In the almost forgotten era of the 1950's
Mad Men of Madison Avenue, the art of marketing was enhanced and augmented by the inspiration of a few cocktails and long lunches.
It was all about the dark art of advertising, and the focus was intuition- fuelled creativity. Marketing and advertising data analysis was a fluffy science. Impressions, newspaper distribution and television viewer counts were the main metrics.
Data scientists were yet to be seen.
Computers and the Internet were still the realm of science fiction. The only visible technology available to the advertising gurus was the radio, and the television was only just emerging.
In the digital and social web we now inhabit, the creative ideas masters are now being augmented by technology. It's a new world that is both exciting and daunting.
Marketing is now an
Art and a Science.
But mastering the science of marketing is becoming a necessity for the modern marketer, and businesses want to disrupt rather than get disrupted.
It is innovate or die.
But digital marketing is both a curse and a blessing.
It's complex, diverse and new. But it can provide scale and measurement for the marketer that can reveal a return on investment that in the past was almost impossible to gauge.
So there are many challenges in mastering it and using technology that promises a competitive edge and global reach in a 24/7 world.
It is the rise of the robots that remove the mundane and provide insights on competitors and customers. It can show what works and what doesn't in real time.
What is digital marketing automation?
As technology emerged with the rise of the mainframe and then the personal computer, the software and applications were the domain of the accountant and business systems. Payroll, HR and even the warehouse got software for managing the money and the factory.
But technology for the marketing department in the past was nonexistent. The sales teams sometimes had "Customer Relationship Management" systems (CRM) but marketing had no voice at the technology table.
But that is changing.
The splintered media world we now inhabit requires technology to scale and to measure. Internal teams are now doing social media and content marketing and also the digital advertising. In the past, the advertising was often a function performed by the advertising agency.
The tech and the tools are becoming mandatory for the modern organization and digital-savvy entrepreneur.
Digital marketing automation can take many forms. Email, social media and paid digital advertising are just a few of the sub-species. The range of technologies and features are is large and often confusing.
So what are the main reasons for implementing, using and optimizing a digital marketing automation system for your business?
The top reasons you should implement digital marketing automation in your business
The marketer of the past was more of a Salvador Dali than an Einstein. It was the domain of the artist.That has changed.
Decisions that were made intuitively are now being made in the cold light of the real facts. This is the data. The new breed of publishers is not guessing about what to do next with their marketing and content distribution but making decisions revealed by software and big data.
Scale your marketing
Sit back and think about how many marketing channels, advertising channels and social media networks the online world demands us to play on.
The digital world screams at us.
- Social media marketing
- Email marketing
- Content marketing
- Affiliate marketing
- Search engine marketing
- Google AdWords
- Facebook paid advertising
Then you have hundreds of social media networks to consider and thousands of tools and apps!
Then you are told that you should also be considering live streaming (Blab, Meerkat and Periscope are the new kids on the block).
Then there are webinars both live and replays.
Oh...I forgot to mention Snapchat as another possible marketing media.
Now that is just the earned and owned media. You then need to understand the complexities of the pay to play options of Facebook, Twitter, AdWords and re-targeting.
The past paradigm of the analogue media world by comparison seemed plain simple.
So... the complexity and splintering of the new media demands some new thinking and also some new technology.
Before you just hired more hands to help... Now you also buy more technology...
I leapt onto Twitter in 2008. It was fun, short and I could watch the world wake up on the other side of the planet as my day was finishing.
Tweeting was manual. You had to be there to push the buttons. As I scaled the blog, it became apparent that some simple automation was needed. The first tools were raw and not sophisticated.
The social media purists started to scream at me from a tweetable distance. Their rants went a bit like this:
My self-esteem was tested. But just one tool that saved me 100+ hours a month is not to be sneezed at. I pressed on as stones continued to be thrown from the sidelines.
Social media management tools such as Tweetdeck provided simple automation across multiple social networks as they emerged and the tools grew up with the rest of us.
It started to get more complex.
But if you want to get serious then there are more complex digital marketing automation tools that allow you to scale your efforts without losing control.
- Segment your leads
- Accept online payments
- Run automated email sequences months into the future
- Measure results
- Perform optimizing measurements that allow A/B split testing
- Manage affiliate campaigns
- Allow teams to collaborate
The list goes on.
These tools can start from as little as $200 per month or even less. The access to the technology is not just for the big end of town, but small to medium organisations can now afford and use these technologies.
The challenge for many is that the old habits die hard. But remember... robots can run 24/7, never get tired and don't complain. And... . they don't make as many mistakes.
Improve your customer targeting
Most businesses have multiple products that appeal to different markets. Segmenting was often the role of the sales person. Identify the market. Pick up the phone book and start calling.
Segmentation in a digital world can be done using Facebook ads that deliver the targeted banner or video ad to the demographic that is granular and measurable.
Once those leads are captured, they can be put into the marketing automation database for nurturing with the right type of content marketing and then that phone call can happen.
Measure your results
Mass marketing in the past was and still is a lot of spray and hope. The clever creative team at the ad agency put together a cool looking concept. The collateral was shot, printed and recorded. Then the print, television and radio campaign began.
After the campaign had been run, the blunt metrics of views and impressions were trotted out - it didn't seem to be working. The pricey process then started all over again. It could take weeks and months to pivot.
But it's getting harder for the advertising agency to hide.
Digital campaigns can be measured in real time. Email conversions can be monitored as they happen. YouTube views are there for all to see.
Now it's target and measure, rinse and repeat. It is often done in minutes or hours.
Optimize your tactics & campaigns
Launching your campaign is one thing, but results are another.
The new digital marketing platforms and technologies allow you to see what works in real time.
Tools like SumoMe also provide this capability
Here is an example of 2 different e-book landing pages that I use to build my email list.
This is the other one below.
Which do you think converts better?
The answer is the simple landing page below. But it's marginal at just over 5% improvement over the better-looking design.
Don't be tempted to let your web designers tell you what will work best.
Steve Jobs was famous for many quotes but this one resonates on this topic.
Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works
Real- time data can tell what works. So no longer is it waiting weeks to measure what works and what doesn't.
It's A/B split testing in real time!
Understand your prospects & customers better
The scaling and testing of your content and offers will allow you to find what works and what doesn't.
That intuition that you may have trusted as an expert marketer for decades can be proved very wrong by the data.
You might have thought that people were interested in a certain product and its features, and you built a content campaign around that.
You then found that another product resonates much better as the blog posts, Facebook updates and email campaign gain those open and conversion rates that surprise you.
Discover what content resonates and what doesn't with your possible target audience. The result is better content, focused targeting and more engaged prospects.
Increase your revenue
As you continue to scale and measure your marketing effectiveness, the Pareto principle comes into play. 20% of your efforts that you have identified as working will produce 80% of your results.
The 80/20 rule, allows better focus on maximizing results. This data now comes from your digital marketing automation platform.
It's about trusting the machine more and not just your intuition. This can be a hard transition.
Understanding what works and what doesn't allows you to focus on selling more of what your customers want.
Selling a $1,000 product or service is harder than selling a $7 product or even something for $25.
It's getting that first small commitment that is vital. Then as you continue to build trust and credibility you can sell the more expensive products. Russell Brunson uses the term "value ladder". This describes the increasing value of products that you can offer after that first small step.
This can be a $7 e-book, a $25 video training then a $197 course all the way up to the multi-thousand dollar product.
The higher priced the product, the longer the typical sales cycle should become.
This is just as true for online as offline. It's a sequence of education and credibility-building content, from webinars to training videos to live events and answering those FAQs. This all needs to happen before you even hint at asking for the order. You need to earn the right. 75% of the sales process is education.
Many of these steps can now be automated.
Small commitments starting with a low-value sale can lead to higher-value upsells as the technology moves the customer through the automated marketing funnel.
Improve management reporting
The CEO and senior management are more likely to back your recommendations if you can show them data.
This can be as simple as the opt-in tactics that produce the best list building results. Here is a screen shot of my opt-in reporting dashboard.
In the past, the metrics were fluff like
Marketing can now provide hard data measurement to management. Identifying successful campaigns allows quick decisions to be made that save time and money.
This leads to quick pivots and faster innovation.
Manage multi-channel marketing
A marketing campaign now often involves many channels. There are the social networks such Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Then you may also have paid digital advertising.
The new media eco-systems are now splintered and messy. And social media is just one of those. The other big channel for most businesses small to large is email.
Digital marketing automation allows you to manage this complexity at scale.
Entry-level apps such as Hootsuite can handle scheduled publishing and remote team members. Top-end digital marketing automation software is quickly evolving to provide sophisticated all-in-one tools that give the marketing department the power and control they need to manage this complex eco-system.
Reduce staff costs
Building a landing page in the past could be weeks of design, development and testing. $2,000 plus for that type of project was not uncommon.
Today, it's easy to create landing pages that integrate with your marketing automation software. GetResponse is an example of software that can do this. Connect it to your digital automation platform and start publishing and testing.
You can then A/B split test two or multiple different landing pages for webinars, e-book downloads and even see which one produces the most sales.
The mundane tasks of running multiple marketing funnels and campaigns can be almost push-button easy once they are set up. These tasks can be assigned to the smart
machine. It will run while you sleep and even on holidays. Of course, they need to be monitored to ensure that glitches don't become a major mistake that happens at scale and keeps running while you are not watching.
If you don't know the cause of failure or success, then it becomes hard to know who (or what) is accountable.
Digital marketing software allows you to measure the opt-ins, engagement and nurturing before handing over that lead to sales.
Measuring results that can be divided between marketing and sales allows transparent accountability for both teams.
Finger pointing is reduced!
The industrial revolution provided the tools and the machines to scale production. The computer age is providing the software to scale your marketing. The marketing funnels can be loaded once and used multiple times.
The mundane tasks of publishing and measuring are taken care of. Also, things like multiple approvals by the management team for the marketing process can also be managed by software in the cloud.
These are all time savers.
This means more time for things that really matter. This includes brainstorming ideas, research, and testing different content.
Collaborate at scale with global joint venture partners
Collaboration on the social web with global partners is becoming the norm. In the past, this was too hard and complicated for most.
This was a previous dark art that was given the name "affiliate marketing". It sometimes earned a bad name. But this is changing fast.
This type of marketing can provide the small business with huge marketing muscle. Launch a new digital product, book or online training program. Then build a team of other small businesses that have access to the customers you want. This can amplify your efforts by 10,000%.
Collaboration with 100+ partners is now becoming commonplace.
This has been driven by the emergence of the sharing and trust economy. Increased transparency allows different businesses to work together. That wasn't possible without smart software.
Running affiliate programs in the past meant more paperwork, and in the main it was almost impossible to measure and pay the partners. That has now changed with the web and technology.
Tagging leads with cookies allows the lead to be tracked and allocated to which partner drove the lead to sign up.
Joint ventures and collaboration can provide huge benefits in highly leveraged marketing that amplifies the efforts made possible by these new digital technologies.
Provide better - qualified leads
There has always been tension between the marketing and sales departments, leading to finger pointing if the revenue targets were not being met.
Sales would accuse the marketing department of not giving them enough qualified leads. Marketing would tell the sales department that they weren't good at closing.
The old analog systems, some guesswork and good-old intuition made qualification difficult and time-consuming. You often had to rely on the feedback of sales staff and their assistants.
This blame game has been going on for decades.
Digital marketing automation systems can allow you to score the level of nurturing and engagement as they moved through the marketing funnel.
It can look something like this at a simple level.
- Step 1:
- Low-level engagement is a like, share or even a comment on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.
- Step 2:
- A deeper engagement is an email subscriber that downloads that pillar e-book or attends a webinar.
- Step 3:
- Then the next step may be a phone call from sales. (If you are selling digital products online, then it might be the offer landing page or an educational webinar that is next in the sequence with a call to action.)
- Step 4:
- A face-to-face meeting can be locked in with the prospect.
- Step 5:
- The sale!
The digital automation software adds intelligence and process to what was largely a manual process that was often based upon guesswork and intuition
Allow more creativity & innovation
Freeing up people from the mundane allows more creativity, not less. Having people pore over spreadsheets for days when a computer can do it for you in seconds sounds smart to me.
The marketer can focus and spend more time on new designs for landing pages or better creative content that gets more shares.
The media maverick BuzzFeed has used this creative freedom to craft viral quizzes and test them.
These include topics like "What Career Should You Have". This has proven by far to be one of its most popular. This quiz grabs the reader's attention by using an image of Oprah, then quirky questions such as, "What would you bring on a desert island?" keep the reader captivated.
This quiz has earned more than 20 million views
Creativity can be given more freedom with technology, not less.
So staying still is not an option in this fast-moving digital world. This applies to both technology and creativity.
Implementing and managing digital marketing automation is not a bed of roses but has its challenges.
- Finding the right staff
- Data scientists and conversion rate optimizers are a new breed, and education, finding and hiring them can be difficult. Training for these skills is lagging.
- Funding the capital cost
- When money is tight, it's always a challenge to ask for more money to fund the software and the resources.
- Overcoming the old mind-sets.
- Old-school marketers brought up on mass media will buck at change. Don't underestimate this challenge as,
It's not just about embracing new ideas but letting go of the old.-John Maynard Keynes
You may not have implemented digital marketing automation for several reasons.
These could include:
- Fear of the unknown
- Perceived complexity
- Lack of resources
These are just a few possible obstacles that I am sure have popped into your head while you were reading. But don't let them stop you from taking the next steps. You will be surprised by what the new tools can do for your business.
Scale, control and measurement are just a few things that they will bring. Not to mention more leads and sales if done well.
Have you implemented digital marketing automation or are you just thinking about it?
Jeff is a social media marketing blogger, keynote speaker, digital strategist, consultant and best-selling author.
He works with companies and executives to optimize their online personal and company brand through social media channels and other web technologies.
His blog which is found at jeffbullas.com is about all things to do with social media, content and digital marketing.
He has spent most of his business career involved with information technologies, telecommunications and the web.
Bragging rights include:
- Ranked #8 on Forbes
The World's Top 40 Social Marketing Talent- 2014
- Ranked #1 Content Marketing Influencer Globally in 2014
- Listed by Forbes as one of the "Top 50 Social Media Power Influencers" in 2013 - ranked #11
- Huffington Post's
Top 100 Business, Leadership and Technology Twitter Accounts You Must Follow
- Published in the New York Times
- Over 4 million readers every year read his blog at JeffBullas.com
- Read in 190 countries worldwide
- 425,000+ Twitter followers
- Winner of the Social Media Examiner -
Top 10 Social Media Blogs - 2013