A large part of modern marketing can be automated with a high degree of success, in some cases pretty much completely. This is a somewhat controversial topic in the marketing community, with some claiming that too much automation can actually be harmful for your performance in the long run. But the truth, like with many similar modern concepts, lies somewhere around the middle. While complete automation may not be a suitable approach for every marketing campaign out there, there is definitely a good middle ground to be found, where you can remove a large portion of the manual work associated with your daily marketing tasks, while still maintaining a human touch to your system.
Identify Repetitive Tasks
There’s a lot of manual work involved in any marketing campaign, and a lot of that can often be automated without sacrificing any performance, from simple tasks to your scheduled mailing lists, to more complex interactions like following up on potential customers after an initial interaction. Sometimes, automating these tasks comes with certain risks. People might not appreciate the feeling of talking to a machine all the time, and you should ensure that you still have some human element in those interactions – more on that below.
Use a Good CRM
If you’re not already using a modern CRM, you’re missing out on a lot. Sure, you can get by with a simple Excel sheet in the beginning while your customer base is still small, but that solution will quickly become inadequate as the size of your company increases. A good CRM solution brings a lot to the table, especially when it comes to identifying potential leads for a new product or service or leveraging existing connections between some of your customers. All of this takes very little effort with a good CRM as opposed to doing it manually, so this should be one of your first targets for automating your marketing campaigns.
Leverage Modern Analytics to See the Big Picture
The most beneficial step you can take to improve your marketing campaign’s automation is to take advantage of modern analytics. There are many advanced solutions on the market that can give you a better overview of what you’re doing and how successful each element of your overall approach is.
Don’t make the mistake of assuming that you already know enough about your current situation to make the best decisions going forward. Plug your data into an analytical system and see if it can connect any dots that you’ve been missing. You’d be surprised how many different revelations this can often lead to, especially if you’ve been doing your analytics completely manually until now.
Understand Your Users’ Behavior
Tracking user behavior is one thing but extracting something meaningful from that data is another. This is an extension of what we discussed above about automation. It’s important to put as much effort as you can into understanding the actions of your users and how they impact your marketing performance in the long run.
Sometimes certain consequences will not be immediately apparent, and it’s only through careful monitoring of analytics over a longer period that you can begin to understand what’s actually going on. You might need to collect a lot of historic data before you can perform this kind of analysis, so the earlier you start collecting it, the better. Even if you don’t have the means to actually analyze that data immediately, it can still be useful to store and organize it for the long term.
Test Different Approaches
Once you’ve got a reliable system in place for analyzing the data you’re producing, you should start testing as many different approaches to each element of your marketing as you can. Classic A/B testing can lead you to the right decisions over a long enough period of time, and it can help you identify points that don’t deserve your full attention at the moment.
Make sure to track those results for the future! You’re going to start gathering a lot of useful data once you’ve got the ball rolling, and it’s important to organize it in a way that allows you to easily revisit it later on. Otherwise, all that effort spent on analytics won’t produce many results in the end, and you’ll keep repeating the same mistakes over and over again.
Don’t Forget the Human Element
Too much automation can also have its downsides. One of the things people really tend to hate is the feeling that they’re communicating with a machine and not an actual human being. If every message you send reads like it came off a conveyor belt, this is quickly going to drag down any positive impressions people might have of your business, and swing opinions in the opposite direction. Avoiding this is as simple as ensuring that your messages still have a touch of humanity to them, which can be easily accomplished by editing some of them by hand, responding manually to certain inquiries, and generally trying to engage your customers more actively on a personal level.
Doing this too much will obviously defeat the whole point of automation, so you’ll have to find a good middle ground. This takes us to what we mentioned in the very beginning – successful marketing automation is a fine balancing act. It’s also something that requires constant revision if you want to maintain your momentum, so keep going back to those test results and try to figure out what else you can change without lowering people’s perception of your communication.
Do this right, and after some time, you won’t have to put much effort into your marketing communication at all. It will take some time for your analysis to stabilize and start producing results you can actually count on, and it’s important to be patient until then, and keep your eyes on the future. Avoid overcommitting to any particular idea – if you realize that it’s not working out, it’s best to drop it while you still haven’t invested too much on that front instead of burning even more resources.