By Sonia Slattery
Whether you realise it or not, if you’re a Marketer using digital platforms today, chances are you're using marketing automation in some shape or form.
Simple tasks like scheduling a website page in your CMS to be published on a future date; more complex tasks like creating sophisticated email nurture workflows or creating online chat functionality - all these channels use the power of marketing automation technology to publish content efficiently and intelligently.
However, if you’ve ever been a victim of automated messaging ‘spam’ you’ll know there’s a big difference between well crafted automated communications that are relevant and helpful, and content that is just simply annoying.
In this blog I look at three key channels where marketers often struggle to get automated content right: email, chat and social (and we’ve enlisted our pros at Engaging Partners to help you hit the mark!).
Email: Personalise and be relevant
It’s super important to be mindful that email is incredibly personal. People can easily ‘see through’ content that comes across as overly automated - at the end of the day, we all want to feel special, so if you’re using email to communicate with and nurture prospects and customers, it must feel personalised and relevant.
Good marketing automation platforms enable personalisation tokens to be added into emails (e.g. name, and other data variables pertinent to the person), but a great email feels like it has actually written by ‘a person’ especially for the person receiving the email. This is not easy to do….so here’s a few tips from our Engaging Partner's Content Manager, Kelsey:
- Always start with a deep understanding of the personas you are communicating with - what are their goals and pain points, and what has triggered them into engaging with your content in the first place? Then use these deep insights to share genuinely helpful content in your automated emails
- Avoid ‘marketing speak’ at all costs! Write as if you're having a conversation with the person, or literally sending the email to them yourself
- Be relevant - assuming you're using a marketing automation platform to drive your automated emails, then you have a wealth of data about your prospects and customers at your disposal. Use insights from this data to inform your email, for example… what do you know about the person’s previous actions and behaviours that you can reference to provide helpful tips?
- Another often overlooked, but simple thing to do is to make sure the email address you are sending automated emails is a human address and that the emails are signed off by that person. A 'real' email address will increase your open rate, and a human sign off adds a personal touch from your business.
Want more tips on how to get marketing automation working well for your business? Download our free guide to marketing automation.
Chat: Be authentic.
Think back to the days where you were caught in a customer service voicemail loop. That annoying, monotone voice that continually sent you into yet another call-waiting queue. Fast forward to 2019 and online chat has the potential to repeat the errors of the past. If you’re providing an online chat service, chances are, you’re considering automating parts of these conversations.
I asked Tom, a Senior Inbound Strategist for DBF to share his insights into successful ‘chats’ he’s created…
“In my experience, chat works way better if you’re up front and honest that it’s your ‘chatbot’ talking – don’t try and fake it being a human. People generally understand the nature of a chat communication when it's offered on a public platform. If a ‘bot’ is getting them to the information they’re looking for faster than having to poke around your website or wait for someone to reply to your (not) ’live’ chat, they’re happy!”
Social: Dig deep.
Although paid media is now necessary for businesses to reach their audiences in the main social media channels, there is still a really important role for organic social posts. Done well, organic posts build credibility, authority and trust in your brand. Crafting social posts for inbound marketing that hit the mark and that can be scheduled in advance is a real art, so we asked Kelsey what her formula for success is…
“Again, the key with social posts is to dig deep and really tap into minds of your personas – what’s going on in their lives? What will resonate with them? Also, be clear about what the goal of your post is – is it brand engagement, is it to get a click through or is it for lead generation? Word it in a way that encourages the desired action. For lead generation posts, I like to work to what I call the 'eating' principle - bite, snack, meal. Your social posts are the bite; your blog articles are the snack; and your premium content (eBooks, videos, tools etc) are the meal. So your job as a writer is to create those connections through your content to tempt your readers to join the dinner party with your brand!"
Final tips ….think ‘Omni-channel’.
These days your prospects and customers don’t interact with you solely in one channel – they jump around whatever channel is easiest for them at the moment in time they want to reach out. So you’ve got to ensure that your communications – automated or not – are consistent across all your marketing channels. How do you do this? Let’s ask Kelsey again:
- Personas, personas, personas - understand what makes them tick!
- Also plan out what each persona is thinking, feeling and researching at different stages in their buyer's journey - from being completely unaware of your products and services (but experiencing a problem you can help them with), through to evaluating options and making their final decision. Understand what stage your personas are at in their buyer's journey, what they research and what their go-to-channels are at each stage, will enable you to deliver the appropriate types of content on the right channels at the right time.
- TOV (tone of voice). Having a documented and agreed 'tone of voice' that guides your writers and team to communicate consistently across all channels is vital to successful omni-channel writing.
- Data – if you have a CRM like HubSpot underpinning your automated communications, this will enable you and your team to leverage all the data gathered about how your personas interact with your content to ensure you communicate with relevance and intelligence.
Marketing automation opens up a whole world of efficiencies for your business. But it’s important not to lose sight of the fact that we are still writing for humans who expect to receive communications that are highly personalised, relevant, empathetic and authentic. Spending time getting into the hearts and minds of the personas that represent your ideal prospects and customers is vital to prepare copy for marketing automation that hits the mark.
We’ve prepared a free guide to marketing automation packed with tips and advice on how to get marketing automation humming for your business. And don’t forget, if you haven’t yet developed personas for your business, you can download our free persona templates here. Good luck!