Let’s Automate Your Job…(But Only The Boring Parts)
Marketing Automation is the hot new concept, but what about those of us who got into marketing because we love finding creative new ways to tell our brand stories, create riveting content, and engage with people across dozens of mediums and channels? Automation isn’t what we signed up for, is it?
But…what if it is?
Marketing automation exists to help you be more creative, by automating the repetitive time sucks that take up so much of your day. How many times have you finally gotten to start working on content, only to realize it’s 4 pm and you’ve wasted 80% of your day on all the essential but manual tasks that had to get done?
Computers and AI…they enable creativity, but they don’t ‘do’ creativity. They don’t do strategy. What they can do is take care of specific, automatable tasks, accurately and quickly, over and over again and helps your marketing team to come up with awesome ideas.
Automation excels at tasks that are:
By taking those tasks off your plate, you’re going to gain creativity, not lose it!
Science And Art: Dancing With Data
There’s a constant mantra in today’s business world of making everything data-driven. That’s valid; ignoring data is a mistake in almost every front. Thing is, excellent marketing exists at the intersection of science and art; while data is critical to guide the creative process, data alone doesn’t sell.
Automation gathers data, inserts data, keeps data at the forefront of our process. Only humans can add in the secret ingredient, the creative spark. Data can tell us who needs to hear our brand’s story and can even guide us in what kind of story to tell. The human touch is in analyzing the data and being guided by it in creation and creativity. Only humans can apply that data to ensure that the right story is told at the right time.
So let’s look at some ways marketing automation can unleash the creative Kraken within you.
Slay The Email Dragon
Email is the bane of a creative’s existence: the average office worker gets 121 emails per day and spends 209 minutes of their day reading, responding, and sorting email. That’s an enormous chunk of time! Can automation help you here! You bet it can!
For example, one of the most common time sucks is follow up email. Whether you need something from a coworker, are trying to get a quote from a vendor, or following up with a client, sometimes it takes multiple emails to get an answer. It takes time to track follow-ups, and it’s easy to forget to do them as consistently as we need to. Sounds like a great use case for automation, right? But how do you automate sending individual personalized emails to different people with different timing? That’s where a basic email follow-up tool comes in!
Tools like this allow you to set up automated, individualized follow up emails to designated recipients. You can select how often the recipient receives follow-ups, either with preset sequences ranging from mild to aggressive or with a customized sequence of your devising. Once it is on the case, the tool will continue to follow-up until you receive a response. No more writing new follow-ups, sending, and tracking who you need to email and who you’ve gotten a response from. That should save you some time, right?
For that matter, you’ve got automation tools right within your Gmail or Outlook account. By setting up rules within your Gmail, you can sort incoming mail as it comes in, helping you prioritize your mail and handle what you need to handle while preserving your time and focus for creative work.
If you could cut your email time by just half each day, that’s over an hour extra time to devote to creative work. And we’re just getting started with what automation can do for you!
Lead The Way
What if your brilliant content could generate solid leads without you lifting a finger? Downloadable gated content can gather customer data and usher new leads into your funnel whether you’re on the clock or not. Consider providing value for potential customers by giving them content that benefits them. All they have to do is give you their name and email to access this great content.
Once they’ve provided this information, automation can help lead them into your funnel and along the buyer’s journey without any action on your part. A welcome email can be triggered when they enter their information in, and then further emails can follow. It’s another win for automation.
Reach Out And Touch Someone
Email triggers can be used in many places to nurture both leads and customer relationships. Customized and individualized emails can be triggered on birthdays and anniversaries, or when items are on sale that match a customer’s purchase history. Emails can be triggered by abandoned shopping carts, or to thank a customer after their first purchase.
How can this functionality help your marketing team? The customer knows you care enough about them to touch base even after a purchase, that you want them to enjoy the products or services you provided. You can include messaging that asks the customer to leave a review on Google or Facebook; there’s no marketing more powerful than satisfied customers telling others about their great experience. You might send a how-to video that offers exciting new ways to use the product they bought.
Marketing automation allows you to nurture these relationships at any scale, and that’s a benefit that goes far beyond just saving you time. It is much easier to maintain a good customer than it is to acquire a new customer, and automation ensures you can maintain relationships easily and economically.
Nurture Your Team
Automation isn’t just for customers; you can use automation tools for everything from onboarding to ongoing training to team building. Using automated tools to inform, educate, and touch base with your team members can save you a ton of time, especially if your team works remotely or is spread across multiple office locations.
For example, let’s say your team is transitioning to a new software suite and you need to get everyone up to speed. With team members in different time zones and on different schedules, it seems impossible to work with everyone to get the necessary training done, and you just know you’re going to have a hard time getting into the creative zone with all the time you’ll spend herding cats.
Instead, create a series of training videos, with quizzes attached to ensure they comprehend the key points. Use automation to deliver these training videos at the right time, and to manage the process and engage your employees. Then forget about it, and go about your work. With the right automation, you’ll receive an alert when someone falls behind on the training or doesn’t pass the assessment quizzes at the end of each module, but until then, it’s one less thing off your plate!
OK, maybe not everything. Look at your individual use case and figure out where automation will save you more time than it takes to set up or provide more value than you can provide in the time it takes to get the process started. There’s no one-size-fits-all process; every use case is different. However, we think you’ll find that marketing automation, when well-implemented, only enhances your creative process.
And, after all, isn’t that why we all got into marketing in the first place?
Michael Habiger is a big marketing frontier, who truly believes that automation and data are key components to a perfectly balanced business and marketing strategy. Michael has 6 years of experience in marketing, currently, he’s the head of marketing at FollowUpFred.
Also published on Medium.