Making the leap into the world of marketing automation is an exciting step but, from the outside looking in, it can certainly seem daunting. Anyone can slap together a marketing automation workflow which technically functions, but in order to truly leverage this powerful tool and take your digital marketing efforts to the next level, you need to put in the leg work and formulate a plan. Here are a few of the major steps in crafting a fully realized automation plan so you can have multiple workflows up and running in no time.

Get the team on board

One of the most important things to consider when building out your automation capabilities is the effect it has across your entire company. Your marketing department is far from the only department who needs to be on board with your efforts in order to be successful. Your technology, sales, and executives all need to be aware, informed, and on the same page in terms of your marketing automation for it to reach its full potential.

Marketing team: In charge of the marketing automation platform, generating awareness, and the ins and outs of your marketing automation plan, overall.

Sales team: Must understand the power marketing automation has to relieve the responsibility of manually sending emails. They must align their goals with those of the marketing team since they will be surrendering some of the emailing responsibilities to the automation process.

Technology team: Help facilitate the understanding of automation’s technical requirements, ensuring the rules and triggers are set up correctly as well as optimizing integrations across platforms.

Set goals/benchmarks

Regardless of the type of workflow you are creating, you need to have a clear vision of what success will look like. If this is your first marketing automation workflow, you may want to be conservative with your goals in order to gauge the effectiveness of your approach. You wouldn’t want to aim too high only to realize at the end of your campaign you were doomed from the start due to a small error in your work flow.

Whether your objective is increasing registration by 10%, increasing brand awareness, improving your user experience, expediting your sales cycle, improving your overall engagement or any number of other metrics, it is important to define the goal of each individual marketing automation campaign. Even though they exist separately from each other, they ultimately are part of a single marketing and sales goal.

It is important to make your goals as specific as possible so the path to achieving them is clearly defined. For instance, instead of broadly saying you want to increase your readership, you should set up benchmarks for the amount of quality content you are producing to ensure you are remaining relevant and consistently offering value to your audience. This way, if you focus on hitting your bench marks, your readership will naturally increase over time.

Since marketing automation workflows can run for as long as you need them to, it is important to monitor them regularly so you can know when to make adjustments, rather than letting an ineffective workflow continue to be ineffective.

Define your content strategy

Since marketing automation is a way to optimize your content strategy and make it work for you, having an existing, clearly defined content strategy is a must. There is a marked difference between having a verbal content strategy which is understood on your marketing team and having a recorded content strategy which can be referenced. Documenting your content strategy solidifies your ideas and gives you a template off of which you and your team can consistently reference, allowing you to easily set and reach your content creating goals. 60% of B2B marketers who document their content strategies claim they are effective in their content marketing efforts, while out of those with a verbal strategy, only 32% claim they are effective.

There are a few key questions to ask yourself when putting together your content strategy:

  • What are your reasons for creating content?
  • How do you envision a successful content marketing plan?
  • What are the risks involved?
  • What are the industry leaders producing?
  • What resources do you have at your disposal?
  • Where do you want you content to live?
  • What do you want your contacts to get/learn/do with this content?

Once you have a clear-cut answer to all of these questions, you can go about setting goals and benchmarks for your content marketing efforts. While considering these goals, an important aspect to consider is what kind of value your content will be providing to the reader. Its important to not separate your benchmark goals (reach, opens, likes, follows, etc.) from your content value goals (consistently bringing a fresh perspective to your content, teaching your readers something new, providing thought leadership in your industry, etc.) since if you routinely achieve the latter, you’re eventually going to achieve the former.

Define your audiences

It is vital to your campaign’s success that you’re acutely aware of the type of audience you are targeting. It’s worth considering what makes your audience tick, what assets they are looking for, what questions they may need answered, and what may make them hesitate. The more you understand about where you audience is coming from, the more accurately you can address their needs and improve your bottom line.

It could be the case that you have several different audiences, each of which requiring a separate marketing automation approach. In such an instance, it may be useful to develop personas for each audience so you can more easily get in their heads and understand their needs. Give each persona a name and personality and begin subtly asking questions about their likes, their motivations and their problems which need solving. This exercise will help to humanize your target audience so you can empathize with their problems and address them in the most beneficial, least intrusive way possible.

 Map your marketing automation workflow

Marketing automation not only exists to bring a content strategy to life, but also to put the marketing efforts and actions into the hands of each individual contact. This puts you in the position of the marketing architect, planning out the user’s environment, while putting the users in charge of navigating their way through the journey you designed. In order to achieve this goal effectively at scale, you first need to sit down with your sales team and map out the finer details of you plan.

The strategy and follow through of your workflow will, of course, differ depending on the goal of your campaign. For instance, if you were promoting an event you would take a much different approach than if you were garnering leads for your newsletter. Either way, a reliable way to approach the creation of MA workflows is an “if-then” flow chart, like the one below.

B2C chart


Consider the following when putting together your workflows:

  • How many steps will your workflow be?
  • How much time should be allotted in between each step?
  • At which point do you allow a user to drop out?
  • How many instances can a user come in contact with your content in a given workflow?

If your campaign’s end goal is to garner sales leads, you should collaborate closely with your sales team and develop your workflow based off of a sales funnel. The general strategy in this type of campaign is to first draw in prospects using broad, entertaining content like videos, blog posts, infographics, etc. at the top of the funnel. The next step would be to create more specific, more valuable content which prospects can trade something of value for, usually an email address. The value trade must be equal so make sure you deliver on your end.

Once you have their contact info, you must continue to deliver quality content in order to nurture and track the user’s behavior further down the sale’s funnel. This is where marketing automation really comes in handy since it can automate this entire lead nurturing process for you once you have the work flows set up. Position yourself as a trusted thought leader, assisting your prospect navigate the tricky process of choosing the right product to invest in. This gives you an opportunity to build a lasting relationship with the prospect.

Review and Improve

When you have a successful workflow up and running, it’s no time to sit on your laurels. The marketing automation process is never truly over since you can always continue to increase engagement. Combing through your campaign data to determine where any potential gaps are in terms of ineffective triggers or incorrect actions taken is what separates a serviceable workflow from a great workflow, and the difference will show through in your user engagement.

Many marketing automation platforms tout a “set it and forget it” policy which, although catchy and memorable, is not necessarily the correct message to send. Unfortunately, not everything that rhymes is worth a dime (we’re still practicing). By that we mean once you set your marketing workflow, your job is just beginning. Any truly successful workflow is refined through numerous trial and error periods.

Just remember: “When you set up your workflow, don’t let your work go.”

We know. We’re still getting the hang of it.

Ready yourselves and your team for marketing automation using these steps and get ready to bring your digital marketing efforts into the modern age. And, if you would like to read more about the wonders of marketing automation, visit our beautiful website!