What Is Marketing Automation?

What Is Marketing Automation?

As you all know, automatization is a process in which machines replace human labor, typically those repetitive tasks that computers can perform faster than humans. This was one of the founding principles of ActiveCollab - automatization should take care of as much boring busywork as possible so that we can focus our time and efforts on doing Real Work.

It’s the same way with marketing. In previous blog posts we’ve gone over user tracking, user behavior, lead scoring, user identification, and now that we have enough data, we can automate actions that guide the user to conversion.

All the marketing channels are at play here. The way we contact the users depends on their behavior and interactions - some prefer email, some social networks, and there are some we want to always pay special attention to. The tools for automatizing communication with users can easily be set up to send messages through defined channels to segmented leads. The most common use for this is in email marketing, where it’s used in different onboarding processes. Unlike mass email and newsletters, here it’s about transactional emails.

Drip email campaigns

Emails have evolved - from their primary, communicative function - into notifications at just the right time, to just the right person. Transactional emails are sent out to predefined triggers, or events. For example, when it’s your birthday, the system recognizes this in CRM and sends you a pre-composed email with a thoughtful message. When you complete your purchase, you receive an email confirming a successful transaction. When you start using some software, you get an email or a series of emails that will help you use it more efficiently.

To give you an idea of how the entire process goes:

  • In the user tracking post we talked about how to track where the user is coming from and what they are doing on the site. We then add a new parameter to the user behavior metrics and lead scoring of every user - their score based on which events they’ve triggered. This is the beginning of the flow.
  • We continue through the flow by having the system issue a push notification that will invite the user - if they have an overall score above 50 and they came to the site via organic search - to subscribe to our newsletter.
  • So, whenever the system notices that an action greater than, for example, 15% has occurred, it automatically pulls a predefined template, lists the value variables related to a particular product, and sends it out to segmented users who subscribed to that newsletter.
  • Now we have a flow - we’ve identified the user, we’ve assigned them a score. They behave the way we want them to, they’ve subscribed to our newsletter, and so an appropriate email is sent to them. This is done by a machine, working 24/7, all year long. We continue to monitor this process with metrics, and improve the copy of the text in emails, calls to action, etc.

When a product is purchased, the system further recognizes a successful payment and sends out a different email, which can now be even more personal, since it is a complete account with the product delivery address. The CRM account for that user registers a successful purchase, and he gains further value for us - the user is now a customer. As a customer, they enter a new segment, because the system now flags all customers that spend, say, more than $50, as buyers, and those that buy more than once a month - as frequent buyers. You can create a separate segment for frequent buyers with a score above 40 who spent more than $70 and send them some token of appreciation for the holidays. They’ve earned it. Again, this is all automatic; you don’t have to bother with it (unless you want to tweak or change some parameters) once you’ve set it up.

Machine Learning - the Future of Automatization

This automatization is just about emails. But imagine if you could push all of these segments onto Facebook and create a custom audience there as well. It’s likely that machine learning will play a significant role in the future of marketing automatization. To start with - in evaluating the probability of a sale happening or not, using all the parameters we have at our disposal. Over time, the system could add to the CRM of every user the likelihood of their conversion. Later on, when we have the user’s probability, behavior, and other metrics, we can be certain that every next contact with an already active user, will be a successful conversion.

When we round up one process, the potential of another opens up. Imagine if every email you send out contained a subtle upsales message. If someone bought a camera, besides the report of it being shipped, the option to buy batteries or a camera case at a reduced price - since he’s already our customer - could be included. This way, you gain a new metric - the customer is willing to spend more money in your online store.

So, with all this in mind, we come to the following important factors and requirements:

  • You need a CRM that can support all this information and easily connect to other tools.
  • An email system that will send out messages based on segments. The most popular services usually have the option to automate email campaigns. Although they are simple automatizations, based on one condition, they can be a good place to start and will showcase the value of this work. More complex systems or custom made systems are certainly a better option. It depends on how much you are ready to invest and how much your business needs, but it should be considered necessary.
  • A system you will use to track the analytics. Whether it is a third-party service or a solution that is located directly on your server - the decision is yours.
  • Pay attention to GDPR, and the consent you have to get.

When all of these come together, you will have a powerful automatization machine. It will do the work for you, and all you have to do is follow the metrics - not all of them - to occasionally upgrade the process to make it even better.

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