Have you ever been browsing on an e-commerce website and then, a day or two later, received little indicators reminding you what items you have already viewed, items similar to the one you’ve recently viewed, or notes reminding you that you have items in your basket, and that in order to secure them you must complete your purchase?
Yes? Then you’ve experienced automated marketing.
Hubspot generally likens automated marketing to the ability to “sell like Amazon”. And they’re right: say you’re logged in on Amazon.com browsing season 1 of a particular television show. A day or two later, you might receive an email recommending season 1 of that same TV show – the particular season you have already viewed – as well as seasons 2-5.
They might even recommend a similar TV show, or a movie with the same actor. The point is, as a member of their email database, you’re provided with useful recommendations related to your original search queries, or the items you’ve browsed.
Inbound marketing automation allows us to build profiles of your website visitors by monitoring their digital body language to learn about their interests, preferences and needs.
Every click from an email gives triggers as to what a particular lead is looking for (or even just has an interest) at that exact point in time. Marketing automation acts as a prompt that presents relevant content to leads at the right time, and serves customised yet gentle nudges eliciting an action – without appearing ‘salesy' or pushy.
By now, you may be familiar with our Purchase Cycle. This is a typical representation, but it will vary from business to business:
This is an example of the Customer Cycle, showing the various roles a user develops into as he or she moves through the Purchase Cycle:
Stranger → Visitor
Visitor → Lead
Lead → Qualified Lead
Qualified Lead → Customer
Customer → Delighted Customer
As individuals move through the Purchase cycle, their role evolves in the Customer Cycle. Automated marketing primarily concerns itself in the middle of the Customer Cycle, working to convert visitors into leads, and then nurturing these leads into becoming more qualified, and, eventually, turning them into customers .
Who should use automated marketing?
Any business prepared to invest in a long-term solution as part of their digital strategy could benefit from automated marketing.
That is, however, not to say that it is for everyone – and a reason automated marketing falls short is because businesses are engaging in it when they don’t have a solid flow of visitors or large enough database of leads with whom they can begin the nurturing process, or they’re expecting quick-fire results.
Consider the following attributes and how they apply to your own business:
1) A long sales process
If your product is expensive or generally follows a long, drawn-out sales process that requires a heavy investment, automated marketing might work well as part of your marketing in order to help prospects move through the funnel.
2) A large customer base
Automated marketing can help filter and segment a high number of leads, helping you identify those who are more qualified (qualified leads) versus those who need more time or more nurturing (visitors).
3) Content marketing
It’s an integral part of your digital strategy.
To put it bluntly, there’s no point in adopting automated marketing if you can’t feed those leads with useful, relevant and helpful content, directly related to their interests and needs.
Everything you offer your leads should be catered towards helping them make an educated decision, learning the benefits of your product (or service), and answering their questions.
4) You’re struggling to seal the deal
General emails to entire database just aren't cutting it anymore, nor are blasted sales pitches. These imprecise messages are falling on deaf ears. With automated marketing, you’re able to develop strong insights into your customers’ browsing habits and interests.
5) You recognise every website visitor is not there with the intention to purchase (go you!)
This is one of the most important things to understand!
This list is not exhaustive; it’s to show you the possibilities as well as the things you need to consider with an automated marketing strategy. Even if you think your business doesn't necessarily match all the above, don't discount it just yet – there’s no straight yes or no answer to the question of whether you should use automated marketing.
Here’s an example to help illustrate the process:
Imagine you’re an e-commerce outdoor retailer.
Say a visitor on your database visits the product pages of four different tents from three different brands.
This visitor is researching products, and seeing how the different materials and sizes of certain tents affect the price.
A follow-up email for this visitor could be a summary of accompanying camping equipment like sleeping bags or mattresses, a “How-To” blog post filled with tips on choosing a tent, or a discount code that must be used within a limited number of hours or days.
These little prompts help encourage users to make smart purchase decisions by providing valuable information at a time where their interest has been piqued.
Where does my content fit into automated marketing?
So, content marketing is an important component of your online marketing efforts, right?
Your blog is consistently being updated with well-written and helpful content, you’re active on social media, and you’re providing useful information, as we have said time and time again, based around each part of the purchase cycle (as opposed to just at the point of purchase).
This consistent blogging is great for SEO, drawing new visitors to your website where they will learn about your brand and what you can provide, as well as other useful industry information, how-to’s, reviews, handy tips, definitions, and case studies of your product in action.
Before you begin automated marketing, you’ll want a clear idea of what kind of content you want to point to, which in turn moves prospects further down the funnel.
So while automated marketing can help you segment your leads and more effectively communicate with them, there’s still the matter of creating the content that fulfils that communication!
Automated marketing content road map
This article likens the debate of whether content or the marketing automation software should come first to one of the most debated life questions: “What came first – the chicken or the egg?”
The article explains that you should have some content set up before you begin automating your messages, as well as a clear road map for the remainder of the content.
Firstly, we will need to have a clear understanding of your business, and, as a result, your purchase cycle.
While it sounds tempting to create all the content before the marketing begins, the speed hump here is that the content or direction might change, and you’ve got to leave a little bit of wiggle room!
The former way – to create some, but not all content, but to have a very clear plan for the rest of the content – will serve as a general guide that you can, for the most part, adhere to.
What we need to do next...
1. Define your target audiences
I make this one plural because it’s very likely that your business has several target markets that you want to speak to, and choosing just one and labelling it as your target audience is unwise.
2. Understand their pain points
Again, there will be many various pain points (of varying degree), so be sure to not pigeonhole your target markets as having the same singular problem.
3. Look at your existing content
Is this the kind of content that is going to help educate those who we target with automated marketing? Or do we perhaps need to produce more consistent blog posts, a white paper download, videos, or a specialised landing page?
Ready to find out if automated marketing can help capture visitors and turn them into customers? Get in touch now.