I develop Growth Marketing Strategies Using Online Channels.
Regardless of all the noise made by mainstream media and marketing technology companies, marketers still struggling with their jobs.
According to Hubspot, 40% of marketers have issues proving the effectiveness of their efforts to their bosses.
Why are they struggling? In simple terms, their approach is wrong. Most marketers lack a strategic approach to marketing automation and instead focus their attention on tools.
This rather common approach leads businesses to automate their customer journey without context, forcing automation through the funnel with arbitrary touch-points and irrelevant content, generating friction points, jeopardizing customer relationships, and increasing CAC in the long run.
This guide will teach you how to use marketing automation to acquire, convert and retain users and distills the overwhelming world of marketing automation into something easily actionable. By executing the concepts in this article you will have the apparatus to focus your attention on long term results while saving money on tools that aren’t contributing to your bottom line.
To make this guide a complete reference for marketing automation, I’ve spent a few months fine-tuning it to include case studies and software reviews.
How to use marketing automation on any type of business and how successful businesses use automation.How to take advantage of marketing automation without paying a fortune.How to use marketing automation to significantly improve customers LTV while reducing CAC.
Interested? Good. If you aren’t willing to spend one to two years paying for tools/courses to get results with MA this guide is for you.
Before we dig deeper into marketing automation as a concept and its implications, it is important to define it:
Marketing automation (MA) is an optimization process of the user journey through the application of technology to monitor, control and deliver meaningful marketing activities (automation). It aims to easily connect and map customer interactions across multiple touchpoints, in order to direct or influence the end-to-end experience.
Before we get to specifics on how to effectively use marketing automation, I’d like to briefly cover three important concepts:
Business LifecycleCustomer Lifetime ValueCustomer Acquisition Cost
According to HBR, most businesses go through four phases:
Everything you do should be prioritized based on your business phase.
The Diagram Above Represents the Business Life Cycle & Marketing Automation Framework
CLTV is a metric aiming to measure the profit your company can make from a customer over time. It is crucial for service-based economies as businesses increasingly generate revenue from the creation of long-term relationships with their customers. The whole purpose of marketing should be maximizing customer lifetime value and customer equity.
Customer Lifetime Value — Visual Representation
CAC is a calculation of the total cost of acquiring a new customer and it must include the total marketing cost over the actual number of acquired customers. CAC will help you identify profitable marketing channels and activities.
Now that you understand the above concepts, let’s determine whether or not you should start using marketing automation in your business
As a rule of thumb, you should not invest in marketing automation if your business hasn’t achieved the following milestones:
Value Proposition Validation (Product/Marketing Fit)Established two to three profitable acquisition channels — There’s no point in automating marketing when you don’t have a steady number of users coming to your site every month.Your business is generating a consistent MRR (monthly recurring revenue) at least $1000+ dollars over the last 6 months.You haven’t manually established processes for the marketing activities you need to automate.
(Marketing Automation process)
First of all focus on audience needs. Remember, your audience is your business judge, jury and executioner. Every user within your audience is unique, but you can use certain attributes and behavioral triggers to predict what their pain points and expectations are.
Use the Jobs To Be Done framework. for categorizing, defining, capturing, organizing all your customer’s needs, and tying them up with customer-defined performance metrics.
A customer journey map is a visual representation of every experience your users have with your business regardless of the channel or device. Building a comprehensive customer journey map will help you assess your overall business experience from a customer’s perspective.
“The end goal of a CJM is to improve customers experience at each touchpoint”
Marketing automation can be used throughout the whole customer journey, from building awareness to cultivating a dedicated user base. It is especially powerful in the conversion stage, helping you boost revenue.
Goal: Acquire as many qualified users as possible at the lowest possible CAC
In early acquisition stages, marketing automation can help you identify successful marketing activities and content ideas/types that attract your audience around the product or service you’re offering.
Once you are aware of effective marketing methods and content ideas, the distribution and optimization of these messages can be easily managed with marketing automation. Things like relevant posts on Facebook, the right blog post in the specific period of the month or a delivery method that fits the customers’ lifestyle could be a detail that makes a difference.
Goal: Generate active engagement from acquired users before they’ve reached the point of buying intent (increase users’ probability of becoming a high-quality sales opportunity).
Websites and products activate users by providing value. Marketing automation helps you address customers’ needs and expectations by easily delivering the right message to the right people at the right time. Make sure you always give your audience a reason to read your emails or visit your web pages, so your engagement metrics are good and customers don’t lose interest in your product over time.
Generally speaking, a metric like TTV (Time to Value) will help assess your activation process — A short TTV normally means customers get a return on their investment of time faster — and that means they are more likely to stick around!
Source: Time To Value
Goal: Once you activate your users, you need to make sure users continue to use your product or service.
Marketing automation uses customers' attributes and behavioral information to deliver personalized content/messaging (Follow-up email campaigns, A/B testing, etc) and optimize marketing operations. In short, everything is automated based on specific segments.
Your Retention Rate depends on your business model and the product/service you’re offering, in general businesses with high ARPU (Average Revenue Per User) tend to have the lowest Churn Rate (a business with high churn rate would by default have a lower retention rate).
Goal: User Monetization
There are multiple monetization models (see image below), however marketing automation will help you monetize your audience regardless of the model. With marketing automation, you can automate cross-sell, upsell and promotions activities based on user behaviors by defining triggers and workflows — triggers are key events in the customer and business lifecycle and workflows are a series of automated actions that you can trigger to occur based on a person’s behaviors or contact information.
Goal: Encourage existing customers to drive their friends, colleagues, and family members to buy from you.
Positive word-of-mouth can significantly drive your business growth when leveraged through a systematic rewards program for fans, customers, influencers, and affiliates. MA helps you optimizing the user segmentation process and automate the incentivization process via emails, landing pages or chatbots.
We have created an interactive checklist to help you find out whether or not marketing automation is a good idea for your business:
Marketing Automation Interactive Checklist
“Marketing automation historically has really focused on static experiences while requiring the business to create every unique experience. “ —Jason VandeBoom, Founder and CEO at ActiveCampaign
Nowadays every website collects lots of customer data through user interactions like emails, website visits, app usage, etc. This data is the lifeblood of a business and it is used by marketing automation tools to easily streamline the journey for multiple users providing a unique experience based on their attributes and behaviors. Here’s how marketing automation techs work:
“Marketing automation” as a concept was first introduced by John D.C. Little in a presentation at UC Berkeley in 2001. The concept initially referred to an automated marketing decision-making process supported on the internet and solving one essential problem: “What do we tell retailer X to do when customer Y arrives on Monday morning?”
He suggested businesses need to analyze the digital footprints of customer Y and use appropriate models to come up with meaningful managerial touchpoints across the whole purchase funnel.
Such an automated marketing decision support promises enhanced productivity, better decision-making, higher returns on marketing investments, and increased customer satisfaction and loyalty through customization of marketing activities.
Marketing automation has been a growing trend for the last two decades. According to Google Trends, the interest over time around marketing automation has grown exponentially around the world.
Marketing Automation Trends From 2014 to 2020
As Scott Brinker pointed out in his 2019 research on the marketing technology landscape, even though the landscape has grown by double digits year on year it seems like the industry is plateauing as the overall growth for 2019 was 3%.
This isn’t the case for Marketing Automation Platforms, where over the last four years we have seen more and more evolving and tools entering the market (most traditional email marketing platforms now offer marketing automation solutions).
2017 vs 2015 = 42% growth
2019 vs 2017 = 35% growth
As shown above, the future of marketing automation looks promising and it is expected to be adopted for more and more businesses as the industry evolves and prices decrease over time. But if you’re not familiar with MA, you might not be convinced that it’s worth your time or money. Here are some interesting stats highlighting the key benefits it offers your business.
The average increase in sales productivity is up to 14.5%, which is a number that speaks about the power of automation.“Marketing automation drives a 14.5% increase in sales productivity and a 12.2% reduction in marketing overhead.” Adobe“91% of marketers say that marketing automation is very important to the success of their marketing campaigns.” Instapage“44% of companies that implement marketing automation see a return on investment within six months, and 76% see it within the first year.” Marketo
Some general benefits are obvious in the long run, and these are:
Here are more specific examples across different types of business and how they are using marketing automation to grow:
Landing Page OptimisationLead QualificationEmail Marketing
30x lead flow velocity30% closing rate
Landing Page OptimisationLead QualificationContent MarketingEmail Marketing
Automation marketing journeys for a few different types of usersProductivity Improvements
Landing Page OptimisationLead QualificationContent MarketingEmail Marketing
Website Traffic ImprovementsLead Generation Improvements5% increase in sales after 2 years
Today, you can find an endless number of marketing automation tools, but there are only a few of them that are reliable according to the users. You will be surprised how a simple platform can dramatically increase your chances to get more customers in the long run. Find out more about the best platforms in this list.
By clicking on the link above you’ll be able to easily filter important attributes for the most popular marketing tools in the world.
Marketing Automation Tools — Interactive Database
Target customer: Medium Size Business to enterprise-level in a variety of industries — recommended for companies generating $5000+ MRR.
Target customer: Medium Size Business to enterprise-level in a variety of industries — recommended for companies generating $800+ MRR.
Target customer: Mainly SMBs Recommended for businesses generating 0 to 1000 MRR.
I hope this guide helped you better understand the marketing automation world.
Now I’d like to turn it over to you:
What was your favorite concept or resource from this guide?
Or maybe you have an excellent piece of content that you think I should add.
Either way, let me know by leaving a comment below right now.