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You’d be forgiven if you had spent the summer soaking up the sunshine instead of strategising about Marketing Automation.

But if that was the case (lucky you!) you may have missed out on some important research. Automation is such a key focus for marketers these days – it’s the top area of focus this year bar none – yet only 7% are very successful at implementing such programmes (according to Econsultancy).

One reason behind this can be explained by Forrester’s July, 2016 report Vendor Landscape: European Marketing Automation Vendors, 2016, which uncovers the complexities of Marketing Automation in Europe. It finds a one-size-fits-all approach won’t do, companies must comply with complex data security and privacy regulations, and sales cycles are longer and more complex.

Local marketing automation vendors are flourishing in Europe and often provide unique solutions, successfully addressing the specific needs of European marketers. Forrester identifies these vendors in the report, Adestra being one. The report states that Adestra

provides a SaaS-based email marketing platform that incorporates advisory services through in-app live chat, fast phone, and email response. The solution is well suited for small and medium-size businesses, but the vendor’s customization features and service offering mean it is also successful with enterprise clients, especially those marketing departments that lack the skills to take full advantage of the benefits of the technology solutions available to them.”

The report offers some useful broad advice for marketers, and it’s worth a read. We also thought we’d expand on this and explain where and how marketers can get started with automation in a little more detail. It’s important to remember that email marketing automation can mean different things to different people – firstly the processes that may be triggered by an action, secondly, automating the content within the email itself.

Automated welcome programmes

A good place to start, and one of the most popular email automation processes, is welcome programmes. Rather than just a quick ‘hello’ to your new subscribers, welcome programmes should consist of a tailored series of emails shortly after sign-up as they are clearly engaged with your brand. These emails should offer more information about your company / brand / products. You should also consider using a preference centre, which will allow you to discover the areas of your business in which new subscribers are most interested, resulting in better targeted and relevant emails from the outset. Be sure to communicate how often they are going to hear from you and the types of emails they are going to receive (so it’s not a surprise when they do).

Abandoned baskets/browsing

Less than one quarter of marketers use abandoned basket automation (23%), a low number considering how powerful email is at converting otherwise lost revenue. For example, the NSPCC recently implemented an “abandoned donation” program, generating an impressive average £38 recaptured donation value.

There may be different reasons why visitors fail to complete a registration or basket, or drop off a browsing session, so why stop at one email – send a series of emails tackling these reasons. They might have gotten distracted, balked at the delivery cost, wanted to check something – either way an automated reminder or subtle encouragement can work wonders.

Date notifications/subscriptions due for renewal

Even for those companies that have started using automation, we can see from their range of triggers that the majority haven’t moved beyond basic ones. Only 17% of client-side marketers are using a date notifications (like birthdays) trigger, and 15% use a subscription due for renewal trigger. Businesses should not be afraid of automating the subscription renewals process, publishers use this to great effect. In the same way, travel companies promote seasonal holidays each year and gift companies can automate birthday and holiday notifications. Don’t underestimate such date-relevant triggers, they are a great revenue generator.

Data-Driven Automation

By using MessageFocus Automation Program Builder, marketers can easily map out and control the above activities (and much more) to create fully automated, personalised, and dynamically generated marketing campaigns.

The Automation Program Builder will allow you to achieve this in a quick and effective way by:

  • Allowing you to drag and drop content within the interface making it easier and quicker than ever before.
  • Providing you with a clear overview of the entire customer journey detailing thumbnails of each campaign, time delays, lists and filters.
  • Informing you of the number of contacts at each stage of the journey allowing you to analyse the effectiveness of your campaign.

Automating Email Content

You want to send relevant, targeted and up-to-date content to your email recipients, but this can be a time-consuming and resource-heavy process. With MessageFocus and its automated content generation feature you can populate all, or parts, of your email campaigns without the need for repeated copy and paste commands.

There’s a huge range of options that you could feed into your email. You could choose to populate sections with your latest blog articles, Twitter updates or YouTube videos. Or, if you want to get more sophisticated, you can create a whole newsletter pulling in content from your site dynamically, based on a recipient’s preferences or past purchases.

Overall, marketing automation need not be an impossible dream if companies start small and build up with the right provider to support them. The advice is to research and choose the right vendor to partner with based on your business needs, then work with them to take incremental steps to build Marketing Automation into your long term strategy, one programme at a time.