What IS Marketing Automation? According to HubSpot, “… marketing automation is software and tactics that allow companies to … nurture prospects with highly personalized, useful content that helps convert prospects to customers and turn customers into delighted customers.”
Effective marketing automation generates new revenue, new leads and provides an excellent return on the investment made. It also saves marketers’ time as many formerly tedious processes are well, automated!
This allows marketers and sales people to follow up personally at the right time, knowing that leads are not being neglected in the meantime.
Keep in mind that these tips work best for those who have a substantial amount of leads that are ready to be nurtured. Marketing automation is best used for scale, where individual nurturing would become too time consuming. So definitely make sure you have the need to nurture before implementing these tactics!
Sound good? Great! So now how do we do it?
The Hard Way
It IS possible to cobble together a makeshift automation process using several software programs. We’ll try to share as many tips as possible if that’s the route you prefer. For some budgets, it may be the only solution – for now.
Marketing Automation Made Easy
This is not meant to be an advertisement for HubSpot – honest. It just happens to be the marketing automation software we use. Others might provide similar functionality.
1) Create an Enticing Offer
Identify a pain point or challenge faced by many of your buyers. Can you share some DIY options (some that work and some that don’t), and offer a solution that involves your own services or products? Then you have the basis for an offer that is so good people would pay for it. In this case the “payment” will just be a little bit of contact information. Not a huge commitment for them – but very useful to you.
If you ask other experts in your field to contribute, not only will you add value to the offer, but you may find these experts are willing to help promote your offer for you.
Create your offer in any format you like. If you want it to be downloadable for use and printing by just about any use, save it as a .pdf.While we often think of an “offer” as an ebook or whitepaper, an offer could also be a webinar signup, exclusive video content, a slideshow, free trials, etc.
2) Create Your Landing Page and Form
Landing pages should be simple and not include distractions like navigation, sidebars, etc.
When createing your form, include (at least) First Name, Last Name, Email, Company Name, and website URL. Add at least one field that will help you start segmenting your lists (A checkbox for what’s your biggest ______ challenge? Industry, Job title, etc.). Add smart fields to collect new information, if desired.
HubSpot makes it very easy to create landing pages that integrate with the rest of your automation, but if you’re willing to export your subscriber lists to your email provider later (or check to see if your provider integrates), you can also use a program like LeadPages.
3) Create a Download/Thank You Page
After a reader submits the form information, the redirect page should give them a link to download your offer and give them options to get more related information right away. You might link to recent blog posts, related offers, or a contact page.
4) Create a Call-to-Action (CTA) (or Three)
A CTA is an image that links to your landing page. You’ll want to use these in emails, blog posts, website pages and on social media. It should be hard to miss, clear about the offer, and difficult to resist. Try using colors that contrast with the rest of your design – your CTA will stand out and get more clicks.
HubSpot has a super-easy CTA tool that allows easy embedding and performance tracking. Create your image in your favorite image-editing program (we love Fireworks and Canva) and embed the code wherever you want your CTA to appear. Create more than one to see which work best with your audience.
You can accomplish much the same by simply linking a regular old image to your landing page – but you’ll miss out on the statistics that will show you which CTAs are most effective unless you use some fancy bit.ly tweaking.
5) Create a List for Segmentation
In HubSpot, create a smart list that adds every contact filling out a certain form to a specified list. This allows you to keep track of who is interested in what and makes for more targeted email campaigns in the future. It’s likely you could do something similar with your email provider.
6) Create Emails and a Workflow
Once you have contact information for your downloaders, use it! Create several emails for follow up:
Create a “quick follow up” email that thanks people for downloading and provides the download link again.
Create two or more nurturing emails – these should build on the topic of your offer. You could share links to related blog posts, other offers, videos, case studies, etc. Anything that would be helpful to someone interested in the content offer.
Create an email that offers assistance. You could offer a free trial, a consultation, or a demo.
7) Set up Workflows or Auto-Responders
Schedule your emails to go out to your downloaders. Set the delay between emails appropriately. For example, if they downloaded a 90-page ebook, don’t email the next day to ask how it’s going. Give them a little time.
When a contact reaches the end of the Workflow or AutoResponder series, send yourself an email that alerts you (or your client, or a salesperson) that a contact has made it to the end of the workflow. The one we use in HubSpot provides an outline of the contact’s activity (number of site visits, emails opened, pages viewed, etc.) which helps us determine if they’re ready for personal follow-up now, or if we should let them stew a while before we pick up the phone.
You wouldn’t likely get that kind of contact data from another provider, but you could ask your provider whether there is a way to get alerts for completed AutoResponder contacts.
8) Write and Publish a Blog Post
Announce your new offer! Describe the problem you are solving and the value you will provide. Give them a number of reasons to click through to your landing page. Add your CTA to this blog post and resources page.
9) Notify Existing Subscribers with an Email
Create and send an email announcing your new offer, making sure to focus on “what’s in it for them?” Insert a CTA and at least one more text link to your landing page (more links = more clicks). Send the offer to all your contacts, or only to those who have expressed interest in the subjects related to this ebook.
10) Share on Social Media Channels
Post updates linking to your landing page on all your social channels, scheduling several updates to Twitter. Email or send a tweet to any collaborators, sending a link to the landing page or blog post and thanking them for their contribution. Tag them in updates where appropriate.
Let your partners or employees know the ebook is up and ready to share. Encourage them to share and comment on your social media updates.
Do a little social prospecting and share a link to the landing page or blog post if you think it’s appropriate.
From time to time, share your landing page again on your social channels. Try different images and different text, different days and times and watch your results.
11) Watch the Results (and Adjust)
Numbers to watch include:
Initial email open and click-through rates.
Follow-up email and click-through rates (edit your workflow or autoresponder emails if one is underperforming)
Landing page conversion rates. If your conversion rate is lower than expected, look at how enticing you’ve made the offer, the number of form fields you’ve included (more fields, more barriers to entry), the submit button text (never use “submit) and compare to previous, higher-performing landing pages.
Call-to-Action performance. In HubSpot, watch which CTAs get the highest number of clicks. Swap these out for underperforming CTAs and add the best CTAs to older blog posts on related topics. If you’ve used a different shortened link for each CTA, check click stats on those.
12) Follow Up
With HubSpot, as you see contact reconversion emails, receive “hot lead” emails or get your “So and so is finished with the workflow” email, decide how you or your sales team should follow up.
No matter which method you use, you now have a segmented list, so you can target future email campaigns to people’s expressed interests.
Keep these lists in mind when you create new content that might be of interest. It doesn’t need to be another ebook – a blog post, video, case study, slideshow or other asset is worth sending, too! When you do send this kind of email in the future, remind them why they’re getting it, so it doesn’t feel like it’s coming out of the blue. Your content offer may have been fantastic, but chances are, a few weeks later they have only a foggy recollection of having seen it.
So, there you have it, your ultimate marketing automation cheatsheet. If you’re a HubSpot user, you might be interested in our printable checklist – that’s how we keep track of everything!
Originally published Mar 17, 2014 2:00:00 PM, updated November 12 2023