*Updated on November 11, 2021

Do you know that 92% of top-performing companies are investing time, budget, and resources into marketing automation integration? If the word “automation” makes you cringe, we don’t blame you. After all, it sounds cold and robotic, as if it’s going to suck the living soul—and our jobs—out of us. Thankfully, in the marketing world, the potential for such tragedy doesn’t exist. 

Though the content and messaging are automated, marketing automation is still guided by human connection. It’s centered on understanding your audience and tailoring messages to create a personalized experience, which can foster repeat customers. And better yet, it won’t make your business irrelevant; rather, marketing automation will only make you more effective and in demand. 

Learn more about marketing automation and how it can help your business:

Here at Big Leap, we are proud to offer marketing automation services as a Hubspot Gold Partner. With our Gold-level certification, we have access to even great resources to help our clients stay ahead of the competition.

Being a Hubspot Gold Partner means we are a top-performing agency using the highest standards to deliver inbound marketing services to our clients. We’ve met Hubspot’s metric standards of success, revenue, and retention. Trust us, it’s quite the honor!

So what are you waiting for? In this definitive guide to marketing automation, we’ll get you caught up with:

  • What marketing automation is
  • How marketing automation works
  • What marketing automation can do
  • Reasons why you need to use marketing automation
  • Proof that marketing automation actually works
  • How to start using marketing automation

What Is Marketing Automation?

Marketing automation involves using software to automate, prioritize, and streamline:

  • All marketing efforts of your business to turn promising leads into customers.
  • Repetitive marketing activities to save you time for things that matter the most.

Though efficiency is a prominent driving force behind this strategy, marketing automation’s intention is to nurture leads and increase engagement and conversions. It’s about understanding your customers’ unique buying journey, so you can really speak to them. Simply put, marketing automation is rooted in human connection. You want each person to feel like an individual—not a faceless number floating in the online space. 

How Does Marketing Automation Work?

The term marketing automation (MA) covers a spectrum of strategies. But let’s break the process down for understandability (no squiggly blue spell check line came up so, yes, that’s a word!). 

Let’s take a look at how marketing automation works from a step-by-step point of view:

  1. Define a scope of work so your efforts stay focused. To define scope, you must understand two things; (1) your current marketing workflow, and (2) how it aligns with your buyer’s journey. From there, you can begin to see which steps should be automated for efficiency’s sake—for example, automatically retargeting leads who abandoned their shopping cart.
  2. Detail a marketing automation strategy according to the goals you want to achieve. What strategy is currently in place? What are its strengths and weaknesses? What processes, technologies, and resources are needed to build a clear sequence that ensures success? In other words, how can you get what you want?!
  3. Choose a marketing automation solution that can fulfill your goals and deliver the desires of your heart. 
  4. Implement the marketing automation solution using these three methods:
    1. Onboard users by initiating a drip-email campaign, a series of emails with essential information to orient them and keep them engaged. (The name might be strange, but the method works.)
    2. Nurture users by periodically sending emails and directing them to the next stage of the funnel.
    3. Establish multi-channel relationships with your audience via website, social media, etc. 
  5. Optimize workflow performance by creating interconnected campaigns, varying feature offerings, and expanding your efforts to cover every customer touchpoint.

Our marketing experts here at Big Leap take three vital approaches to make marketing automation campaigns work. We use these approaches to focus on winning over the same leads your competitors are trying (and failing) to gain. As a perk, you’ll also win over your boss’s boss. 

  1. Segmentation – Marketing automation utilizes a segmentation strategy that allows you to personalize campaigns in a cost-effective manner. It involves streamlining and grouping your potential customers based on specific characteristics, so you can send unique messages to each group. ecomm marketing automation segmentation
  2. Email marketing  – Sending out email marketing campaigns to segmented audiences is one of the most effective ways to drive leads and conversions. It entails crafting customized and valuable messages backed by data. And when these emails are automated, you can reach out to an even bigger audience while still providing hyper-relevant content.ecomm email marketing segments example
  3. Sales enablement – This involves providing the sales team with the resources to help them sell more effectively. To identify these resources, a CRM system combined with marketing automation will not only place all your sales and marketing activities in one place, but you can foster customer relationships that will ultimately drive revenue.
  4. marketing automation sales enablement

6 Reasons You Need to Use Marketing Automation

Customers are interacting with your company across different types of platforms/channels, so it’s crucial that you keep your fingers and toes dipped in all critical advantages. But we know it’s pretty tricky getting your work done when your extremities are occupied! 

This is where marketing automation comes in handy. With a strong automation strategy, you can reap the full advantages of your software’s database capabilities for marketing and sales enablement. What do these benefits look like? 

1. Saves Time & Money

Time is money, so you want to utilize your cash where it matters the most. Seventy-four percent of marketers have expressed that the biggest benefit of automation is saving time. And let’s be real, manually tracking each contact and sending catered messages to each is impossible. 

With marketing automation, you can turn your contacts into loyal customers without having to spend long hours tracking them and pulling your hair. Not to mention, it minimizes human error. By automating these tasks, you’ll have more time to brainstorm and prioritize compelling content projects that contacts/leads need. 

2. Nurtures Leads

Want to reach out to the people you haven’t heard from in a while? Or communicate with those who have shown consistent engagement and can become sales-qualified leads?

Marketing automation takes this stress off of segmentation. The software looks at your prospective customers’ contact information and engagement history to segment your lead list for you. This allows you to nurture leads down the funnel by:  

  • Automating the flow of personalized messages via email, website content, and campaigns
  • Analyzing prospects’ responses and behaviors toward your messages and tweaking your approach accordingly in the next round of content

For example, with email automation, you can track and collect data like open rates, responses, and how well a certain subject line or layout worked. Not only does this provide you with real-time tracking, but also offers valuable insights to make data-driven decisions. 

3. Boosts Customer Engagement

Seventy-seven percent of buyers want unique and targeted content while progressing through the sales funnel. By using a stage-based marketing approach, your marketing automation software can deliver specific content to people at the right time. For example, you can send incentive and rewards programs to visitors who have signed up for your newsletter or to your loyal customers who have hit their two-year anniversary mark. 

Creating micro strategies for each stage builds consistency with your audience; and with consistency, you’ll have more awareness to predict and allocate future marketing spend. 

4. Increases Conversions and Revenue

When Canadian multinational media conglomerate Thomson Reuters started using marketing automation software, their lead conversion time dropped by 72% to bring a 175% overall increase in revenue. By making your sales process more data-driven and personalized, you reduce the time it takes for a potential lead to become a customer. 

5. Improves Customer Retention

Customer relationships are key to retention, and it’s easier and cheaper (about five times less) to retain customers than to find new ones. Through automating leadnurturing activities, you can consistently fuel your existing relationships and maximize your ROI without increasing your output—and keep more customers. 

6. Robust Sales and Marketing Partnership

Sales and marketing are two peas in a pod and, unfortunately, many companies fail to acknowledge this. Especially as technology continues to evolve and mold the buying cycle, sales and marketing must grow together through these shifting tides. 

Marketing teams need to work with sales to determine what content should be created to support leads in the mid-to-late stages of the buying process. Marketing automation lays out a robust strategy that seamlessly integrates the roles of both teams. When strategies and tools are aligned, they’ll boost visibility, conversions, and revenue.

How to Start Using Marketing Automation

Now that you understand the fundamentals of marketing automation, it’s time to rig your marketing boat and launch into the marketing automation horizon. Here are 4 tips to get you started: 

1. Collaborate with Your Sales Team

Relationships flourish with communication and collaboration. To really get the most out of marketing automation, you need to communicate your efforts with your sales team. So reach out to them and come up with innovative strategies that are custom-tailored to your business. 

Some vital questions to hash out together are: 

  • Why aren’t our leads converting?
  • Where in the funnel are the leads getting stuck?
  • When is the appropriate time to hand off the nurtured lead to the sales team? 
  • Which group of leads are converting the most?
  • Which CTAs are generating the most clicks? 
  • How can we produce accurate and consistent data to identify efforts that are actually working/driving leads? 
  • How should we follow up with cold leads?
  • What is the potential customer lifetime value of a specific lead?

2. Optimize Your Database to Enhance Communication

U.S. firms believe “32% of their data is inaccurate,” leading to a 23% decrease in revenue. Data quality plays a huge role in making decisions regarding conversion strategy. Therefore, it should be kept in top shape. Not to mention, you want to make sure you’re handing off the right leads to your sales team. So be sure to: 

  • Clean your lead list – Email addresses are the usual identifier for each of your contacts, so this is a good place to start. Identify any unsubscribers or bogus email addresses that have bounced back. Check your engagement metrics—do these contacts deserve to stay in your database? It’s also good to check for and delete any duplicate email addresses. No one likes getting multiple messages about the same offer. how to clean up lead list checklist
  • Conduct consistent segmentation – Segmentation involves creating different customer/visitor profiles based on their interests and expectations. It’s a dynamic strategy that reflects a type of customer’s journey with your brand/product. So start by clearly defining your target market to appropriately personalize and craft quality content. Showing different content to different segments will encourage people to take the right step in the buyers’ journey. 

3. Implement Lead Scoring

Marketing automation software like Hubspot allows you to create a lead-scoring model that assigns values to each lead. We know, no one likes to be graded! But rest assured, this process involves thought and analysis. With lead scoring, your team can prioritize leads and take appropriate action. 

There are several different scoring models, such as: 

  • Demographic information – Analyze the demographics of your audience. If you only sell your product in a certain city, you might want to assign a lower score to those who are based outside of your city. 
  • Company information – Are you a B2B or B2C organization? Depending on what types of businesses you’re trying to target, you can allocate lead scores accordingly. 
  • Email engagement – Look at peoples’ click-through rates (CTR) to see how engaged your followers are with your promotional emails. You might want to give a higher score to those who explore your high-value emails like demo offers. 
  • Social engagement – How many times did they retweet or share your social posts? If your lead is an avid participant of your social platforms, you can assign them a positive score. 
  • Spam detection – Are the forms filled out in a way that indicates an alien submitted them? Maybe the name or company isn’t capitalized, or there’s a series of random letters. You might want to consider flagging these “leads” as spam and assigning them a negative score.

marketing automation lead scoring examples

4. Keep Your Eye On the Prize—Human Relationships

We understand how marketing automation and human connection might seem like an oxymoron. The best way to think about this is that marketing automation is an extension of the human touch. It’s about being conscientious about the needs of your audience to provide the right information at the right time. 

The human element should never be overlooked. It’s the heart and soul of marketing automation; without it, we as consumers would simply be another product in an assembly line. So as you’re collaborating with your sales team and fleshing out strategies, stay rooted in human connection by focusing on the journey. Map out all of the possible decisions someone could make and the ideal responses to any queries. How would you help a friend through the purchase process? 

Does Marketing Automation Really Work?

Duh . . . yes, it works! Would we advocate for it if it didn’t? Plus, we already gave you six reasons why you should invest in this process.

Still skeptical?

Sure, there are always challenges that can minimize the effectiveness of a marketing automation campaign. BUT, there’s basically one big reason companies may not get the great results they expect: They silo their marketing automation efforts. 

Siloing can take two forms. On one hand, your marketing automation efforts are undermined if your data sources aren’t connected. Just put yourself in the inbox of your customer to see what a disaster that can be. No one thinks highly of a company that sends them the same email multiple times. But if you don’t realize the same leads have contacted you through multiple channels, you might make that faux pas. 

A more pervasive form of siloing occurs when your marketing automation efforts have nothing to do with your other marketing tactics. Don’t make the mistake of assuming that the “automation” in marketing automation means you can set it and forget it. The opposite is true.

When MA is part of an overall digital strategy, that’s where it can really flex its muscle and bring results worth much more than the little effort required to get it going. You’ll know it’s working when the results of the following metrics are in your favor:

  • Email open rates
  • Click-through rates
  • Site traffic
  • MQLs generated through lead nurturing
  • Activity for each segment 
  • Sales-accepted leads
  • Generated revenue
  • Number of elbow bumps you get at the office

Get Personal & Start Automating Today—Contact Us

With the many components involved in marketing automation, it’s important that you find people who’ll have your back throughout the entire process. And that’s why we’re here. As a Hubspot Gold Partner and influential force in the dynamic digital landscape, Big Leap is ready to understand what success means to you and wants to help you launch personalized lead and nurture campaigns.

We know emailing us and asking for help is a big deal. That’s why we want to make sure you know, that we know, that you know how good we are at our job. How can we do that? By showing off a bit. 

If you take a peek at our Roof Maxx case study, do you know what you’ll find?

  • 38% average email open rate
  • 14% average email click rate
  • 200% increase in scheduled meetings.

Yeah . . . that’s right. Now that you know just how good we are, contact us today or click the Request a Quote button above.

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