What is marketing automation?
Definition of marketing automation
What is marketing automation? Well, it's actually extraordinarily simple to define it: it's all the practices and tools aimed at doing automated marketing efforts.
Marketing automation refers to everything you can set up using a marketing automation software to distribute your marketing campaigns for lead generation but not only that; in particular, we can see that marketing automation is also often used for onboarding new customers or to get customer reviews etc.!
The idea is that marketing automation helps you to remove repetitive tasks from your marketing campaigns to better focus on setting up high-quality personalization and creating content with very high added value. The heart of marketing automation is therefore not so much optimization but the way in which we will be able to take advantage of the time saved by the tools to create a quality experience that can convert your prospects.
The main thing to remember is what marketing automation is not:
- It's not mass-mailing without thinking.
- It's not a magic wand that will turn your website pumpkin into a carriage heading straight for the next 40.
- It's not just a tool story. Paying 1000€/month in a wonderful tool will only bring you the guarantee of spending a lot of money, nothing more.
Difference between inbound marketing and marketing automation
Ah, it's much more enjoyable as a query.
We often hear speeches that tend to confuse inbound marketing and marketing automation. We're not talking about the same thing; they represent a degree of complementarity that performing one without the other would seem like an oddity. But the fact remains that they are two different things.
Inbound marketing is a conversion method that, at its core, relies on attracting people who may be interested in your products and services but aren't yet aware of them.
We are talking about marketing processes, not tools.
It is a marketing philosophy that is based on the concept of permission marketing, we only push what visitors ask for and therefore the conversion is done more naturally. It opposes (a little wrongly to tell the truth) outbound marketing which relates to operations aimed at making you known to people who have not asked for anything (advertising for example).
I push the line, and it becomes clear.
Marketing automation software is a tool that you can use in multiple channels. It will allow you to be much more successful in your inbound marketing and also outbound marketing. That is why the two are distinct.
Who is marketing automation for?
Marketing automation isn't just for a few, but that doesn't mean it's for everyone.
Marketing automation strategy is aimed at both b2b and b2c marketing teams, companies of small and large sizes and in fact, it is also a useful tool for marketing and sales teams as well as in the sales cycle management ...
On the other hand, it will not please everyone, but unless you have a minimum of traffic from ads, social networks and / or (and especially) SEO. You will throw money out the window.
I'm not here to please you, I'm here to tell you how to use a marketing automation tool well.
How does marketing automation work?
We arrive at the cool part, surely the one that made you click on our article. Better late than never as they say!
The prerequisites for marketing automation: traffic and lead magnets
As I said above, you can do anything you want, spend a fortune on an all-in-one death marketing automation tool that kills and even makes coffee and massages...
It would be of absolutely no use to you without traffic. What if you have 200 visitors fighting a duel on your site every month? It's barely the traffic of a bakery on a weekday... And believe me, you're 100 times less sexy than a hot croissant at breakfast time.
But you need something else, thanks to the CNIL, and common sense too, (fortunately we did not wait for the CNIL not to do anything) we can not contact someone who comes to our site just like that. You need his contact details and his agreement. No contact information, no marketing automation.
So once the traffic is present, you need lead magnets!
What is a lead magnet?
The principle is very simple, it is a premium content (overall it means that it must be particularly tempting) that you will give to your visitors in exchange for filling out a form. So they are interested, and at the same time, sending a template per carrier pigeon is not easy.
For more information on lead magnets, we have a great article about the subject here.
One last thing, speaking of forms, you have to find somewhere in your forms where landing pages come in. This is a very vast subject, for this article, we will just say that it is the page on which your visitors arrive after clicking on "download this super *lead magnet*" and that its role is not to make them change their mind when viewing the form.
For more details on landing pages, you have an article written by a cool box here.
If you had to remember only one thing on this subject, it is that the most important issue of marketing automation is often its distribution. You'll be able to generate wonderful possibilities with a grace that is only matched by their subtle capacity to convert... but if no one notices them, the outcome is predetermined: zero-point.
Segmentation of your database
Having lots of emails is great but it's useless. Marketing automation is not meant to send billions of emails in all directions without thinking.
No, you need to segment your database.
What does segmenting mean?
This means that you must group your contacts according to their interest, their problem, or their behavior. The more accurate you are, the higher the conversion rate should be but the more work you will have creating sequences and therefore the more difficult it will be to have an overview.
You must therefore segment your base as much as possible within the limit of preserving the overall intelligibility of your marketing automation strategy...
This sentence is so complicated, I need a break ...
In a few words:
Be precise but keep it simple.
For example: at Sales Odyssey, we have made it simple, we segment our base according to the position of our interlocutors because our services and our expertise are aligned with the issues:
- Business leaders
- Marketing managers
- Sales managers
- Entrepreneurs and freelancers
In addition, our content strategy is built around very specific topics with specific magnet leads, which allows us to enrich our segments with elements that show an interest in a given issue.
And paf! That's turnover and happy customers!
Marketing automation sequences
Here it's simple, the sequences are the series of emails (or SMS for that matter) that you will send to your contact segments.
It is both the simplest and the most complex. It's simple because you just have to write the content, it's complicated because on this content depends all the effectiveness of your strategy.
Here are some tips for your sequences:
Make marketing automation sequences short
There are several institutions, but we prefer short, many-part sequences to lengthy ones. Usually following a lead magnet download, you only receive one or two additional emails. It avoids spam and if we need more messages to convince you, it's because you're not ready.
In addition, our site generates a lot of traffic and we have several lead magnets generating a lot of downloads. We realized that often one person downloaded several. If our sequences were long, it would turn into harassment.
Do not deviate from the original intention
I download a communication plan, I do not want to receive a template to succeed in my customer appointments. Additional e-mails must not provide information that is not directly related to the initial problem. This point is easier to respect when segmenting by problem than by function for example.
Adapt the tone used to the target
It is obvious but it is useful to remember that it will be difficult to connect with someone who wants us and with a distant tone. It is often thought that political correctness is the right thing to do but in most sectors and for most audiences, it is absolutely the opposite that is needed.
It is also unlikely that my article will please a reader who is a member of the European Commission ... At the same time ... It won't stop me from sleeping (I have nothing against you guys huh, keep doing what you do, you're great, kiss).
Proper structure and Copywrite your messages
My God, I hate the word "copywriter", but that's not the point (and we still made it an article 😂).
So there is no magic recipe, no offense to the gurus of social networks, especially on LinkedIn. Templates that work, often only work for a while and constitute their own confirmation bias.
"So-and-so used such a structure and it worked, now everyone does it and it works every time."
There may be data fans among you and you will have immediately understood that no, correlation is not causation.
Already because by definition, we almost only see posts that work, so we do not know if many people have failed using a certain template and therefore we can not know if it is the template that determines success. Life is a bit more complex.
But there are structures that give you more chances all the same, I like the AIDA method for example, it is simple and effective. Be yourself (unless you are naturally ch****, like a sloth for example), and do not caricature someone else's style.
Scoring for finer marketing automation
Ok, so that's where you have to take out the Doliprane (Efferalgan, Dafalgan, to do as on TV) because this is the part that requires to be very attentive and to work well.
The concept is simple, it's like school, the goal is to give a rating to your visitors based on their behavior on your site.
For what purpose?
This is to identify their level of maturity, that is, to know how much they are likely to be interested in your offer. These maturity levels are referred to as: Visitor, Lead, Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL), Sales Qualified Lead (SQL).
I cannot detail this aspect here but if you wish:
To better understand the terminology and equivalences in sales team jargon, I recommend this article: Lead, MQL, SQL & prospect, what exactly are we talking about.
To understand the overall mechanics of progression from visitor to customer, I recommend the funnel marketing article, you'll love it!
Revenons à notre scoring.
Let's go back to our scoring.
There is no hard and fast rule to follow.
The necessary score as well as the behavior to earn points to become MQL or SQL are "arbitrary" decisions made by Mr. or Ms. marketing automation of a company.
It is the company, or at least its marketing and sales team that defines what it means to be an MQL or a SQL and assigns a score associated with these criteria. And so by definition, it is often, if not all the time, different from one company to another.
My advice, start from the status of SQL, and ask your sales representatives "What is a good prospect for you?".
You will have the most perfect definition of what your SQL should be, all your work will then consist in revealing these characteristics through your marketing efforts.
Finally, it's rather simple you see 😉
Marketing automation tools
We will not go into details because we have a detailed comparison that will do very well to help you in your choice.
Remember one thing though, at the risk of being a little provocative, the features have no interest.
Because most tools offer strictly the same thing.
On the other hand, there are questions of purchasing policy, corporate culture to take into account.
All-in-one solution? Open-source? Ergonomics? It is finally here that the choice is made.
Examples of B to B marketing automation scenarios
Marketing automation scenario following the download of a lead magnet
The prerequisite for the scenario: the distribution of content
It's probably the simplest, one of the most effective and so it's a very good way to get started.
Let's take an example that we know well: Sales Odyssey's marketing action plan template!
Remember that in this matter, the first step is a good distribution of the lead magnet. If no one sees it, no contact. No contact, no marketing automation.
This lead magnet is mainly distributed by:
- Our article on digital marketing and developing an effective marketing plan, which attracts significant traffic.
- A pop-in present on different articles related to the marketing theme.
This distribution is not revolutionary but is relatively effective since it allows about 200 downloads per week.
At the click, we arrive on a simple landing page that displays the incredible conversion rate of 68%!
No we mess up, we consider it normal 50 to 70% conversion on a lead magnet download ... So when someone brags about their 35%, check that it's not a white paper before you think it's brilliant 😛.
Here it is very simple, the scenario consists of 3 e-mail steps and personalized pop-ins.
Step 1: Email sending the template, short and efficient, the goal is simply to share the document and specify its content.
Step 2: Email 2 to D+3, built to provide details on the effectiveness of the methods described in the dashboard.
Step 3: Email 3 to D+3 again, one last little secret to help the reader.
In each email, an appointment is offered but there is another secret in this scenario. Throughout this campaign, a user who returns to the Sales odyssey website to consult the additional resources distributed in the template, a pop-in for making an appointment will be offered to him!
- The simplicity of setting up this type of scenario.
- The precision of the initial "intention", the downloaded resource providing information on the problems encountered by the audience.
Distribution is key, the conversion rate of this type of scenario is naturally "low". For it to produce important results, it needs a minimum of volume!
Abandoned shopping cart scenario
The prerequisite for the scenario: to be a merchant site of course.
This scenario is a little different from the others, already, it is targeted 100% e-commerce, and then, the user already wants your products, since he has gone so far as to put it in his basket. A cart abandonment can have several sources: cost of delivery, need for reassurance on the quality of the product etc. So that's where marketing automation comes into its own.
In this scenario, it is necessary to understand what blocked the user in his purchase. The objective is that the user buys what he has put in his basket. Be careful not to go too fast, by offering a wild promo code! Here is what we propose to you:
Step 1: Reminder email
The goal is to understand why the user did not buy:
Is it the price? Shipping costs? Delivery times? Any doubts?
In this reminder email, you can include a proposal for an automatic response, to find out the reasons for abandoning the cart.
- Reason 1: Shipping costs were too high
- Reason 2: None of the shipping methods suited me
- Reason 3: I changed my mind
Step 2: Email to resolve the issue
Depending on the user's response, you will be able to schedule a second e-mail, potentially with a solution to his problem, and bring it to the purchase!
Example? Promo code for free shipping if it is this answer that blocks the user.
Step 3: Proposal for a similar article
The last card to play is to offer him items similar to what was in his basket.
- We know that the user is interested in the product(s), since they are in his basket.
- It is therefore easy to make a targeted and personalized reminder
- Understand what blocked the user, why he did not continue his journey until the purchase.
Free trial conversion scenario
The prerequisite for the scenario: offer free trials
Again it seems obvious but this scenario is only suitable in the case where you offer free trials for example if you are a company that offers SaaS software.
The fact that we try your tool is good, but the goal is that we pay you for this tool. And it won't happen on its own. Marketing automation is here to help!
An interesting and important prerequisite is that when creating the account to get the free trial you ask in your form the goal of your user with your tool, what is he looking to achieve?
You undoubtedly need your tool for a specific purpose.(if this is not the case, marketing automation can do nothing for you, you have a much bigger problem than acquisition).
You may assist your new user in finding the use case that interests him by asking what THE aim is. And that's the key to converting a free user into a paid user: do not abandon him to his sad fate to try in the tool. He has a problem, solve it, it's your win!
No typical scenario as there can be so much difference from one tool to another!
What I recommend is a scenario that covers the duration of your free trial. If it's a 15-day trial for example, make an email every 2-3 days.
Step 1: Describe scrupulously and in video if possible how to use your tool to solve the user's initial problem. This can be done in multiple emails of course as you don't have to make videos longer than 3-5 minutes if you want them to be seen.
Step 2: Offer to discover an additional feature that will help him go even further with your tool.
Step 3: A little before the end of the trial, offer to talk to a member of your team to provide additional advice. For you, it is also an opportunity to have feedback and to understand why the user does not want to continue.
The Webinar scenario
First organize a webinar (thank you captain obvious)
You had a great idea to create a webinar to get some hot leads.
I love your enthusiasm.
But here's how it's going to go: you're going to prepare everything technically, you're going to post on social media a few days before. You will have 12 registrants including half of your team. Only 6 people will watch it. 1 prospect who actually doesn't need you, who was just curious.
Well, that's what will happen if you don't have a marketing software for automation, no traffic and you're not a crazy influencer on social networks.
So webinar is cool, but it's being prepared and it's a tool for converting and qualifying your audience, not the miracle recipe to make you a star out of nowhere.
The marketing automation scenario for a webinar
For this scenario you actually have 2 phases! Pre-webinar and post-webinar.
Before the webinar:
You need registrants. For this, you will create a short sequence addressed to your contact base and more precisely to the most suitable contact segment.
For example, if we organized a webinar on how to redesign our website and reach 50k monthly organic visitors in 12 months, we would address it to business leaders and marketing managers in our database.
Make it short and effective with, for example, two emails:
E-mail 1: We organize a great webinar with the presence of such and such (it always feels good to have a guest), on the program etc ...
Email 2: Highlight a "sexy" point that will be discussed in the webinar. In our case, we would take a screenshot of the traffic of our website for example to show that it is concrete and not a promise in the air for example.
To complete this, publish on social networks of course but also and especially think about putting in the weeks before a small pop-in registration on your site! Most automation tools offer it and it's very effective if you have traffic.
After the webinar:
You had a lot of registrants, it's great, but at least half of them won't come. It's called the "No show". So we take his automation tool and we attack!
E-mail 1 post-webinar: Thank you it was great as a bonus we gave you a small summary presentation of the tips shared during the webinar (or a carousel, a webstory etc.).
E-mail 2: Many of you asked us: Replay! With some hidden bonuses especially on this point and that other point. (only say it if there really is)
Email 3: An interesting email could be to ask for feedback on the webinar, what they liked, what they missed etc. Few people will respond, but there is a good chance that those who do will give you key information to successfully convert them later. Your sales reps will know what to do with this info.
- Webinars are a great way to qualify your base and convert your audience around a highly targeted topic
- Reusable content: a good webinar can become marketing data via its replay, a good video for your youtube channel or a good lead magnet on your website. Think!
- Distribution is key, if no one attends the webinar it is still less good.
- Finding a very sexy topic, there are TONS of webinars every day and on everything. Be creative and relevant!
Scenario: Wake up the inactive
The prerequisite for the scenario: why treat the "inactive"!
So this scenario is a bit of a controversial subject.
The trend is clearly to the company "Uncle Picsou", bah yes the data are worth gold so let's accumulate in a maximum. MOUAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA
Let me tell you that we are not all Google or Microsoft. So yes, data is worth gold but overall when it is the case, it is often that we do not super cool stuff with this data, like reselling it.
The goal of marketing automation platforms is not to have 100,000 emails in its database, 50% of which no longer exist and 80% have not come to your site for 3 years.
Another good reason not to accumulate inactive contacts: Most software charges based on contact volume. So keep only useful contacts, those who are engaged with your company.
My goal with marketing automation tools is to convert, and you can only do that with an active audience.
This is where the scenario of treating the inactive comes in.
The marketing automation scenario: "zero-waste"
Here, it is only our way of seeing things. You can adjust the delay before considering that a contact is inactive and the number of opportunities you want to give him before deleting the contact.
Step 1: As soon as a contact is inactive for more than 6 months, they enter our inactive segment.
What is it to be "inactive": no visit to the site, no email opening for 6 months.
Step 2: Every contact that enters the segment receives an email, we regularly change this email. The current one looks like this and allows you to highlight recent additions: An article, a lead magnet, and a new business!
Step 3: The ruthless cleaver, if no reaction within 15 days, the contact is deleted from the database.
Let's be realistic: is the contact interested in talking about us or collaborating with us after six months with a catch-up email and no response?
Okay, so we delete it. If one day he changes his mind, he will come back, he will commit again and join the customer database.
- A database filled with inactive e-mails has no worth since it does not generate conversions. It's critical to maintain it clean.
- Very simple scenario.
- The meaning of what it means to be inactive is vague, and no two individuals will see things the same way.
- Make everyone aware that the goal of a lifetime is not to collect as many emails as possible.
Bonus scenario: codename "don't be greedy"
The prerequisite for the scenario: Don't see everything in the short term
If your strategy is effective, especially on the attraction side, you will inevitably attract visitors who are not your direct targets (yes even if your strategy is the best and most accurate ever imagined, you are a gifted marketer, but you are not a deity).
The typical example: Students and work-study students.
We constantly hear that they are useless and pollute the base...
For information, students are real people, do not neglect them. They are future decision-makers (a company usually having a fairly long lifespan, they will become your targets). On the other hand, whether you believe it or not, their opinion counts in a number of areas. Certainly, if you sell software at several hundred thousand euros a year, it will not be the case but in many other cases, they have a weight.
Then they have an indisputable characteristic: They are "digital natives" and they have social networks in their blood. Wouldn't there be a way to create a cool scenario to make them want to follow you on these social networks?
Obviously, the ROI is not immediate and will not make you the rich owner of a private island within 6 months.
But marketing automation is also that, spending a few hours (taking your time) creating a simple sequence for students to potentially have hundreds, or even thousands of additional followers in 1 or 2 years.
I didn't find it to be too costly.
The marketing automation scenario: "looking to the future"
We can imagine a simple scenario in two stages:
- E-mail 1: An e-mail to discover our great youtube channel
- Email 2: An email to discover our Pinterest account
- Design time: 30 seconds, if you are not in shape.
- The zero-waste strategy: Ok they don't hold the reins of budgets but they're there and interested in what you're doing, so we can do cool things together.
- Yes, I concede that, a priori, if you want to say anything to your prospects, it is simpler if you utilize today's marketing automation platforms. If your digital approach involves an antiquated website from the 2000s it's a bit sparse.