Do you adhere to the Best Practices of Marketing Automation?

A marketing automation platform provides automation features across diverse aspects of marketing, including lead acquisition and management, email marketing, setting up automation workflows,  web form tracking, etc.  Your marketing automation tool is like your very own fairy godmother who tends to all your marketing needs and makes your job easier!

Regardless of the multiple benefits that a powerful marketing automation tool unlocks, be aware of over-automating. All your marketing activities require your constant attention and updating.

This blog is a collection of marketing automation’s 11 best practices.

Use it as a checklist or grade yourself on the scale of 1-11. Let’s see how well you adhere to all the practices and if you make the most out of marketing automation. For additional information, take some time to read our in-depth guide on marketing automation before you start optimizing.

1. Routinely clean up your contacts database

Most email marketing automation tools charge you based on the number of contacts that you have in your database. It is important that you clean them up regularly, to help you focus only on the leads that are interested in you. 

For starters, try getting rid of the unsubscribers. Do keep in mind, not all email unsubscribers fully disengage themselves from your company. Once a contact unsubscribes, take some time to observe if they might be engaging with your company through other channels, for instance, they could be revisiting your website or even interact actively on your social media handles. It’s a good practice to delete the contacts having a bogus email address since they do not add any value to your marketing efforts.

If your database has duplicate records, you might be annoying the same person with identical emails delivered to each of their various inboxes. Make sure you identify and merge duplicate records by searching for a match between the contact’s name and the company’s name or any other relevant field.

 2. Exercise smart segmentation

One of marketing’s most essential best practices is to perform segmentation. Segmentation is the act of dividing the contacts into groups possessing similar characteristics.

You could segment based on:

  1. Industry
  2. Demographics
  3. Profession/role
  4. Geographics

A segment created consists of contacts who have one or more of these characteristics in common. You can also segment contacts with similar behavior if your tool supports behavioral tracking.

 

Once you have performed segmentation, it becomes easy to deliver personalized and engaging content, and this takes your marketing efforts to a whole new level.

3. Organize your marketing automation processes

If a large organization is using a single instance of a marketing automation tool, an automation process you created may become difficult to retrieve in the myriad. If two or more teams have similar processes with the same name, things are going to get messy. Anybody who uses the tool must take the effort to keep their automation processes systematized. 

Here is an example to show you how naming conventions can be practiced to stay organized:

A journey created following a naming convention

Here, ‘FM’ is the name of the team who created the journey, and ‘New Onboarding Flow’ justifies the scope of this process. Within this journey, you create email campaigns and they can be labeled as:

Email-1-Welcome Email

Email-2-Product Introduction

Email-3-Demo Request

Following naming conventions when labeling these processes enhances your marketing automation efforts.

4. Personalize your email campaigns

You have a platform filled with personal information about potential leads and loyal customers. It only makes sense if you put it to good use. Go the extra mile by using the information to create tailored email campaigns to suit individual contact’s interests. Personalization is a loosely defined term and how you create “personalized” content depends on the tool being used and the extent to which each marketer goes to get their audience engaged.

You could start by personalizing the greeting in your email with the recipient’s first name. You could also write content around the recipient’s age, gender, profession, and other demographic information. After performing behavioral tracking, you could create segments representing these personas. The next step would be to send personalized emails for each segment and drive higher engagement rates.

Personalization tags

5. Incorporate great content with powerful marketing automation

Once you invest in a good marketing automation tool, you get to conveniently automate mundane marketing activities. Skilled marketers would know that a marketing automation platform needs personalized content to attain a better ROI for their marketing efforts.

Mapping the customer experience (53%) and use of personalized/dynamic content (51%) are deemed the most effective tactics for optimizing marketing automation. – “Optimizing Marketing Automation survey” (source)

Irrespective of whether the content is for your emails or social media channels, it should talk to the reader. Imagine how tedious it would be to write unique content for every lead/customer. It would be a lot easier to produce individualized content for personas created by combining stored contacts with similar demographics or behavior. To put it simply, the main goal is to align personas with content. 

One of the best ways to create engaging content is to format it right. For email marketers, the real task is to design the email campaign format. There’s is so much that can be done and marketers tend to go crazy. 

Experts actually stick to simple designs where the prime focus is on the readability of the content. Avoid cramming emails with distracting visuals that take away the reader’s attention. It’s all about finding the balance.

Try sticking to the templates provided in your marketing automation tool. Let the content shine!

6. Be empathetic to your subscribers’ time zones

When you are responsible for sending time-sensitive email campaigns, make sure you schedule your emails based on the target audience’s time zone.

time-zone-scheduling your email

For example- A marketing team is responsible for sending a “Friday flash sale” email campaign at 9 pm on Friday in Washington DC. If they don’t segment the audience well, then their subscribers in France would receive the same email at 3 am the next day, leaving them puzzled and unclear. 

One of the key takeaways for any email marketer would be to pay attention to the time and date information in all the emails they send out.

7. Get the subscriber’s consent before sending emails

If there was a book on email marketing etiquettes, you would find an entire chapter on the importance of permission. Permission in email marketing refers to subscribers granting authorization to receive emails. Most marketing automation tools today require the consent of contacts to send emails. 

So what happens if you send emails to contacts who haven’t granted permission? These emails are most likely to be marked as spam by frustrated email recipients. When multiple parties report your email as spam, do not be astounded if your IP gets blacklisted.

Recent legal compliance laws also demand email service providers and other marketing tools to provide an unsubscription link in every mail sent to allow subscribers to withdraw consent to receive emails.

An unsubscribe link in the email

8. Review, test, repeat before you hit ‘send’

What a nightmare it would be if one sends 100,000 emails at once with a spelling mistake in its subject line!

Any error you notice after the mail has been sent will harm your email’s engagement rate and your brand, of course.

Since the first impression is the best impression, check if these fields have been filled in rightly:

  1. Sender Name/ From Name
  2. Reply-to address
  3. Subject line
  4. Preheader

Email preview

Besides these, 

  1. Inspect your email content for any broken or incomplete links.
  2. Ensure you have added UTM parameters to essential links for tracking.
  3. Verify if alt text has been assigned to all your images in case they fail to load.

Last but not least, always proofread your email for spelling and grammatical glitches.

Observe how your emails look from your subscriber’s shoes with the device based preview feature available in the latest marketing automation tools. 

One last step before you send the email out to your subscribers is to send the email to yourself. It is a good practice to know for yourself how the email appears in your inbox and you could even send a copy to your colleagues for a confidence boost!

9. A/B test your emails

An email marketer is responsible for sending emails targeting a diverse audience for distinctive purposes. In this case, the “one email suits all” concept goes down the drain. For those who wreck their brains over low conversion rates, surrender yourself to the power of A/B testing. 

A/B testing involves creating variations of an email and sending them out to different subsets of subscribers. Ultimately, the variation with the higher conversion rate is declared the winner. It’s as simple as that. 

The evaluation is applicable for the following parts of a typical email:

  1. Subject line
  2. Call to actions
  3. Images
  4. Body of the email

Once you experiment with variations of the email content, you could even perform A/B testing to decide which variation of email send times generates better engagement.

10. Leverage CRM integration

Make use of the CRM integration offered by your marketing automation solution to align your sales and marketing goals. This will help your teams gain better context about the customer, right from being an anonymous visitor to an engaged prospect. 

How does this benefit each team individually?

Marketing teams get to know when they can hand over any potentials leads to the sales team and also track how the sales team have progressed with each lead.

Sales team receive these incoming leads and try to qualify them as potential prospects. In case they find that a lead has gone unresponsive, the cold leads are in turn picked up by the marketing teams who try to re-engage with them

11. Measure the success of your marketing automation activities

Anybody who automates their marketing activities without reviewing and analyzing their progress has only done half the job.  Make sure you always keep track of the metrics, whether it is for bulk emails, workflows or, social media campaigns. When you have the power of real-time reporting, put it to good use. Assess email engagement and delivery metrics to judge the performance of your content and the technical aspects of email delivery.

 Concerning workflows, make sure you take a look at the journey trends and the performance of individual emails within the journey.

Emailing these reports to team members and stakeholders keeps everybody informed and aligned.

Conversion rate is the key metric to measure the success of a marketing tool. Get a better understanding of how many anonymous website visitors have become qualified leads and in turn, became profitable customers and measure how long you favorably retain them.

Conclusion:

Now that you have finished reading, it’s time to evaluate. In case you or your team haven’t been following all the essential practices mentioned in this blog, you know exactly what you have to do.

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