Marketing automation has been around for years, but it’s still something that many companies and organizations don’t use effectively. They think they need expensive technology, the right education or costly resources to make it work. But that’s not true: Automation can be implemented and scaled with the right affordable tools, and it doesn’t have to blow your budget.

What is marketing automation?

In a nutshell, it’s managing marketing processes and multifunctional campaigns across multiple channels automatically with the use of technology and tools–this frees you up from doing a bunch of tedious manual tasks. By carefully planning your campaign and its messaging and triggers upfront, marketing automation technology can take over the heavy lifting of your campaign and deliver you real-time results as you move through it. This allows you to spend your time reacting to those results and making campaign adjustments on the fly instead of worrying about firing up the next step of your campaign manually.

What is the marketing automation process?

Before starting any marketing campaign, automated or not, it’s important to know who you are trying to reach. Who’s your target audience? What demographic(s) do you want to engage?

Next, you’ll want to set your campaign goals: What results are you looking for? Engage new users? Build trust? Make a sale? Increase basket size? Once you know where you want to go, you can figure out the steps to get there.

After that, map out your campaign. This is where you think about your various marketing channels and which would be most effective to help you reach your target audience. If you’re targeting new audiences, what’s the best way to grab their attention: Is it through direct mail, digital ads, out-of-home or PPC? If you want to talk to your existing customers, is email your most effective channel? Once you know what elements will make up your media mix, it’s time to architect your campaign.

How does timing work with marketing automation?

Timing is an important consideration. There are a few key things to identify:

  • How long will your campaign run? When determining the length of your campaign, you’ll want to consider the decision-making window for your product or service. How long does it normally take for a consumer to purchase your product from when they express interest?
  • Think about the non-user triggered timing of your campaign. If a user doesn’t engage in the top funnel tactics, how do you keep in front of them? What are the next steps?
  • You’ll want to flight your campaign based on each medium’s best practices, but also your customer’s decision-making timeline. How soon after the initial campaign engagement should you make the next element fire?

Once you’ve answered these questions, you’re ready to start implementing your campaign, which will mean deciding on which marketing channels and tools you want to use. Here are four that can be easily automated.

Direct mail marketing automation.

It used to be a hassle to align the right audiences to direct mail, but not anymore. Marketing automation allows you to quickly identify the most valuable leads or contacts and send them the most relevant pieces. For example, let’s say you’re targeting prospects at higher education institutions. You could send them a postcard or brochure after they download a specific asset on your website. Direct mail automation is the perfect way to marry your online world with your offline efforts.

Social media marketing automation.

Specific tools and software can automate or semi-automate the process of sharing posts and content on your social media channels, making it a much less manual and time-consuming task. Automation software also makes it possible to share on multiple social networks (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn) at the same time. There are plenty of benefits to this, including:

  • Efficiency: You can schedule a lot of posts all at once, across different networks, so you don’t have to do one at a time.
  • Ease of use: You simply plug your social profiles into the tool and start scheduling.
  • Eyes on your brand: The more consistent and active you are, the more eyes you get on your business, the broader your reach, and the higher your website traffic.

Email marketing automation.

While newsletters and one-off campaigns will always have a place in your email marketing strategy, it’s also smart to set up automatic campaigns that trigger sends based on a user’s actions, like a welcome series after they’ve signed up for your newsletter or made a first-time purchase or donation. Automatic emails are timely, personalized and hyper-relevant to the reader, and as such, they’re often opened and clicked more frequently, driving better results for your business. Firespring email marketing offers an automation solution that’s affordable and easy to use.

SMS marketing automation.

Like email automation, SMS automation sends relevant text messages that are triggered based on a user’s actions. “Thanks for signing up for our newsletter, here’s 10% off your next purchase!” And with the average smartphone user checking their phone almost 100 times a day (once every 10 minutes, according to global tech care company, Asurion), it’s the perfect way to be sure your message gets eyes on it right away.

The beauty of an automated campaign is this: Your engaged user basically determines when and what message they get from you. Before any element of your campaign launches, you’ll want to be sure that everything is programmed to launch based on their actions–or inaction. Knowing your audience, setting campaign goals and mapping the user journey will set your business up for marketing automation success.

Need help with this process? Or just one part? Our marketing experts are working around the clock right now to set your business up for success in every way we can. Let us help you automate what you can so you can free yourself up to focus on the things that need your attention.