- Posted by Guest Post
- On October 16, 2014
- 4 Comments
- Lead Nuturing, mailchimp, marketing automation
Marketing automation is becoming harder to ignore as a staple in the B2B marketer’s toolbox, but a lot of small businesses still think it’s too expensive or simply don’t know where to start. The statistics surrounding the growth of marketing automation are overwhelming, with some studies suggesting the industry will grow by 50% by 2015 and there are already a ton of marketing automation platforms out there including, Marketo, Eloqua, Hubspot, and Pardot by Salesforce. But there are also some lesser known ways to leverage marketing automation for the small business who is operating on a tight budget.
At VA Partners, we wanted to test out a simple, cheap way to get started with marketing automation and lead nurturing. As usual, our end goal is to find new ways to generate leads and drive revenue for our clients. When we try something new we usually like to use our own company as the guinea pig first. Since we already use Mailchimp for e-newsletters and email marketing for both ourselves and our clients, we decided to try out their new automation capabilities. Automation unfortunately does not come with the free Mailchimp account, however depending on the number of your subscribers they offer very cost effective pricing plans (for example, less than 500 subscribers is only $10 a month).
Here are some simple steps to help utilize Mailchimp’s new Automation tool:
Step 1 – List
To start with marketing automation, you will need a list of prospects to send your first email to. For example, if you have downloadable content already created on your website, you can use the contact information provided by your readers for your automation campaign list within MailChimp. Under the new CASL rules, you have 6 months from the time they provided you with their contact information to follow up with them. Make sure you are always complying with CASL when contacting prospects via email. Once you’ve decided on your list, you can begin to construct your automation workflow within the tool.
Step 2 – Mailchimp Automation Workflow
Now that you have your list, you can begin to create your marketing automation workflow. The workflow is the path you want to take your prospects down while they are engaging with your campaign and content. A simple automation workflow could start with an email blast out to your list offering them some links to helpful blogs or articles as the call to action. The key with our first email is to provide the lead with valuable, timely content that can directly help them, and doesn’t focus on “selling” anything. MailChimp offers link tracking and automation based on links clicked, so if a recipient clicks through to one of your articles, it triggers an automated response for a set date that takes them to the next step of your workflow.
Depending on which link they clicked, you can then create an automated response that offers related content. For example if they are clicking through to sales and marketing blog posts, you can send them an email with an offer to download a helpful white paper on sales and marketing. If the prospect engages with this content, MailChimp automatically sends them to the next step of your workflow.
As a best practice, in any automation or lead nurturing campaign you want to take your prospect on an easy to follow path that focuses on first providing value to the prospect without asking for much in return. This is why we start with helpful blog posts and articles and if they engage with that content, move to downloadable content like white papers. The goal is to stay at the top of your reader’s mind and gradually move them from simply consuming content to being a qualified lead. Once they’ve engaged with a few pieces of content, you can then begin to work on converting them.
Step 3 – Conversion
MailChimp automation can greatly help with lead nurturing and qualifying, but you can use your automation workflow to help convert leads to customers as well. If the lead has clicked through and engaged with the previous emails in your workflow, you can then automate a response that offers a stickier call to action. In our test with the automation, the CTA was an offer for a free consultation with one of our team members to discuss how we could help their business. The ultimate goal of this final step is to convert the lead from being simply an engaged prospect, to a paying customer.
Step 4 – Measure Results
An always important part of the process is monitoring your results, and MailChimp offers simple tracking to understand how many people are moving through your workflow and the activity behind your campaigns. Using these results, we can continue to try new automation workflows with various different triggers and content to continually improve our conversion rates.
After our first test with MailChimp’s new automation offering, I was impressed by the simplicity of setting up the workflow. It was a very intuitive process and did not take a whole lot of man hours to set up. We are still monitoring the results from our first campaign, but the engagement and response to the automation looks very positive.
Have you tried any other automation platforms? I’d love to hear any feedback on your experience with marketing automation and what has worked/not worked for your business. Also, why not sign up for our monthly newsletter to receive more great content on sales and marketing for small businesses.