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Planning Automated Marketing Programs

There has been growing excitement around marketing automation. This is, in large part, due to the influx of marketing automation software solutions that are now affordable and available to small and mid-sized businesses. In fact, according to Focus Research, marketing automation is the fastest growing CRM-related segment in the last five years.

If you are one of the many people who have signed on to a marketing automation solution, it is likely that you are also one of the many people who are not using marketing automation to it’s full potential. According to SiriusDecisons, only 15% of marketers who have marketing automation believe they are using it to “the fullest potential.”

One of the most powerful features available from all marketing automation providers is the ability to create automated email marketing programs. Automated programs allow you to create a series of emails based on specific actions and have it run continuously without any extra work.


Set Clear Objectives

When planning out a program, it helps to set clear goals for what the objective of the program will be. You need to decide what the program should accomplish.

For example, Mark O’Brien recently spoke at an event and collected the names and email addresses of the attendees. His goal was to get these prospects to do two things:

  1. Sign up for his upcoming webinar that was related to the talk he gave 
  2. Subscribe to our newsletter and/or blog digest emails

By setting these clear objectives, you will be able to keep your focus narrow and not create an overly elaborate automated program.  Instead, you will have a concise and focused program that will push your audience toward your identified goals.


Visualize the Program Steps

Once you have your goals, it helps to think through each step of the process and make sure that you are not sending too many emails to these prospects over a short timeframe, as well as making sure that you aren’t asking them to take actions that they have already taken. There is not a quicker way to get folks to opt-out of your emails than to send them too many emails asking them to do things that they have already done.

The best way I have found to insure you have thoroughly thought through each scenario, is to draw the program flow out on a whiteboard, adding in conditional branches where necessary to avoid sending redundant emails to any group. This allows you to visualize the flow and see all of the different paths that people could follow.

In our example, we drafted several emails and set up conditional branches to see if each person had already signed up for the webinar, and if they were already a blog digest or newsletter subscriber. Each branch was sent a different email that was focused on the actions that they had not yet completed. For the people who had already achieved the goals that we had set out, we just sent a simple email thanking them for attending the event and to reach out to us for any upcoming website needs.

automated flow whiteboard

As you can see from our whiteboard drawing, users could take many different paths through this program, but by drawing it out this way, we are able to count how many emails any individual would receive, and we are able to make sure no one gets emails that are not relevant to their situation.

This simple exercise can help tremendously as you plan out your automated programs, and help you insure that you are getting the most benefit and the highest probability of turning your prospects into new business leads.

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