Our Thinking

Marketing Automation: Nine Key Sequences

During the early years of the internet, building “the list” was a best practice for email marketing. Companies sent sales offers and buzz-worthy content to their contacts and a certain number of recipients would convert. Funds were transferred automatically into these companies accounts, as the list was monetized.

Today, however, there are a number of reasons why this strategy is much less effective:

  • Who has time to read a lengthy newsletter?
  • Who really wants to be a member of a list?
  • Who really wants to be “marketed to”?

One approach to these problems is to stop producing e-newsletters altogether. Another is to shorten them to their essence, and increase the value provided.  (Our Make It Happen Tipsheet follows this strategy.) And a final parallel strategy is to develop stakeholder-relevant communications: that’s where marketing automation comes in.

Marketing Automation can be defined as the family of initiatives (and underlying technology) that automates the improvement in the relationship between your organization and a particular stakeholder. At the most basic, consider Marketing Automation as a sequence of interactions – usually by email – that both educate and increase the trust of the recipient.

Here are nine fundamental marketing automation sequences that every organization should consider:

  1. Web lead generation forms: A whitepaper download form that tags the user with a number of attributes, sends the PDF, and later asks if there are any questions. Here is an example for a white paper that describes how social media can be used for events.
  2. Lead capture from traditional advertising or tradeshows.  A series of emails that are triggered by the user’s registration, that provide more information, usually with a follow-up call-to-action.
  3. Drive to Social Media engagement campaigns. These are campaigns that drive selected segments of your database to engage within your social media communities.
  4. Webinar/event follow-up campaigns. These sequences encourage registration, add value post-registration/pre-event, and then continue the conversation post-event.  See how we do it by registering for one of our webinars.
  5. Long-term nurture-marketing sequence. A sequence of emails that continue a conversation after an initial touchpoint. When the subscriber is ready to commit, the subscriber will be both better educated and predisposed to work with you. Here is an entire tipsheet on nurture marketing.
  6. Mini how-to education sequence. This is a short sequence that provides specific education on a topic. Here is one example Six Steps to Strategic Blogging, and another Five Quick Reads: an Executive Social Media Briefing.
  7. Sales trigger/Onboarding campaign: This is an email (or series of emails) that kick off when a new organization comes into the fold. It might start with an automated “thank you” email, then perhaps a short series that helps educate them on how to get the most value from their relationship with you.
  8. Referral and testimonial capture campaign: This campaign is designed to capture a testimonial, and generate referrals.
  9. Service delivery campaigns: These are the family of campaigns that either improve the efficiency of the delivery of your services, or reduce your customer support costs.

When done correctly, Marketing Automation can do all these things: educate prospects, improve efficiency, improve relationships, and grow the organization. However, if you are not well trained in Marketing Automation, poor execution will kill your brand.

This week’s action plan:  Look carefully at the metrics of your Marketing Automation. Are you are getting the most from your efforts? What is the one thing that you can do to improve your numbers?

If you don’t have a marketing automation program in place, maybe it is time to look into it. (Shameless plug: happy to assist you – just ask at [email protected].)

Marketing Insight: Though selecting the correct software is extremely important, the strategy, copywriting, and implementation of a marketing automation initiative is what enables such efforts to be successful. Marketing automation is not as “quick” or “easy” as vendors suggest; know your requirements and have a strategy in place before purchasing.