By: Patrick Groover
Many organizations employ a wide variety of tactics when it comes to their marketing strategies. Thankfully, a modern marketing automation platform provides enough flexibility to achieve the same outcomes in many different ways.
That being said, while it is possible to take many paths to achieve your objectives, some configurations present a healthier approach than others.
What Does a Healthy Strategy Look Like?
Like most things in life, quality comes in many sizes, shapes, and formats. One team’s definition of healthy may look drastically different than another team’s as initiatives often are unique to a specific organization. Therefore, to define healthy, it is important to look at the principles or leading indicators that highlight whether the sales ends are justified by the marketing means.
As a general rule-of-thumb, healthy strategies leverage balanced communications to deliver results and maximize the use of everyone’s time, both the audience’s and brand’s. A healthy program is customer-appreciated–timely, value-adding, and relevant. Equally important, healthy initiatives are internally supported–efficient, repeatable, and sustainable.
Program health can be measured based on both qualitative and quantitative metrics. For example, a good quantitative metric to track is the amount of time being spent on each campaign or marketing activity compared to the overall ROI. Qualitative metrics include things like employee satisfaction and customer satisfaction.
In this blog, I’ll explain three ways that you can get the most of your marketing automation platform for a healthy, sustainable strategy and how you can measure them:
1. Campaigns Should Always Add Value
Your relationships with potential and existing customers are like muscles—properly exercised, they can lead to strong and powerful revenue outcomes. In the same way, overusing and straining them can lead to opt-outs and irritated customers.
As you’re assessing your campaigns, the first question you should ask is “Does this communication provide value to my audience?”
Many times, it can be tempting to overcommunicate when you’re leveraging a marketing automation platform due to the scale at which you can run programs. To overcome this temptation, it’s important to target specific outcomes and objectives within each program. Instead of aiming to send out a weekly or monthly message, define your relationship or education objectives–this is often supported by writing out a value-adding statement while planning your communications.
This program is designed to educate our audience on ___________ and can be confirmed when the contact __________.
This nurturing program will track our audience as they move from _________ to _________ and will track the number of times they __________.
Applying this to real-world scenarios for a subscription management company:
This program is designed to educate our audience on all of our available subscriptions and can be confirmed when the contact clicks on links to an increasing number of subscription summary pages.
This nurturing program will track our audience as they move from casual readers to event participants and will track the number of times they attend annual events.
By targeting specific outcomes and objectives, you’ll be able to clarify the value that you’ll deliver through automated communications. In the scenarios above, the subscription management company wants to educate its audience on available subscriptions and raise awareness about the information within various publications. The value-adding objective is to present relevant content to their audience and highlight information that the contact may not have otherwise known was available through these publications.
Adding value at each touch point is a great way to ultimately deliver on your goals for driving conversions and revenue. By linking together value-adding communication objectives, you can develop an overall nurturing path for each contact. In the example above, the subscription summary page could include a call to action to sign-up for the listed publication.
Ideas for measurement: Track unsubscribes, click-through activity, and program successes. The goal is to gauge whether your audience is interacting with your content or potentially avoiding communication. Qualitative customer surveys and internal discussions on content relevance can uncover areas for improvement.
2. Automation Should Reduce Complexity
Do your nurture streams or campaign workflows look like a bunch of spaghetti? Do they feel overly complex in their logic? If so, it may be time to take a look at the events, constraints, and logic being used to automate your communications.
With a marketing automation platform, you can leverage information in a number of ways. By listening for behaviors, rather than programming if/then statements for every interaction, you can simplify the process of placing the most relevant information in front of each audience segment based on their interests. This also increases the likelihood that your audience will see content that resonates the most with them.
One example of this is a welcome series for new customers. Rather than stringing together multiple send-wait-send emails and evaluation steps, you can set up a communication series that is based on whether customers exhibit a new or desired behavior. Not only is this a healthier approach, it’s also a great way to avoid overwhelming them and ensure that your most important messages are consistently connecting with the right audiences.
Here are a few ways you can evaluate this aspect of your marketing automation:
Use the simplicity principle. If it takes more than a few configurations to get to your outcome, then there may be an easier setting that accomplishes the same goal
Ask your team to note any workflow logic that feels overly complex and host team brainstorming sessions to see if everyone agrees on the approach
Schedule a periodic review with your platform’s implementation experts to select automation programs
Encourage your team to read and share articles from your marketing automation community
Of course, if you are running up against a wall when it comes to the available triggers, filters, and logic within your current marketing automation platform, it may be time to consider more sophisticated systems. There is a big difference in design logic from platform to platform, and the right logic will make it far easier to implement campaigns based on the objectives and responses you hope to achieve.
Ideas for measurement: The average time spent building out nurturing workflows is a great metric to start with. Qualitative monitoring might include a discussion of daily workload, system ease-of-use, and best practices for automating customer interactions.
3. Automation Should Reduce Repetition
A final concept for getting the most of your marketing strategy is scalability. Many marketers have come to terms with the daily grind of developing programs, and as such, they may not realize that many repetitive activities can be consolidated. The right marketing automation platform will reduce the number of times that any type of program or content needs to be produced from scratch.
Common examples of repetitive activities:
Building the same audience list or segment
Loading the same content over and over again
Recreating the same email just to adjust content for an audience sub-segment
Attaching audiences to campaign flows
Setting up campaign flows from scratch just to add a few tweaks for a new audience
Features like dynamic content and the ability to clone whole campaigns (with all associated assets) can free up the much-needed time to support your strategic initiatives. Efficiencies in designing, implementing, and executing campaigns will allow you to focus more on monitoring results and optimizing.
Another common area where repetitive activities abound is reporting. If you’re spending hours and hours compiling data to deliver status updates, your marketing automation platform may have untapped, out-of-the-box settings that can visualize results without a heavy amount of manual intervention. Creating an inventory of your marketing reports and a process for delivering updates may result in greater efficiencies.
Ideas for measurement: Excellent quantitative measures include the number of hours spent building reports and reconfiguring or rebuilding previously developed workflows and content. Tying this information to a general survey that evaluates perspectives on the amount of repetitive work is a good way to track qualitative satisfaction with the current systems, processes, and tasks.
A Great Time to Reflect
The new year is right around the corner, and many of us are planning out what it will look like for our organizations. One of the best things we can do is to pause and reflect on the items that are working and those that can be streamlined. A great way to rally your team to success in the new year is to ask them to participate in the evaluation process and help determine if there are any areas within your marketing strategy that could be streamlined going forward. Of course, it may be time to consider a more advanced marketing automation platform if your current solution does not support these capabilities.