Are you getting the most from your marketing automation investment?

This is the third article in a series on how marketing automation can help you business grow and thrive. Guest author is Jill Schmieg, founder and chief strategist at Sol de Naples Marketing, a marketing services firm specializing in helping B2B companies find brighter ways to reach their markets. Learn more at

With more than half of B2B marketers using some form of marketing automation, it is astonishing that 85% of them feel they’re not using it to its fullest potential.  (Source: EmailMonday and SiriusDecisions)

Over the course of 2 sessions totaling more than 20 marketers in transportation and logistics at last June’s TMSA Conference, four key themes about marketing automation emerged. They were voiced as:

  1. I’m a single person managing both sales and marketing.  How can marketing automation help me? (I answered this question in a previous post. Read it here.)
  2. I’m struggling with what to prioritize:  my website vs. marketing automation? (I answered this question in a previous post. Read it here.)
  3. I have marketing automation, but I’m pretty sure I’m not using it in the best ways I should be.
  4. My company wants to send tons of outbound email to promote just about everything we want to say, but our open rates and other metrics are really bad with this approach.

Since observations #3 and 4 really go hand-in-hand, we’ll address them in today’s post.

First, let’s tackle “I have marketing automation, but I’m pretty sure I’m not using it the best ways I should be.”

You are not alone! In fact, a January 2017 research study by GetResponse featured by indicates that while 65.5% of marketers are using email automation, only 14.4% are using advanced segmentation and a mere 11.8% are using lead scoring. (read full report here

If you’re like the 65.5% of marketers using email automation, you’ve probably mastered the science of outbound email. That said, you are probably struggling to raise your open rates and click-through rates with a pure, outbound strategy. Here’s where we recommend you turn next: 

  • Ensure your emails are responsive. With SPAM and other server filters at an all-time high, it’s tough to even know if your message is being delivered.  To combat this, we recommend taking a slightly different approach by sending email only in response to a person’s actions.  An action could be a white paper download from your website, a comment on a social media post, or attending one of your company’s webinars. If someone has taken any of these actions, they have shown you what is relevant to them, so respond with a follow-up “we thought you might also be interested in….” email with additional content on a similar topic.

  • Use automation to nurture your database by ‘dripping’ relevant messages over time. Combine this approach with the responsive emails outlined above, to create an ongoing, meaningful way to engage someone. To illustrate the point, consider this scenario:
    • A group of customers and prospects attend your company’s webinar called “Top Tips for Saving Money in Transportation.”
    • In response to their attendance, they receive an email with the message: “Thank you for attending our webinar, we thought you might also be interested in this infographic about ways to save money in transportation.”
      • If they download the infographic, they get another email that says “thanks for downloading our infographic. Interested in learning how our client, ABC company, is saving big in transportation? Download their case study now.
      • If they don’t download the infographic, they begin a series of 5 bi-weekly “transportation cost savings” emails pre-programmed using the “Drip” email campaign functionality in your marketing automation tool.
      • At Sol, we’ve seen this type of responsive and ‘drip’ approach produce 3-6x increases in open and click-through rates
  • Identify Channel preferences for contacts in your database. Use the data, reports and dashboards in your marketing automation tool to see which people are engaging with you via email, or other channels, such as social. Create a more meaningful, tailored customer experience by honoring channel preferences. To be overly literal about it, stop emailing people who haven’t opened the last 10 emails they received from your company!

Beyond email, here are a few additional questions to ask yourself in order to get the most out of marketing automation:

-       Have you integrated marketing automation hosted forms with your company’s website? 
-       Do your banner ads or other online advertisements link to landing pages/forms hosted by your marketing automation tool?
-       Have you implemented lead scoring and/or grading? 
-       Are your salespeople calling on high-scoring leads as a priority in their outreach efforts?

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