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Tools and Tricks for Marketing Automation with WordPress

Marketing Automation is really the marriage of email marketing technology coupled with a structured sales process.” –Wiki page on Marketing Automation

That’s the simplest, most elegant definition of marketing automation I’ve seen. And I’ve seen my fair share.

Marketing automation is an amalgamation of some tasks that are centered on leading your leads (unintentional pun) from the top of purchase funnel (awareness) to the bottom (sale). It can be divided into four broad, interconnected phases:

  • Planning and Analysis

A well researched start is a good start.

This step involves gathering intel about your customer base so you can categorize them into different groups, based on their readiness and response to your marketing plans. Much like personas in UX research, Planning uses statistics about demographics, devices, habits, etc. and contextually appropriate insights to identify value and selling opportunities.

  • Targeting

As mentioned above, the customer intel gives you the foundation for target marketing; identify the best market campaigns and offering them to the right leads at the right time.

  • Using Marketing Automation Tools

This is where your Marketing Automation Tools really take over: creating and managing lists, generating and sending emails and newsletters, tracking, et al.

For all businesses, this results in faster and consistently reliable implementation and management of marketing campaigns. For large enterprises, this could help streamline omni-channel campaigns exponentially.

  • Drawing Insight

All the data collected by analytics help you draw functioning, applicable insights; you can then implement those straightaway by tweaking and fine tuning your campaign.

This ensures continued progress.

There are marketing automation tools like SAS, HubSpot, Pardot, etc. which can be integrated with WordPress websites to take care of all that without need for much else. Unfortunately, these services are also exorbitantly priced for a small business or entrepreneur.

Since WordPress is a Secret Santa, it doesn’t take much to build your own complete marketing automation toolset without burning a hole in your pocket.

In this post, we’ll take a look at some processes, the tools to accomplish them with, and a few tricks for added fun (and profits) involved in Marketing Automation with WordPress.

Note: With JSON REST API, you can have your developers integrate WordPress with anything. But given below are the best and safest tools/services that work especially well with WordPress.

  1. Email Marketing:

UX Tip: When you customers aren’t thinking of you as a spammer, you are doing things right.

Sending right emails to the right segments of your email list is one of the most significant parts of intelligent marketing automation. And no, email marketing is not obsolete.

The most trusted email marketing tools are also very WordPress-friendly, with special plugins and everything for those who won’t (or can’t) bother with API.

  • Tool of Trade: MailChimp

Who hasn’t heard of MailChimp? It’s a vast arsenal of features accessible via a really friendly UI capable of turning novices into Pros in a matter of hours.

It’s highly compatible with WooCommerce and hundred more 3rd party tools/services, has a separate suite for mobile apps for management on the go, advanced analytics and intelligent targeting features, great tools for designing the email, and the magic API which lets you change the rules as you see fit.

The pricing plans are extremely bendy. The more subscribers you have, the more you get for free. More features can be added on demand starting with $10/month.

  • Tip:

You can use MailChimp analytics to generate segments for inactive subscribers in your mailing list (no click from recipient) who have made recent interactions and/or purchases through your website.

Use those special segments to create customized content for them to create higher engagement.

  1. Analytics:

No automation plan can be driven without good hard data to back it up. That’s where analytics come in. And contrary to the general stance, data quality doesn’t depend on the tool collecting it. Data is as good as the insights you can gleam from it.

Although (good) marketing automation tools will offer analytics, there are bigger, better, and more awesome alternatives sitting out there in plain sight.

  • Tool of Trade: Google Analytics

This is, quite frankly, the only analytics tool you’ll need on your website. It’s that comprehensive. And via Google Tag Manager, even the non-coders can setup Google Analytics on a WordPress website. Check out the tutorial here.

eCommerce, Event tracking, audience data and preferences, high engagement content, bounce rates and conversion rates, and I can go on for hours. There’s no end to the number of things you can track and analyze with this tool.

You can customize the very dashboard to show the data in a way that makes sense to you. There are tutorial videos and helpful descriptions related to every single category and tab, and I have a high tendency to rave about GA when the subject comes up.

Did I mention it’s completely free?

  • Tip

The Landing Pages tab (In Reporting. Under Behavior >> Site Content >> Landing Pages) is a smart feature which tracks all landing pages (security in numbers) for entry points, engagement, acquisition, interaction, and conversion metrics. For Conversion Rate Optimization, this is perfect.

  1. Social Media:

Social media requires more balancing acts than one would deem necessary between industry-relevant and unique content. This is why automating it is tricky.

Smart social media automation focuses on real time content curation to keep the followers engaged. This means sharing important, industry related content that your audience wants from you.

Example: Facebook fans of Beyonce will obviously want info on her latest albums, so the social media team shares the links to official sources and portals. But a significant segment would probably also like gossip, so the team can curate the content that reflects the star in a positive light from sources like TMZ, Vanity Fair, etc.

  • Tool of Trade: Buffer

Buffer curates interesting content from across the web. It lets you schedule the posts for automatic sharing/posting on selected social media channels at the same time. It tracks the most successful posts, multiple social accounts (for an entire team of responders), RSS feeds, image/video uploaders, calendars, link shortening, and more.

  • Tip

User behavior and session times vary wildly on different social platforms, which is obvious since the popular platforms are unique in their own way. People are on Twitter at all hours, but Intstagram is usually warranted for journeys/meals/manic-selfie-occasions. It also varies within the audience demographics…

To make the most out of social shares, use Buffer’s optimum timing tool to find out the points in time that generate the highest responses/engagement from your fans.

  1. A/B Testing:

A/B testing is a contest where you pit two variations of a single item against each other and measure their performance. Whoever wins gets to stay.

  • What we’ll use: Nelio A/B Testing

Nelio A/B testing is a brilliant split testing tool made specifically for WordPress. While Google Analytics is great at tracking and testing, some users may find it a bit overwhelming (So many features!) because it requires some effort to properly master.

  • Tip

UX testing (and CRO) becomes easier when a tool like Nelio is available right in your WordPress admin to take care of split testing of page elements, content, headings, buttons, design, WooCommerce product description pages, etc.

Endnote

Despite all I have said here, know that a truly intelligent marketing automation system can accomplish almost as much as these tools combined. And they have some features that are truly remarkable (HubSpot’s Smart Forms are the best in class).

But these tools are for those who are on a budget and have time (and team) to devote to learning and mastering them. Also: Universal applications.

Author Bio: Lucy Barret works for HireWPGeeks Ltd., an HTML to WordPress Conversion Company. She is there as a Sr. WordPress developer and handles all conversion projects with her team of developers. You can follow her company, HireWPGeek on Facebook.

Security Tips for Internet Marketing

Reaching out to your existing audience while simultaneously marketing to a new one can be a challenging job. You have to manage multiple online accounts and keep up with as many conversations as possible in order to ensure maximum exposure. Even if you don’t suspect it, you’re knee deep in data. It is for this reason why your organization is such a valuable target to cyber criminals who hope to sell that very data to the highest bidder. They won’t even take into account the good nature of the people you work for and market to.

This is why you need protection, and fortunately there are plenty of ways to get that protection so long as you commit. Half-measures don’t work in cyber security, but the dedicated practitioners will find that they can move on quickly from concerns of lost work and tattered reputations and focus on the task of spreading positive messages and good words.

worldwide_security

Here are some of the main things you should know in order to be safe while helping your brothers and sisters connect to what they need to:

Use the Latest and Greatest Applications and Software

You can’t mess around with applications that don’t guarantee you the very best security and the finest features available on the market. Building on top of that, they make sure that they take advantage of security features available in those apps. Convenience in the short term often turns into problems down the line.

In regard to the use of your applications, you should note the following recommendations:

  • Whatever products and services you use need to be updated frequently. If you ever feel as though your app of choice is slacking off in its security updates, it might be time to update to a different app entirely.
  • If there are additional verification options, even if you need to enter multiple forms every time you use the app, use them. A stolen laptop or phone could spell disaster otherwise.
  • Also think about how easily the security features integrate with your usage of the software. If it is discouraging you via inconvenience to the point where you turn said features off, it might not be the most secure piece of software.

Have a General Security Procedure

Many of the rules for cyber security for marketing professionals are no different than what you hear recommended in general for consumers. It is important that you have general security rules in place for yourself and your business so that you don’t fall victim to a basic slip-up. Here are some of the things you will want to consider:

  • Passwords are still extremely important. Combined with other verification measures, they are the first line of defense against hackers. They need to be more than 10 characters, contain no words found in the dictionary and not be anything that could be easily guessable. Different accounts should use different passwords, and you may want to consider a password manager such as LastPass.
  • Whatever devices you use for your endeavor should have a security suite installed. It should be a quality service, and it should be updated frequently.
  • Social media should be used of carefully. It is often the public face of your organization and you don’t want to have people get the wrong impression.

Keep Your Email Safe Under Lock and Key

The email address of an internet marketer is the gateway to everything else. Take a moment to think about what your email address is connected to. How many days do you think it would take to recover everything, if it were even recoverable? Above all else, you need to keep this account safe.

Here are a few tips to keep your email address safe:

  • Never share your passwords or other verification measures with anyone.
  • Internet marketers should get in the habit early of keeping their personal and business accounts separate.
  • Take every opportunity to better secure your account. Link it to a phone number and second email account. Lock it down to only a few devices if those are the only devices that are going to use the account on a regular basis.

Use a Virtual Private Network When Outside the Office

The outreach specialist doesn’t always work from home or the office. Hackers know this, and they’ll be happy to intercept your personal and account information over a public network. All they need is a simple program, a laptop and some time on their hands.

This is why you need to have a Virtual Private Network (VPN) equipped whenever you’re taking work devices outside the office. A VPN is a service that will connect the user to an offsite secure server via an encrypted connection, hiding their IP address and keeping their data safe regardless of the network they use.

They are easy to install and are compatible with most devices. The main thing that you need to worry about is picking the right one for your security needs, for which it is recommended that you read some reviews on the subject.

Be Suspicious of Scams

Last but not least, when improving your internet marketing security, you need to be aware of social engineering and other scams. Most hackers would prefer to simply send a few scam emails and get a response rather than look through code all day. It makes sense too given that the vast majority of all cyber security breaches result from human error instead of hacker know-how.

You need to look out for the following and follow these tips in particular:

  • If something sounds too good to be true, it positively is.
  • Avoid sending any personal or account information over email or another messaging service. Most attempts will likely be scams or phishing, and even the legitimate needs can be worked around. If someone legitimately needs information, find a more personal way, such as the phone call, to give it to them.
  • New types of scams pop up every day, so always follow your instincts. If something seems suspicious, investigate further. Don’t forget you can look up people and “companies” online if you’re curious.

Conclusion

The more that people do to stay safe online and the more people who are safe online, the better the internet as a whole will be for community leaders and marketers. No matter how much you might want to work on making contacts, you need to create a safe environment for the people you represent and hope to help.

Do you have any recommendations of your own concerning this important topic? Have you ever run into security issues or found your organization a victim? This is not the time to sit tight and keep information to yourself. Please share your thoughts and experiences with your fellow readers by leaving a comment below.

 

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