Annuitas Group reports that “businesses that use marketing automation to nurture prospects experience a 451% increase in qualified leads.” It is not surprising that the adoption of marketing automation is surging in the business world.

If you have seen this report, you already know that the gold fever for marketing automation is justified.

But should you join the automation bandwagon? Let’s find out in this article if you should spend on marketing automation and, if yes, where you should put your money.

Three reasons why your marketing automation might go to waste

Automating for automation sake

Some marketing automation has no goal whatsoever. Other than the thought that automating some tasks will make things faster and easier, some business owners have no idea how that correlates with their bottom line.

So, how would you know if you have been automating for automation’s sake?

Simple, Take a look at these two instances:

  • If you don’t understand when bots shouldn’t be handling a discussion
  • If your automation isn’t personalized enough

Not long ago, I had a complaint to lodge with my financial institution and decided to do it with them through live chat on their website.

At first, I was delighted to see a timely response from a chatbot while I waited for a human to come in. To my exasperation, however, this live chat doesn’t lead you to a human. It’s entirely an interaction with a bot that doesn’t understand anything but continues to ask you close-ended questions and make you click buttons endlessly.

That only made a bad situation worse. Take this and compare it to Hubspot that only uses chatbots in a very customized manner.

Looking at how contextual and specific this is, it can hardly go wrong.

For marketing automation to be of value to your business, it must be contextual.

Automation isn’t strictly tied to revenue

To implement marketing automation, you’ll need to choose marketing automation tools. These tools don’t come free of charge. Neither does setting them up.

It is easy to look at your business and say, “I think automation would benefit us on social media,” but that’s rather a crude way to approach it.

If you cannot sit down and figure how your marketing automation is going to bring increased returns to your business, then it’s unwise to automate.

Among other things, businesses usually adopt automation to minimize human errors and streamline repetitive tasks. This helps them save money and make more money. However, does automation really increase your bottom line?

Half-automation

The saying goes: “What is worth doing is worth doing well.”

When it comes to marketing automation channels, there are many; from email to social media to in-app communication.

It’s quite important to understand that your business won’t go really far if you don’t fully understand the extent of your marketing automation.

Think about this. You have automated a welcome email and a series of emails that bring your leads back into your app if you don’t see them after a long time since their first point of contact with your business.

But, as it turns out, the reason why they haven’t logged back into your app is that once they get in they don’t know what to do next. Instead of having a tooltip to lead them to the next thing, you leave them to your app to figure things out on their own. This is a bad automation practice.

You might have succeeded in bringing them back in-app, but without further in-app automation to walk them through, your efforts go to waste. It isn’t only half-education that’s dangerous, half-automation is, too.

Well, let’s round it up at that for the moment. There are so many ways to figure out if you have been wasting your money, and you must do your homework to find them.

What you need to do before implementing marketing automation

Identify your business goals

When it comes to business — and life, in general — a lot depends on setting the right goal.

And to be able to identify what your goals are and to what extent you’d be automating, you need to ask a few questions such as:

  • Are you trying to increase your number of signups?
  • Are you trying to reactivate your users?
  • Are you trying to boost your number of trial-to-paid conversions?

If you can answer these questions appropriately before stepping into marketing automation, you’d be able to set about it the right way.

Own your sales funnel

Ever since pirate metrics was invented by Dave McClure, it has gone through a lot of adaptations. Notwithstanding their undeniable similarities, businesses differ from one another.

I expect that you know what pirate metrics are, but just to be sure we are on the same page: Pirate metrics is a fun name for a set of metrics used to measure a user’s journey through different stages on their way to becoming a paying customer.

Shortened to AARRR, pirate metrics include awareness, activation, retention, referral, and revenue.

For example, when we say awareness stage, there are many Jobs-to-be-Done in the awareness stage that you can use to measure your business/marketing efforts. These Jobs-to-be-Done are put together under the same category known as the awareness stage. The same goes for the activation stage, and so on.

Now depending on your vertical, you must own your sales funnel. But how do you do that?

Let’s look at it this way.

In Dave McClure’s original form of pirate metrics, we have AARRR, but for product-led SaaS, it is AAARRR with the additional A standing for adoption.

Whether you are using AARRR or AAARRR or even RARRA, you still need to adapt this to your own business to make it suit your business perfectly well.

Other things to consider when creating a sales funnel is whether your business is product-led or sales-led. The size of your business, in-house team members, and your areas of strength and weaknesses must also be considered.

In the course of doing these exercises, you will know what should be handled by humans and what should be left to machines.

The takeaway here is: don’t just inherit a sales funnel framework and build your marketing automation on it without knowing whether it suits your business well or not.

Leverage content marketing/knowledge base

Online buyers follow a predictable path before they eventually become paying customers, one of those paths is the research they make on Google.

Part of what causes friction in a user journey is the fact that they didn’t get enough information when they searched on Google.

Take it from top SaaS brands like Zapier and CoSchedule, they don’t just write top-of-the-funnel articles to solve your problems on their blog, they also have other articles that teach you how to use various features of their products.

And that’s why content marketing is a should-have for anyone willing to use marketing automation.

A lot of useful insights could be gained from social media, blog comments, forum discussions, et cetera.

To this end, it may be important to create a robust knowledge base in terms of a whitepaper, PDFs, videos, blog posts, podcasts, and anything in that line. We did this in my agency by creating a post on white hat link-building strategies and building a chatbot specific to that page.

We understand that if you are on that page and have a question for us, you most definitely are going to be asking questions relating to that post.

Perhaps, your business doesn’t need too much automation. What you need is a team of smart sales representatives who are well trained and can get needed content across to users when needed and, of course, detailed blog posts and other useful materials.

Choose the right tools

There are many marketing automation tools for different marketing automation purposes. Depending on your needs, you should be thorough about choosing tools for your automation.

The reason for this is that marketing automation users are usually between those who are using less efficient tools or those who pay for an efficient one but are under-utilizing it.

So, if your extent of automation is simply an email marketing campaign, it would not make any sense to invest in a marketing automation tool that does email marketing and some other things you don’t need.

By the same token, you cannot in the name of money management reduce yourself to a less efficient tool.

At the end of the day, you want to find some balance in whatever you do.

Should you choose just one tool? Should you choose many tools? It’s up to you to figure this out.

Conclusion

Every now and then, new technologies emerge and disrupt the way things are done. Any thriving tech business today that doesn’t use some level of marketing automation is done for.

While it’s that important, it must be contextual before it can bring meaningful results to your business. Being fanciful cannot be written on your account sheet. To use marketing automation successfully, you need to know what it’s costing you and what it’s returning.


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