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7 Keys to Automating Your Online Marketing

1. Bring the team together.

If you’re like most companies, it takes a lot of highly-specialized employees and a constantly evolving strategy to keep your online marketing efforts running smoothly. Before implementing a marketing automation tool, it’s a good idea to bring your Marketing and IT staff together for a workshop to discuss marketing strategy, content strategy and identify your team’s goals for the implementation. This approach also gives managers an opportunity to address employee questions and concerns creating team buy-in for the implementation.

2. Define success measurements and establish a performance baseline.

Review your past analytics data to answer a few questions. What metrics are you measuring for your site’s performance? Are the goals you are tracking still relevant? How will the implementation of the marketing automation tool impact your site’s metrics? Taking the time to think about how performance will be measured now will make it much easier to document the success of your marketing automation tool later on.

3. Develop user personas.

Many of the most robust marketing automation tools allow you to apply user personas to your site’s content. This feature allows you to track the usage habits of different groups of customers and can be very valuable in understanding their behavioral trends. If you have already developed “offline” customer personas, they can probably be applied to your site with relatively few changes. If you are starting personas from scratch, it is critical to think about your customers as unique groups that share similar likes and behaviors. Avoid the common desire to get overly granular with your personas and start with three to five distinct groups. Once your personas are defined, document each persona’s relationship to your site content for faster implementation and to provide a historical record of your persona definitions. This will make the final step of assigning personas to content much easier for your team.

4. Develop an engagement measurement strategy.

Measuring user engagement with your site’s content can generate significant marketing insights into user behavior patterns. If you’re planning to score (or weight) your content as part of a marketing automation tool implementation, a little planning can go a long way to maximizing the value of your data. Prior to implementation, develop a scoring strategy that documents all of the various types of site content and the corresponding value you plan to assign to each. Having a documented strategy in place will minimize the need for your team to make subjective judgments about the value of content and helps clearly define what you are trying to track. Once your documentation is complete, it will be simple for your content team to apply the scoring strategy to your site content.

5. Create a personalized, relevant experience.

One of the most significant trends in marketing automation is content personalization. The ability to provide a personalized message to users based on their unique characteristics increases relevance and, when executed properly, can lead to higher conversion rates. For effective personalization, first identify the content items that have the highest potential to create additional relevance for your users. Often a good place to start is generalized content items such as billboards, landing or category pages and callouts. Keep it simple by starting with one or two items that you can easily monitor and track. Once you've defined the content for personalization, develop alternate versions of these items that speak to your various audiences. Finally, publish the personalized versions of these items and watch your conversion rates rise! 

6. Test.  Optimize.  Repeat.

All good marketers know that testing is critical to developing a good message that resonates with users. A simple misstep on an image, headline or offer can have a big impact on conversion rates. To avoid this issue, most marketing automation tools have a testing component that allows you to test multiple components of a page to find the right mix. Oftentimes, a campaign landing page is a good place to start with multivariate testing. To start, develop a few headlines, content layouts and calls to action and start a test to see which combination of page elements gets the best results. Once you’ve collected enough data, it’s easy to implement the highest performing combination of these elements to maximize your ROI.

7. Make it stick.

Implementation of a marketing automation tool is rarely a simple process. More likely it will be a complicated, time consuming process. To help reduce confusion, it may be helpful to develop a training guide for your new marketing automation strategy and features of the tool you’ve selected. This approach will not only help to get your current staff up to speed on the new tool quickly, but it also provides a knowledge resource for future employees in the event a key employee leaves the company. This resource should document the entire project starting with the strategy and goals for the implementation and then a walk through of the actual features of the tool and how they have been applied to meet your company’s specific needs. The more detail the better!

Bonus Key: Choose the right marketing automation tool.
No software can take the place of good planning and strategy, but it’s still an important factor when you’re considering a marketing automation implementation. It is important to have a tool that is flexible enough to be customized to your unique business needs while still seamlessly integrating with your content management software. 

At Aware, we recommend Sitecore’s Consumer Engagement Platform for its combination of best-in-class content management software with a robust, highly customizable marketing automation tool, the Digital Marketing System.  This all-in-one approach features a variety of marketing automation features that will have your team creating relevant, engaging and personalized web experiences for your users.

By taking a strategic approach to marketing automation, you can eliminate a lot of the confusion and resistance that many companies experience when attempting to implement a new marketing technology. With a little planning and preparation, you and your marketing team can develop a cohesive approach to marketing automation that will create lasting benefits for your company.

To learn more about how today’s marketer can get the most from Sitecore’s Digital Marketing System’s mission critical features, download our latest ebook, “The Quick Start Guide to Sitecore DMS Success”.

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