Marketing automation shouldn’t be seen as the solution to all your problems. But, when done right, it can certainly bring significant benefits to your strategy.
If it sounds a bit intimidating — don’t worry. You’re not alone.
A recent survey shows 61% of companies say the process of implementing marketing automation is difficult.
Be that as it may, we’ve got your back.
These best practices below will give you actionable tips for how to make marketing automation work for you and your organization.
11 Marketing Automation Best Practices to Maximize Growth
1. Meticulously get to know your audience
Automation sounds impersonal. But if you’re following marketing automation best practices, the result should be far from it.
The key is to make sure you’re creating campaigns with your target audience in mind.
The best way to do this is to define ideal customer profiles. These are descriptions of the perfect customer for what your organization solves for — including details like demographics, interests, motivations, and pain points.
Once you’re clear on who you’re targeting, tailor the content within your automated campaigns to their specific needs and avoid generic messaging.
2. Understand your customer’s journey and buying cycle
Marketing automation helps deliver the right message to the right audience at the right time, but to take full advantage, it’s important to understand your prospect’s buying cycle and journey.
The first step is understanding who’s involved in the buying cycle.
What answers are they searching for as they journey toward a purchase? What does their typical sales cycle look like?
Using that as a foundation, you can then map the conversation — delivering targeted, relevant content when and where it counts.
3. Map your flow
This is likely the single biggest differentiator I see in successful companies with marketing automation.
They’ve taken the time to map out their lead management flow, capture all the trigger points that affect lead routing, and define a process for managing leads that everyone is aligned on.
What’s the alternative?
You can’t automate a process that doesn’t exist.
4. Collect the data you need
Marketing automation isn’t just about running campaigns at scale.
Instead, it should also ensure you only send messages to those they are relevant to. And to do this right, you need the right information about the individuals making up your audience.
Start by building a picture of each contact in the lead capture stage through questions on your signup form.
What you need to know depends on your business. In a B2B marketing context, for example, you’ll likely want to know company size and industry.
Continue collecting insights as they interact. Behavioral data like content engagement and purchases offer valuable clues about their interests.
With all the information gathered, segment your list to group contacts by shared qualities and create different automated journeys tailored specifically to them.
5. Create multi-channel experiences
Email automation is the most common way for marketers to start automating their campaigns. But, customers today expect a seamless, multi-channel experience.
Maximize your chances of engaging with prospects by reaching out to them on the channels they prefer and by being ready to jump from one to the other.
For example, you can combine email marketing with social media ads to increase customer touchpoints, or use SMS marketing for time-sensitive messages like reminders and follow-ups.
Limiting yourself to one channel means missing potential opportunities.
6. Hyper-personalize your content
I mentioned earlier that one of the most important marketing automation best practices is to collect the data you need.
But, let’s take this a step further.
Can your forms be used as effective data points to create hyper-personalized campaigns and boost user engagement? Can you use lead enrichment tools to extract even more data?
The more you can personalize the content itself to your audience and the stage of the journey they’re at, the better your chances of winning them over.
For the best examples think about companies like Airbnb where every journey is unique to the visitor or Amazon where the entire ecosystem is built on hyper-personalized homepages and product recommendations.
7. Continuously track your performance
There’s a marketing automation mistake I see too often: set and forget.
Once you’ve set up your automations, don’t be tempted to sit back and let the platform take over. Continue monitoring your performance to know what’s working and what’s not.
How many leads did your campaign attract? How many leads were handed off to sales? Did you generate ROI? How many conversions did it lead to?
These insights will help refine your strategy moving forward and make any necessary tweaks to your workflows.
Even after you think everything is optimized, try running A/B tests to try new user journeys or content.
8. Understand email reputation
Your email reputation is the hidden bedrock behind running a successful marketing automation operation.
You can have the most compelling email copy and the best offers, but if you keep sending emails to bad addresses, all of that hard work will go directly to the spam box.
There’s this thing called the deliverability circle.
Start by choosing your audience well and getting to know them. Then, create compelling content they’ll want to continue to receive from you.
When you acquire more leads, give them clear subscription management options.
And before you repeat the cycle, clean your database so that only opted-in, de-duped, and non-spam trap emails are used.
Deliverability and reputation are tied together and based on factors you can control.
9. Think ahead and label, label, label
Labeling everything in your marketing automation helps avoid errors and eliminates the need for extra work in the long run.
Trust me, your co-workers will thank you for taking the time to get it right the first time.
Remember when you got your first bike? I do. I was so careful at first not to cause any bumps or scratches.
But as time went on, I became more relaxed on maintenance and upkeep. No surprise there.
The same thing happens with marketing automation.
A common trend is to fill your MAP with data, emails, landing pages, and everything in between.
But, instead, a marketing automation best practice is to agree on a master labeling system. It keeps the clutter organized for faster searching and a universal knowledge of which components go where.
10. Align marketing and sales using your CRM
Marketing and sales alignment is nothing new. To anyone.
Let’s talk about a couple of tips to go above and beyond with marketing and sales alignment using your CRM.
First, keep your campaigns organized and accessible. A great way to do this is to provide reporting insights right on the campaign dashboard using a custom URL field.
Also, arm your reps for follow-up.
Use tools like Chili Piper or similar to send alerts to reps after a campaign with actionable information on the lead and the campaign they were involved in. Hand qualified leads to sales on a silver platter.
11. Build dynamic nurture programs
Never force your leads into one or two tracks. Try and build your nurture programs to be as dynamic as possible.
Nurture is like a framework for your content, not a story with a fixed plot. Each lead should be able to choose her own adventure.
Is someone in the early stages of nurture looking at pricing? Route that lead to later touches automatically.
Did a lead in nurture recently attend an event? Include a personalized message in the next nurture email as a follow-up.
Lead nurturing isn’t a linear path anymore. You need programs to be responsive to the needs of the individuals in them.
Put theory into action
My sincerest hope is that you let these marketing automation best practices guide your strategy.
Lay the groundwork for success by making sure you’re 100% clear on who you’ll be targeting, how, and when.
Once you have your workflows in place and are collecting the right data, explore opportunities to enhance your campaigns and optimize your processes.
If you’re looking to streamline your marketing automation, I highly recommend you check out how Chili Piper can help optimize and automate your inbound conversion process.
Go ahead and request a demo!