Start Your Marketing Automation Journey

June 28, 2023

So you want to start working on marketing automations and workflows? Maybe you’ve heard other organizations talk about what they’ve been able to do, or you have access to new automation features, and you’re wondering how to get started and where to prioritize. As someone who has helped many organizations to start planning and implementing automation-style work in their platforms, we’ve got a few tips to get you thinking about where to start. 

What is Marketing Automation?  

Marketing automations, also known as workflows, are processes managed by technology and based on logic setup within the platform. Some of the most commonly used marketing automation tools include platforms such as Hubspot, ActiveCampaign, and Salesforce Pardot. In the arts world you might be familiar with marketing automation tools like Workato, Prospect 2, and Marketing Cloud or email platforms that are increasingly adding automations such as MailChimp and Wordfly.

Automations can span across different channels—email is usually the most popular, as it’s easy to send immediate customized messages via email, but text, social, and web messaging are often part of automation platforms as well. For example, a marketing automation might start with a form on your website to request large print programs, then send a text to the patron to confirm, an email to staff to have the program ready, and make a record of the request. With the right setup, automations can be even more powerful—sending out marketing messages based on patron activity, patron history, and internally-set triggers. 

Start with sharing the capabilities of the automation platform with your team. 

First, we always recommend starting by introducing your wider team to the capabilities of your platform. Oftentimes, people view automations as being outside of their sphere of interest because they may not understand the flexibility inherent in automation work. It’s not just a marketing toolany team that communicates with patrons electronically can find use cases for an automation platform, but the best way to get those creative juices flowing is to start showing off examples of automations and explaining how they work in theory. Often, once people understand the building blocks of an automation platform, they’re able to start asking themselves what processes could benefit from this type of work. 

Then, focus on building marketing automations that will save your team the most time.  

Once you’ve got people invested, the next question is prioritization. If staff at your organization are excited about using automations, you may find yourself with a very long list of processes to convert into automations and data to setup in your ecosystem. At this point, our recommendation for prioritization is almost always the samefocus on building the automations that will save your team the most time. The work of creating a system of automations will always be time intensive and people often want to jump to the splashiest automations, but the best way to ensure you have the staff resources to think through, plan out, and implement those splashy automations is by starting with the time-saving ones.  

Alleviate automation fears by adding a new automated process—rather than switching over an old one. 

Our last bit of advice is around managing project partners who might be anxious about switching set processes into automations. This kind of change is often scary for people to jump into because they’re focused on what they might be losing (e.g., humans looking over lists)after all, if they’ve never worked with automations, they won’t know what they’re gaining (e.g. more focused segmenting that would take a human too long to pull and send). In these cases, we recommend starting by adding a new process, rather than switching over an old one. This way, your project partners can see the benefits of automations and better understand the safeguards and strategies for themwithout worrying that they’re going to lose a potentially important process that they worry might be jeopardized. As people grow more comfortable with both the benefits and limits of automations, you’ll be able to bring some of those more prized processes into the automation ecosystem where it makes sense. 

We’re here to help you build marketing automations 

We hope this is helpful as you think about starting your own automation journey. If you’d like to chat about your automation and workflow hopes, plans, and issues, please feel free to reach out to schedule a conversation! We’re always delighted to help people create and operate more efficiently.  

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