“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.