4 essential ways to boost your marketing automation program

Improve your marketing automation program by identifying manual tasks, reverse engineering segmentation and communicating better with customers.

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Marketing automation platforms (MAPs) help marketers speed up processes and increase efficiency. There are always more tasks that can be added to the marketing automation program and other ways that the program can be improved. Here are four essential steps marketers can take to boost MAP performance and drive value for their organization.

Reverse engineer segmentation

Customer segmentation is something marketers frequently do to improve marketing automation and make sure the right messages are sent to the right group of customers. But are marketers going about this the right way? Try the reverse-engineering approach.

“Figure out how you want to segment and then reverse engineer that backwards,” said Ali Schwanke, founder of consultancy Simple Strat, and a MarTech contributor, in a presentation at The MarTech Conference.

Too often, marketers break down their customers into segments by role or demographics. It’s a good start, but these simple divisions might not be effective enough in the long term.

Schwanke suggests identifying common pain points or challenges that customers face and grouping the customers in that way. Unlike simpler segments, these divisions can change over time.

“Think about what you want today,” she said. “What over the next six or 12 months do you need to be asking? [Identify] what changes you need to make in your forms, in sales or the intake process to get to what you want.”

This means going beyond a persona to concrete needs that customers have and addressing them in your marketing automation. To help with feedback, you can give customers a choice of a few scenarios that best describes their situation.

As a result, you’ll know your customers better. And your automated messages will be more meaningful to them.

Identify repetitive tasks

Keep a log of everything that’s done manually across the organization, including sales, marketing and customer service.

“I often advocate that you can’t automate something that you haven’t proven out manually,” said Schwanke.

Ask team members the “magic wand” question: If you could wave a magic wand, what task would you automate? This will give you further insights into how you can save time with marketing automation at your organization.

Also, check in with the online communities around specific marketing automation platforms and see what capabilities and new features the MAPs offer.

And with all of the new AI capabilities coming out, ask team members about what tasks can be automated or made more efficient by AI.

Dig deeper: This week’s latest AI-powered product releases and updates

Improve customer experience with automation

Look at the customer journey and identify where an automated message could help guide the customer on the right path.

“This is strategic because customers don’t like to be surprised unless it’s in a good way,” Schwanke said.

She added, “If you have a long period of time, even a couple of days between interactions with someone, especially when they’re new in the process, using automation to tell them what’s happening, especially if it’s standardized, will give them peace of mind, and it will help them have the right story in their mind.”

If the journey is predictable in most cases, standard messages can be automated. This way, your business doesn’t appear to leave the customer hanging.

Bringing back ghosted contacts

It’s inevitable that some customers go silent. What about contacts that don’t show at a sales meeting or haven’t responded in a long time to your business’s outreach?

Use marketing automation to auto-nurture these ghosted leads. That way, you’re not using up a human agent’s valuable time. And if this strategy revives a contact and nudges them toward a sale, that’s a good return on investment.

If you have an external partner for your business service, you could also send automated messages to that entity asking to contact the customer.

“If you have an external partner, and you have them doing some win-loss reviews for you, you might then take that contact and automate it to a list that says, “Hey, external service provider, I need you to reach out to this company and this person because they’ve gone dark and we’re going to assume the project’s closed,” said Schwanke.

Hearing from another stakeholder tied to the same deal or project will make it more important psychologically for some of these ghosted contacts.

In all of these cases, you as a marketer are using automation and strategy to create a deeper personal connection with your customer.

Dig deeper: What is marketing automation and how can it help B2B marketers?

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About the author

Chris Wood
Chris Wood draws on over 15 years of reporting experience as a B2B editor and journalist. At DMN, he served as associate editor, offering original analysis on the evolving marketing tech landscape. He has interviewed leaders in tech and policy, from Canva CEO Melanie Perkins, to former Cisco CEO John Chambers, and Vivek Kundra, appointed by Barack Obama as the country's first federal CIO. He is especially interested in how new technologies, including voice and blockchain, are disrupting the marketing world as we know it. In 2019, he moderated a panel on "innovation theater" at Fintech Inn, in Vilnius. In addition to his marketing-focused reporting in industry trades like Robotics Trends, Modern Brewery Age and AdNation News, Wood has also written for KIRKUS, and contributes fiction, criticism and poetry to several leading book blogs. He studied English at Fairfield University, and was born in Springfield, Massachusetts. He lives in New York.

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