Online shopping. Woman using a mobile screen for buying.Savvy marketers know that automating marketing processes has been shown to increase both leads and conversion rates, thereby producing more revenue. Studies show that by enabling marketing automation, marketers can drive a 14.5% increase in sales productivity and a 12.2% reduction in marketing overhead.

It is nearly impossible for reasonably sized marketing teams to manually administer all the tasks and responsibilities required in today’s multi-channel environment. Automating many of those day-to-day activities frees marketing team members to spend their time focusing on wider, higher-level business objectives. This freedom can mean developing smarter strategies that can ultimately result in more sales for the brand.

In addition, real-time marketing automation allows marketers to run all aspects of a marketing strategy with ease, from the first welcome notification to complex multi-step programs across all channels. But, if a brand already has marketing automation up and running, what are some of the ways to make it more efficient and appealing to customers at every step of their lifecycle?

Let’s take a look at real-time marketing automation best practices and tips for making improvements along each step of the customer journey.

1. Welcome Programs

Customers want to be considered as more than just another way for a brand to earn a dollar. The best way many brands can start that relationship is to extend their customers a welcome or onboarding message upon registration.

Marketing automation programs can autonomously initiate a welcome message triggered by a customer action, such as registering for a newsletter or creating a user account for the brand. That message can include everything from a simple welcome email explaining what they can expect from the brand, to a discount offer that encourages them to begin shopping immediately.

Welcome messages can also allow brands to gain valuable information about their new customer. These messages can ask for additional shopping preferences and encourage the user to follow the brand’s social channels. Both of the above can give automation programs, and thus, the marketer operating it, the valuable insight necessary to build a customer profile and personalize subsequent messages.

2. Win-Back and Abandoned Cart Programs

Another area of real-time marketing automation to take advantage of is advanced lifecycle campaign automation, such as win-back and abandoned cart campaigns. A brand can have the most perfectly laid out, easily navigable storefront possible, and there will still be the occasional customer who will abandon the site with items still in their cart.

According to a study by Adobe, recovering just 1% of that customer base could increase revenue by 10%. Triggering automated marketing campaigns from abandoned shopping cart events is an effective way to win these visitors back and increase conversions. To be most effective, they must include timely and relevant messages that incorporate personalized product recommendations.

Using marketing automation to target inactive customers after a set amount of time can be a great way to win them back. These messages can include offers, new product selections, or upcoming specials, but sometimes just a simple statement that they are missed can get a customer re-engaged with the brand.

3. Multi-Channel Programs

Today’s shoppers are rarely exclusive to one channel, platform, or even device, but they usually have one they prefer. Determining that channel preference is critical for ROI optimization. By working with an automation partner, marketers can target customers both via their preferred method, and also through additional relevant channels.

This does not mean blasting the same message across all platforms. Marketers should create multi-channel programs to automatically follow up across channels, using a content strategy specific to the channel, as part of a fully coordinated strategy. This content can be anything: product recommendations, conditional content, smart segmentation, all will serve to help automate the personalization of content, regardless of channel, with maximum results and minimum effort.

4. Measurement and Analytics

All marketing campaigns, automated or not, should have associated measurable goals and metrics. When those campaigns are automated, marketers are able to quickly measure and optimize campaign decisions in real time.

Real-time web triggers allow marketers to immediately understand what is working and what they need to pivot on, encouraging continuous improvements and experimentation. Multi-branch testing helps to identify the best course of action, then marketers can make that switch, optimize, and move on to the next aspect for refinement. Marketers can, and should, build success metrics into the program, analyzing the performance easily without the need for external software.

Final Thoughts

Automation programs can collect huge amounts of data, allowing brands to better engage with their customers in real time. However, the program is only part of the solution. Marketers must know how to determine the best strategic course depending on the company’s larger business goals, and that is something the software cannot do.

Learn more about how to build effective marketing automation programs here.

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