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Didn’t we automate marketing? Optimization ideas for the real world

hoke-headshotBy Chris Hokansson

Automated inbound marketing campaigns are great for lead generation and conversion, but don’t let the “automated’ aspect of these campaigns fool you. You don’t just turn them on and let them run.

You may get some moderate success if that’s all you do, but to optimize your results, you have to monitor how your campaigns are performing. That data will guide you in making strategic adjustments to your campaigns that result in more leads and more conversions.

I think there’s a fairly common misunderstanding about that point, because when I’m talking to people about the benefits of marketing automation, they often ask when they’ll be done and the automation will take over. (“So if we get it to here, we’re good, right?”)

The answer is, you’ll never be done. The nature of marketing is that the right strategy today may not be the right strategy tomorrow, so you can’t stop paying attention to what the data is telling you about what’s working and what’s not.

So, yes, you can automate—using software to automatically send out emails based on certain triggers, for example. But think of your campaigns as airplanes, and your marketing and sales teams as the pilots. It’s nice for pilots to be able to use auto-pilot, but that doesn’t mean they can leave the cockpit and start having cocktails!

dartboard bullseyeThe reality is that without ongoing measurement and analysis, the full promise of marketing automation will never be realized.

Start small

You can gain a lot of useful data from the performance of your nurturing campaigns—so much that it can sometimes be overwhelming. If you’re working without the assistance of a strategic marketing agency, you might not know where to focus, and so end up focusing on nothing.

It’s much better to begin with some basic questions that are easy to tackle, such as, “Which emails and landing pages have the highest and lowest click rates?” Once you know that, you can begin to look for answers as to why. The answers may not be immediately clear, but many times they’re obvious, allowing for simple but effective adjustments to be made.

Another very basic but useful comparison is click rates vs. conversion rates. For example, if you have content with a high click rate, but a low conversion rate, you’ve got a pretty clear indication that you’re doing something wrong with your offer or that the content was just particularly good at attracting interest. Either way, that’s valuable information to know.

Don’t get too carried away

As much as performance measurement is about data, it’s important not to place too much weight on any one piece of data. Abnormalities occur, but more than that, the cause of a particular result is often impossible to pinpoint without more data.

What you’re looking for are relatively clear cause-and-effect relationships. If a result doesn’t make sense, it’s better to continue to monitor (isolating the variables if possible) until you’re as sure as you can be about what the data is revealing.

Having said that, don’t close your eyes to results that seem counterintuitive. Such results are often useful clues about how to do something better.

Because you need to isolate cause-and-effect, I don’t recommend making a lot of campaign adjustments at once. When you do that, you can’t tell what’s causing changes in the results.

There is help

Fortunately, not only can you use marketing automation software (or email marketing software for more-limited campaigns), you can also engage B2B marketing agencies such as One Red Bird. We specialize in both marketing automation and marketing strategy, and we will help with the development, execution, and management of your automated marketing campaigns, as well as use our knowledge and experience to make sense of the results.

But even if you don’t have the assistance of marketing expertise—internally or externally—you can still get much more out of your automated nurturing campaigns by constantly monitoring results and making common-sense adjustments on your own.

One Red Bird is a B2B marketing services provider that specializes in helping companies increase their sales by changing the way they do marketing. Chris Hokansson is One Red Bird’s Managing Director. Send your B2B marketing questions to [email protected] and visit www.oneredbird.ca for whitepapers, videos and other resources.

Photo Credit: seanhobson Used under CC 2.0 license.

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