Creating a customer experience that makes your customers fall in love with your brand is what we all want. Yet it’s the hardest part of all. Your customers are empowered with innumerable resources to read, know, and compare you with other prospective brands. That’s why you need to turn your focus on things that can’t happen without your intervention. To create a successful conversion funnel, it’s important to know when it’s best to leave the repetitive and complicated tasks to your marketing automation tool and turn your attention to other aspects of your business.
However, you need a marketing automation tool if you want to truly scale up your business. A marketing automation tool comes with features that aid you in generating organic traffic, nurturing and tracking their behavior, and triggering personalized conversions.
It’s a tool that can effectively bridge the gap between your sales and marketing teams, as well as improve team productivity. A marketing automation tool that places the customer at its core is an ideal fit for you, and any other business.
Having said that, not all tools have all the necessary features. And neither do they come with the same set of integration options. This may create some confusion when it comes to choosing the ideal automation tool.
Luckily, we’e here to help. Some tools have CRMs as add-ons, some have social plugins as an add-on, and some may come with native integrations of both. But there are some features that are mandatory in your marketing automation tool. Let’s take a look at them.
Top 7 Features Your Ideal Marketing Automation Tool Should Have
Many believe in the notion that marketing automation is mostly about email campaigns. While email automation is a part of marketing automation campaigns, they’re not the same thing.
Marketing automation encompasses everything before and after an email automation campaign. It should help you follow up your inbound marketing strategy. Again, if you’re confused and think that inbound marketing and marketing automation are the same things, then read on.
Inbound marketing strategy is the concept of attracting potential buyers using various lead magnets. A marketing automation tool helps in building these lead magnets, tracking visitor information, nurturing them and converting them into leads, aligning these leads, and converting them into sales-qualified leads.
After all this, the sales team takes over and does their best to trigger conversions.
Now that the confusion is cleared up, let’s take a look at the top seven features your marketing automation tool must have.
1. Bi-Directional Integration With CRM
Marketing automation without a CRM is more like fish without water. Marketing automation campaigns help you in capturing customer information throughout the customer lifecycle.
The purpose of CRM, among others, is to collect personal data, demographic information, firmographic details, and it also includes multiple digital touch points across various marketing channels — all of which help you to identify if the lead is moving toward the end of the funnel.
A CRM should work in parallel here. All information, behavioral traits, conversation history — everything is stored and organized inside a CRM. Hence, marketing automation requires not just integration, but bi-directional integration with a CRM. A bi-directional integration ensures that information is automatically updated on both tools simultaneously, based on any activity identified inside the marketing automation tool and/or inside the CRM.
Make sure your marketing automation tool has bi-directional integration with the CRM that you are already using. Even if you don’t see your CRM listed there, they must provide a smooth integration of all data from your CRM to the tool’s in-built CRM.
2. Ready-to-Use Automation Workflows
Now that your contacts and their tracking metrics are all in place, the next thing you should look for is ready-to-use automation workflows. Automation workflows are more like templates that are pre-designed for immediate use. These templates are usually customizable and are built keeping in mind some common scenarios that every business faces.
For instance, your eCommerce business will require an automation template for cart abandonment at one point. Or, let’s say you want to host a webinar. There will be some participants who will not register in the first email itself. Below is an example of this workflow template.
Ready-to-use templates save time.
3. Anonymous Visitor Nurturing
Your marketing automation tool has CRM integration and also ready-to-use workflows. We’ve checked two things off your list. But what if your visitors don’t convert into leads at all? Neither your CRM nor the workflows can do anything.
Anonymous visitor nurturing helps you in targeting your visitors and converting them into potential leads. This feature is essential because not all visitors convert to leads the moment they visit your website or landing page.
In fact, 90% of your first-time visitors aren’t even thinking of becoming your leads. But they definitely found you either through Google search or in some blog, or maybe someone just told them about you. Whatever it is, they came to you for a reason. They’re looking for something. So, if you let them go, you’re probably missing out on potential leads.
Your marketing automation tool should enable you to use browser fingerprint technology, along with chatbots, to track your anonymous visitors. Based on their source and behavior, re-targeting ads can be shown to convert them into leads. You can aim at collecting only the basic information in the first attempt, like name and email address.
4. Advanced Lead Management Features
Once your anonymous visitors convert into leads, they enter into your marketing funnel. Most brands, if you notice, don’t attempt to use long forms on the first go — although the more lead information you have, the better it is for your nurturing campaigns.
Long forms intimidate your visitors. Adding social sign-up and using short forms are not just time-saving but also triggers higher conversion.
Your marketing automation tool needs to have advanced lead management features — of which CRM integration is one part we’ve already talked about. Lead management features also include 360-degree lead profiling, progressive profiling, explicit and implicit lead scoring, lead point tags, behavior tracking, heatmaps, and secure data storage.
If your marketing automation tool doesn’t have one of these, it’s worth moving on to other options. All these lead management features help in activating your leads from one buying stage to another gradually. It aims at triggering conversion of leads that exhibit genuine interest in making a purchase from your brand.
5. Multichannel and Omnichannel Marketing Scope
Your leads aren’t restricted to just one platform. Also, many leads may prefer to communicate over Messenger rather than emails. Make sure your marketing automation tool has multichannel marketing scope, as well as helps you in building an omnichannel marketing experience.
Multichannel and omnichannel marketing aren’t the same but interconnect with each other heavily. Multichannel is about connecting with your customers across multiple marketing channels like emails, landing pages, social media, web, mobile, push notifications, and videos.
Omnichannel marketing keeps the customer in the center and builds a consistent marketing experience across all platforms and devices for that customer.
6. Social Media Marketing Features
Social media marketing is an important part of a marketing automation strategy. Although it’s an independent marketing practice, social media marketing shows best results when combined with other lead nurturing activities. You’ll need a social media management tool like eClincher that can help you with customer service, post scheduling, and automation, all at the same time.
You can also use time-saving features like auto-queues, social inbox, social listening, influencer outreach, and many more. When you align your social media marketing with your email automation campaigns, your automation campaigns trigger higher conversion rates.
7. Onboarding Support
Lastly, we have the onboarding support. Once you’re sure about the tool you want to adopt, check if they offer onboarding support. Most marketing automation tools include onboarding support within their pricing tiers. However, there are many that charge you extra for onboarding training.
This is an important feature because onboarding training gives you real-time help in accessing and setting up all the technicalities inside your automation tool. To kickstart your automation campaigns, you need several configurations set up.
While most tools have help documents and ideally don’t require a technical team’s help, onboarding training gives a detailed insight for using the product and detailed explanation of features inside the product.
These are a few important features without which your marketing automation tool will not give you any results. A marketing automation tool works to acquire, nurture, and convert leads into loyal customers, and also help in retaining existing customers through personalized marketing.
Does your marketing automation tool have these features? What other features do you think are important or necessary inside an automation tool? Let us know in the comments section below.
Author: Ankit Prakash is a technology entrepreneur at Aritic – Full Stack Marketing Automation software platform for digital businesses with Sales CRM, Transactional Mail, and Desk. Ankit also spends a majority of his time reviewing various marketing tools and platforms on his marketing blog – Sprout24. He has successfully contributed to platforms like Smart Insights, Jeff Bullas, LeadsBridge, Scoop.it, and G2 Crowd. Follow Ankit on Twitter at @ankitpr89.