In 2019, the top performing content marketing teams will have expert knowledge in marketing technology. That’s not a bold prediction – it’s the results of CMI’s latest benchmark report surveying the content marketing industry.
But it’s important to also note that those top performing marketers aren’t using technology to simply put their marketing on autopilot. Rather, they use technology to glean better insight into their content performance and audience interactions.
In other words, they’re using technology to become smarter marketers themselves, rather than replace human effort and insight. That’s one of the biggest differences between those who succeed with marketing automation, and those who either don’t use it or don’t succeed with it.
According to CMI’s report, shrewd use of marketing automation is one of the biggest differences between the most and least successful marketers. Some thought leaders are even going so far as to argue that there’s no such beast as a “non-technical marketer.”
Which side of that stat do you want your marketing strategy to fall on?
2019 Marketing Automation Trends
If you want to use marketing automation to help your business succeed in 2019, your approach to automation will predetermine much of your success. To start out strong, consider bringing the following marketing automation trends into your strategy for the year ahead:
1. Audience Segmentation Across Marketing Channels
Even among those marketers who use more advanced technology and have fully adopted automation, regular and consistent segmentation is rare to find in a marketing automation plan. Marketers might segment key emails like promotional blasts, but it’s not as present in their everyday marketing strategy.
However, this is a mistake, one that’s easy to fix for a big payoff.
MailChimp has found that across segmented campaigns by their customers, segmentation can result in 14.31% higher open rates and 100.95% higher click-through rates.
Adding customer segmentation to your marketing is a smart trend to start with, because you don’t necessarily need to create whole new marketing campaigns from scratch. You can get started easily by creating multiple, personalized versions of an existing campaign’s copy and design. This makes it more personal and impactful for the audience members you had always planned on sending it to.
Once you’ve started segmenting email marketing, you can also extend personalization technology to your website and other marketing channels for a unified, customized experience.
2. Paid Promotion of Evergreen Lead Magnets
With paid marketing getting more expensive, and prospect’s attention harder to grab, social advertising and webinars have become a powerhouse pairing to try for your own campaigns.
On the Facebook side, you have costs per click continuing to rise as the platform becomes more competitive. In Q1 of 2018, for example, average CPC increased 92% year-over-year according to AdStage. However, the need for paid social is becoming stronger at the same time.
Webinars, meanwhile, have become a popular lead gen format that usually have limited potential for ongoing value. A marketer will spend days preparing effective slides and content, only to let it go stale as soon as the live webinar is over. Mitigate the downsides of both strategies by using a conversion-focused webinar marketing tool to create evergreen webinar-powered funnels promoted with Facebook ads.
With the ClickMeeting platform, for example, you can easily turn timely webinars into evergreen, on-demand lead magnets embedded on your website. With this rich multimedia landing page in place, you can drive traffic to it with Facebook interest targeting ads and track ROI by integrating your CRM with ClickMeeting’s registration collection. Then you can promote your webinar to lookalike audiences to generate new leads, as well as retarget your most engaged webinar attendees with offers to move them further into your sales funnel.
Going into 2019, content consumers are demanding high quality, in depth content more than ever. By offering hour-long evergreen webinars in your ad campaigns, instead of a single-page cheat sheet or short blog post, you’re more likely to get the traction you need from your ad spend.
3. In-depth Influencer Collaborations
If you haven’t noticed, the tides of influencer marketing are changing, causing some rough waves. As marketing expert Rand Fishkin noted recently, influencer marketing has become very narrowly defined.
Unfortunately, influencer marketing is all too often interpreted as a sponsored social post from an influencer that essentially serves as an ad in their followers’ feeds. When influencer marketing was originally heralded as an alternative to impersonal ads, moving those impersonal ads into social feeds doesn’t help your brand’s perception with prospective customers.
Instead of simply using influencers’ social profiles as your ad platforms, look for creative ways to work with them in 2019. Collaborations will have more of an impact than one-off sponsored posts.
Go to the effort of developing real, tight-knit relationships with a few influencers in your industry and fully bringing them into your marketing campaigns and automation strategy. Work on creating a circle of partners you can create in-depth collaborations with to generate leads for a specific automated nurture funnel, instead of clamoring for as wide reach as possible with one-off posts.
4. Marketing, Sales and Success Alignment
In addition to using automation to evolve your influencer marketing, you can use it to break down silos around your marketing team and other departments in your organization. Automation software makes it easy to align your strategy with both success and sales.
After years of trying to get marketing and sales teams to play nice, it’s becoming more common for businesses to have them work together. Now it’s time to bring customer success teams into the loop as well. Given that marketing and sales are on the front lines of the brand, developing both the voice and customer relationships, they’re powerful allies for customer success.
For example, take customer engagement campaigns. They’re a perfect project for marketing automation specialists to team up with customer success specialists for.
Marketers can bring their expertise of automation and using technology to engage users, and success specialists can bring their expert knowledge of your customers and their behavior. Together, you can use a tool like RightInbox to develop customer engagement sequences with automated follow-up emails. You can even easily use URL tracking to manually A/B test multiple automated email templates for the most impactful one.
5. Smarter Integration of Chatbots
Finally, 2019 will be a great time to rethink your current standpoint on chatbot marketing. Most marketers currently hold one of two main opinions on chatbots: you’ve likely either written off chatbots as a fad, or think they’re the future of marketing and will replace email, social, and every other platform.
But realistically, the future of chatbots lies somewhere in between.
Messenger bots, Slackbots, and other chat automation solutions have been the marketing industry’s favorite shiny object for several years now. Now that the shine is starting to wear off, marketers who have experimented with them thoroughly are starting to find their true purpose: not as a replacement for other marketing channels, but as a way to supplement them.
For example, Drift’s 2018 Chatbot Report found that the most frequently cited chatbot benefit by consumers was extended service hours, and that they’d like to use them as a way to connect to humans.
Based on what consumers want from chatbots, they’re not meant to replace your email marketing strategy or customer service platform. But they can improve the effectiveness of each. For example, when running webinar lead gen campaigns through email, you can use a chatbot to remind attendees that the webinar is about to start. You’re still generating email leads, but using chat to increase engagement and how many attendees show up live.
With marketing automation being one of the key differentiators of high performing marketers in 2019, it’s easy to think that simply signing up for a drip email tool will increase your ROI. But jumping into marketing automation is a large and expensive undertaking. Don’t do so without clear and strategic ideas, like those given above, to use automation for marketing success.