7 Simple Changes That Make a Big Difference with Your Marketing Automation Strategy
by Meghan Tooley

Marketing automation has drastically changed the way companies do business.  In an ideal world, it can help organizations generate revenue and keep prospects and customers fully engaged.  In reality, many find it complicated, difficult to manage, and challenging.  That’s why we’re consistently getting calls from clients asking for help or best practice techniques that can help them make a difference with the way they approach their marketing automation strategy.

Working in multiple tools and with multiple clients, we’ve found a few simple changes can make a big difference and will positively impact a marketing automation strategy.

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Integration and Configuration

The number one complaint we get from clients is around integration and configuration.  More often than not we have clients coming to us for help integrating their automation platform with their CRM, website, other marketing tools or custom platforms.  Many times, they have been sold a platform with the bare minimum training on how to use it and sometimes without any help with customization to meet their specific business needs.

It is important to ensure that your platform is integrated so you can reap the benefits of improved analytics and have a complete view of your universe.  When it is both integrated and configured properly you get the most out of it and can trust that you are tracking things properly.

Most platforms have great training materials online – like Salesforce’s Trailhead or HubSpot Academy.  These can be incredibly useful if you’ve used the platform for a few months and just need a refresher or if your initial training was a bit overwhelming.

Content Planning

Another complaint we get from clients is that they have their marketing automation platform set up and configured, but they don’t have enough content to really use the tool to the best of its ability.  Every marketer out there wears a lot of hats and needs to do a lot of things in order to help their business thrive - but there is only 24 hours in a day and the average person can only do so much.

Having a content calendar in place to help you plan out as far in advance as possible (6-12 months) can help you set aside time to write, create, and deploy content.  Many platforms offer content calendars built into the tool so everyone using it can see what’s up next.  If those involved with writing, creating, and approving content don’t have access to your automation platform there are other shareable tools that can be extremely helpful.  Tools like Microsoft’s OneDrive, Google DocsAirtable, Box, or Dropbox are great collaborative platforms that make sharing information easy.

Many organizations also find that content creation in addition to content planning is difficult to do.  Staring at a blank white page can be daunting, which is why outsourcing content creation is becoming such a popular choice.  When you bring in a third-party to help with content creation, they will usually come up with the ideas and write the content for blogs or social posts (using keywords and industry relevant ideas) while you can focus on other things that need to get done.

 

Workflows

At its best, marketing automation helps companies nurture individuals with highly personalized and useful content to help turn prospects into customers, and customers into delighted customers.  This type of marketing can generate significant revenue for companies and create enjoyable experiences for prospects and customers.

How is this done?  Well, it’s complicated.  There isn’t one button to push that will execute this interaction for you.  It takes a lot of planning, content creation, trial, and error to get it right.  But most automation platforms have a tool that can combine the content that you have with triggers that you set to help you make this process work.

Consider Your Audience

This should probably be listed above everything else, because good integration, content, social, naming conventions and workflows will mean nothing if you haven’t considered who you are doing this for.  Building out your buyer personas not only makes your marketing strategy better, but it helps when understanding what kinds of automation is truly valuable for you.

Knowing this will help you understand what questions to ask on your forms, what kinds of content to put in your emails, how many landing pages will be necessary to get your point across and what else you can do that will make it easy for your audience to keep staying engaged with your brand.  At Affirma, we offer our clients workshops that can go over all of the above with a huge emphasis on narrowing down your buyer personas.

 

Social Posting

Most marketers get a marketing automation platform to assist with emails, however, don’t miss the opportunity to use your platform for other content.  Creating, scheduling, and deploying social posts help save you time and can be better measured in the overall campaign success. If your platform doesn’t come with built-in social management functionality, considering purchasing a separate platform, such as Hootsuite or Buffer, and integrate it with your main marketing platform.

Naming Conventions

More likely than not you won’t be the only person using the marketing automation platform, which is why it’s very important to stay organized and logical with content that lives within the platform.  Even if you’re the only marketer in your organization, you may have a third-party conduct an audit, or you may be out on vacation, or even change jobs, and whoever fills in the gaps might not be able to understand what file “aC43b1_version8.3_FinalFINAL.jpeg” is or where it’s been used.

It’s a great idea to set up naming conventions for each type of content you have within your platform.  We always recommend starting with what the content is and then a very short description of what it is.  For example, if you have multiple variations of your company’s logo, it is helpful to start with your company’s name, the color or differentiating mark of the logo, and the image size (in pixels): XYZCompanyLogo_White_78x150.png.

Some platforms, like Pardot and Marketing Cloud allow you to get really granular with folders and files, which can be great, however if your naming conventions don’t make sense it becomes almost impossible to find what you’re looking for.  For folders and files, we recommend using references like the specific business unit, the date, campaign, event, etc.  Naming conventions should be part of your overall governance framework.

Third-Party Audits

Lastly, having a third-party come in to take a look at your platform should be common practice for everyone.  Even if you’ve been using your platform for a few months or a few years, it’s always a good idea to reach out and have a fresh set of eyes take a look at your platform.  You may be surprised at what capabilities are available that you didn’t know about!   A good audit will include everything from integration, configuration, governance, and provide best practice solutions and strategy suggestions that cater to your specific business needs.

No matter where you are in your marketing automation strategy, it’s always beneficial to find new tools and techniques to help make your job easier.  At Affirma we aren’t the kind of partners who come in and only do the work, we also support knowledge transfer, so you feel more confident with your tools and platforms.  If you’d like to learn more about Affirma’s process, how our team works or want to schedule a 15-minute consultation, contact us today!

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