Written by James Scherer
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Marketing Automation Made Simple

Marketing automation shouldn't be scary.

Perhaps the terminology sounds like it's beyond you: lead profiling, interruption-based marketing, email drip campaigns, workflows - but it's not.

Seriously.

The guy who wrote this article (me) has an English degree and can't seem to keep CSS from coming in one ear and flying out the other.

And yet I can do it. It's easier than learning HTML. Easier than Facebook Ads. Easier than designing a visually-appealing infographic or (god knows) the black hole of Google Analytics.

Let me show you.

This article will break marketing automation down into simple, un-intimidating terms and then show you a few ways you can use it.


First, let's define it…

Marketing automation is a broad term referring to the software created to make repetitive marketing tasks automatic.

So what can it do?

In any smart business (yours, for instance) you have a few campaigns running at any given time, right?

You've got newsletter subscribers, free triallers, VIP demo-ers, ebook downloaders, Google Adword click-ers, social media engagers and more.

And all of those people are at different stages of knowing your business. Communicating with all of them on a personal level is impossible.

Marketing automation automates that communication - all of it - enabling you and your marketing team to automatically send emails, segment leads and traffic, and move leads to any 3rd party sales software when they're ready to be closed.

Wishpond's marketing automation tool was built to be simpler, 1/10th the price, and just as powerful as our competitor's platforms (It's probably why even I can use it…) Click here to start a free trial.


How Do I Make it Work?

marketing automation made simple

Marketing Automation software relies on a bit of code which users place in the back end of their site.

That code looks like this…

Once this code is installed, your marketing automation software can "see" the activity of every one of your visitors. Through cookie tracking and recognizing a user’s IP address, that software knows if your visitors are first time visitors, leads, or returning customers.

That traffic, and their activity, is recorded in what our system calls the "Leads Database." Check out an example below:

marketing automation made simple

The tracking pixel can see every page they've visited, every workflow they've triggered (more on that later), every email they've been sent, opened or clicked through on. It can see any time they change their lead information (by entering it in a form, for instance) as well as when they're automatically or manually added to any segment, and more.

And, remember, this is all done automatically. There's no reason to be intimidated by something which happens without you touching anything, right?

You can see on the left there that I've selected "Leads." This brings up everyone who's ever visited your site (since the date the code was added to the backend) whose email address you have. The other options are…

  • A) Visitors: People whose email addresses you don't have. (Though you can still do a bit of marketing automation with those people, you can't, of course, use email marketing).
  • B) Lists: People who have been automatically placed into a segment based on a campaign they've converted on, or manually placed into segmentation by a workflow. If you're confused by any of just bear with me for a few paragraphs.

Because marketing automation can see the activity of your site visitors, you can take action on that activity.


Conditions, Actions and Workflows

A big part of marketing automation is If/Then statements (though many systems refer to this as "Condition" and "Action").

They're how you tell your system to act. *"If" a lead or visitor behaves in "X" way, "Then" take "Y" action. Make sense?

Here's a simple example:

"IF" lead converts on X campaign...

marketing automation made simple

"Then" automatically add them to a interest-focused lead List AND send them an email…

marketing automation made simple

You can then manually create newsletters or a series of emails to send to that List (segment) to nurture them into sales with another, email-focused workflow. Check out 5 Behavioral Lead Nurturing Ideas & Examples or How to Create Email Drip Campaigns to Nurture Leads for more on creating email marketing campaigns to nurture leads.

marketing automation made simple

And once your lead nurturing campaigns have succeeded and your lead has become a customer, create another If/Then workflow which removes that customer from the lead-nurturing List. Like this…

marketing automation made simple

Think about how long it'd take you to do that manually, and how many people would slip through the cracks.

With marketing automation you not only know that the marketing emails are sent and the segments are created, but you know that nothing is getting missed.

And that's a nice feeling.


The Marketing Automation Lingo You Need to Know

Before you dive into marketing automation, be sure you know the terms and phrases to use:

  1. Marketing Automation:
    • A system built to make repetitive, manual marketing tasks automatic.
  2. CRM:
    • A system which manages the profiles and communication between a company and its leads and sales.
  3. Drip Campaign:
    • A series of emails (more than 2) delivered automatically over the course of a few weeks which nurture leads by delivering information relevant to their interests. Final email prompts a paid conversion.
  4. Lead Scoring:
    • A tool used within marketing automation to automatically quantify a lead or customer's interest in your business based on increases or decreases of "points." Lead scores are typically increased when an email is opened, a landing page is converted upon or a pricing page is visited. Lead scores are typically decreased after a period of inactivity, newsletter unsubscription or a support ticket is opened by their account. See The Complete Guide to Lead Scoring for more.
  5. Customer Lifecycle:
    • The process undergone by every prospective customer which includes first touchpoint, education, interest, purchase and use. Marketing automation facilitates this process.
  6. Unqualified Leads:
    • Unqualified leads are people who know about your business (they've provided an email address) but who have not yet been nurtured enough to be closed. There may be irreconcilable issues (such as budget, for instance) or they may simply need more education about who you are, what you do and how your product or service can address their pain points.

  7. Qualified Leads:
    • Qualified leads are completely aware of what your business does and how it can benefit them. They have the decision making power in their organization to make buying decisions, and have either completed a lead nurturing campaign or have self-educated themselves. They are ready to be closed and should be sent to a sales associate or platform like Salesforce (luckily, Wishpond is fully integrated with Salesforce, Pipedrive, and any other sales software you might use).


Wrapping it Up

Hopefully this guide has helped you come to terms with any resignation you had about marketing automation.

It's not scary. It's been made increasingly simple by companies like, well, us, but others as well. It's no longer the sole purview of Fortune 500s with limitless budget and massive teams.

Any business can, and should, make it work.

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Written by James Scherer

James Scherer is the content editor at Wishpond. When he's not writing or designing for Wishpond he's risking his life biking around the city. Reach out to him on Twitter @JDScherer.