As marketers, some mundane tasks take over our daily to-do list. By the time we get through all the basic jobs, we’ve lost half a day and don’t have as much time to focus on big-picture ideas. You could delegate, but you’re still paying somebody to complete tasks that are better left in the hands of technology; more accurately, in the hands of machine learning and artificial intelligence.
Today, you’re going to learn all about automation and why this is a better option than delegation for many tasks. If you find that you lose time performing simple, boring jobs, this is the article for you.
Before looking at the many automation opportunities, why should you consider automation in the first place? If you’re nervous about relinquishing control, know that automation tools are better than ever, and this is the first advantage of choosing them. After much investment and improvement, it’s now possible to create an account with a platform, connect it to your marketing strategy, and watch as it automates effectively. While there were once questions over the abilities of automation tools, these previous drawbacks have largely disappeared.
Of course, the second benefit is that automation opens up the diaries of all those in the marketing team. Suddenly, the technology looks after the mundane tasks of each team member, freeing them up to concentrate on the bigger picture, strategy changes, and tasks that technology can’t touch. As marketers, every minute of our time is essential, so it makes sense to team up with a tool that allows us to spend our time more efficiently. Rather than a case of machines taking over the world, automation removes the simple tasks and means we can better focus on more important activities.
Marketers aren’t the only ones benefiting from automation, consumers benefit too in the form of faster customer service response. Instead of waiting many hours for a response, automation could mean instant responses for customers, allowing them to continue on their shopping journey without any delays. This could encourage them to sign up for a service, buy a product, or recommend the company to others. Our job as marketers becomes easier, customers get a better experience, and we all save time and money (automation really is a win-win!).
Other benefits include more efficient performance monitoring, a shortened sales cycle, increased lead generation, and improved sales/revenue figures.
Automation comes in all shapes and sizes, but here are some ideas for marketers to get started with the technology!
In the world of social media, automation opportunities are endless. Perhaps the most obvious example comes with paid ads, but we’re going to deal with this suggestion separately. In this section, we’re talking about chatbots and social listening tools.
As a general rule, marketers using social media to communicate with customers one-to-one should think about automating. Over the years, chatbots have improved significantly and it’s now possible to introduce this technology with no detriment to the customer experience. With machine learning and AI, chatbots handle simple requests from customers and provide answers to basic questions. If you find yourself continually replying to the same questions, set up a chatbot and have this tool answer these questions on your behalf. These days, you can set up chatbots so that all complex requests still are filtered through to live agents (so customers still get the service they need!).
Social listening, on the other hand, is all about paying attention to what people are talking about on social media. Is your brand mentioned on social media? Are the comments largely positive or negative? What are people saying about products, the industry, competitors, and more? Instead of doing everything manually, you automate this process and get insights sent straight to your inbox. Just choose the keywords, hashtags, or topics to monitor, and the tool does the rest.
For many marketers, writing and sending emails is one of the most time-consuming aspects of their job. Thankfully, numerous email automation tools exist whether you want to send emails to prospects at a specific time or to customers after a purchase. This technique is best utilized with trigger emails based on a specific behavior. For instance, this includes:
When automating emails, we recommend creating audience segments to improve results. With segmentation based on interests and behaviors, you can then tailor your approach to each segment. Email automation tools provide opportunities to schedule emails, personalize the approach to each group, send trigger emails automatically, and more.
There’s no doubt about it, optimizing paid ads takes time (and it soon seems more of a hassle than it’s worth when changes don’t generate a boost in performance). We spend hours looking at numbers until they all swim across the screen, and we struggle to understand how to transform these numbers into actionable insights. Once again, automation provides the answer.
With advanced tools like those from Trapica, you have everything you need to optimize ads with very little manual effort. Using machine learning and artificial intelligence, you set the parameters and the tool takes care of bidding, creatives (A/B testing), targeting, budgeting, and more. Over time, the technology learns how to place your ads effectively. Without much intervention, automation tools continually improve the many aspects of your campaigns to increase ROI, decrease cost per conversion, and increase conversion rates.
If you’re cautious about automation at this stage, or feel the business is too small to warrant full-scale automation, you can still generate actionable insights with automation. Essentially, these tools assess data and provide actionable insights in return. The difference is that you’re in control of implementing these changes while full-scale automation tools generate insights and implement them automatically.
When learning about automation opportunities, you realize the number of time-consuming areas in the marketing niche. In addition to emails, paid ads, and social media, we should add SEO to this list. It’s easy to get lost in a sea of website monitoring, SEO analysis, backlink analysis, rank tracking, and competitor monitoring. You make a coffee, sit down in the morning, look up and it’s suddenly 5pm and time to go home (while the sandwich for lunch still sits in the fridge!).
Some simple SEO tools scan your website and look for problems such as page loading speed, broken links, poor performance, high bounce rates, and formatting issues. Meanwhile, other tools monitor your competitors. The more you know about competitors, the easier it becomes to beat them in the rankings.
For the work that goes into generating leads, it’s surprising that more effort doesn’t go into the nurturing phase. One reason could be because of the effort required to add leads to an email marketing campaign, upload to a CRM, or choose another route. If you’re having problems with lead-flow processes, we highly recommend investigating your automation options.
With tools like Zapier and HubSpot, there’s an option to automatically send all new sales to an email platform or CRM. Whenever you generate a sale, details are added to the CRM without any manual intervention - this step alone saves many marketers hours of hard work. As you can see, this is another example of automation making our job easier more than anything else. Who wants to spend hours and hours transferring data into a CRM and manually entering details of new customers?
Now, we reach a tentative topic because there’s a difference between using automation to make life easier and allowing automation to create sub-par articles. Instead of content generation, we advise using automation for ideas, scheduling, distribution, sharing, and proofreading. Even if you want to continue writing all articles, or outsourcing to a reliable content writer, this doesn’t mean you can’t save time with automated proofreading, idea generation, and scheduling.
We mentioned A/B testing with regards to paid ads, but what about testing elsewhere in the marketing strategy? Especially when it comes to your website, it might be something as small as the color of the CTA button. Which generates more conversions - red or blue? With A/B testing, you create two versions of the web page, and traffic is split between the two. With an automation tool, even something like Google Optimize, all testing is done automatically, and you save more time.
We could have continued with real-time website personalization, marketing workflow automation, CRM automation, and content promotion automation. Ultimately, you decide on the automation tools required to relieve the burden on your daily to-do list. Why not start with one and see how much it helps? Soon enough, we’re sure you’ll automate multiple tasks and free up your time for more important activities - the reasons you fell in love with marketing in the first place!