Expert Roundup: 11 Marketing Automation Tips from Digital Marketers

Even though marketing automation has been gaining traction these past few years, not many companies and solopreneurs know what to do with it — much less know how to properly use it.

However, with how fast the internet has progressed, almost everyone is of the same opinion that automation is the future of marketing.

That being said, whether you like automation technology or not, you eventually have to jump the bandwagon. Otherwise, you only give your competitors the unfair advantage they need to wreck your business.

At this point, you might be asking, “Where do I even start?”

I’m glad you asked.

We asked some of the most-seasoned digital marketers for their expert advice on how to use marketing automation.

If you want to learn the nuts and bolts of how to use marketing automation, then you need to read on.

1. Joolz Joseph, Email Marketing Consultant  (The Virtual Marketeer)

If you automate just one email make it the welcome email to start off your relationship the right way. Triggered immediately, this is a chance to make the best first impression when people are engaged with you (since they just signed up).  

1. Ask them to add you to their address book, reducing your chances of ending up in spam.

2. Manage expectations so they know what their relationship with you will look like.

3. If you’d like more information you can use to segment and improve the relevance of future comms, now is the time to ask (this may be areas of interest, location or business sector – consider incentivizing to increase responses).

4. Direct them to popular products or a low-cost taster services (depending on your business) to help them progress their journey with you.

5. If appropriate help them make the most of your services with how to videos or guides (my favorite example of this is a picture hanging guide from an art site).

2. Shivani Sharma, CEO and Creative Director of Firefly Creative Inc.  (Firefly Creative)

Know exactly where your email automation fits within your target market’s buying journey. If you’re reaching them at the research phase, then the kind of incentives and follow-up content you’re providing will have to be more informative and less sales oriented.

If you’re reaching them at the repeat purchase phase, your content will have to be more product focused.

If you’re reaching them at the advocacy or loyalty phase, your incentives will have to be more about referrals, coupons and gaining new customers.

The more you know about their buying journey, the more personalized you can make your email automation campaign.

3. Nicholas Zinkie, Creative Director  (Z Coast Media)

“Know Your Target”

Before you start building out a lead funnel that collects data from potential clients it’s always important to have a persona outlined for the collection process.

This outline serves as your guide throughout the automation building process from the type of data you collect to the content you serve to your leads.

A well-executed workflow starts with the initial understanding of who you’re targeting, and it’s crucial to understand the psychology behind each touch you push out during the collection and execution process.

4. Diederik Martens, Marketing Technologist & Founder  (SMOps)

Maybe it’s an open door, but don’t automate for the sake of automating. Determine where you can add value (e.g. reducing campaigning time, improving sales effectiveness, or driving more meaningful engagement).

Marketing automation is not a goal, but a vehicle to achieve your business goals.

5. Melanie Martin – Speaker + WordPress Security Expert + Senior Web Designer (Webrite Design Solutions)

When creating your automation, be sure to include “Calls to action” Make sure each call to action goes to different landing pages. IE.

Facebook store or like the page, Sign up for more tips landing page, Sign up for our event or Book an appointment.

Each article in your automation would have a different call to action in the series. Doing so gives you insight into which Calls to action are most effective.

6. Jordan Behan, Founder  (Narrate Creative)

My top email automation tip is to always be adding value. The most successful email campaigns are always those that have something of interest to the receiver.

Whether it’s a subscriber who has recently opted into your list or a contact that you’ve had for a long time, ask yourself: ‘What can I do to provide value?’ If all of your emails pass that criterion, your opens and click-throughs will be much better.

Even if the objective of your email is to get a response to an ask (to book call or a demo, view a link, etc.) thinking about what motivates your contact will always yield better results than if you only make it about you or your needs.

7. Jeff Coveney, Executive Vice President (Digital Pi)

Marketing automation is amazing technology to help companies create efficiencies in a measurable way. However, marketing automation is not an easy button that automates a bad process.

A wise woodsman once said that if he had four hours to chop down a tree, he would use the first three sharpening the ax.

My #1 recommendation is to plan in advance. Don’t just try to automate your existing undefined processes and hope for the best. Otherwise, you will find yourself trying to revamp the system down the road.

8. Sheldon Nesdale, Marketing Advisor to Small-Medium Sized NZ Businesses (Marketing First 2009 Ltd)

My #1 tip would be, ensure your enquiry forms don’t make prospects think any of these 5 thoughts:

1.“That contact form is sooooo long! I feel tired just looking at it!”

a. Does everyone type at 60 Words/Minute like you? No. Most people I know type with one finger. A long form looks like half an hour of work to them

b. It doesn’t matter if some fields are “not required”. Visitors don’t notice the little asterix, and they feel obliged to fill in every field because of “form momentum”

What you can do:

Trim back your fields to the absolute bare minimum. Do you really need their postal address, physical address, all their phone numbers and date of birth? No, you don’t.

2.“Bah! Another error message: ‘Syntax of field 624 is invalid’? WTF?

a. If prospects take the time filling in your form, click submit and they get an error box in their face they will get angry and hate you

b. It’s worse if your form validation script doesn’t highlight the field in red and provide helpful guidance so the prospect knows exactly what to do next. They will feel lost and confused

c. They will subconsciously ascribe these negative feelings to you. Is that the right way to start a business relationship?

What you can do:

a. Keep the form super short. Fewer fields = less potential error messages

b. Lighten up on the validation

3.“Does this contact form even work?”

a. This is a fear of the message not being delivered at all

b. Sometimes when you click the “submit” button does it feel like you are launching your message into space and you’ll never see it again? That’s because experience tells us that is exactly what we are doing. Sometimes the contact form is broken and no-one finds out for months

What you can do:

Regularly test that the contact form is working

4.“How long will I have to wait before I hear back?”

a. Closely related to the fear of the message not being delivered at all is waiting for an age for a response

b. Perhaps part of the problem is that most contact forms go to generic email addresses like “info@yourdomain.co.nz”. How motivated is the recipient of emails sent to this generic address to respond fast when the message isn’t even addressed to them? If Bob gets these messages, which will he reply to first: Emails addressed to Bob, or emails addressed to “info”?

What you can do:

a. Send your contact form messages to a real person, not just “info” (yes, it may need updating when your staff change)

b. Make a promise in your email receipt “we will respond within 1 normal business day. If you don’t hear from us, please call our tollfree hotline”

5.“What did I say? When? To Who? I can’t remember!”

a. When you send a message from your own email system you can always check your “sent” box later to check:

*That it was actually sent

*Who it was sent to

*The date/time

*and most importantly: what you said

b. With a contact form, you get nothing. Sometimes you might get an email receipt that says “thanks for your message, we’ll contact you soon” – yeah right.

What you can do:

a. Send the prospect a copy of their own message “here’s a copy of your message for your reference”

b. Provide a hyperlink on the webpage of the form, so instead of using the form, they can send their message from their own email system

9. Kash Dhanda, CEO (Ezra Digital)

Never insert a link into an email without having a tracking ID on it. You never know when you’ll want to retroactively correlate links clicks with new user segments based on interests/needs.

10. James Wolf, Owner (Viral Wolf)

Our one best marketing automation tip is to use the tool Zapier. This tool connects the API’s from 100’s of different cloud apps, in order to create simple or complex “if this, then that” triggers.

This app has been super useful for many of our clients, in helping to automate workflows of all kinds.

11. Siddhata Khatri, Business Development Executive & Content Writer (CompanyHub)

We always make sure that we get the maximum conversion from our website and build an opportunity for our leads to getting engaged with us.

The one thing that we do is we use a pop-up builder demo request form and whenever a user visits our site, we ask them to fill up form.

With the form, we also show them a Call To Action button which is “why not try it now?” and anyone who clicks on this button we send them a verification code for security purposes.

When users enter the code, he signs up for the trial account which is a 14 days full featured free trial account.  The user gets access to all the advanced features we have in the CRM for 14 days and he gets to explore the tool.

By doing this we not just generate an inquiry but a potential prospect and ensure that we close more than 90% deals right when user signs-up for trial.

To summarise:

Engage with leads right when they start enquiring about you or show interest in your products or services. Appropriate CTA will help you convert a lead into a deal and ensure speedy closure of deals.

Final Word

If you’ve reached this far into the article, then great job!

Now all you need to do is to put these tips and suggestions into action. It’s bound to get rough in the beginning but rest-assured that practice, practice, practice will help you pull through. You are, after all, following in the footsteps of the best and brightest.