“Aligning marketing automation with a content strategy is just one recommended marketing automation best practice.” -- Drew Robb, Enterprise Apps Today
The Robots Are Already Here
When will the machines take over? If you have to ask you aren’t paying attention. Automation is already here. For the most part, it is seamless, nearly invisible, and expanding into new sectors every day.
Don’t think it won’t affect your industry or Association? Think again. As the authors of What To Do When Machines Do Everything: How to Get Ahead in a World of AI, Algorithms, Bots and Big Data explain:
“Such thinking is dangerous; those who voice it are in industries that haven’t been fully hit by digital yet.
The Digital Revolution and You
The digital revolution is unevenly distributed. That is, some industries, and their supporting business models (i.e., newspapers, maps, book retailing) have forever been transformed, while others (i.e., energy and utilities) are still relatively untouched. [...] If your industry isn’t yet addressing this structural challenge, it’s because your sector, like a substance in nature, simply has a different ‘melting point.’”
The authors recommend looking at high volume core business processes to automate first.
Many Associations start in the marketing department. This has proven to be one of the best places to automate tasks. Machine learning and digital data also offer the additional benefit of producing broader business insights. Many Association customer relationship management systems (CRM) already include elements of automation.
Getting Started with Marketing Automation
Marketing automation is a core part of a “Digital First” content strategy.
In 2017 eConsultancy reported that three in five (or 59%) of Australian and New Zealand businesses surveyed kept marketing automation in-house. Similar trends stateside are a fair assumption. Increasingly consumer-level marketing apps and other automation tools are available.
Major marketing automation benefits for Associations include:
- Personalizing content to specific needs
- Offering mobile-friendly resources
- Prioritizing account based marketing
- Examining member lifecycle
- Improving member retention and engagement
Best Practices for Marketing Automation
A typical Association marketing campaign looks like this:
- Design campaign
- Develop content
- Execute campaign
- Gather data
It is possible to automate each step. In contrast to traditional marketing, each step can be rule-based and repeatedly refined, as explained in David Rabbe’s marketing automation best practice guide.
Consider your Association’s goals and existing communication software infrastructure. (Many Associations use their existing CRM to start, for example.) Map out what needs to be communicated, and to whom. Then determine the best automation process. An easy choice is automating email communications. Develop sequences for specific workflows.
Marketing software leader Hubspot offers automated workflow ideas specifically for Associations. Develop custom workflows to address:
- Needs of current members
- Conversion of longtime prospects
- Recruiting and retaining lapsed members
Hubspot’s Corey Wainwright underscores the importance of selecting the right metrics when measuring automation success. She groups metrics into four categories: activity, response, efficiency, and value. Review all in the context of your Association’s needs and goals.
Automation: Cautions and Considerations
Each step is an opportunity for measuring results for the best return. Doing so leverages limited resources for best results.
However, proceed with care.
“[P]utting your marketing on autopilot can just as easily burn out your list and set fire to your dreams of success,” cautions inbound marketer Nate Johnson.
Don’t forget the value of human connection.
“If someone asks a question, respond rapidly and answer their specific request. And don't buy a system that gets in the way of your ability to do so,” advises Drew Robb at Enterprise Apps Today.
Marketing automation isn’t “set it and forget it”. Automation is a way to gain insights and make adjustments in a cost-effective way. Automation can save time, but it still needs direction.
Yes, the robots are here. But, to truly harness their power they need ongoing review and redirection. Happily, that still requires human intelligence, creativity, and intuition.
eBallot provides online voting software for Associations. Contact us to discuss your voting event.