The tech available to marketers today is, without doubt, incredibly powerful. If we only look at the tools you have at your disposal from an automation perspective, you’re spoilt for choice. That said, with so many choices (and with so many sexy features to excite us), I have seen businesses dive into marketing automation without an effective strategy. The phrase ‘all the gear, and no idea’ springs to mind!
Marketing Strategy and Tactics First
Your marketing strategy should be led by your overall business strategy, not what the technology you have available can do! By having a clear strategy and understanding the tactics you will need to use in order to deliver that strategy, you can then identify repetitive tasks. Those repetitive tasks are what you should then want your automation tools to deliver. It’s important we invest in the marketing automation tools that do what we need them to do – not just what appears to have the most exciting features!
Should I invest in marketing automation?
Yes, yes, you should! But I have a caveat! I used the word invest deliberately in that subtitle! You’re not going to just buy the software and let it run. It will save you money and time in the long run, but in the short term, there’s a lot to learn to get it right. Think short term pain, long term gain!
You may find you end up kissing a few automation frogs before you find the solution that is perfect for your business and you as a user! Don’t settle until you’re sure you’ve found the right solution. Most options offer free trials – make sure you use them efficiently. Part of that means you have already identified the what and how before you start the trial.
Marketing automation is a skill that all marketing professionals should be looking to acquire, so if you’re recruiting for a marketing position, make sure that’s on their CV!
Don’t be fooled into thinking you can automate everything
Automation is fantastic – but be careful not to fall into the trap of thinking everything can be automated and totally remove the human element from your interactions. For some businesses, the only automation you need is within your email marketing. For others, SMS offers value. If you’re running multiple advertising campaigns through social media or google, you may want to use automation there too.
For me, these are the three automation staples that we’re using with the clients who outsource social media to us, or are enrolled in our coaching and training services:
- Mailchimp – Automated responses to actions on a previous email campaign, or creating automated regular communications in the form of a newsletter.
- Rules in Facebook Ads Manager – Set conditions that will automatically turn off campaigns, increase or decrease their budgets or simply notify you so you know there’s an issue that needs your attention.
- Google Data Studio – Create reports that can be sent to you automatically on a regular basis. I have a one-page KPI report I receive each week that just lets me know the top-level stats; allowing me to remain confident the website is performing well and keeping me from losing time in Google Analytics!
What you’ll notice is that two out of those three suggestions are free, in fact for some of you, all three will be free to access!
Marketing automation is brilliant, and I would encourage you to automate what you can, but start small and build from there. Buy into the marketing automation tools that create efficiency by removing impersonal and repetitive tasks, but don’t be fooled into thinking you can implement a marketing strategy that is automated end to end without losing the personal connection you need to turn your marketing activities into cash in the bank.