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5 tools to take your marketing automation to the next level
Looking to step up your marketing automation efforts? Contributor Ben Jacobson takes a look at five tools that will help you streamline your business and stay a step ahead of the competition.
Automation helps companies save time, scale faster and reduce the damage caused by human error in their customer acquisition pipelines. Approximately 84 percent of businesses that invest in marketing automation are seeing results that they classify as successful, according to research from Ascend2 (PDF).
Thanks to automation, businesses can swiftly eliminate inefficient back-and-forth and tedious tasks that eat up their precious time. In the age of SaaS (software as a service) supremacy, it’s arguably easier than ever to streamline several specific aspects of marketing operations, including, but hardly limited to:
- Email marketing, including upsells, transactional reminders and outreach.
- Social media, especially when it comes to curating third-party content and distributing evergreen brand content.
- Lead generation and nurture, allowing businesses to maximize message relevance by personalizing triggered email content and segmenting lead lists.
- Ads and sales performance, personalizing offers for specific audience members and engaging with them accordingly.
Although many marketers understand the need to put some of their processes on autopilot, the fact remains that automation in and of itself is largely misunderstood. You might hear the term “automation” and assume that all you need to do is set a miracle app loose, and you’ll be able to sit back and watch revenues spike. These unrealistic expectations inevitably result in disappointment.
Automation is not as easy as flipping a switch and walking away. Automation must be tracked, experimented with and optimized over time.
And like anything else in the world of marketing, automation efforts must be supported by a concrete strategy. For example, not everything needs to be automated, nor should you expect to go all-in overnight. The keys to effective automation include a slow and steady approach and adopting a keen attention to detail before diving in.
Let’s take a look at five simple but powerful tools to help marketers ease into the world of automation. These tools can be great matches for just about any business looking to grow their leads, engage their audiences and do so in a more efficient manner.
1. Optimize cold outreach to lookalike prospects with Growbots
Automated prospecting and lead generation is the holy grail for many marketers. Consider the sheer amount of time it takes to attract and track down leads, craft unique pitches and send follow-ups. Between these tasks and potentially daily hours of CRM (customer relationship management) updates, lead generation is perhaps the best candidate for tasks worthy of handing over to our robot overlords.
The problem? Many marketers correlate the concept of automated email and lead-gen with spam. Again, this is a common misconception. Through optimized automation, marketers can actually put tasks such as email outreach on autopilot while simultaneously sending more personalized messages.
Growbots eliminates the back-and-forth aspects of outbound sales, estimated by the company to suck up around 120 of your company’s hours per month. The platform boasts a bounce rate that’s under 10 percent, because once you feed it your existing list of leads, it’ll use machine learning to mine a database of over 200 million decision-makers to find lookalikes and send them optimized pitches, too. This ensures that sales reps only have call contacts with relevant people.
Armed with a detailed analytics summary of each campaign, marketers can understand exactly what’s working and what’s not, fine-tuning their messages until they convert like a well-oiled machine. For example, campaigns with high opens and clicks can effectively be “cloned” for future use.
Over time, marketers can understand by the numbers which outreach templates are driving the best performance and roll them out again and again.
2. Keep your marketing activity aligned with strategic goals with Statsbot
The core goal of any marketing automation tool should be to make your business more efficient. But with so many moving pieces to your marketing activity, efficiency can be hard to come by. For marketers juggling everything from influencer outreach to e-book production to lead nurturing to video ideation to content curation, it’s common to lose track of your team’s most important metrics as your to-do list stacks up.
Marketers have a simple choice: keep up with your most important tasks based on hard numbers or let them fall to the wayside. And arguably the best way to track what matters most is to receive automated alerts.
Sticking to your strategic priorities shouldn’t be a guessing game. That’s exactly why Statsbot has emerged as a smart solution for businesses looking to make sense of their data and monitor their most important metrics.
Statsbot integrates with platforms like Google Analytics, Salesforce and Mixpanel to ensure that your business is getting from Point A to Point B based on the goals you set. The platform tracks metrics relating to funnel performance, web traffic and revenue sales alongside your growth predictions, painting a crystal clear picture of your marketing impact in real time.
Additionally, Statbot’s alerts can notify you via Slack or email when you’ve hit a milestone or there’s an anomaly in your data.
Based on performance data, Statsbot creates projections and likewise lets you know if you aren’t on track. Through Statsbot’s regular reporting, you can see at a glance whether or not you’re on target, helping with accountability and leaving few question marks surrounding the value you drive.
3. Scale your social presence with Narrow
Netting a positive ROI for the time you spend on social media is much easier said than done. The biggest pain for marketers regarding social media boils down to time management, which is why automating aspects of your social media presences should be a matter of “when” — not “if.” Even so, marketers today are expected to sport formidable social media presences, using their follower count as a sort of measuring stick of their influence.
One’s follower count may be the prototypical “vanity metric,” as it doesn’t unto itself say much about having an engaged audience, but it still does have the power to impress people at a glance and therefore open doors. Manually growing your Twitter following certainly has its advantages, but there’s a huge downside in terms of time.
To help marketers speed up the process of ramping up on relevant Twitter followers, tools such as Narrow have emerged to auto-engage with others, yielding follows.
If you want to build up a legitimate social following that’s actually interested in what your business has to say, you can’t just spam random accounts and expect engagement in return. Narrow allows you to scout social followers by combing for specific hashtags, keywords, mentions and URLs related to your target audience.
You can set Narrow to engage with people who have matching keywords in their tweets or their bios. For example, let’s say you want to target Twitter accounts in the digital marketing world. Keywords such as “content marketing” or hashtags like #smm essentially allow Narrow to identify who you should be following and who’s content you should be engaging with.
Once the tool identifies your prospective followers, it starts following them and liking their posts. In other words, your business can scale its Twitter following without having to lift much more than a finger — as long as you’ve targeted the right terms for your business.
Narrow logs new follows as “conversions,” and it displays conversion rates associated with each of your keywords, so you can optimize accordingly over time. Finding the best people to attract as audience members not only cuts down on time spent searching for new followers; it also helps encourage more traffic and traction from social.
4. Streamline onboarding and lead nurturing with ActiveTrail
It’s clear that automation is a potential goldmine for attracting leads, but what happens after they’ve entered your funnel? With so much focus on lead generation, nurture oftentimes falls to the wayside.
Manual lead nurture simply isn’t scalable, nor is it time-efficient. There’s also the issue of human error. Poorly timed responses and off-base messages can totally kill your relationships before they get off the ground.
Once you attract leads, it’s crucial to transform them into legitimate relationships versus missed sales opportunities. Of course, building relationships doesn’t happen overnight. You can speed up and streamline the process, though.
ActiveTrail ensures that lead-nurturing happens around the clock. Through optimized content drips triggered by their audience’s activity, marketers can avoid haphazard and random communication. This results in more responses and fewer opportunities for leads to drop out of your funnel.
The platform can also send specially tailored messages to leads based on specified engagement triggers like clicks on email links and visits to web pages, dispatching emails, texts and dynamic coupon codes. These features integrate seamlessly with your CRM through Zapier, allowing you to sync engagement logs, so you don’t have to pull double-duty when keeping track of your leads.
5. Tap into the power of automated ads with RevealBot
Content marketing’s steady growth as a go-to tactic has reached a turning point in the last couple of years, with nearly every marketing professional publishing owned media assets in a bid to attract an audience. Does this mean that paid acquisition is starting to fall out of style?
Hardly. If anything, it means that in order to rise above the noise that is everyone else’s content, today’s smartest marketers need to promote content with ads on search and social to maximize discoverability. Today it’s all about creating paid messaging funnels that work together with organic channels holistically. Social media ad spend reached $15 billion in the US alone last year, while Google’s global ad revenue hit $79 billion, which represents growth of 18 percent over the previous year, according to Statista.
But running ads can be a major pain, given the targeting research, competitive analysis, experimenting with new features and ongoing fine-tuning involved. When you think about how hyperspecific and granular Facebook ads can get, marketers are stuck in a catch-22. Sure, we can run highly targeted ads aimed at acquiring Page likes, driving traffic or capturing leads, but what about the time and legwork involved with constantly experimenting with and optimizing those campaigns?
In response, Reveal has emerged as a means for marketers to tweak Facebook campaigns without having to constantly monitor ad performance themselves. The platform performs actions such as pausing campaigns or ramping up an ad’s budget based on performance in real time. This allows you to run campaigns with peace of mind, knowing you won’t burn through your media budget or miss out on a large spike in demand.
The app keeps campaigns within their respective bid and budget ranges to avoid any unnecessary ad snafus. Reveal also tracks essential changes and triggers as they occur, sending notifications to users who’ve integrated the platform with Slack.
By setting specific parameters for your ads, you maintain a strong level of control during your campaigns without having to stress out about “what-if” situations.
What tools do you need to transform your automation strategy?
Marketers today are expected to prioritize ROI and efficiency. Automation is often the missing piece of the puzzle for those looking to maintain share of voice and an acquisition pipeline with robust volume.
While automation certainly isn’t a one-size-fits-all affair, and not everyone will benefit from using the above tools, it’s important to ensure that your automation tool stack addresses these criteria:
- Increasing your ability to tweak activity, on the fly, as needed, using data as your guide
- Empowering you to dedicate time more wisely and spend less time on tedious busy-work
- Providing useful metrics that allow you to demonstrate to stakeholders exactly how potent your marketing activity is
- Enabling you to strike the right balance between full-on autopilot and high-quality impact, without maintenance demands weighing you down
Rather than sit on the sidelines and allow your competition to gain a scalability advantage, consider how tools like these can ensure that you stay one step ahead of the competition.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech Today. Staff authors are listed here.