10 Requirements Of A Great Marketing Automation Strategy

July 13, 2015

Ever wonder why some people’s lead nurturing campaigns seem to create money out of thin air, while others do absolutely nothing? Have you, or your team ever put together a follow up series you just knew was going to crush it, only to not get a single sale?

I know I’ve had a few in my day!

Looking back and seeing the successes and the failures, I can say with absolute confidence that the main difference is having a great marketing automation strategy (or campaign strategy) in place prior to starting work on anything.

In this article I am going to outline 10 requirements of any great follow up strategy. Using this as your guide you will be light years ahead of the average marketer.

1) A Clear Set Of Goals And Objectives

The first, and most important thing to have for your automation campaign is a clear set of goals and objectives. When I say this I’m not talking about reciting Napoleon Hill mantras about having a million dollars.

What I’m referring to is a goal for the prospect in every step of your campaign. What do you want them to do when they visit your website? Once they do that what do you want them to do? etc. All the way through until the purchase.

Setting up your goals in this manner allows you to pinpoint what exactly in your funnel is broken. Many business owners don’t see sales so they cut their price thinking it is the cheap prices offered by the competition. In reality it may be that no one cares about the middle of the funnel offer and never sees the price. If you aren’t measuring in this way you will never know.

Free Campaign Planning Worksheet

2) A Scorecard That Tracks These Goals

In order for your marketing automation strategy to truly blossom and grow over time you need to be tracking these goals (all of them) on a regular basis. These numbers are the vital signs of your marketing funnel and will tell you at a glance whether it is healthy, or is in critical condition.

Remember that even if your results aren’t spectacular (and they may not be from the get go). This is a vital function and will help both you grow as a marketer, and your funnel mature as you learn how to tweak it for your market.

3) Separate Communication For Each Lifecycle Stage

Along with the goals for each step of the buyer’s journey you also need to be mindful of the considerations of a prospect through each of the stages. They have different questions and are looking for different answers. If you are out of sync with this your marketing will fall flat on it’s face.

Consider the buyers journey in your lead nurturing campaigns

  • Subscriber – This was a good article, I might want to check this site out again
  • Lead – I like this websites content, I want to learn more about what they offer
  • Qualified Lead – I realize I have a problem, I wonder how I can solve it?
  • Opportunity – I wonder if they (your company) could solve my problem?

This is a rough back of the napkin example… But from it you can tell that pitching someone who simply liked an article on your site with discounts and coupons for a product or service they don’t realize they need will not work.

4) Offers To Pull The Prospect Along

Along the way you need to be dangling not only a carrot, but the right carrot to keep your prospects moving in the right direction. If you’ve read my post on best practices you know it is important to only move your prospect forward towards a sale.

To do this you will need different types of offers relevant to their stage in the journey. A great analogy for motivating someone to do something is a string…

If you lay a string on the table and try to move it forward by pushing from behind it will only double over on itself and turn into a mess. If you grab the front of the string between your thumb and forefinger and pull it however, it follows behind is a straight, orderly procession.

The lesson to be learned from this is to pull your prospects through the funnel by offering them deeper value as they progress.

Free Campaign Planning Worksheet

5) Never, Never, Never Plan Your Strategy In Your Automation Tool

Gone are the days of me coming up with a marketing automation strategy and implementing it without going through it on a whiteboard several times with different people whom I respect. Great ideas, strategies, and plans do not come out of a vacuum.

Admittedly I used to get a hair up my a$$ to create some brilliant follow up sequence I thought up while on the bike at the gym… I’d get home, pop open Hubspot and start building it right there.

Whether it is someone in your company, your family, or a trusted professional via Skype I guarantee you will improve your plan by going through it with someone else before building it in your tool of choice.

The process of writing out your workflow on a whiteboard and explaining it to someone points out flaws in your logic or planning that you wouldn’t otherwise realize. Additionally just looking at it a few times and explaining it to someone will spur ideas to improve it.

6) A Little Box To Lock Your Ego In

Unless life has humbled you enough times already you will likely need a little box to lock your ego in while you plan your automation strategy for your next lead nurturing campaign. You know it’s your ego at work when you find yourself saying things like:

  • “This kind of email always converts the best”
  • Every time I’ve done this it ______”
  • “This page is way better than the old one”

While you may be right once and awhile I can’t tell you how many split tests have come up counter to what everyone thought! In fact I’m working on a theory currently about ugly landing pages because they seem to often out convert polished ones. (Got a thought on this? Feel free to leave me a comment below).

Always let the data be your guide when making changes to your sequence.

7) Test Everything Then Test Again

Using your scorecard as a guide, start testing everything in a methodical way to get true insights into the behavior of your prospects. Going along with number six, you need to get your ego and assumptions out of the way to make true progress.

Proper testing looks like this:

  1. Hypothesis: I believe we could increase metric _____ by changing ______.
  2. Measurables: Make sure you have a baseline metric on current performance.
  3. How Will I Test This: Many marketing tools like LeadPages have built in split testing, otherwise you will need to use a third party platform like Optimizely to do this.
  4. Patience: You need to get a large enough sample size to make a strong conclusion. Many split testing tools have a “statistical significance” determination built in to help you here.

Testing is an incredibly powerful way to incrementally improve the performance of your marketing funnels, follow up sequences, and general overall automation strategy. It’s what separates those flying purple unicorns who are crushing it, from the frustrated majority.

Wonder What An Increase In Conversion Looks Like?

Conversion Rate ROI Calculator

8) Just A Little Patience

Having patience is absolutely critical to being able to make intelligent decisions and improvements to your marketing. When you make a decision you need to see it out and the results that come with. Then incrementally change things to improve results.

Back when I started my own website around the year 2000, I used to change it every few months… I’m talking a complete overhaul.

My first website - Natenation 1.0

Humble beginnings… One of my first websites, Natenation 1.0

While this really helped my coding skills it did absolutely nothing for my results. Granted it did not help that there was no google analytics back in those days and web stats looked like this:

Back in the day... we had AWStats

Back in the day AWStats was about as detailed as it got…

But I am pretty certain even if I had the best stats under the sun my lack of patience would blind me to what they were telling me.

9) Customer Insights Are Crucial

While I call them “customer insights” here these could be just insights into the market you are after. You need to know your potential customers in order to be effective with your marketing automation strategy. These insights will be used to craft the email sequences in each stage of your follow up marketing series.

As a general guide you should be able to identify:

  1. The general pain points your prospective buyer has
  2. The upside for their business of solving these problems
  3. The value of solving that problem

As an example consider a growing small business with a bustling shipping department that ships 500 packages to it’s customers every day.

Pain Point: You learn that the shipping employees have to manually key in the name and address for every package which takes for easy numbers 1 minute per package. Using these numbers 8.3 hours every day are spent hand keying addresses into the system.

Upside For The Business: At $15 / hour this is $125 per day spent on data entry. $625 per week, $2500 per month, or $30,000 per year problem! Additionally almost 2,000 hours per year are spend doing this data entry.

The Value Of Your Solution: In this light, your software that eliminates this data entry is now worth $30K per year to the small business.

The value of knowing this is weaving these facts into your marketing communication in a fashion that the prospective client comes to the conclusion that they need your solution without your telling them.

10) Bonuses Not Discounts, Upsells Not Thank You’s

This was a lesson learned over time that separates growing businesses from those that are stagnant or dying. Keep these in mind when mapping out your marketing automation strategy and follow up sequences for your campaigns.

Bonuses, Not Discounts

In an effort to boost sales the typical answer is to use coupons or discounts. The problem with this is it cuts deeply into the profits of the business. Typically products are priced fairly low from the get go in order to be competitive in the market. The obvious issue here is that there is a fixed cost associated with producing the product.

Whether the profit margin is 20% or 50% the discount comes entirely from the profit side, and zero percent from the cost of production side.

A better alternative is to offer additional functionality or benefits in the form of bonuses. In the case of the software that eliminated data entry for the shipping department a great bonus would be some other piece of software or add on that streamlined some other process. If you have done a good job with your marketing message the benefits of your product are worth much more than the money. Following this offer more benefits instead of selling it for less money.

Upsells Not Thank You’s

Instead of simply giving a prospect a thank you after opting in to your funnel or purchasing your product you should let them ascend to a higher level. This can take two forms:

  1. Opting in to the next level of your campaign (subscribe to blog -> download whitepaper)
  2. Purchase a complimentary product to the one they just purchased

It’s important to keep in mind that at the time of opt in the prospect or customer is lowering their guard, putting their trust in you, and looking to solve their problem. They have momentum and can quite easily be prompted to either purchase another product, or opt in to the next level of your funnel. Use this to your advantage in your automated marketing strategy and reap the rewards.

Apply These Tips In Your Marketing Automation Strategy

It’s been accurately said that knowledge is potential, action is power. I challenge you to start applying these tactics in your follow up sequences today while it is fresh on your mind. I am constantly surprised at how many a would be successful small business could dramatically increase their results if they simply stepped back and worked on their strategy, implementing these techniques.

Free Campaign Planning Worksheet

Did I miss anything? Have a technique I missed? Leave me a comment below!

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Marketing Automation for Small Business Should Grow Results Over Time

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