Each of us, sooner or later, looks at their digital marketing funnel and struggles with the inevitable question: “To automate or not?”
The recent “State of Marketing Automation Report” (2019) puts things into perspective and offers insights into the current state of marketing automation and industry sentiments on the topic. Let’s look at what the Report tells us:
- Wide-spread acceptability: Around 75% of marketers say, “They currently use at least one type of marketing automation tool.”
- Customer acquisition is key: Digital marketers are prioritizing the bottom of the digital marketing funnel, and 54% are focusing on creating a customer acquisition strategy.
- Insight-driven analytics takes center stage: The Report claims that “There’s a desire in the industry for automation tools that help with analytics — brands not only want the raw data, they want to understand what it means.”
- The emergence of automation: Around 72% of respondents feel that automation is coming to their industry, regardless of their inclination to use it.
Clearly, more and more marketers are beginning to rely on automation to take care of their marketing goals. To that end, let’s understand how brands and digital marketers can automate into their way into a successful marketing strategy and, ultimately, their customer’s heart.
Proven Strategies for a Self-Serving Digital Marketing Funnel
“Good marketing makes the company look smart. Great marketing makes the customer feel smart.” – Joe Chernov
1. Generate Awareness with Social Media Posting Automation
“Discoverability equals sales in the digital world.” – Dev Chandan
Get this: According to the State of Marketing Automation Report, “Social media post scheduling, email marketing (including audience targeting and the use of templated messages) and social media advertising (retargeting) are the top three processes which can be safely automated without reducing overall effectiveness or audience connection:”
This makes sense for social media managers who have to handle multiple accounts. So why should you automate your social media posts? Here are four compelling reasons:
First, to spread awareness among a diverse target group. You can use tools like Buffer, Agorapulse, etc. with relative ease and become a pro in no time! Here’s what a Buffer account with the social media posting feature looks like:
You can customize the settings as per your needs and target smart:
Additionally, Agorapulse offers a host of features such as Ads Reporting, Facebook Barometer, Twitter Report Card, etc.:
Handy tip: Businesses who are just beginning to test the waters can use the free versions of these tools to get their digital strategy up and running.
Second, it helps to analyze your audience’s behavior patterns so that you can get a better pulse of your target audience and what they like/dislike.
Three, armed with relevant insights and the right information, you can target your audience based on a variety of factors such as when they’re online, where they’re online, why they’re online, etc.
Four, it helps you curate engaging and responsive content, as opposed to generic content that won’t get you any clicks or conversions.
Key takeaway: Contrary to popular opinion, social media posting is not about setting a set of generic posts on automation and forgetting about it. It is a means to automate a (somewhat) routine process with greater creativity, insights, and pro-activeness so that you can reach the right target audience at the right time.
2. Deploy Chatbots for Automating the Process of Lead Qualification
“Marketing is not the art of finding clever ways to dispose of what you make. It is the art of creating genuine customer value.” – Philip Kotler
If you’re wondering how a chatbot fits into the digital marketing funnel, we’ll put your concerns to rest. Whether it’s engaging customers or pre-qualifying leads, if used correctly, a chatbot can become every digital marketer’s best friend. Here are some of its most useful features:
According to Chatbots Magazine, “The click-through rate for messages from a bot lies between15-60%.”
- Conversational chatbots are increasingly being used for simple and complex user-oriented tasks such as helping customers make a purchase, fill out forms, assist in live support from agents, or simply answer basic customer queries:
- Intelligent chatbots are providing 24/7 customer support and addressing queries in real-time (something that was not possible with human agents):
- Chatbots can be used along with a handy Call-to-Action button (schedule a demo, sign up, etc.) and become especially useful for when you wish to upsell to your customers. Plus, you can cross-sell to your existing customers or simply provide information on current offers and updates:
- Chatbots can be customized based on visitor conversations to categorize each user and place them into a highly-targeted automated digital marketing funnel. This also helps in offering a more personalized experience to the users:
- Chatbots free up the human agent’s time so that the latter can focus on more complex tasks while the former focuses on handling routine tasks such as addressing queries:
Handy tip: A chatbot worth its salt should take into account key factors such as buyer awareness, the value/need your customers are looking for, customer life cycle, and the end-goal your chatbot wants to deliver.
Key learning: Chatbots may not be able to make sales happen for you, but what they can do is help direct relevant traffic to your website/platform and offer instant support to customers – both of which help in driving seamless user experience and creating a happy, loyal customer base. Agree?
3. Leverage Email Automation Tools for User Segmentation & Personalization
“When you Email it – it’s marketing. When they Click it – its engagement.” – Dev Chandan
Every brand has a story to tell – only the touchpoints may vary. Whether we take into account the human connection, digital tools, or a healthy mix of both the elements, every Marketer agrees that all branding communication needs a ‘personal‘ touch (pun intended). This is where email automation tools such as Mailchimp come into play:
But what do we mean by personalized communication, and how can you achieve it in the first place? Well, for starters, you need to focus on segmenting your audience based on location, engagement, behavior triggers, etc. Mailchimp’s email segmentation feature is a dream to use, with a simple and easy-to-use interface.
Think of it as an additional filter that sorts your emails into different categories of customers who can be targeted in a focused and customized manner. In fact, The State of Marketing Automation Report confirms our belief, stating the importance of audience research and audience segmentation in today’s digital marketing efforts:
Here are some examples of emails that focus on specific target groups:
- Email segmentation after the customer has joined your mailing list:
- User-onboarding email with handy tips in the Gif format:
4. Engage in A/B Testing of Landing Pages with Conversion Optimization Tools
“It’s much easier to double your business by doubling your conversion rate than doubling your traffic.” – Bryan Eisenberg
Greater clicks. Better conversions. Reduced bounce rates. You can achieve all this and more with A/B testing your landing pages with the support of tools for conversion optimization such as Unbounce, LeadPages, etc. Here’s what the A/B testing page from Unbounce looks like:
If you think none of your digital marketing peers are doing it, think again.
As per research by the House of Marketing, its “Yearly Marketing Survey 2019” indicates that marketers are directing their personalized efforts for A/B testing:
Remember that there are thousands of elements that you can test when it comes to A/B testing to see what combination sits well with your target audience. However, to best improve your digital marketing funnel, here are the top-ten elements to start with:
- Headlines and content writing
- Images, audio, and video
- Subject line
- Content depth
- Product description
- Social proof
- Email marketing
- Landing pages
- Media mentions
If you wish to get your hands on a winning combination, quickly and effectively, using a conversion optimization tool is the way to go. Here’s what the Visual Website Optimizer dashboard, an A/B testing tool looks like:
“As you go about creating new customer engagement programs and direct marketing packages for your brand, look for opportunities to give rather than to get. Whoever makes the first kind gesture, as studies show, tends to gain the most.” – Jeanette McMurtry
For the longest time, Marketers thought of automation as an unnecessary burden. Not anymore. With the advancement of Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence-led automation tools and the emergence of a digitally-savvy user base, the landscape of digital marketing is changing as well. In short, if, as a marketer, you’re looking to go personal, seamless, and inclusive in your digital marketing journey, automate away!