What type of transmission is easier to drive in regards to your car? You know the answer, an automatic transmission is clearly easier, just based off of sheer work...and hands on the wheel, but don't let my mom, future wife, and children (or police) know that I don't always have my hands at the "10 and 2". Think about it, a lot of things that have auto functions are, most of the time, easier than things that don't! Shouldn't your marketing be the same way? Digital Marketing Automation is functionality to help you, not something to make your marketing tactics more of a pain.
Recently, I have been involved in a massive project, both in magnitude and the amount of marketing automation we desired to gather proper analytics and information on the back end, and while working on it, I noticed a few high-level themes connected to us getting the most out of our marketing automation.
It's not enough to just say you want to automate your digital marketing efforts and expect it to function the way you'd like. Map out your tools, map out what marketing actions you are going to be taking, and map out your goals. Let's use my recent campaign as an example.
Our campaign is hubbed around a massive seminar series that takes place over the period of four months, through 20 major cities all of the United States. Attracting hundreds of registrations and attendees, we need to gather the proper intel on these registrants to understand who they are, what they do, and if they would qualify as a good lead. Here is our blueprint and tools to consider when mapping everything out:
- HubSpot Marketing Software
- Eventbrite (event management software)
- Seminar Series site page (mapping out registration links for all seminars)
- Email marketing
- Seminar form buildout (with all pertinent fields to collect all information we need)
- Pay-per-click campaign
- Social Media messaging (both unpaid and paid)
- Print out invititations
- Etc (I promise the above are the most important to paint the picture)
- Qualifying leads
- Segmenting these registrations by what medium they registered from
The information above will allow us to paint the picture for what is turning out to be a successful campaign based on the goals. Let's get into the meat of the automation side of this process.
Takeaways To Keep In Mind
No matter what tools you use for your campaign, whether it be HubSpot alone, or 3 or 4 platforms, setting the plan for how everything will function is crucial. The blueprint is meant to understand and layout exactly how everything will "talk" to eachother. If your tools can integrate, perfect...If they can't, that's not a problem, but as mentioned, this is why the blueprint is so important. Start with the end in mind, and don't skip corners in understanding how you are tracking progress and goals in regards to your automation.
Automating & Segmenting With SMART Content
The magic of using all of these great tools listed above is that we are able to setup some pretty useful processes through automation. On top of that, the use of SMART content allows us to take our automation and segmentation to a new level. The bottom line is most automation options allow you expedite certain processes you would need to do without automating. One big area of focus is data segmentation. Using your blue print and your goals, you should have a pretty clear idea on what you'd like to report on, and how. With those goals in mind, are there ways to segment your data through automation? Most likely. SMART rules can certainly be the answer to your questions. When considering segmenting your data through SMART content, it's important to not think about SMART content from the sense of offering "different content" in one spot. In other words, we aren't trying to utilize rules that will show one website visitor "content piece A", and another visitor "content piece B". Treat every visitor the same; BUT, the caviat is differentiating every POSSIBLE way a visitor could land on your main campaign page.
Takeaways To Keep In Mind
SMART content is such a great way to diversify your visible content based on the audience. It helps to automate your processes while keeping your content in one, clean area...for instance under one site page. SMART content mapping takes time to understand how your audience reacts to certain content, and how it may perform in the future. Take A/B testing into consideration when mapping your SMART content, and also keep in mind, you can use SMART rules in many ways to help streamline analytics and numbers. In most cases, you can automate certain areas of a site page specifically to properly allocate performance and analytics based on the rules you set. Once again, it can help keep your research and numbers in one specific section or campaign.
Tracking Your Results By Using Tracking Links & CTA's
With our minds set on proper data segmentation through SMART rules, tracking links will help us deliver. What tracking links can help us do is 1) help segment our data before they even register for a piece of content or event, and 2) allow us to use these tracking links to create rules, like using SMART CTA's . Let's help map this out with an example...with hockey:
I am the Marketing Director for the Detroit Red Wings (I wish...just kidding Eric, I love working here). I am looking to gather segmented data for all of the home games the Red Wings play in the upcoming month. With automation in mind, making my job easier by reading segmented data, rather then segmenting after, I am going to implement some SMART content. But first, let's say I have created a web page that shows all of the home games that the Red Wings have in the coming month, and a link/CTA to "buy tickets" for any of those games. Perfect! Now, I want to segment my data based on the medium they land on this page from. These mediums could be social media, pay per click campaign, email promotion, print material, personal invite from our sales team, etc...
From these different tracking links based on the medium a visitor can access the ticket page from, you can use SMART CTA's to deliver on the specific analytics. The SMART CTA's can be built based on the specific tracking links, and direct people to buy tickets that will properly bucket them. And the best part, is that this SMART rule will not change your site aesthetics in any way, it will simply generate the proper CTA button based on the tracking link they used to access the ticket page. Not only is this an effective way to help gather proper audience segmentation, it also saves you hours of work on the back end reporting if you had no automation or segmentation rules in place.
Takeaways To Keep In Mind
Tracking links are a great way to segment your results. But, implementing such tactics is important on the front end. Much like your blueprint, you need to map out how these tracking links will help your automate your proccesses in the end. If you have large campaigns that deal with a need for segmenting, you can use both tracking links and SMART content such as CTA's that will help properly bucket traffic from different sources, all while keeping a consistent user experience. Remember, SMART content isn't always drastic visual changes or offering several pieces of content for your audience, you can use SMART content to simply give you detailed analytics. If you have a campaign where you are engaging in a multi-prong promotion (sending promotional emails, using social media, PPC campaigns, or event print material), this will help automate your efforts to give you up to date analytics on all of the mediums you use, instead of giving you jumbled numbers on the campaign overall.
Now, this process all sounds so great, right? Like, absolutely no problems or troubles could come from something like this...wrong. Until you test every possible avenue, you have not done your job. Your analytics will render useless unless you have taken the proper steps to test every in and out of your campaign. Marketing automation and segmentation can get tricky, especially when using HubSpot. For instance, did you know that if you create a tracking link for a medium such as "promotional email", if anywhere in that URL you see the word "email", HubSpot will instead bucket that traffic and data under email rather than your specific campaign? We didn't either until we tested! Instead, we needed to create the URL's under acronyms or different terms so all analytics would properly bucket under the specific campaigns we set up versus elsewhere. There is always testing to be done. This is potentially the most important tip and tactic in your campaign.
Takeaways To Keep In Mind
I cannot express the importance of testing before going live. If your campaign utilizies SMART content in any way, use time before you start your campaign to test out all automation you have in play. From testing your automated follow up emails, to making sure that all tracking links are giving you specific SMART content on the page, or even further, making sure that all of your traffic is properly attributed to the campaigns or tracking links you have set up is of the utmost importance. Marketing Automation can be so fun when it works, but expect some bumps in the road to get to the "fun" when you are testing.
After your campaign is set up, and has been tested, it's time to gather those all important results. But, the biggest question looms, and that's what will change, why is implementing automation important to a digital marketer. Well, look no futher for the answer.
What Will Change?
Time. One of the most important things marketers either lose or gain based on their strategies. I cannot stress enough how much time digital marketing automation can save you if done properly. Automation and integration are tools that may look cool on the surface, but the bottom line is they can help cut back on time, whether it's in the content creation and implementation segment, or reporting and analysis.
What To Do When You Save Time Using Marketing Automation?
Drink beer...that is all.
Marketing Automation can take your campaign to new places, that much is known. But, how you plan, implement, and test (or none of the above) is how you will succeed or fail when it comes to your goals. We can be your knight in shining armor when it comes to saving the marketing automation castle, so light the beacons! And, if by the tiny chance that you don't have beacons to light, you can just contact us here to help get your automation strategies mapped out.