The single largest change you can make as search, digital, and broader marketing experts is to identify and act on digital marketing activities that need to be automated. By automating repeat, process driven actions and freeing up your (human) specialists to focus on the actions demanding creativity, ingenuity, expertise, experience and data supported insight, not only will your service provider be happier, more engaged and productive, but your results will improve. The purpose of this post is to show you practical ways to automate the repetitive and the mundane, freeing up marketing experts to deliver and act on their insight more frequently and to greater effect. Whilst I will cover a top-level focus on generic marketing automation, my goal is to highlight how digital marketing specifically can be supercharged when you begin to work with and embrace automation.
What is Marketing Automation?
There are many ways to define marketing automation, however, I like to define it as:
Marketing automation is the use of computers (machines and software) to automate process driven, repeated and mundane tasks. The goal of marketing automation is the freeing up of human expertise with the removal of activities better suited to automation, plus the enhancement of expert driven insight through automated working.
From my experience marketing automation is more than just taking away actions that are better suited and quicker (plus always more accurate when repeated) by machines, but also the added value that automation can bring to marketing insights, often through increased scale and completeness of approach. It is this ‘increased scale’ and completeness of approach which I place more emphasis on in this article. While there are many ways to make your search campaigns more effective, my focus, in this case, is to demonstrate the impact that automation can have.
Understanding Search Marketing with Automation
To clarify, the value improvement from search marketing automation is boosting the performance from two core focus areas:
- Having the right ‘resource’ doing the right actions (machines = repetitive, process driven, volume-based actions, Humans = creative, experience led, data-fueled, unique actions)
- Creating an effective working environment between human and machines (human-computer collaboration) to derive an end result that is greater than either in isolation
A tell-tell sign that you have struck the right balance in your marketing automation is that your specialists will start referring to the automation system(s) more as people and less as tools. For example ‘working with <<xyz system>> we acted on this’ rather than ‘using <<xyz system>> I did this’. Traditional marketing automation can include automating:
- email replies and workflows from digital marketing materials
- omni-channel marketing campaigns based on reply types
- educating customers through pre-planned series of process-driven communications
- post-sales marketing upsell and repeat purchase programmes
- content remarketing tied to scheduled user actions
Supercharged Marketing Automation Should Give You:
- new marketing insight by recombining data sets and effectively working with deeper data (via human/computer collaboration)
- broader and more comprehensive marketing campaigns
- more frequent insights and information to act on
- increased proactivity
- extra resource capability
Examples of Supercharged Search Marketing with Automation
Here are three of my favourite examples of applying automation to boost search marketing campaigns. All of these are based on working with Apollo Insights, the machine learning platform that the company I work for (Vertical Leap) developed.
#1 – Automated Advice to Plan and Project Manage Marketing Campaigns
Marketing teams are often too busy implementing actions leading to changing threats and opportunities getting overlooked. Once you invest time to take a step back to strategically consider how to create a process (and continually revisit and refine the process to ensure futurity) to help identify and prioritise actions based on every new data set, your marketing team begin to be fed with updates, opportunities and insight to take action on. This added layer of awareness and ever-changing insight keeps marketers on top of the game and reacting to identified priorities faster.
#2 – Increased Depth and Completeness of Approach
The human factor often restricts the scale and comprehensiveness of approach delivered. This is not because experts delivering digital marketing campaigns are lazy, it is due to the fact that humans have their limits. Automated actions scale up; the volume of data that can be processed and digested, the ability to complete hundreds of tasks simultaneously, the awareness of whats changing in your industry, and so much more. Some of the types of automated actions that fall into the scale and completeness of approach include:
- re-combining disperse data sets for intended data-driven insights
- processing massive volumes of data unfeasible in any other way
- auditing website technical needs
- identifying patterns in data for content creation
- flagging data changes tied to changing threats and opportunities
- showcasing data outliers and anomalies
- awareness of trends and forecasting of potential problems and repeat opportunities
#3 (My Favourite) Intelligent Algorithms and Predictive Analysis
Whether there are new things going on within industry trends, new product or service areas appearing on competitor websites, or keyword discovery opportunities to factor into campaign focus, I want to know about it. And the best way to be up to date and on top of changing opportunity is to incorporate machine capability. Machine learning, intelligent algorithms and general processing power can become campaign foundations which build campaigns when combined with the right approach and the specialist expertise needed to understand and act on objective areas and change opportunity.
If you are looking to steer your digital marketing into more effective areas over the months to follow you need to start factoring in human-computer collaborative working, and more specifically automation. By freeing up your experts to focus on what they do best, they can deliver more comprehensive digital marketing projects, work at greater scale, and act on new threats and opportunities faster, as well as with higher success rates.