People often imagine once they get themselves a great marketing automation software, it will work like a genie : churning out viral campaigns on command, and bringing home those big fat leads in thousands!

This, however, is far from the truth.

The truth is that any software will work for you, only as much as you work for it. 

To help you put this nugget of wisdom to good use, here are 7 actionable marketing automation tips to get the most out of your software :

1) Experiment different channels

A marketing automation platform can help you automate nearly every channel of lead capture. For example, LeadSquared offers lead capture through websites, blogs, ads, phone calls, inbound emails as well as events and walk-ins.

Within the first few weeks of getting your software, give all of the available lead generation mechanisms a try.

Here’s the rationale behind this :

  • It’s going to be tough to set-up new channels that you’re not using currently. But kick off the inertia and do just that. Experimentation is the name of the game here, and the results may be a pleasant surprise for you! For instance, the Deltin Group  added live chat as a key channel of lead capture after noticing that it worked smoothly with LeadSquared.
  • You might also feel there is zero incentive for re-trying a channel you’ve given up on in the past. However, you need to remember that done right, automating can vastly improve the traction you get from any lead source, and hence it may just work for you now.
  • It is correct that you do not need to be spending on 10 lead generation channels, when 3 of them are getting you your best leads in generous numbers. But unless you try out all the available options, you’d never know which ones click.  Once you do have results from all the channels to compare, you can make an informed decision about which ones to prune out and which ones to retain in your lead generation strategy.

2) Engage with active and inactive leads

marketing automation tips 2- engage with inactive leads

Don’t let the sleeping leads lie!

There’s no point in having a growing database if you’re only going to engage with the tip of the iceberg.

All marketers create elaborate conversion paths for the actively engaging leads. In fact, many also create follow-up paths for the recently disengaged leads (eg. if an active lead stops responding to your email campaigns for 2 weeks, you send them something of higher value, such as an e-book or a free consultation offer).

However, they tend to forget about the inactive leads; the ones that stopped responding to your campaigns, say, 2 years ago. But unless a lead takes a definitive negative action (such as unsubscribing from your emails), it’ll do you good to not give up on it. This is because if they expressed interest in your product once, there is always a chance they might turn into buyers one day.

For instance, here at LeadSquared, we do biweekly marketing webinars, and a lot of attendees are in the early, ‘learning’ stage of their career right now. However, we continue to nurture them with specific, high-quality content because they will likely be decision-makers one day and that day, it would benefit us immensely to have top-of-the-mind recall with them.

Therefore, create conversion paths not only for your active or recently disengaged leads, but also for the inactive ones. This doesn’t just involve sending them generic promotional emails – those will certainly not incite action out of a lead that stopped responding to your campaigns years back! Instead, use your marketing automation software to the fullest by creating specific, incremental and personalized follow-ups for such leads.

3) Nurture leads with relevant and targeted content

Nobody likes being spammed with information that doesn’t fit their exact use case.  And with good marketing automation software in your hands, a problem of this kind should never arise!

All you’d need to do is identify the kinds of buyers you have, and segment your lists accordingly. This will help you make your nurturing campaigns as specific and relevant as possible. You can also take targeting to the next level by asking your segmented leads about the kind of content they’d be interested in receiving. 

Here are a few examples of hyper-targeted nurturing across sectors :

1. If you run a travel agency, you can send customized offers to different kinds of travelers -students, young couples, families, etc. Additionally, you can make your lead’s experience richer by asking them to indicate the kind of deals they’d like to receive. For instance, if someone signs up for a couple’s package for Goa, you could ask them if they’d be interested in receiving honeymoon deals, or weekend getaway deals, or longer trip deals, and send them customized offers accordingly.

Amp up your online presence! Get our in-depth travel marketing guide, here.

2. If you’re marketing an education institute (say a B-school), you can create specific nurturing campaigns for students, working professionals, and parents. Then, you can create another layer of targeting for each of them. For instance, when a college student signs up to receive more information on a course, you can ask them about their stream, and send hyper-targeted content accordingly (for example, ‘Here’s how an Arts student like you became a consultant at Deloitte’).

Learn from the pros! Check out the best education websites of 2015, here.

3. If you are a real estate developer, you can create separate nurturing campaigns for people in different locations in the city. You can make your campaigns even more relevant by further targeting young couples, small families and joint families separately. For example, emails on the best ‘wine & dine hotspots in Kormangala’ can be sent to young couples looking for houses in that area.

4) Humanize your campaign copy

marketing automation tips 4 - humanize campaign copy

It’s a cliché, but one that is so poorly executed in general that it deserves all the mentions it gets!

Today, marketers are smart enough to not write mass emails addressing their leads as ‘Dear Prospect’. On the other hand, people are smart enough to understand that even if they’re addressed by their name in a promotional email, it’s probably been sent to hundreds like them using a software.

Does this mean that personalization is useless, or that if it is important, you need to actually sit and write one-on-one emails?

Good news: no, not at all!

The idea is not to dupe prospects into believing an email has been sent only to them and no one else.

The idea is to  make them feel that there’s a person behind this software sending them emails, and that person is warm, friendly and genuinely interested in providing them high-value content.

That’s exactly the purpose good copy can accomplish for you.

Strong, conversational, captivating copy that stands out amidst the din and speaks to your target reader in his/her ‘lingo’, can do wonders in making your prospects feel connected to you.

Consider this example from Dropbox, which is pure genius when it comes to email marketing :-

marketing automation tips

Here’s another example of great email by (a To-do list app), as shared by viral marketing expert Aashish Chopra :

marketing automation tips

Takeaway: speak to your prospects as a friend, and not as a salesperson.

Marketing automation can help you get the practical parts of your personalization right. It can help you send out very specific, relevant information to each of your users and address them by name. However, to make them sit up, care for the information and respond positively to it, you’ll need to complement your software with genuinely personal copy.

5) Customize templates

Most marketing automation software come loaded with Landing Page and Email templates. From the experiences with our clients, we’ve noticed that people tend to stick to using the same template for one kind of offer.

This defeats the purpose of having access to a library of templates and a neat tool to tweak them further.

Nobody will know your business’ exact requirements as well as you do, so don’t rely entirely on preloaded templates.

Experiment with various templates and design your own, before you zero down on the ones that work.

Apart from the design, also experiment with the soft elements of your landing page/email: images, CTA, copy, placement, overall flow, etc.

Learn the 1 secret behind every high-converting landing page!

6) Clean your database regularly

Database cleaning is critical because many metrics that your system reports will take into account redundant leads as well, giving you a distorted picture.

For instance, LeadSquared calculates a figure called ‘Engagement Index’, which reflects the overall engagement of the leads in the system.

Lead Engagement Index

This is used as a metric to judge when the nurturing efforts should be scaled up. Including leads that are absolutely inactive lowers this figure unnecessarily, thereby creating the false impression that current nurturing activities are not enough.

Therefore, it’s vital to remove leads :

  1. That have unsubscribed from your campaigns, or
  2. That have emphatically refused interest in your product
  3. That continue to be disengaged even after you’ve run targeted nurturing campaigns for them.

For example, if you’re a property developer in Bangalore, and you have around 2000 leads that haven’t responded to your campaigns in 2 years. Now, you can run an autoresponder campaign for such leads, sending out one email per week for 3 weeks, and making sure they’re building up in terms of value:

Week 1 : Sudhir, it’s been long! Let’s break the ice :)

[In this email, re-introduce yourself to your prospect. Remind them of their previous interest in your property. Tell them that you regularly create content about real estate, home maintenance, their location, etc. Ask them if there’s any specific topic they’d like to see a blog post, webinar or video on].

Week 2 : Gearing up for a lazy weekend? Here’s a light read to go with it!

[Include a free e-book, on a light, engaging topic, such as quick and do-it-yourself tips to improve your house décor, or interesting things to do over the weekend in Bangalore.]

Week 3 : Sudhir, found the right home yet? Got you a little gift to help out!

[Include a discount coupon on select properties in their area in this email.]

Week 4 : Can I trouble you for a small favour?

[Send this email if there have been opens but no clicks on any of your previous emails. Tell them you’re trying to make sure your content reaches only the right people and doesn’t spam anyone. Ask them if they’re no longer looking for a house, or would like to stop receiving your content for any other reason. You can embed a poll-type question here, with options, so that it becomes quicker for them to answer.]

Based on such a last-try campaign, you can clean your database/email lists. Remember, all leads in your database should represent either current or future opportunity. If they do not, there’s no point having them in your system.

7) Define lead scoring rules

Most marketing automation systems help you prioritize your leads by scoring them. For example, LeadSquared calculates a quality score (a static measure to judge how well a lead matches your ideal customer persona), an engagement score (a dynamic measure that shows how responsive your lead has been towards your marketing campaigns in the last 30 days), etc.

Define the lead scoring rules (eg. for engagement score : +10 if the lead signs up for a free trial, +5 if they sign up for a webinar, -5 if they unsubscribe from emails, etc.) carefully, instead of just going by the default values in the system.

You should also keep updating the rules based on your learnings. For example, if you notice that people who unsubscribed from your Property News emails still purchased from you later, you can change the negative score for an unsubscribe from -5 to -2.

The same logic applies to all the reports and analytics that you use. Customize them according to the metrics that are important for you, instead of going by the default ones.

Got more tips to add to the list? Keep them coming in the comments below :-)

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