When it comes to marketing, automation can be a real time-saver.  

By automating certain tasks, you can free up your time to focus on other aspects of your business.  

A recent survey shows that 61% of companies say the process of implementing marketing automation is difficult

If you are looking to start optimizing productivity in your service business’ marketing department, then we’ve got you covered.

In this post, we’ll provide some tips for how you can build effective marketing automation in your service business. 

1. Investigate and research your target audience.  

The foundation of success for any marketing strategy, whether you’re automating it or not.

If you don’t know who your target market is, your automation (or marketing) efforts will be in vain.  

The better you know your target market, the more personalized and relevant your messages will be.  

When you have a clear understanding of who you are speaking to, you can create workflows that nurture leads and turn them into customers. 

The best way to do this is to clearly define and document your ideal customer avatars. These are descriptions of the perfect customer who your business solves problems for.  

The outcome from doing this allows you understand their desired transformation and accurately convey how your service delivers on it.  

Once you’re clear on who you are targeting, it will be a breeze to build segmentations, tasks, content, and messaging into your campaigns that speak to their specific needs.  

2. Build A Value Journey for Your Customer To Go Through. 

Marketing automation improves your ability to deliver the right message to the right audience at the right time, but to take full advantage, it is important to understand your customer value journey.  

What is the customer value journey?  

It is a marketing framework that helps you strategize how prospects go from strangers to customers to raving fans so that you can build a process they want to experience.  

As they journey toward a purchase, they are searching for answers to their questions.  

Your job is to provide those answers, or value, at each stage of the customer value journey.  

So, ask yourself, what questions might they be trying to answer when progressing through a sales cycle?  

By understanding and mapping out your customer’s value journey, you can create targeted and relevant content, messaging, and offers that will accelerate value delivery to subtly move them towards having an Ah-Ha moment. 

3. Define Your Workflows. 

Now that you have a clear understanding of your customer’s value journey and how they interact with your business, it’s time to start automating the processes that will move them through the sales cycle.  

This is done by creating workflows.  

A workflow is a series of automated steps that are triggered by certain events or actions.  

They are the engines that power your email marketing, lead nurturing, and lead scoring programs.  

Building out workflows can seem daunting, but if you take it one step at a time, you’ll be surprised at how quickly they come together.  

Start by identifying trigger points and tasks (or actions) to be assigned then define an efficient process for routing.  

A process can be as simple as an email workflow or a more complex series of behavior-based events, but the goal is always the same: to deliver the right message, to the right person, at the right time.  

Doing this will also help you see where leads get stuck and where there might be room for improvement in your process.   

Just keep in mind you can’t automate a process that doesn’t exist.  

4. Data Collection: The Oil for Your Automation Machine.  

Marketing automation isn’t just about running campaigns at scale.  

The real beauty of these tools is in the data they collect and how that data can be used to improve your marketing efforts.  

From website visitor tracking to lead scoring, marketing automation can give you a wealth of information about your leads and customers.  

This data can be used to segment your lists, personalize your messages, and ensure you only send messages to those they are relevant to.  

But to net quality output from automation performance, you need to have quality input to power them. This means you need the right information about the individuals making up your audience.  

To get this information, you’ll need to create forms and place them strategically throughout your website and marketing collateral.  

The key is to make sure the forms are short, relevant, and offer something of value in exchange for the information you’re asking for.  

This could be a content offer like an e-book or white paper, or a coupon code for a discount on their first purchase.  

The offer you choose will depend on your business and what’s most important to your customers.  

What you need to know depends on your business. In a B2B marketing context, for example, you’ll want to know what company they work for, what size the company is, and what their job title is.  

The point is to only ask for information that will help you segment and target your marketing messages.  

Continue collecting insights as they interact. Behavioral data like content engagement offer valuable clues about their interests. 

With all the information gathered, segment your list to group contacts by shared qualities and create different automated journeys tailored specifically to them.  

5. Consistent multi-channel experiences. 

Most marketers are introduced to automation by building a sequence of emails in a campaign.  

This is the most popular use of marketing automation.  

But customers today expect a seamless, multi-channel experience.   

This means that email should be just one part of your automation strategy.  

Other channels can be automated also.  

Companies can send SMS, update targeted audiences to show middle of funnel ads, or dynamic landing pages and offers to create a well-rounded program that meets your customers where they are.  

No matter how you reach out to prospects- whether it’s through a cold call, an email, or a LinkedIn message- you’re only going to be successful if you’re providing a consistent experience.  

That means that your message, your tone, and your offer should be the same no matter what channel you’re using.  

Of course, that can be difficult to do when you’re trying to reach people on multiple channels. Each one has its own unique etiquette and culture.  

However, the key is to remember that the goal is always to provide value and build relationships.  

If you can keep that in mind, you’ll be able to create a consistent experience that will resonate with prospects no matter what channel you’re using. 

But if you’re limiting yourself to one channel that could equal missing potential opportunities. 

6. Make it Personal… Your Content That Is.  

I mentioned earlier that one of the most important marketing automation best practices is to collect the data you need. 

But what do you do with that data once you have it?  

One of the best things you can do is use it to create more personalized content.  

We’ve all seen those emails that start with “Dear valued customer” or “To whom it may concern.”  

While these might be fine in some situations, they’re not going to cut it if you’re trying to build relationships with your customers.  

Instead, you need to use the data you’ve collected to create content that is relevant to their interests and needs.  

What if you are not sure what interests them? 

Well, you can take this a step further to discover what they are interested in by simply… wait for it… asking them.  

Revolutionary right?  

Surely you have a customer that you can make a call to survey or set up a poll on social media channels to get a better idea of what makes them tick.  

We also suggest making a drop down on your forms that can capture effective data points to create content and campaigns that boost user engagement 

The more you can personalize the content to your target market and the stage of the journey they’re at, the more effective marketing automation will be, thus your chances of winning them over increase.  

7. Track Performance for Actionable Insights.  

There’s a less effective marketing automation mistake I see too often: set and forget.   

When you’ve finally gotten your campaigns up and running, it can be tempting to just let them do their thing.  

But if you want to have effective marketing automation, you need to continuously track your performance and adjust along the way.  

The first step is to establish KPIs, goals, and set up tracking mechanisms so you can see how your campaigns are performing.  

This will make it that much easier to identify bottlenecks and opportunities within your workflows.  

Are people opening your emails? Clicking through to your landing pages?  

What’s the conversion rate for each campaign?  

Once you have this data, you can start to adjust and improve your results.  

For example, if you see that people are opening your emails but not clicking through to your landing pages, you might want to reconsider your email content or call to action.  

On the other hand, if you see that people are clicking through but not converting, there might be a problem with your landing page copy or offer.  

The key is to continually test and optimize your campaigns so you can get the best results possible.  

If you want a good framework for improving marketing performance, check out our post on the Growth Flywheel.

8. Your Email Reputation Should Precede You.  

Your email reputation is a behind the scenes actor when it comes to effective marketing automation operations.   

A bad reputation can be the difference between your emails arriving in the inbox or being relegated to the spam folder.  

It’s also what allows you to scale your operation without running into deliverability issues.  

Your email reputation is determined by a variety of factors, including your sender score, IP address, domain name, and email content. All these factors come together to form your email reputation. And, if you’re not careful, it can easily damage your email reputation.  

What’s more, a good email reputation is essential for maintaining high deliverability rates, which is key to ensuring your messages are seen by as many people as possible. Which leads to more contacts seeing your messages, and eventually, more contacts converting into customers.  

Here are a few things you can do to maintain a good reputation: 

  • Keep your contact lists clean by regularly removing inactive or invalid email addresses. This will help ensure that your messages are only being sent to people who are interested in receiving them. 
  • Make sure you do not send too many messages at once. Spam filters look for sudden increases in email volume as a sign that you may be sending unsolicited messages. 
  • Second, make sure you’re only sending emails to people who have opted in to receive them. If you’re sending unsolicited emails, you’re much more likely to be marked as spam.  
  • Finally, avoid using misleading subject lines or content that is designed to trick people into opening your email. This includes using false promises or “bait and switch” tactics.  

If you follow these simple guidelines, you’ll be well on your way 

You can have the most compelling message or practically give your services away, but if you keep sending emails to bad addresses, all that challenging work will go directly to the email jail.  

Deliverability and reputation are tied together and based on factors you can control.  

9. Simple Tasks Move Big Initiatives. 

As tempting as it may be don’t try to cram too many things into a single automation when you are building your workflows, or you could find yourself getting lost in the weeds.  

Instead, it is best to create separate automations that take care of different tasks.  

Several wheels will help reduce the chance of one thing breaking and you having to spend hours looking under the hood to diagnose the problem.   

A general rule of thumb when making effective marketing automations is to ask yourself “Can this task be performed by a human in a few seconds or less?”  

The goal here is to make sure tasks are not forgotten. Simply reducing the busy work. Not to do the whole job of a human. 

While Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence in automation is a powerful tool, it’s not a replacement for human oversight… yet.   

So, just because you’ve set up an automation doesn’t mean you can sit back and relax.  

You still need to monitor your campaigns to make sure they are performing as expected.  

If something goes wrong, you’ll need to jump in and fix it. And if a campaign is doing well, you’ll need to keep an eye on it to make sure it doesn’t start to decline.  

Automation is a powerful tool, but it’s not a replacement for human oversight.  

When you are working under the hood make sure to label it with a predetermined schema that everyone can recognize.  

Labeling everything in your marketing automation helps avoid errors and eliminates the need for extra work in the long run.  

When you must go back and manually fix things, it takes time away from other tasks that could be automated.  

10. If You’re Not Iterating, You’re Stagnating. 

The best way to get better at using marketing automation is to constantly be testing and iterating on your campaigns.  

There is no magic formula for success. The only way to find out what works is to try different things and see what happens.  

Some things will work, and some things won’t. The important thing is to learn from your failures and keep moving forward.  

One of the best ways to iterate on your campaigns is to use A/B testing. This is a method of comparing two different versions of a campaign to see which one performs better.  

For example, you could test two different subject lines to see which one gets more opens. Or you could test two different call-to-action buttons to see which one gets more clicks.  

There are endless possibilities for what you can test. The important thing is to constantly be testing and tweaking your campaigns so that you can improve your results over time and create effective marketing automation. 

11. The Power of the Pause Button. 

One of the best features of marketing automation is the ability to pause and resume campaigns at will.  

This can be a lifesaver when things go wrong, or you need to make a change in the middle of a campaign.  

For example, let’s say you’re running a campaign and you realize that one of the emails is going to a bad address.  

You can just pause the campaign, fix the email, and then resume it without having to start the whole thing over from scratch.  

Or let’s say you’re in the middle of a campaign and you realize that you need to make a change to one of the emails.  

You can just pause the campaign, make the change, and then resume it. This is a lot easier than having to start the whole campaign over from scratch.  

The pause and resume feature are powerful tools that can save you a lot of time and frustration. 

12. Align marketing and sales using your CRM. 

The war between marketing and sales.  

A classic tale of “these leads are garbage” vs “they never follow-up with regards to our latest campaigns.”   

As someone who’s worked in both marketing and sales, I know firsthand how important it is to align the two departments.  

The best way to do this is to use your CRM (customer relationship management) system.  

Your CRM should be the central repository for all your customer data. This includes contact information, communication history, and purchase history.  

This data should be accessible to both marketing and sales so that everyone is on the same page.  

The best way to ensure that marketing and sales are aligned is to have a shared CRM system that everyone can access for reporting, lead scoring, lead assignment, and lead routing.  

Let’s talk about a couple of tips to help get both teams on the same side.  

  1. Use a CRM that integrates with your marketing automation platform. This will save you a ton of time and headaches. Or better yet go with an all-in-one CRM and Marketing Automation Platform that will be a central hub for both teams like KEAP.
  2. Make sure that your CRM data is clean and up to date. This will help ensure that marketing and sales are working off the same data set.   
  3. Arm your sales team with tools for effective follow-up.  
  4. Use lead scoring in your CRM to help sales prioritize leads. This will help ensure that sales is following up with the most qualified leads.  
  5. Use lead routing to automatically route leads to the appropriate salesperson. This will save salespeople time from having to manually route leads.  
  6. Use reporting to track marketing and sales metrics. This will help you identify areas where the two departments need to be aligned.  

The best way to ensure that marketing and sales are aligned is to use a CRM and Marketing Automation tool like KEAP to send alerts and assign follow-up tasks to reps after a campaign. Make sure to include actionable information on the lead and the campaign they were involved in.  

13. Build Dynamic Nurture Programs. 

Your leads should be able to move in and out of different nurture programs based on their interactions with your company and its campaigns.  

For example, if a lead downloads a white paper, they should be placed into a nurture program that sends them more information about the topic of the white paper.  

If they then click on a link in one of the emails, they should be placed into a different nurture program that sends them more information about that specific topic.  

Lead nurturing isn’t a linear path anymore. You need programs to be responsive to the needs of the individuals to keep them engaged and moving through the sales funnel  

Nurture is like a framework for your content, not a story with a fixed plot. Each lead should be able to choose her own adventure. 

Where The Customers Rubber Meets Your Marketing Road. 

In business, we’re always looking for ways to optimize and streamline our processes for more effective marketing automation.    

Marketing automation has become increasingly popular in recent years to target and engage potential customers more efficiently.  

However, as with any new tool or technique, it’s important to approach it with a solid plan and a clear understanding of what you’re trying to achieve.  

With that in mind, here is a summary of best practices to keep in mind as you develop your marketing automation strategy. 

First, be sure to clearly define your target audience and how you plan to reach them.  

  • What needs or pain points are you trying to address?  
  • What kind of messaging will resonate with them?  
  • When and where will they be most receptive to your message?  
  • Answering these questions up front will save you a lot of time and effort later. 

Second, once you have your workflows in place, take advantage of opportunities to enhance your campaigns and further optimize your process.  

  • What data points can you collect that will help you fine-tune your targeting?  
  • Are there ways to further personalize your messages or improve the user experience?  

Continuous improvement is key to maintaining a successful marketing automation operation. 

Finally, don’t forget about the importance of testing, both before and after you go live. Not all your assumptions will necessarily prove to be true, so it’s important to test various aspects of your campaign to see what works best.  

Once you’re up and running, continue to monitor your results and adjust accordingly. 

By following these best practices, you’ll be well on your way. 

If you’re looking to streamline your marketing automation, I highly recommend you check out how TPGI can help optimize and automate your inbound conversion process.