Mathematician and philosopher Alfred Whitehead famously said that…
“Civilization advances by extending the number of important operations which we can perform without thinking about them.”
If you think about it, the same is also true for marketing.
While we can’t yet completely delegate our marketing efforts to an army of intelligent robots…
… we can reduce the amount of time we spend on each action.
That allows us, by extension, to increase the volume of our marketing output.
In this post, let’s explore the mindset, processes and tools you can use to automate your marketing.
1. Begin by having the right mindset: Automated doesn’t mean mindless!
The phrase “marketing automation” can seem rather impersonal.
It’s easy to have have a mental picture of bots sending out tweets and emails in a merciless spammy way:
While bots tend to be spammy, your marketing automation doesn’t have to be.
Marketing automation is really about reducing the amount of time and energy that you personally spend moving things around.
You still oversee the overall process, and you’re still responsible for the outcome.
I like what Alyssa Rimmer had to say in HubSpot’s Beginner’s Guide To Marketing Automation. A couple of my favorite points:
- DON’T just automate your current process without revisiting your goals. Don’t get excited and start implementing automations that don’t actually help you achieve your goals. Goals first.
- DON’T just blast or broadcast general messages – you want your content to be targeted and specific. marketing automation, there is no need to send a general, broad message to your entire contact list that will end up getting deleted or marked as spam because it’s not relevant.
There are some simple things you can do for yourself personally as an individual to reduce the amount of time you’re spending on minor tasks.
2. Next, you want to have a working basic framework and processes.
In an earlier post, we talked about using the ICE prioritization framework. This is a ‘primitive’ yet powerful way to save time when making decisions.
Instead of agonizing over each particular task and what to do next, you simply systematically removes a lot of the guesswork by asking 3 simple questions:
- What is the potential Impact that a task will have?
- How Confident are you that it will work?
- What’s the Ease of doing the task?
Ritika Puri wrote a solid post about this for BuzzStream. She talks about…
- Making a template while you make each new thing
- Recording and transcribing conversations
- Planning in advance (several months or quarters at a time)
- Delegating specifics to experts
- Avoiding piecemeal creation (AKA ‘random acts of marketing’)
- Joining communities that you can learn from
Let’s move on to talking about specific tools and tactics you can use.
3. Monitoring Automation – have the information come to you
A big part about marketing is about knowing the territory that you’re operating in.
Who’s talking about your brand, your product, your content, your competitors, your niche?
You don’t want to spend all your time personally scouring the web for all this information.
Why not have it come to you?
Here are some tools worth using:
Google Alerts – web alerts
The simplest free tool. Does what it says – emails you whenever your targeted phrases get mentioned anywhere on the web.
Mention – Social media and brand tracking
There’s a 14 day free trial that’s worth testing out.
Ahrefs – SEO backlink checker & competitor research tools
Where are your backlinks coming from? What sort of keywords should you be targeting? These are all questions that you can answer better by using a tool like Ahrefs.
4. Social media marketing automation – schedule posts and updates ahead of time
Buffer is a great tool for scheduling regular posts to social media.
Of course, you don’t want to be stale and just post nothing but blogpost headlines and links.
Mix it up a little! If you’re sharing links, post a screenshot, quote an interesting line.
You can also do more by using tools such as Zapier or IFTTT.
Ian Clearly has an extensive post about this: How to use IFTTT for Social Media Automation.
5. Email marketing automation – setup a series of flows that serve your customers
John McIntyre wrote a very extensive post about this for the Shopify blog: 7 Automated Email Campaigns That Win Customers and Keep Them Coming Back:
- Abandoned cart emails – for customers who haven’t checked out yet
- Welcome emails – for people who’ve signed up for your mailing list
- Nurture emails – for educating potential customers about your product
- New customer emails – for onboarding customers who have just made their first purchase
- Repeat customer emails – to thank and reward customers for making repeat purchases
- Email receipts – they have the highest open rates (around 70%!)
- Re-engagement emails – to encourage past customers to buy again
Every ecommerce store should have a map of all of the above emails.
Think of each email as an employee, as someone having an interaction with your customers on your behalf.
You want the tone and voice of your brand to be represented.
Savvas Zortikis also wrote a great post on Kissmetrics with a list of MailChimp automation tactics.
6. Content marketing automation – get more people involved!
Coschedule is one of the tools you want to be looking at here. Their blog in particular has a lot of time-saving tips, and they have all sorts of resources you can look into.
Someday, we may reach a stage where we can have bots writing high-quality blogposts for us. (What a world that would be!)
In the meantime, the smart way to ‘automate’ your content marketing is to invite guest bloggers and to hire freelance writers to supplant your primary content.
There is a good way and a bad way to do this.
The bad way is to simply open up your blog to any and all writers who want to post on your site. I’ve seen it happen – the blog becomes incoherent
The good way is to have standards. You want to have a clear editorial direction:
- What is your blog about?
- Who is it for?
- What problem is it trying to solve?
You want to have a content calendar that has some sort of theme.
7. Referral marketing automation – systematically incentivize customer referrals
One of the best ways to automate your marketing is to have your happy customers do it on your behalf.
They’re already primed to do it, but most of them tend to forget about it.
And one of the best ways to do that is with a referral program.
Referral programs allow you to…
- Incentivize existing customers for making referrals
- Get seen by the friends of your customers
- Give discounts to the friends of your customers
Conclusion: Marketing automation is about of constantly proceduralizing whatever you can, and using tools to help you along.
The important thing is to always keep the big picture in mind. What are you goals? What are your targets? What are you trying to achieve?
If you’re clear about that, you can always look for ways and tools to extract yourself from the process and save time.