Written by Michael Keenan

March 17, 2021

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Did you know the purchase rate for omnichannel marketing campaigns is a whopping 287% higher than for single channel campaigns? You read that right: Almost 300% higher.

But reaching buyers on the right channel, with the right message, at the right time is becoming more difficult. There are endless channels to choose from—from SMS to YouTube to Messenger and more—and you need to be able to manage conversations on all of them concurrently. 

According to research from intent-based marketing company Aberdeen, 51% of companies use a minimum of eight separate channels to connect with customers., Although juggling so many platforms is a complex undertaking, it’s also critical for success. 

So, how do you overcome the challenge of managing so many channels?

Welcome to the world of marketing automation. Automation tools can help you with everything—from email marketing automation to content marketing and chat communication—which you can easily leverage to improve your campaigns’ efficacy. 

Use our Modern Marketers Guide to Marketing Automation to take your marketing efforts to the next level. 

What is marketing automation?

Marketing automation allows you to manage marketing processes and campaigns across multiple channels without manually executing every single communication.

Marketing automation flow

With marketing automation, you can send customers automated messages through email marketing, social media, SMS, and Messenger Marketing. You’ll use an automation platform to send messages based on a set of instructions you create called workflows (or “flows” as they’re called ManyChat).

Workflows can be native templates that come with your marketing software, or you can design them from scratch. You can even create one in the middle of a campaign to improve your results. They’re very easy to customize!

How is automation used today?

The savviest marketing teams use marketing automation to improve campaign results and support sales teams with better quality leads. And, of course, deliver better ROI. 

Here are some other benefits of marketing automation:

1. Improves the efficiency of your marketing efforts

Automating specific marketing tasks reduces the risk of human error and redundancies. Whether it’s chat or email automation, eliminating tedious tasks frees up time for teams to focus on more productive work. 

2. Makes it easier to deliver personalized content

Automation software helps you minimize the headache of delivering personalized content by collecting and analyzing data, using insights to achieve better results, and automating the delivery process. What was impossible a few years ago is now easy to accomplish with just a few clicks. 

3. Increases revenue and average order size

When you automate your upsells, cross-sells, and post-purchase follow-ups, you may notice a boost in your customer lifetime value

4. Creates a better customer experience

Marketing automation enables you to create omnichannel digital marketing campaigns to reach your audience at every touchpoint. When using the right marketing automation tools, you can deliver relevant messages at the right time and delight your customers. 

5. Fosters resourcefulness

Workflow automation handles recurring tasks so marketing and sales teams can prioritize higher-value work, like engaging in live chat with customers or optimizing campaigns. Implementing automation requires a clear understanding of your customer communication process and who is responsible for each component. 

Once you have clarity on your operations, you can eliminate time-sucking assignments, saving substantial money. 

6. Improves scalability

You can’t reasonably grow a business relying on manual processes alone. Automation software can help manage increased workloads and support sophisticated processes in your company.

Types of marketing automation

Ecommerce stores use multiple types of automation to cut inefficiencies, optimize day-to-day operations, and boost productivity. 

Chat Marketing automation

Before any business invests in marketing automation, it’s important to ask “How will I fuel my top funnel?” Automation is a great way to qualify and nurture leads once you have them, but those leads have to come from somewhere. 

ManyChat’s Chat Marketing helps fuel and automate the entire funnel. Through a variety of opt-in tools (known as GrowthTools) and ManyChat’s drag and drop workflow builder, you can achieve three crucial automation operations:

  1. Build a contact database by funneling leads from all your channels into one place for nurturing.
  2. Create highly targeted, personalized, and timely interactions with leads.
  3. Set up triggers and rules for customer communication that will guide potential buyers through to conversion.

Successful marketing automation strategies that include Chat Marketing will reduce friction and speed up your sales cycle, helping you improve lead nurturing and build relationships long after a customer has purchased a product.

Read: Advanced Ways to Use Chat Marketing for Your Online Store

Email marketing automation

As a new business owner, email marketing automation is one of the first types of automation you’ll encounter. There are scads of tools out there (which we’ll look at shortly) to help you get up and running.

At its most basic level, email marketing refers to the commercial emails you send to your customers. Such emails can be promotional, transactional, or conversational (like a greeting)). As beneficial as email marketing is to a company, sending and answering email campaign responses manually doesn’t scale well as your business grows. Marketing automation software helps stop a 10-minute daily email task from turning into a day-long series of repetitive tasks as your database swells. Email marketing is clearly important and offers benefits like:

  1. An ROI of $59 for every $1 spent.
  2. The potential to reach vast pools of users. The number of email users is predicted to reach 4.48 billion in 2024; that’s a lot of people you could be reaching directly. 
  3. The ability to customize every message to individual customers, helping you cultivate relationships and increase brand engagement. 

Read: Email Automation Workflows: Key Concepts and 5 Ideas to Try

CRM automation

CRM (Customer Relationship Management) automation is similar to (but not the same as) email marketing. Marketing automation specialist tools deliver content to customers, while CRM automation helps sales and customer service roles effectively engage in lead management and customer retention. 

CRM automation helps you keep track of customers who interact with your brand on different channels, and can also add value to three important marketing strategies by:

  1. Narrowing down your target audience to one that will receive a particular message (enabling you to deliver relevant content)
  2. Predicting future customer behavior based on previous interactions
  3. Increasing retargeting, upsell, and cross-sell opportunities

Successful CRM automation can help improve your sales effectiveness and build stronger relationships with your customers by providing better service.

Read: CRM: What is it and How Can I Use It For Marketing?

Facebook advertising automation

When paired with CRM automation, email and chatbot marketing are terrific options for nurturing existing leads, but where can you acquire new leads? Hmm…what about the platform that boasts a monthly active user base of a cool 2.8 billion? Oh, right: Facebook.  

Facebook offers varied ad types you can use to automate your lead generation, such as Single Image or video ads, as well as its ‘Instant Experience ads. If you’re keen on the Instant Experience ads, you’ll want to choose from either Collection Ads or “lead ads,” depending on whether your business is eCommerce or service-based.

One neat functionality of Facebook ads is how they allow you to integrate your CRM software of choice to automatically capture new leads acquired from your ad campaign. Some other key benefits of Facebook advertising include:

  1. Leverage Facebook’s mobile optimization to reach more people
  2. The ability to do A/B testing to increase your chances of generating qualified leads
  3. The option to track your KPI metrics using the Facebook Pixel in your existing website/app management tools 

Read: Facebook Collection Ads Quick Start Guide

Workflow automation

Now you’ve got some awesome ideas for which types of marketing workflows you might want to use in your business, but how do you manage them all? Easy-peasy. As it turns out, you can automate your workflows, too.

Automating your business workflows helps you to streamline your processes to remain productive without the need for human support, providing employees with more time to work on bottom-line, revenue-driving activities. Here are some ideas you can carry out using workflow automation:

  1. Set up tags, triggers, and rules to automatically deliver relevant content at an optimal time.
  2. Automate customer feedback collection.
  3. Handle customer data across an omnichannel marketing strategy. 

Overall, workflow automation can help you boost efficiency, improve customer experiences, and gain insights across your marketing channels. 

Read: 7 Smart Workflow Automation Tactics

Best marketing automation tools

Now that we’ve reviewed different types of marketing automation that will help you improve your business’s operations, let’s take a look at some specific tools you can use to achieve your automation goals. 

ManyChat

Screenshot of ManyChat Facebook Messenger landing page

ManyChat is a marketing automation platform that allows you to manage SMS, email, and Messenger campaigns all in one place and in real time. If you’re a fan of no-code, we have a specific tool you can use called FlowBuilder, which lets you build automated flows using a graphical interface as well as view detailed statistics on your campaign. 

Automation features:

  • Create and manage SMS, Email, and Messenger automation flows in one place
  • Integrates with existing business tools like MailChimp, Shopify, Zapier, and more
  • No-code flow builder

Pricing: Start for free and pay only $10 per month for the pro version. Find our handy pricing calculator available here.

Hubspot

Screenshot of Hubspot home screen.

Hubspot is considered a ‘“full stack” software that includes a CRM (+hub), Marketing hub, Sales hub, and services hub. It has a simple interface, and users can set up automation workflows to work between products. While Hubspot offers bundles for the “all-in-one” approach, you can also opt for individual products if you want to upgrade to use select services. 

Automation features:

  • Automatically score leads and rotate them around your team in the Sales hub
  • Automate email campaigns to help move customers further down the sales funnel
  • Create an automated help desk to create tickets and manage help requests

Pricing: Start for free with access to basic features (like setting up an instant reply chatbot), but to be able to set up automation workflows, you’ll need to subscribe to Marketing Hub Professional (which starts at $800 per month).

Platform.ly

Screenshot of Platform.ly homepage

Platform.ly offers an impressive suite of marketing automation solutions, which at first glance, seem comparable to many others. However, Platform.ly’s tracking/link attribution is what genuinely sets it apart from the competition. Its link tracking allows you to attribute the amount of income you’ve generated from each channel, helping you make more informed marketing decisions. 

Automation features:

  • Drag and drop campaign builder
  • Lead scoring system and advanced reporting
  • Automated email sequence and audience segmentation capabilities

Pricing: Start for free, but premium packages begin at $15.83 (paid annually). They have a handy pricing calculator available here.

Pardot

Screenshot of Pardot B2B marketing homescreen

Pardot is Salesforce’s B2B marketing automation software. It’s packed full of automation features, but what makes Pardot stand out is its ability to track every user interaction on your website and its artificial intelligence component (Pardot Einstein), which offers recommendations. 

Automation features:

  • A/B testing to optimize campaign results
  • Spam filter check-ups
  • Automated engagements with autoresponders for forms and landing pages
  • Lead nurturing and qualification abilities along with email triggers, retargeting, and a lead scoring system  

Pricing: No free version (but you can request a demo); pricing starts at $1,250 per month for automation features that you can use for up to 10,000 contacts

ActiveCampaign

Screenshot of active campaign marketing automation landing page

ActiveCampaign is both a CRM and marketing automation solution. It offers an omnichannel experience that integrates with popular apps like WordPress, Salesforce, and Zapier. ActiveCampaign also provides a birds-eye view of all of your automations to make sure everything is running smoothly.

Automation features:

  • Goal Tracking to tracks micro-conversions that add “points” to lead scores
  • Automation Map helps you see connections (and their statuses) between automations 
  • Site tracking shows you which products, services, or information in which your website visitors are most (and least) interested 

Pricing: 14-day free trial, and you can also request a demo. Plans start at $9 per month (paid annually) for 500 contacts. Pricing calculator available here.

Learn more: Top 12 Marketing Automation Tools to Boost Lead Generation

Essential marketing automation best practices

Here are some best practices to keep in mind when crafting your marketing automation strategy:

1. Map out your customer journey

Create a visual map of how customers will move through your automation. Use a drag and drop builder with reporting capabilities to align your strategy with your business’s main objectives quickly and efficiently. 

2. Build a contact database

Run Facebook ads, capture website or landing page visitors, and turn organic social media traffic into subscribers for your contact database. Marketing automation tools like ManyChat will run on autopilot indefinitely after you set up opt-in tools.

3. Set up your automation tool for segmentation

Segment new contacts as they enter your marketing automation software. Create a library of helpful content and deliver relevant pieces to contacts throughout the customer lifecycle to build closer relationships.

4. Score leads

As mentioned earlier, lead scoring is the practice of assigning points to leads when they perform actions throughout your lead generation process. Using automation software, you can direct them down more relevant paths that align with their scores to encourage conversion.

5. Prepare welcome sequences

Whether you prefer email marketing or Messenger as a communication platform, be sure to set up welcome messages and sequences to kickstart a positive relationship with prospects. 

6. Use triggers and rules to move prospects through the customer lifecycle

Define rules that will guide prospects and customers throughout their journey. An excellent marketing automation software will help you identify specific events (triggers) that prompt your system to engage with a customer (action).

Creating a Rule in ManyChat

7. Automate responses with keywords

Keywords are an effective way to automate conversations inside Messenger and remain relevant to subscribers. Without keywords in place, your bot won’t be able to understand when people ask things that don’t trigger any of the flows you’ve built.

8. Personalize and target

Collect information from prospects using custom user fields in your marketing automation software, then follow up with personalized, relevant messages. 

SMS Marketing Personalization Example

9. Create multi-channel drip campaigns

Multi-channel drip campaigns let you create various touchpoints on different platforms where you can engage with subscribers, deliver valuable content, share relevant information, and build trust with your audience. Use a combination of SMS, email, and Messenger to move potential customers through their buying journey and convert more subscribers into customers. 

Watch the WebinarHow to Acquire and Retain Customers Through Chat, SMS, and Email.” 

10. Identify when a human needs to step in

Set up internal notifications for your sales or marketing team when a contact takes a notable action, and add follow-up tasks to show them the contacts with whom they need to follow up through a live chat conversation. 

Live chat help flow

11. Measure and optimize 

Determine what’s working and what’s not by using your marketing automation tool reporting. Dig into the analytics and make changes that will help optimize your digital marketing campaigns and grow your business. 

Fundamental KPIs to track marketing automation success

Key performance indicators (KPIs) are benchmarks that measure your marketing automation’s success. Monitoring them will help you identify progress toward your inbound marketing and sales goals. It also enables you to improve your processes and communications for the future. 

KPIs typically align with your company goals. While KPIs differ from business to business, here are a few common ones you can use for your marketing automation strategy: 

Acquisition: building a contact database

  1. Total number of active and inactive subscribers. Active subscribers are contacts who have recently interacted with your brand; inactive subscribers are those who have remained dormant over a certain period of time. Monitoring the number of both types can help you determine if your nurture campaigns are working and offers insight into who’s likely to become a customer. 
  2. Lead qualification rate. What percentage of subscribers become qualified leads? If certain chat automations work better than others, you’ll want to double down on them and improve or pause the less effective ones. 

Engagement: creating customer interactions

  1. Conversations started. How many conversations does your lead generation process initiate with prospects? If the numbers are low, you should consider switching up your messaging or bot personality to better resonate with your customers. 
  2. Click-through rate (CTR). You’ll want to track the percentage of people who click your calls to action. Monitoring your CTR on channels like Messenger and email can help you determine if your offer is attractive to customers. If your CTR is low, you can adjust your call to action to improve results.
  3. Flow completion rate. It’s essential to measure the percentage of people who finish your flows. The flow completion rate helps you evaluate your chat automation’s  relevance and effectiveness. Moreover, it can help you make better decisions on how to move people closer to conversion. 

Conversions: nudging people further down the customer journey

  1. Subscriber to prospect: Some marketers use forms to capture contact information; others use Messenger bots to easily acquire the same data in Messenger to qualify leads. Regardless of your preferred method, you’ll want to track how many people transition from a dormant subscriber to potential customer. 
  2. Prospect to customer: Monitor the number of prospects who become customers. Identifying key conversion events in your flows—like signing up for your email list or purchasing a product in Messenger—will help you better understand what causes people to convert. 
  3. Lead score: Lead scoring is the process of assigning points or scores to each lead you acquire. It helps you assess which leads are poised to buy and which ones need more nurturing. You can build an automated system to gain actionable insights and prioritize leads so sales can respond and follow up accordingly.

Financial: tracking costs and revenue

  1. Cost per prospect. Many marketers track cost per lead—which is another useful marketing automation KPI—but it’s also necessary to track how much it costs to generate qualified leads. 

To get this number, follow the equation below.

(Total expenses of campaign) / (# of qualified leads) = cost per prospect 

  1. Return on investment (ROI). As with any other marketing strategy, you’ll want to measure your return on effort and spend. Use the following calculation to find the basic ROI of your marketing campaign:

(Sales Growth – Marketing Automation Cost) / Marketing Automation Cost = ROI

Getting the most from your next automated marketing campaign

Marketing automation is an imperative part of every smart business’s inbound marketing strategy. 

Fully embrace it by exploring the different marketing integrations available with your chosen marketing automation tool, creating different workflows using Chat Marketing, SMS, and email, and engaging with your audience. You may surprise yourself with how quickly you achieve better results from your marketing efforts.

Want to master marketing automation in your business? Get ManyChat today. It’s free to get started.

Note: This information is provided for educational purposes only and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Please always consult your own attorney before engaging in text marketing.

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The contents of this blog were independently prepared and are for informational purposes only. The opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ManyChat or any other party. Individual results may vary.