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Marketing automation workflow: how to build & benefits

Marketing automation workflows have emerged as indispensable tools, allowing businesses to streamline processes, nurture leads, and drive conversions with precision.

What is marketing automation?

Marketing automation software leverages technologies and tools to streamline, automate, track, and optimize a range of repetitive marketing tasks. Ultimately, these tasks support the goal of delivering unforgettable customer personalization — which is more important now than ever before. Consider these statistics that prove the power of hyper-personalization on today’s B2C and B2B (a.k.a. “B2Me”) digital landscape:

  • 80% of customers are more likely to purchase from a brand that provides personalized experiences.
  • 72% of customers say that they only pay attention to marketing messages that align with their specific interests.
  • 42% of customers say that they get annoyed and frustrated when a brand treats them as a generic number, instead of as a unique individual.

And so, if marketing automation is the vehicle that enables brands to connect with existing and new customers, what is the route, direction, and speed that this vehicle must travel to reach its desired destination? That is where marketing automation workflows enters the discussion.

What is a marketing automation workflow?

A marketing automation workflow uses logical (“if/then”) rules to achieve critical marketing functions and goals, such as:

  • Enrolling potential customers in campaigns
  • Evaluating customers based on pre-defined conditions and rules
  • Performing various marketing actions for individual customers

Benefits of marketing automation workflows

There are several major benefits of using marketing automation platforms to replace repetitive marketing processes and tasks and processes. Various studies and surveys have found that:

  • 80% of marketers who used marketing automation workflows achieved a 451% increase in qualified leads, and generated 77% more conversions.
  • B2B marketers who used marketing automation workflows increased their sales pipeline contribution by an average of 10%.
  • Marketers who used marketing automation tools improved productivity by 20%
  • 58% of marketers use marketing automation workflows for upselling.
  • 63% of marketers credit marketing automation workflows as being a major factor in helping them outperform their competitors.
  • Marketing automation workflows can increase sales team productivity by 14.5%, and reduce marketing overhead costs by 12.2%.

It is also important to highlight that marketing automation workflows do not — we repeat: do not! — seek to replace marketing teams with technologies and tools. Rather, well-designed and deployed marketing automation workflows liberate marketing teams to spend far less (and ideally no) time on time-consuming, repetitive tasks, so they can focus on higher-value marketing activities and priorities.

How can a marketing automation workflow be applied?

There are many repetitive, yet important tasks and processes that can be standardized, automated, monitored, and optimized through marketing automation workflows. These can include (but are not limited to):

And there is more good news: Leading marketing automation solutions offer multiple out-of-the-box pre-defined marketing automation workflow (campaign) templates, which marketers can use to base and build their own unique workflows for functions such as:

  • Account development
  • Acquisitions
  • Conversion rates
  • Open rates
  • Customer retention
  • Service campaigns
  • Win back

Leading solutions also integrate with other systems in the environment to support marketing automation workflow processes and objectives. For example, marketers can capture customer behavior data from a website, automatically push that data to a cloud-based CRM, and leverage that customer data to deliver personalized email marketing campaigns to the right customers, with the right message, and at the right time.

How to build marketing automation workflows

There are five key elements of the marketing automation workflow puzzle:

  1. Start and end determination: This element governs when a customer will be enrolled in a marketing automation campaign, and when that campaign ends.
  2. Actions: This element indicates what changes to make to a customer’s profile based on their behavior. For example, a customer who fills out a form to access an on-demand webinar automatically gets 10 points added to their score, which consequently moves them into another segment that is governed by different workflows.
  3. Engagement: This element is used by marketers to “watch and listen” for certain actions that a customer makes during a specific period, in order to determine what rules to apply that move the customer forward through an automation campaign.
  4. Decisioning: This element includes the aforementioned rules (engagement) that are triggered by different customer engagement factors.
  5. Directional: This element refers to scenario/trigger configurations that: delay a customer’s further movement through an automation campaign; move a customer to another automation campaign; remove a customer from an automation campaign; or return a customer to the beginning of an automation campaign.

Marketing automation workflow examples

Some marketing automation workflows are fairly short and straightforward, while others can be long and winding. However, all workflows are rooted in pairs of actions (things that customers do) and responses (what brands do based on those customer actions). Let us look at a couple of very simple examples:

Customer Action or Behavior
Automated Workflow Response
Comments
A customer on an e-commerce site abandons their cart.
The customer receives an email reminding them that their cart is “ready and waiting for them,” and offers a 5% discount for completing their purchase in the next 24 hours.
Cart abandonment is a major challenge in e-commerce. Research has found that personalized and well-timed emails are opened 50% of the time, and 21% receive click-throughs. Of those returning customers, 50% made a purchase.
A customer schedules a virtual meeting with an account manager at 10:00am on February 14.
The customer receives an email on the morning of February 13 reminding them of their meeting, and asking them to confirm or reschedule accordingly.
This simple, yet powerful automated email workflow is valuable for B2B engagements. Customers can fail to show up (“ghost”) for scheduled meetings —not because they deliberately avoided attending, but because they honestly forgot, or because their calendar was open when they booked the meeting but has since been filled with something else. Using automated marketing workflows to send reminders can both improve attendance numbers, and also get customers focused and prepared to make the most out of the meeting.
A customer indicates that they wish to receive a monthly newsletter.
The customer is automatically added to the newsletter list (first workflow element). They receive an initial email asking them to confirm their email (second workflow element). Once they click the link, their email address is validated (third workflow element), and they receive the first newsletter (fourth workflow element).
Email validation is a critical part of this automated workflow for anti-spam compliance (“opt-in”), and to ensure that customers have correctly entered their preferred email address. This may not have been a major factor a few decades ago when most people had a single email account, but these days 86% of people have at least two email addresses, and 28% have more than four!
A hero banner on a website invites customers to take advantage of a flash 24-hour sale on select new products.
Only customers who click the banner are routed to a special campaign landing page featuring the items available for sale.
The special campaign landing page in this automated workflow example is not accessible through any other channel — the only way to get there is through the hero banner (clicking the banner is the mechanism that triggers the workflow for eligible customers).
A customer receives an email which they open, but they do not click any links to the website (i.e., the email does not generate a productive visit).
After 24 hours, the customer receives a follow-up email with an incentive to visit the website and take some desired action.
It is extremely helpful for marketers to know when customers have opened an email vs. not opened an email, so they can craft their follow-up messaging accordingly. In this example, customers are offered an incentive (which they are likely to find agreeable) and not just a reminder (which they are likely to find annoying).
A customer is sent an email campaign that is undeliverable (i.e., it bounces).
After 24 hours, the customer receives a follow-up email (first workflow element). If this is also undeliverable, then they receive an additional follow-up email after seven days (second workflow element). If this, too, is undeliverable then they are automatically removed from the list (third workflow element).
Good email list hygiene is important for getting past spam filters. It also helps brands stay out of “spam traps,” which are bait email addresses that ISPs use to catch and blocklist spammers.

Tips on getting started with marketing automation

Marketing workflow automations need to be populated with content, content, and yet more content. As such, begin by analyzing your overall content marketing strategy. Pay attention to how your content is (or should be) housed and organized, and focus on aspects such as:

  • Asset findability
  • Repurposing and reusing assets
  • Maintaining brand consistency
  • Team cohesion, collaboration, and efficiency
  • Governance and compliance considerations
  • Enterprise-wide asset distribution

A couple of marketing tools can be extremely valuable here on the road to marketing automation workflow maturity: a digital asset management (DAM) solution, and a content hub.

A DAM solution enables you to streamline asset management, so that your team can always find what they need, when they need it. The average creative professional searches for a media file 83 times a week, yet fails to find that asset 35% of the time. A DAM solution can reduce this failure rate dramatically to just 5%, or possibly even less.

During this analysis, you may determine that you want or need to enhance customer experience through personalization or omnichannel automation strategies. If so, then a standalone DAM solution will most likely not be enough. But do not worry, because there is another option: a content hub.

A content hub empowers you to take charge of your entire end-to-end content target audience lifecycle. This includes —but goes far beyond — organizing assets by unifying content planning, production, collaboration, management, and distribution. And it does all of this within a single, integrated solution.

In addition, during your planning process you will need to identify what the customer journey looks like — or should look like if some updates are required — for your various customer segments. Here is where digital relevancy map can be invaluable for turning confusion into clarity, and missed opportunities into more sales. A digital relevancy map identifies and establishes the most effective, relevant content for your major segments at each stage in their customer journey, so that you can nurture them towards a purchase and inspire long-term brand loyalty.

Next, you want to ensure that you have outstanding CX and UX design — because even great content can be undermined by poor design.

The final word

Effective marketing automation can help marketers scale their marketing efforts and strengthen customer relationships by nurturing unfamiliar prospects at the beginning of the journey, into impressed, informed, and inspired fans by the end.

Launch a guided demo of Sitecore Content Hub DAM, and discover how to unlock the full potential of your brand and marketing automation by unifying all digital assets in one intuitive interface, while distributing across various touchpoints and multiple channels and ensuring brand consistency — click here.

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