What is marketing automation? Is it complicated? Where do you start? That’s what we’ll talk about in this post.
As businesses we spend a lot of time doing routine work. We need customers and that or course should be our focus but can we spend our time more efficiently? Can we implement a system that nurtures customers from the moment they read a blog post until they buy?
That’s what I discuss with automation expert Diana Koshedzhiyska from Buzzfixer. She talks us through the basics, what is it, the systems we can use, the benefits and the automation flow… yeah it’s not as complicated as it seems… that we can follow to nail those sales.
Marketing Automation & Your Blog
The term ‘Marketing Automation’ is scary to many
I think the term marketing automation is scary for people because they think it should be easy and make your life easier but it turns out to be this complicated content driven monster in their life.
Can you briefly explain what marketing automation is?
What I do is more about small business automation, it’s focused around:
- Email marketing
- Social media marketing
- Nurturing leads
- Scoring your leads
- Sending them to the right sales person if you have a sales team
- Managing relationships with your partners
- Delivering content
- Processing payments through your website
- Creating landing pages
- Assigning tasks to your team
- Follow up tasks and outcomes
All those things you do on a daily basis in your business.
It’s more than just sending out emails to a specific audience at a specific time. It’s about saving hours from your work day or work week. That can be a lot of hours because you always do some repeated tasks.
The idea of small business automation and business automation is to take those repetitive tasks out and free up some time to allow you to communicate with your leads and potential customers.
Where did you pick up your enthusiasm for marketing automation?
It started in early 2013 when one of my clients wanted to explore that space.
Really early on when I started working with Ontraport I realised that marketing automation was a passion for me. I’ve always been more technical and it allows me to combine my passion for communication with the technical side. I don’t need to talk to thousands of people a day I can just automate that communication which was great.
So you have just one client to thank?
Yes Ian Cleary! Thank you Ian.
Automation isn’t something I’m really doing. I have a welcome email but should I be setting up a sequence of emails?
People are often told what they should have and they start thinking about the elements and sequence they need to build and create. They think about autoresponders and lead nurtures but I think that’s totally the wrong way to approach marketing automation or email automation.
What we do and what we ask our clients to do is to think about the user experience journey. What do they want the user to do? What are the steps and actions they want them to take and where do they want to lead them at the very end, the product?
So what I should do is look at my end goal. For example, I want people to hire me to consult for them and then work back from that point?
What I suggest is that if you have a product you should identify the main issues that this product is solving. Once you identify those small issues see if you can create a lead incentive for them. (more on lead incentives here)
Those are the bigger topics that you are handling. Those lead incentives then become content themes for blog posts you can create around them to promote them. Instead of starting with the blog post and thinking about what lead incentive can I prepare for this blog post you start with the product, with the end in mind.
You want people to purchase the product. Before they purchase they need to be convinced that they need it so we talk about the issue that they have and how we’re going to solve it.
In order to attract the people that have that issue we write a blog post that is pointing to that lead incentive. It’s like a pyramid.
There’s a user interaction map that you have to build for every type of product and promotion that you want to use marketing automation for.
Your map will have the steps you want the user to take in order for them to purchase.
For example, they have to:
- Visit the blog post
- Download the lead incentive
- Go to the sales page
- Go to the order form page
- To checkout
- Then the thank-you page
If you think of those steps that the user has to take you’ll also identify the types of content that you need.
- Cart abandonment emails
- Nurture emails
- Welcome emails
- Content delivery
Then you can also identify where the drop off stage is. For example, someone didn’t purchase the product after they downloaded the lead incentive. What do we do then? Do we just leave them be or do we try to get to them in another way like using Facebook ads or another email series?
All of those interactions which can be really hard for people to think about because they always focus on sequences we’ve outlined them in a really clear and precise map that you can download here.
Can I do automation with the likes of Mailchimp or should I use something else?
You can do it with Mailchimp you just have to have the pro version (I think) that has trigger rules. For example “If this thing happens take this contact out of this list and move them to another”.
My problem with Mailchimp and other list based tools like Aweber is that they train you to use a list so you have to create a new list for each and every new download or product that you have. This means you never really know how many people are actually on your list because one contact can be in 10 or 20 lists.
You are overpaying and you are starting to think linear. You might think, this person I’m going to send to this blog post. But then what happens if they download or they don’t download? It’s those in-depth automation experiences and features that are missing. That’s why I don’t usually recommend Mailchimp, Aweber and list based tools.
You don’t always have to start with a really expensive automation tool especially if you have a small list or are just starting. There are good entry level products like ActiveCampaign or ConvertKit that really make you start to think in terms of marketing automation.
These are tools that don’t have lists, they have a database of the contacts. All of your contacts are stored in one place and you can see that they appear in different lists defined by the tasks you have assigned them.
This means you know that this person who is downloading this free lead gen guide is new to your list. They are completely new, they have never been on your list before and you need to prepare a welcome email and a nurture sequence for them.
If someone has been on your database for a while and has been through your nurture and welcome sequences you don’t want to put them there again. That will just irritate them and push them away from your end goal.
You need to send them the messages that they have to get and only send them those once.
Is automation software very expensive though?
ActiveCampaign starts at $9 a month for 500 contacts. It’s advanced it’s easy to use, it has great email templates and it has a lot of automation in it.
ConvertKit starts at $29 per month for up to 1000 contacts.
When we send our newsletters and marketing emails should we go for a fancy design or should we be writing what looks like a normal email?
We receive about 100 emails a day, at least I do, and we don’t read most of them.
If you are using Gmail and you have the different tabs: Primary, Promotions, Social you probably only have a few of those emails reaching your primary tab. You chose when and if to read the emails in the other tabs.
For email deliverability, if you put an image in your email like a header image, a test has shown that you’ll definitely end up in the promotions tab which means a lower number of people are going to read your emails.
[Tweet “”We receive about 100 emails a day and we don’t read most of them” @buzzfixer”]
The spam filters encourage us to write emails as if we are writing to a friend.
This means we shouldn’t change the font all the time, bold big sections of the email or alternate between bold and italics.
Think about the way you would write an email to a friend. I personally use a lot of paragraphs to separate the different ideas. I wouldn’t add lots of links, I wouldn’t be changing the colours or using lots of fonts.
You can use an image in your signature because most people do now, even in their personal email.
The more it looks like a standard email that you would write to a friend, your Mother or Grandmother the more likely it is to reach the inbox and the open rate will go up.
How can automation help Boris?
Regular listeners and readers of this podcast will be familiar with Boris. Boris owns an interior design shop. He sells furniture, carpets, wallpaper.
He wants to attract more large customers and that’s one of the reasons why he blogs. How can marketing automation help Boris?
I think the most important thing is that Boris already knows he wants to attract bigger clients. He knows he wants to market directly to them.
The first stage is for him to identify the issues that they have. For example, it might be hard for them to order a product in bulk and get it delivered by the date they need it.
So he can write about the size of orders he can deliver. For example, ‘We can deliver 2000 tables in 2 months’ or something similar.
Another issue might be, do you have it in more than one colour so that not every apartment we do looks the same?
By knowing your audience needs this specific thing or many things you can work your way from the real offering which is ‘Come to my shop and buy this stuff in bulk’ to the pain points that I can discuss with them in my nurture sequence.
What is the lead incentive I can use? Is it my catalogue? Is it a guide ‘How to design a block of apartments and make each one look different’?
If Boris wants to meet a lot of those interior designers who are working on the big apartment blocks a discount coupon of 10% won’t work for him. He’s working in big quantities. They’re not really concerned with price. They’re looking for someone who can work with them and fulfil their contract in a short time and deliver a good product.
You need to focus on the need your customer has. It’s not the same as the customer who just wants to furnish his bedroom. If I want to furnish my bedroom I’d get that coupon for 10% off. If I want 1000 beds I’m searching for a reliable partner and this is the type of communication and interaction you need to build with these people once you attract them.
In order to attract customers to the lead incentive you can create a series of blog posts that for example, you have 10 pieces of furniture for a living room and you want to show 20 types of living rooms you can create with those pieces of furniture.
These posts will attract the exact audience you want.
We have the blog posts, they attract people to the lead incentive. Then we retarget people who visit with Facebook ads if they don’t download it straight away?
Yes, that’s part of the automation. You can always retarget with ads. Another way to retarget is with your email automation system.
Most automation tools have a tracking script that allows you to track people who are already signed up to your content.
If you already downloaded something else but you haven’t seen this latest post or latest incentive I can use my automation system to see that you visited link X but you haven’t visited link Y. I decide that I want to promote this new blog post or new resource to you so I just send you an email. You don’t need to create a big audience for that. You don’t need to invest in ad copy or ad design and rely on Facebook. Instead, you directly contact those people who have shown they are interested in that.
So that’s what you do at each dropout phase of the process? If they are signed up you target them with email, if not you can retarget with ads?
Yes, when you target them with email it’s the same as a cart-abandonment sequence. That’s when someone has been on your sales page, has opened your checkout page but they haven’t purchased the product and haven’t been to the thank-you page.
When you know they haven’t been to the thank-you page you can set an automation rule to trigger and send them an email to see what happened. Did they get distracted?
A good cart-abandonment email can actually convert with 40%. 40% of the people who dropped off will come back and purchase it.
Think about it, the phone could have rung, it could be you didn’t have the money at this moment or you weren’t sure about the product.
[Tweet “”A good cart-abandonment email can actually convert with 40%” – @buzzfixer”]
At the moment you are already paying for your automation tool, you don’t have to pay for Facebook ads on top of that.
For Facebook ads to work in this kind of targeting you’ll need an audience of a certain size, a certain amount of traffic to those pages or they aren’t going to work.
This is why email is so much more powerful and that’s why tools like ActiveCampaign and Ontroport are more powerful than MailChimp. There isn’t a single step where you can’t do that email retargeting. You know when they have visited, when they have taken action. You know they have visited this page, downloaded this content and you can segment them based on their interactions.
What’s next? People have read the blog post, signed up for the lead incentive and now they’ve landed on a sales page?
You can send them to a sales page or to a thank-you page with links. It depends how you identify the leads at that very moment.
If you think you have a specific product that is related to your lead incentive and it’s not expensive, you can give it to them for a discount. Maybe 20% or 30% discount as a one time offer directly after they have downloaded that free lead incentive.
If Boris wants to convert designers what he can do is ask them ‘Do you want to order a hard copy of our catalogue for your business?’ and just ask them to pay for the shipping.
Or could he ask them to book an appointment?
He could. I’d recommend on the opt-in page for the lead incentive to add the phone number as a field on the form. Usually you don’t ask for too much information but when we’re talking business to business you do need to get information like company name and company phone number so you can call them.
In this case I’d just send them to a thank-you page. Give them some links to valuable blog post content or resources perhaps pages from the catalogue or portfolios. Then I’d continue with a nurture sequence before moving on to the hard sell period.
So that’s too early to go in with the sales pitch?
Yes, first you need to build some trust and engagement with these people so you’re not just saying: ‘Here’s your free thing, now let’s get on a call so you can buy this’. Instead, you’re saying ‘Let me show you why I’m the expert in this field’.
Now you can track if they’ve clicked on the links. If they have they are more interested, they haven’t opted out so far, I’m going to give them a call at the end of this nurture sequence.
Those who have just opened one or two links, that haven’t opened their emails, I’m going to send them to a longer nurture sequence later.
That could be three emails over the next seven days in addition to the original welcome email. In that sequence you show them why you are the good partner. You have to show them that this is what I’m good at and I’m going to show you why I’m good at it.
This isn’t just showing them what you know and that you can provide 1000 units in 2 months but how you can customise it for them. Showing your leads that you can help them achieve what they want to achieve.
At the end of the day, every business is about helping their target audience achieve their goals.
I think the biggest issue with email automation is that people think they can just purchase a plug and play solution, they buy the tool and that’s when it all starts happening. It’s actually like the cookie monster but it’s a content monster. It wants to be fed content constantly. A lot of people get overwhelmed with that stuff and don’t know where to start.
If you need help the tool you choose will have recommended consultants or find someone who can guide you through the process. It will cost you a lot less money and time to do it with a little help. Learn how to do it the right way and you’ll see results faster.
Get your automation template
If you want to get started with marketing automation you can download Diana’s free flow chart that will help you design your process. You can download it here.
Let’s start with the lead incentives that feed your content monster:
- Decide who your customer is
- What pain points do they have that you can address?
- What lead incentive can you offer that answers their issues?
- What blog topics can you cover related to each of those pain points?
Helping small businesses integrate email and marketing automation into their business strategy, Diana Koshedzhiyska is a consultant that follows the core value – ‘do what you do best’. Her goal is to reduce the overwhelm and help business owners understand the underlying connection between strategy and software and teach them how to do things on their own.
Visit her website: www.buzzfixer.com
Follow her on Twitter: @buzzfixer