stress and frustration.
Examples Of Marketing Automation Software
When you begin to look online for a marketing automation solution you begin to find websites and software that you never knew were even available. There are literally 100+ to choose from. Because of that, you are really going to want to do your own research. Find out how long each company has been in business. What do they cost? Do they have different features available that make them stand out from the rest? Do they have good reviews and are in good standing with the businesses they work with? These are all questions you should be asking yourself BEFORE you get involved with or buy a marketing automation software. Before we get ahead of ourselves, though, here are just a few examples of marketing automation that are available right now for newsletters:
This is a cloud-based marketing automation software program that allows you to also integrate inbound as well as outbound programs together. Act-On has two main pricing structures. The first one is for professional and it starts at around $600 a month. The other is Enterprise and starts at $2,000 a month. They also have a calculator to figure out the return on investment if you use their program, and even a mobile app to keep you on the go.
Hubspot is one of the more well-known companies that offers marketing automation. It first appeared back in 2008 and they are definitely one of the best options if you are thinking about marketing automation in your business. They also help you if you use inbound, outbound, and lead generation. Their marketing software starts at $200, $800 and $2,400 a month. The lower cost is perfect for people with under 100 subscribers while the more expensive one is perfect for businesses with 10,000 contacts or more. Obviously, with each option, there are different options and features available. A lot of the marketing gurus out there really love HubSpot.
The example images below are all from MailChimp’s automation feature. You can read more about it here.
This is a pretty old company and for good reason. They first started in 1999 and offer a cross channel solution. Their pricing starts at $2000 a month and goes up to $4000 a month. They also offer in between options and higher pricing packages are available BUT you need to consult with them beforehand to figure out the best option for your specific needs.
Marketo was first started in 2006 as a lead management company. But, they offer a whole array of services and features in 2016. Its one of the most sought after companies that a lot of businesses use because they offer good prices, value, and great features. Each “package” features a different cost.
If you are looking for a HUGE list of all the big named marketing automation services out there, this is a really good place to start: http://www.ngdata.com/top-marketing-automation-software-tools/ The writer Molly Galetto has included the TOP 50 marketing automation tools and apps available to someone such as yourself. This gives you a really good idea of what is available out there for you, as well as prices and features in case you are looking for something super specific. Her list includes a lot of the products I mentioned above, but some other options as well such as Pardot, Pica, Gentoo and more. Definitely, check her list out because its quite expansive.
Most companies will have a free trial option so that you can create an account go in and see if you like the setup, do they have the features and functions you want, at the price you need? The above-mentioned companies are just a few to check out, but that doesn’t mean you should stop there. NO company is one size fits all. They are all going to be different and what might be good for you might not be a good fit for someone else.
We are going to take a look at Mail Chimp since this is the one I am most familiar with and the one that I use the most for my own newsletter campaigns. Once you sign up with mail chimp and you verify your email, you can sign in. Once you sign in you will see 3 lines stacked on top of each other in the top left-hand corner. If you click that, a new menu will come up that will look like this:
Campaigns are a list of campaigns that you have run on your account. Obviously, since you just opened yours, you won’t see anything here.
Templates are email templates that are pre-designed by you. You can have as many as you want, which is really nice because it allows you to create ALL your campaigns on one account for your different newsletters and then save them here in the templates section.
Lists is going to be where you have all of your email lists. As far as I am aware you can have as many email lists as you want to. I have somewhere around 6 different lists right now.
Reports are essentially going to be the most important thing on your account besides automation. This is going to be where you can see ALL of your data in one place. You can see specific lists, click rates, open rates, click through, industry average open rate, and more. These stats are all available on a nicely organized graph. Reports also allow you to integrate things like Google Analytics tracking to see the traffic, as well as the revenue you created via that specific campaign. Here’s a little look at one
Lastly, if you click your little menu again you will see Automation. As mail chimp explains, this is a place to explore automation where you can create a targeted set of emails that will be sent out on a specific date or for a specific event or even depending on a subscribers activity. Lets just take a look at a few of the automated options available and a little bit more about mail chimp before we move on to other types of marketing automation!
E-Commerce and Retail
This is for businesses that are in the e-commerce or retail niches and they want to send new and repeat customers certain messages, sale discounts or even re-engage with people that are on your list, but haven’t purchased something in awhile.
This would be a good option for a person that has a band and sells music on their website, a music store that sells music such as digital content on their website (kind of like iTunes), or another type of music website. You can do ALL sorts of things with this option such as share new music with your list, share when your brand will be touring, new album release announcements, following up after shows with people who came or didn’t come to the show, people that are current listeners and new fans as well as old fans, people that downloaded something from your website and more.
Other sections include; nonprofit, education, list activity date based, custom marketing automation and of course integration.
Other Forms Of Marketing Automation
There ARE other forms of marketing automation besides just newsletters and email lists, though that is the most commonly used reason for marketing automation, there are other options available.
These are used for when a new customer joins your website, creates an account or even signs up with your newsletter. They will be sent an email welcoming them to the perspective action. You can include an array of topics in these welcome programs such as what your website offers, new and upcoming products, tell them a little bit about you/your business and why it was started, etc. If you’ve ever signed up with a website you have probably received one of these and NO its not a person sending this out to 10000 people. Its marketing automation!
These are incredibly useful for people that may have opened and email but didn’t click the link inside or follow through with a certain link. It is capable of sending them a reminder along side a deal, for example, ends tonight, buy anything on the website and get free shipping. Again, if you’ve ever signed up for a website or newsletter you’ve probably gotten one of these!
Win Back Programs
These are perfect for people that joined your website, set up an account or even joined your newsletter but they never bought anything. You can send an email out to someone that has never bought anything OR you can send out an email to those that have something in their cart but never completed the purchase. This sends a reminder email about their cart and also can send recommendations to other products they should check out.
These are for your customers that registered for something bought something or joined up with your newsletter. They are automatically sent and can include all sorts of things like giving them the ability to revisit the store, other products they should check out, the ability to share your website and invite a friend to purchase something, and more.
Other examples of marketing automation (reference Marketo)
Benefits Of Using Marketing Automation
Well you already know one benefit, that is the fact that its automated! But, what are some of the other benefits to using marketing automation that might be important to someone such as yourself?
Frees Up Your Time
If you sit there and sent out an email to every single person that signed up for your newsletter, every person that made a purchase, every person that asked a question, every person that visited your website – you would literally have no time for anything else, including time for yourself, time to eat or sleep, or time for other parts of your business. Marketing automation helps you to free up some time so that you can focus on OTHER aspects of your business. For most people, this benefit alone is the one that makes them use marketing automation.
Produces Quality Reporting
Most people that have a business online know that while sales matter, what matters, even more, are stats, reports, analytics, etc. These little tidbits of data are going to allow you to continue to be successful or help you understand why you aren’t successful. They help you see goals where you didn’t think you had any, they allow you to look in on what is going on in your business and truly see where your marketing efforts need help or need more attention. Any marketing automation tool you use is going to do just that. In fact, most of the free ones will include stats and data that you can also export into other marketing programs or give to your marketing manager so that they know where you need to focus more attention or less attention for that matter.
Allows For AB Testing
What is A/B testing? A/B testing allows you to send out a split testing campaign within ONE campaign to see which tactics are the most effective and which ones are not. This gives you a better idea on which options work better and which ones don’t.
Inexpensive To Use
Uh hello! If you measure the cost of hiring someone to do all of these techniques for you versus joining a website like Mail Chimp you are going to see a HUGE difference. A marketing firm might cost anywhere between $1000 to $5000 to use. Mail Chimp costs a fraction of that. In fact, with a company like Mail Chimp you can use all of the features we mentioned above FOR FREE. If you have between 0-2000 subscribers you can use the website for free. If you have between 2000-20,000 subscribers you can use the website and its features for around $150 a month. If you are a booming business and you have 20,000+ subscribers you would be paying about $160-$200 a MONTH! I mean come on, that is nuts, why would you hire a firm for thousands when you could just have someone in house who writes the newsletter content for your automation efforts, pay them, and then use a site like Mail Chimp? Its common sense. Plus the higher the program you get into on Mail Chimp the more features and benefits they offer. Unlike some of the other marketing strategies or programs out there, there is no learning curve with a marketing automation software. Anyone can use them no matter your education level or your age. This is also beneficial because it means you don’t need to hire someone to come in and figure everything out for you and pay yet another person!
Cuts Staffing Costs
Over the past few years more and more people have been saying that sometime down the line (which is now) robots are going to be taking over jobs for real people. Well, that time has come. Using marketing automation WILL allow you to have a smaller staff. Its said on a few of these marketing automation articles and websites that when you use marketing automation software you can use ONE person to do 50 people’s jobs when it comes to marketing campaigns, lead generation, and sales. Imagine that. This is actually ONE of the many reasons WHY this works for ANY company, but also why marketing automation works really well for smaller companies.
If you are just starting out, chances are you don’t have the funds, the capabilities or the room for 50 employees. If you just hired one or two to do the marketing automation that could still benefit you, still earn you money and still increase your revenue. Maybe more so than 50 people could. Lets take a look at this for a second because I think its important to understand just how much it would cost to hire 50 employees OR a marketing firm OR use marketing automation.
25 Sales People: A sales person tends to make around $49,000 a year = $1,225,000 a year
25 Marketing People: On the low end a marketer might make $20,000 on the high $60,000. Lets go with a salary right in the middle $40,000 a year. $40,000 x 25 = $1,000,00
That alone is a lot of money. This isn’t something that just anyone can afford. Especially if you are a small business, just starting out or just a small freelancing business.
Increase In Revenue
That’s right. You read that correctly. Businesses that use marketing automation DO see an increase in revenue versus businesses that do not.
More Effective Time Wise
If you have a newsletter, it probably took you months, maybe years to collect all of the people on that list. This can’t really be short cutted, but the process of creating templates, creating content, creating the campaigns – this all takes time. Unless you use a more automated process. Sites like Mail Chimp and the other ones mentioned above really help you to create a campaign as quickly as possible so that you can get it created and get it out to your customers. Not only do sites like Mail Chimp give you the ability to quickly create templates, for example, but they also have pre-selected templates for use as well. For example, if you would log in to your Mail Chimp Account you would see three options for templates. They include; basic, themes and create your own (code your own).
Basic includes very basic minimalistic designs such as 1 column banded, 1 column, 1:2 column and 1:3 banded. There are something like 25 pre-designed templates.
Themes: These allow you to choose from certain them sets like Facebook Friendly, Holiday, Food, Photography, Real Estate and More.
Code your own, allows you to code your own if you want to.
The point is, is that themes and basic allow you to quickly create that perfect template. Not only can you choose the set up of how the template is set up and the themes, but within both theme and basic you can then choose other features and options such as; drag and drop text, images, dividers, social share options, social follow options, colors, buttons, videos and more. Its very easy and there are a lot of options. Essentially a total newbie could go in and have never done this before, could create an email template. in less than 15 minutes. That’s a huge time saver and money saver. Also, because they allow you to choose things like adding your own colors and logo it will allow you to create brand awareness and place your brand within your newsletters.
Questions To Ask Yourself About Your Marketing Automation Campaigns
If you are getting into marketing automation and you aren’t really seeing what all the fuss is about, it could be, perhaps, that you got a little too overzealous. Its important that you balance ANY marketing techniques properly. Even something as simple as social posts – you don’t. want to post 15 times on your Facebook. It becomes annoying to your fan page fans, it sucks up all the space in their news feed so they can’t see any other posts about anyone else, and its just annoying. Same goes with marketing automation. Here are a few questions you will want to ask yourself before you set anything up, while you are going through the process of collecting data and creating campaigns and of course the end results:
Am I Contacting People Too Often
If you see a rise in unsubscribes or you are getting abuse complaints, chances are yes, you are probably emailing people way too much. Look at some of the websites you’ve joined over the past few years and a number of emails they send out. Surely they too became overzealous and sent out an annoyingly amount of emails – in which you UNSUBBED. Now look at your own emails. Make sure that you pay attention to the metrics on your marketing automation account and look for signs that you might be emailing people too often. It’s really easy to get carried away with this, so make sure that you always check your metrics for inside info.
Are People Engaged With My Emails and Content?
In order to figure out if people are liking your emails, simply look at the metrics for click rates, click-through, open rates and more. If you are sending out an email to 200 people on your list and only 2 people keep opening them or clicking to your website or sharing your newsletter to their friends, chances are your content and email content might not be as interesting or exciting as you thought it was. Hate to be blunt, but its definitely something to consider. When you are writing your own content you can’t be biased. It’s sort of impossible. No one writes a piece of content and says, man this sucks. No. Instead, we ALL think we are awesome and can write content like James Patterson. But, the truth is, maybe your content isn’t good. Maybe the newsletter is boring. Maybe it’s not informative enough. Maybe it’s not giving people what they really want.
What Types Of Emails Are Most Liked
Check your reports on which emails got the most opens, which ones got the most reads, which ones got the most clicks. This will lead to a lot of unanswered questions. For example, if you are seeing a lot of opens, this means that your title subject was good, since this is really all people can see when they get it to their in boxes. If you got a lot of click through to your website, what was the content about? What color templates did you use? These are the things to look at! Maybe you sent out a email newsletter with 250 words, images, and a video – maybe it got clicked on 500 times by your 700 subscribers and maybe from those 500 clicks you got 100 sales. On the other hand. Maybe you sent out an email that was very stark, boring, dreary or uninformation. Perhaps you sent it out to your 700 subscribers and only 5 people opened it. Out of those 5, only 2 clicked links. Out of those 2 NO one bought anything. See, this is why you need to pay attention to your stats for each specific email to find out what works and what does not work. I assure you that if you keep sending out emails that people do not like, or that are boring, or spammy (overly promotional) you will start to see another stat on your reports that no one likes to see: unsubscribed.
Who Can Use Marketing Automation?
If you are one of the people that don’t use marketing automation simply because you think you don’t. have the right type of business or the right amount of customers or newsletter sign ups, think again. Marketing automation software can be and should be used by anyone. It doesn’t matter if you are a small business and only has 10 or so people working for you. It doesn’t matter if you are a freelance writer and all you have is a website, a newsletter, some services/products and a dream. It also doesn’t matter if you are some giant corporation with 50000 employees working under you and you make $1B annually. Anyone that wants to automate their marketing efforts and has an email list or sends out emails to their customers or potential customers CAN effectively use marketing automation software. Not only can any sized business use this but also any niche. You could be in the education niche, government niche, technology, software or anything else in between.
As you can see from all of the information, stats and images from above, marketing automation is not only something new but its also not something that you should pass up. Even if you only consider the time efficiency and money effectiveness of marketing automation, that alone should give you enough insight to start using it. Add in all of the other amazing benefits of using marketing automation and you begin to see why so many of the big marketing gurus DO use this type of marketing integration. Even though somewhere around 90% of the population that owns businesses are NOT using marketing automation right now, I think that over the next few years we will see an increase in more people trying it and actually adding it to their marketing efforts. If nothing else, find some of those free to use or free trial sites like Mail Chimp, create an account and give it a try for 6 months. See if it adds any benefits to your business; helps you save time, helps you save money, helps you make money, keeps you more organized, etc. If it’s not working for you or its not working for your specific company size, then fine. But, you won’t know if it’ll make a difference unless you actually give it a whirl and see!