For many marketers, the promise of marketing automation solutions seems unattainable. They’re too expensive or too complicated to learn. I dispelled those myths and a number of others in OutMarket’s “Modern Marketing Manifesto.”
Today, I want to dispel another myth: marketing automation is a silver bullet. Implementing automation software won’t automatically increase engagement and conversions. To achieve those results, marketers have to optimize both their marketing automation and communications.
Optimization can be thought of as a blend of art and science. Combining the two ingredients within a marketing automation suite produces better customer experiences and more awareness, leads, and revenue.
Five essentials are needed to optimize marketing automation:
“If you don’t know where you’re going, just about any road will get you there,” Yogi Berra once said. Marketing without goals is like taking a road trip without a planned destination. While the journey might be enjoyable for a while, the frustration of never arriving anywhere begins to wear on the most patient of travellers. Everyone returns home more or less worse for the wear.
Successful marketing finds its roots in goals, the “destination,” and key performance indicators (KPIs), the “road markers” that show the marketing is on track. When it veers off course, marketers can quickly steer it back onto the right road and keep it moving in the right direction.
Data is very, very big. It’s data about marketing efforts. It’s data about customers. It’s data about website traffic and clickthrough rates. This much data is impossible to understand without tools like marketing automation and social monitoring.
Marketing automation helps to make sense of the data. It shows how different channels impact an overall campaign. Depending on what the marketer tracks, the data can reveal audience perception and sentiment and even analyze changes in both.
All that data can be used to guide content creation and to track how that content translates into outcomes and KPIs. Real-time data can even be used to create content and campaigns that tie into a breaking trend, topic, or event.
Optimization requires goals and data, but it won’t get very far without experimentation. Experimentation, or testing communications – both visual and written – is the fuel needed for this race. You learn what content works well with certain audience segments. Experimentation shows what times are likely to see higher engagement rates.
Experimentation can sometimes seem like a dull business when setting up yet another split A/B campaign, but that’s where the exciting data is found. Those tests reveal what the audience will respond to, and which campaigns deliver desired results.
If experimentation is the fuel, creativity is a necessary additive. It keeps the body running at peak performance and makes the experiments work at their best.
I know some marketers fear marketing automation software will diminish their creativity, but it doesn’t have the power to do that. Marketing automation is a necessary and freeing limit. It pushes marketers to publish, not perfect, but good work.
After any race, it’s important to assess how it went. The same is true with marketing automation. Optimized marketing automation is analyzed marketing automation.
Analysis shows how a campaign did and what efforts performed better than others. It shows how different people became interested in the campaign and either took the first step toward becoming a qualified lead or became buyers.
Analysis can’t end with a reporting of figures; it has to ask:
What can be improved with the next campaign? What efforts should be reduced or ended? What new content methods might work based on what we know about our customers and engagement rates with our content?
Marketing automation is the way of the future, but it has to be optimized in order for it to have real and lasting results. Marketers have to use the tool and bring the five essentials to it to see success.