Increase Your Marketing Automation Conversions with Data

Marketing automation can be a great asset to small businesses. Rather than having to manually touch and build every single marketing tactic, you can sit back, relax, and enjoy the results come in.

That hypothetical, of course, is not always realistic. Far too often, marketers automate for the sake of convenience. Instead, they end up with campaigns that spit out irrelevant and even dissonant emails, social media posts, and other content.

Marketing automation can have immense benefits. But it's no magic bullet for limited resources. The missing link for too many small businesses: effective data.

Think about it. If you want to automate your marketing processes, you better make sure they fire off and touch your audience in a way that doesn't seem automated. Mass personalization is one step, but so is using your available data to improve your efforts.

Take that second step, and the success of your marketing automation efforts in generating conversions will skyrocket.

How Data Can Maximize Your Automation Relevance

Make no mistake: data should play a significant part in your marketing automation efforts. Anytime you relinquish control to automated processes, you have to make sure they don't simply result in generic messages that have little to do with your audience's actual needs and desires.

Marketing automation, at its best, is predictive. Rather than simply reacting to actions by potential customers (such as sending a thank you email to anyone who fills out a sign up form), it uses existing information about your audience to anticipate needs before they are even aware of it.

Oktopost offers a perfect example of marketing automation based on data:

Imagine a member of your target audience downloading your whitepaper and, two weeks later, following you on Twitter. The two actions are clearly related, and you want to treat that lead differently than one who hasn't yet taken that additional step.

But that relation is meaningless if you don't know about it. You need an effective data management and analytics process to find that connection. If your framework does the work for you, you can build marketing automation campaigns designed specifically around leads who have engaged with you on multiple channels.

The result, as you can imagine, is a more relevant marketing campaign. By finding and anticipating your audience's need, you can deliver better content and maximize your success as a result.

Finding the Right Data to Monitor and Adjust Your Efforts

Of course, the above scenario can only be possible if you know what data to analyze. It's tempting to collect as much information as possible--but if you don't know what to do without it, you may as well stop collecting it.

The key is focusing on metrics that actually predict conversions. Find the data that predicts online behavior, and helps you better understand your potential clients. Meanwhile, key performance indicators like conversion rate, cost per lead, and customer lifetime value are vital to improving your efforts over time.

Instead of adopting a data collection approach, try gathering only the data actually needed to improve your efforts. The perfect example of this more actionable philosophy comes understanding and improving the frequency and timing of your content.

Building a More Successful Content Flow

The internet is full of studies and statistics telling you when and how frequently to send content toward your audience. 

Looking to post on Facebook? Thursdays between 1pm and 4pm will get you the most reach. LinkedIn, on the other hand, works better Tuesday through Thursday. And if you want to send regular emails, you better make sure you don't bother your marketing contacts more than 4-5 times per month.

These types of best practices are, in theory, ideal for automation: if you pay attention to industry data on when and how frequently to post, you can set up an infrastructure that makes sure your content reaches your audience when they're actually paying attention.

But here's the kicker: general best practices like the above are only averages, and do not necessarily apply to your audience specifically. If you're looking to attract college students to your brand, you won't catch them with an email designed to nudge into a professional's work day.

In other words, data exponentially increases in use the more relevant it is to your industry and audience. The more you know about the exact people you're trying to reach, the better you can focus your automation efforts to appeal to that audience.

That means doing your research, and learning from other companies in your industry. But it also means collecting your own data, and learning lessons from collecting the plethora of information your marketing efforts gather on your behalf.

The Role of A/B Testing in Marketing Automation

Another situation in which data can improve your automation efforts occurs through A/B Testing. This marketing technique, also known as split testing, is surprisingly simple.

Change a single aspect of any piece of content, and show that content to randomly selected segments of your target audience. The variation that outperforms the other can now be used for future marketing efforts in the same channel.

For example, you may A/B test the headline of a blog post to see whether a question or numbered list will result in more clicks and conversions. Everything about the post, other than the headline, needs to be identical. Based on which version outperforms the other, you now have a better idea of whether questions or numbered lists work better for your audience.

A/B testing, at its core, follows a continuous improvement mechanism. Because you cannot test multiple aspects of your content at once, you have to follow a deliberate process that constantly and incrementally seeks to improve your efforts.

You can test any aspect of your marketing automation, from pieces of content to publishing and email send times, landing page forms, and more. Over time, you will execute marketing efforts specifically designed to help you convert visitors into leads and customers.

The Pitfalls of Getting Data Wrong

Understanding how often and when to post content is vital to delivering your content effectively. A/B testing can have immense benefits for improving the quality of that content. Compare both uses of data with the downfalls of not paying attention to the data trail your audience and marketing efforts leave behind. 

Not paying attention to your marketing data, or relying on inaccurate data, is a serious problem for small businesses across industries. Consider:

  • 55% of consumers report seeing businesses use inaccurate or irrelevant data in their marketing efforts in the past 12 months.
  • 47% of consumers are annoyed when businesses get their personal information wrong, and 35% state it actually reduces their faith in the business.
  • Meanwhile, 85% of businesses rely on data that is between 10% and 40% inaccurate.

Maybe the reason so many small businesses shy away from big data is the fact they know or suspect the potential downfalls of bad data, and don't see themselves as having the capabilities of improving their own collection and analytics efforts.

In reality, though, these data issues can be overcome. In fact, if you get it right, marketing automation can have a significant impact in your efforts to convert leads and customers.

Using Data to Turn Your Marketing Automation into Conversions

Put simply, the beauty of marketing automation lies in its name. If you can effectively automate your efforts, you can engage in single and multi-channel marketing initiatives that go far beyond your usual capabilities as a small business.

As a result, you can provide more relevant messages, thanks to data that allows you to adjust seamlessly to your audience's personal profile and latent needs. And you can do it all in the background, without having to lift a finger.

What you need, though, is an automation approach that relies on relevant, focused, and accurate data. 

Get to that point, and the possibilities are almost endless. The rise of predictive analytics, for example, can help you automate messages and content delivery even before your audience knows they'll need them, anticipating needs instead of pushing content for problems that have already been solved by the time you publish.

Conversions, ultimately, rely on relevance. If you can get your audience to buy into the fact that what they get in exchange for their money or contact information has significant value, your conversion rates will rise significantly. 

Placing an emphasis on data can help you get to that point. If your goal is to build a marketing strategy that maximizes your resources without the need for a marketing team that rivals a fortune 500 company, data-focused marketing automation may just be the key to success.