Working with start-ups, as a career marketing specialist, I’ve noticed that new entrepreneurs usually move marketing to back burner in favor of sales. Which is understandable. However, how do you separate sales and marketing… a topic for another day. Someone needs to fill the top of the funnel, and when do you pass those qualified ‘hot’ leads off to sales (Salesforce define these as marketing-qualified leads (MQLs) & sales-qualified leads (SQLs)). Marketing is hard work. Fortunately, marketing automation software can cut down on that workload.
From welcome emails, to segmentation, to drip campaigns, Marketing Automation software can make a marketer’s life easier. And, initially, as a startup, you can get away with a smaller marketing department, while still taking care of the top and middle of the funnel (qualified lead gen).
Automated Marketing defined
Marketing Automation is a subset of your customer relationship management (CRM) system that focuses on the nature, segmentation, scheduling and tracking of marketing campaigns. Marketing automation refers to software platforms and technologies designed for marketing departments to complete repetitive marketing or sales tasks, instead of a person.
Automated Marketing & Email
Email marketing has historically had the best ROI of all online marketing channels ― but, emails blasts and newsletters are NOT getting those returns anymore. Now, you must send the right email, with the right content, at the right time, to the right subscriber. You must create synergy between the emails you are sending and the ads you show to your Social Media audience.
Marketing automation tools are the way of the future. And, your future success has never been easier to attain. However, talking from experience, I would like to add that marketing automation should be a ‘corporate mindset’. The more you and your team understand the principles behind automated marketing, the more opportunities will reveal themselves. The next breakthrough workflow can come from anywhere in the organization… not just from sale and marketing.
Here are two of my favorite Automated Marketing software solutions:
I’ve started moving my more sophisticated clients from other ESP’s to Drip.co. With their Automated Marketing system, we now send the right email, with the right message, at the right time to the right subscriber. It also helps us create synergies between the emails we are sending to our subscribers and the ads we are showing to our Social Media audiences. We immediately implement the Welcome On-boarding Campaigns (with a 60-day series of ±10 emails), Blueprint (Shareable) Automated Workflows & Rules (shopping cart & category abandonment, Facebook Lead Generations & Custom Audience integration, etc.) and initial Lead Scoring.
Now, these features are available through several ESP’s and service providers, but what sealed the deal for me was when Capterra rated Drip as the Most User-friendly Marketing Automation Software in the market today (and, I have tons of experience with other ESP’s). They are also #5 on the Most-affordable list, but usability is key.
I’m also a big fan of their customer service and help desk. Just as a note of caution, if you’re on the free plan (only applicable to accounts with less than 100 subscribers), you only get helpdesk support within the first 15 days. Get implementing quickly, the service will pay for itself once your campaigns, workflows and rules are in place. Usually the turn-around for a helpdesk ticket is two business day. Once they respond, they do their best to resolve your issue quickly… if you haven’t figured out by that time (as I said, very user-friendly).
The company is growing rapidly, and with that comes growing pains. You will come across bugs from time-to-time, but they are usually fixed in short order, or there is a work-around. The development team is based in their Minneapolis, MN and/or Park City, UT offices.
Note: not all Ecommerce platforms integrate as smoothly as Shopify.
MailChimp is the gorilla in the room (excuse the primate pun… lol). Capterra rates them as the #1 Most Popular Marketing Automation Software, and for good reason. MailChimp has been around for a LONG time with integrations to pretty much everything, a BIG advantage. Although, some do require a third-party integration platform (use Zapier for Facebook Lead Ads and PieSync for others).
As far as usability goes, the MailChimp email builder with their user-friendly drag-and-drop functionality and several pre-built templates, is extremely easy to use. This makes it great for quick ‘blast’ emails. The marketing automation side is less so, it can be somewhat complicated.
MailChimp uses Contact Ratings; a five-star scale that shows you how engaged a subscriber is, rather than a Lead Score. Six of one, half a dozen of the other.
The free MailChimp plan is a great starter option for Ecommerce businesses.