You’ve recently made the decision to get started with marketing automation. Great! Now what? Software? (Well, yeah… may I suggest GetResponse for that?) But what else? Well, let’s think that through. Where do you need to start for marketing automation? And, what help is there for you at every major step of the journey? This post is for those of you who understand the benefits of marketing automation. It’s for those of you want to use it, but find the actual implementation a daunting. You’ll need some good, free marketing automation resources.
Without a doubt, you will need to plan for your marketing automation efforts. Taking the time to plan makes everything so much better. This isn’t getting management buy-in and commitment – which is vital! This should come before the planning steps I’m discussing. This planning is purely logistical.
Start on paper. Plan your first workflow on paper. Not your automation software, not even PowerPoint or mind mapping software. Why? This is a kind of brain dump. It does more than say what message to whom if they click a link. It helps you with your resources. This process will help you identify what content you already have, what you need to repurpose, and what you need to create from scratch. Which, in turn, identifies where you need more human resources. Not the HR department, but different projects from your co-workers, freelancers, and/or agency help. And, honestly, I find this easier to do with pencil and paper. If you change your mind about a piece of content or an action, you can erase and re-draw or re-write it. When you finish the first mind-map, you can start color coding to help with sort the different needs you’ve revealed. For me, at least, this takes away some of the “overwhelmed” feeling.
What are the content creation needs you’ll commonly see?
- Lead magnets
- Campaign messaging (not only email copy, but also social media messaging, landing page copy, and even video scripts).
Fortunately, there are some amazing resources out there to help you through the beginner days. They’ll help when you’re completely up to your eyeballs in work and don’t know where to start.
There are lots of terms for this piece of content: opt-in offer, content upgrade, sign-up incentive. And these can be tough to create, even when you know what topics your target audience finds valuable and wants. So here are some resources to help you:
- The Must-Have Starting Point for Marketing Automation
- 5 Keys to Creating an Irresistible Lead Magnet
- Building Email Lists with Lead Magnets (Webinar Recap)
- How to Create a Lead Magnet That Attracts
These guides are all helpful for B2B companies. And, believe it or not, that’s a very broad group of people and businesses. You’d expect that a software company, for example, is B2B – or at least has a B2B component. But even bloggers can fit into this category, as strange as that may seem. A mommy blogger who she sells her products and services that teach aspiring bloggers how to blog? Yep, that’s B2B, too.
B2C retailers, in my opinion, have much more straight-forward lead magnets:
- discounts and offers given only to subscribers
- rewards program membership
Their content creation needs for such lead magnets are different. From a copy or messaging standpoint, I’d say they’re smaller. As in, fewer words. Things like coupon text, a welcome email series for the rewards program members. (A welcome email series for new subscribers is something any kind of business should create.) B2C retailers also have some ecommerce functional needs like:
- making sure the check-out section accepts the correct codes,
- tagging to ensure the contact is included in the relevant rewards program.
Writing email copy, headlines, subject lines, social media posts – that’s another challenge that never seems to end. And the noisier the online world gets, the better your writing must be to stand out. And, again, there are people and resources that can help you improve your writing so that you do stand out.
- How to Level Up Your Writing & Make It Ludicrously Spectacular
- How to Write Newsletters that Get Opened, Read, and Clicked
- Bigger, Braver, Bolder Content Marketing
- 37 Tips for Writing Emails that Get Opened, Read, and Clicked
- Writing Email Subject Lines That Get Prospects to Open, Read, and Respond
Writing is a skill you can never practice too much. There’s always a way to improve, or a new medium onto which you must learn to apply your writing skills.
Building your emails
Here, we’ll assume you’ve made the decision to use GetResponse for your marketing automation. Good choice.
So, the next question is how to create your emails. If you’re doing this yourself then you’ll want to start with our email creator, using our pre-designed templates. (By “yourself,” I mean working without someone to code the HTML for you.) Our email creator has plenty of editing options – we’ve tried to make it user-friendly. Now remember, some things to keep in mind as you work with the software to create your actual emails (linked to the resources):
- Make it mobile-responsive
- Create a plain text version of your HTML email
- Personalize, personalize, personalize (there’s more than one way to do that!)
If you do have someone to code your emails for you, or you know how to code it yourself, the same general principles above apply to you, too. Make sure that you’re following those best practices in the templates you code and import into GetResponse.
Creating your marketing automation workflows
Welcome to the hard-core marketing automation “get ‘er done” stage. The heaviest lifting is behind you. Now is the time to take that hand drawn workflow and make it come to life.
Fortunately, we have many, many resources to help you understand the depth and breadth of what you can build.
- Video Guides to Jumpstart Your Marketing Automation Journey
- Unwrapping Marketing Automation
- Use Marketing Automation to Retarget Your Leads
- GetResponse Marketing Automation FAQs
- Marketing Automation Use Cases (video guides)
Once your workflows are set, you’ve nearly reached the finish line. The one last functional piece you need: testing. Does your workflow work the way it should? Are there broken links? Are the if/then conditions you’ve set up in your workflow triggering as you have intended? Does everything look right on various mobile devices and email clients? Whatever functional testing you do on a simple email campaign needs to be done on marketing automation, too. Assemble a team to help you make sure your workflow works. When you can say yes to the question of “Does your workflow work as you intended?” you are ready to go. You’ve crossed the finish line.
People aren’t born with the perfect marketing automation skill set. And every expert at marketing automation was a newbie at some point in his or her career. If you need extra help and guidance in building your skillset to get the job done, then by all means – use it. These helpful guides will be your little black book to starting marketing automation.
Did I miss any resources that you found helpful as you begin your marketing automation journey? Please share them in the comments below.