How to Create a Successful Marketing Automation Strategy

The best marketing automation results come as the product of a thoughtful marketing automation strategy that strives to achieve a brand’s benchmarks and objectives. In fact, Ascend2 data shows that for 64% of marketing professionals, creating a successful strategy is the top priority when it comes to marketing automation.

marketing automation strategy

So how do you go about building out a said strategy? There are three main steps to this process. Let’s look at each one in detail.

Steps to a Successful Marketing Automation Strategy

1. Consider the buyer’s journey

Because there are so many types of marketing automation, it can be tough to know where to begin. Some find it helpful to break down efforts into three main categories that answer the question: Where can automation help before, during, and after the sales process?

Each potential buyer will go through various stages of the buyer’s journey before committing to making a purchase, so you’ll want to consider where automation makes sense along the sales funnel to that ultimate conversion point.

Brainstorm with your team and map out some high-level ideas on how marketing automation:

  • Can help you educate and interest brand new leads
  • Can aid the decision-making process for potential customers
  • Can help engage, retain, and boost loyalty with existing customers

For example, this might look like a triggered workflow (sent with the help of automation) that educates or demonstrates a specific how-to could be helpful for leads who are mid-funnel and considering purchasing the product.

Another way marketing automation can work is through an automated workflow. This works through a series of triggered emails that automatically send when specific actions are taken along the customer journey (like signing up for a product demo, for example.)

2. Set goals

Once you have some preliminary ideas in place that will help shape your strategy, you’ll next want to consider how you’ll measure progress and gauge the success of your efforts.

It’s important to define objectives for different elements of the strategy and to establish some benchmarks, so you’re only investing in the most impactful forms of automation for your business. Keep in mind that these should be SMART goals: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound.

marketing automation goals setup

An example of a SMART goal for marketing automation might be something like this:

“Increase sales conversions via email marketing by 10% by the end of Q2 in 2019.”

In the beginning, you’ll have to estimate your benchmarks and then adjust accordingly once you have some data to work with that will help you better project what realistic goals are around your different marketing automation efforts.

Over time, your benchmarks and goals will likely change based on what you’re working to accomplish (and what’s achievable.) This is wise, as a strategy for marketing automation isn’t a “one and done” effort. Instead, it needs to evolve over time according to what works (and what doesn’t.)

3. Optimize, optimize, optimize

Once you have some data to work with, the next step is to leverage your findings and optimize your marketing automation efforts. Ascend2 research indicates that mapping the customer experience and the use of personalized/dynamic content were deemed the most effective tactics for optimizing marketing automation.


So how do you execute optimization around marketing automation?

a. Regularly assess the performance of your marketing automation tools.

It’s easy to get comfortable with a particular tool or software, but if your current marketing technology stack isn’t producing the results you’re looking for, you’ll need to make some changes. To ensure you’re always keeping a close eye on the performance of your marketing automation solutions, be sure to set intervals for regular evaluations and check-in at least monthly to study results.

For example: Have a set team meeting every third Thursday of the month to review key performance indicators around your marketing automation tools. As a team, make notes of what’s working and what’s not, and then adjust accordingly.

Regularly assess marketing automation tool


Does each individual marketing automation tool significantly influence sales and drive ROI?

How well are my marketing automation tools working together as a collective?

What are the pros and cons of using a particular software over another?

b. Beware of misleading metrics

As you dive into the numbers around the results of your marketing automation tools, beware of misleading metrics that may lead to false conclusions.

Known as vanity metrics, numbers such as social likes, followers, blog comments, and other seemingly positive statistics can lead to skewed marketing results. Rather than focusing on the number of likes on your latest tweet, tune into the numbers that relate to sales, such as email conversion rate, leads generated, and customer acquisition costs. This will help you maintain a big-picture view of what’s genuinely producing results with the help of marketing automation.

c. Gather customer feedback

It’s one thing to assess the number side of the marketing automation equation, but it’s another to go to your customers and ask for their direct input on what’s working and what’s not.

Use regular surveys and polls to give your audience a voice and to spot areas for optimization around your ongoing marketing efforts. With quick polls like a Net Promoter Score and more in-depth short and long answer survey questions, this rich customer feedback will help you better prioritize improvements.

Put Marketing Automation to Work Today

No one wants to waste their marketing budget on tools and efforts that don’t pay off. But with a strategy around marketing automation and ongoing optimization efforts, you can easily boost the ROI of your marketing and make more informed decisions that are rooted in hard numbers.

Now’s the time to take a hard look at your approach to marketing automation and maybe even poke some holes in your current approach. It might be time to try something new and add some more structure.

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