E-mail Marketing Automation: Five Realities

E-mail Marketing Automation: Five Realities

Five things you should know about e-mail marketing automation before you setup your system.

E-mail marketing automation has been around for several years, and it’s gotten more sophisticated over time.

To define it for our purposes in this article, e-mail marketing automation is an email marketing platform—usually connected to a company’s customer relationship management system—that automates some of the steps in a company’s lead-generation efforts.

Typically, in marketing automation, a company sends an email to a contact list and then nurtures and develops the resulting leads through further messages. Often, the e-mails drive people to products, articles, videos, or information on the company’s website, or to make a phone call. These calls and visits are tracked, and they trigger follow-on communications tailored to the prospect’s interest or action.

The benefits of all this? When done well, email marketing automation helps companies qualify and nurture the leads they receive through lead-generation efforts, whether the efforts are primarily based in email, snail mail, conferences, social media, or a combination.

Marketing automation takes over the more mundane tasks of systematized marketing so that staff members can focus on areas that require their unique focus. And marketing automation helps with efforts to measure marketing and sales efforts—a huge plus.

Sound good? It is. Yet before you jump in with both feet, let’s review five key considerations that every company should consider before embarking on a marketing-automation effort:

1. Automation Doesn't Stand Alone

Ah, the quest for the silver bullet: The one marketing activity that eliminates the need for all others and generates heretofore unseen revenue.

It doesn’t exist.

Email marketing automation is fantastic, but it doesn’t stand alone. Companies need to make it part of their ongoing, coordinated marketing efforts for it to truly succeed.

The bright side? Marketing efforts that work together in a coordinated fashion generate far higher returns than any one tactic standing alone.

2. It Requires Careful, Ongoing Planning

Before you set up your automation sequences, you need to map the different customer journeys carefully. This process doesn't have to be formal—it might even look like a football playbook—yet looking at the entire picture will make your campaigns more effective.

You want to nurture your customers or prospects—not confuse them. Why did they get an e-mail about men’s clothing when they’ve only ever purchased children’s clothes from you? Why did they receive information about upgrades and plugins for your software packages when they’ve never purchased them? Why did they receive an email promoting a product they’ve already purchased, shortly after their purchase?

Doing marketing automation in such a way that it nurtures your customers and target customers requires that you carefully plan your sequences and your marketing-automation processes and it means that you need to implement triggers that change contacts’ automation paths and, in certain cases, remove them from the sequence entirely. Further, you need to keep these sequences and processes updated and carefully organized.

3. Automation Only Takes You So Far

Marketing automation should streamline and improve your team’s focus—not remove your team from the process.

People like interacting with people. A machine can’t do all the work, or eventually people lose interest. You need to ensure that your sales and marketing teams work together to make direct human-to-human interaction part of their sales and marketing processes.

In addition, no one person is exactly like any other one person. Marketing automation segments people according to their demographics, behaviors, corporate functions, their seeming interest in one or another product or service, and so forth. However, as an example, all CFOs are not the same; their interest in any given service may not be the same.

Relying too heavily on assumptions can, at best, create prospect disinterest and, at worst, frustration. Marketing automation can help humans do their jobs more effectively—yet it does not replace them.

4. You Must Still Create Content

Marketing automation requires high-value content that drives people to your website or encourages them to return to your website to make a transaction, such as a purchase, a request for a consultation, or a sign-up for an event or newsletter.

And that’s typically just the first touch.

Subsequent messages to the contact require additional content tailored to the prospect’s specific interest. Unless you have a lot of content that you can provide—or the ability to generate content—marketing automation won’t give you the results you seek.

You can automate the different marketing touches, but you still need to create the content to feed the machine.

5. It Must Work with Your Overall Marketing

If you don’t have an overall marketing strategy and plan that tracks to your company’s goals and indicates how each marketing effort ties into achieving those goals before you set up your marketing automation, you’re wasting valuable time and money.

Marketing automation will never be worth the often-extensive investment it requires if you have no overarching plan or program within which it will operate.

Don’t spend a bunch of time and money on a system and then decide how it fits into your strategy. Bad move.

You Still Need the Marketing Baselines

The term “marketing automation” evokes a magical world in which all your work is done for you. It conjures a miraculous vision of software and systems that can simply take over the marketing and sales work.

Not so fast.

Just as some prognosticators were sure that paper would be extinct long before now, this is a myth. Marketing automation is a valuable tool, but it doesn’t eliminate the need for marketing strategy and management by humans with definite expertise.

Don’t have the baseline marketing you need to get the marketing results you require? FrogDog can help. Contact us today for a free consultation.

Posted: Mar 12, 2012
Updated: Oct 16, 2020
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