Marketing automation is a core capability of Sitecore and one of the platform’s recognized areas of strength. Along with other elements such as personalization, it’s one of the main reasons digital marketing teams choose to work with Sitecore rather than other digital experience platforms. Want to achieve full ROI from Sitecore? Then you need to be using marketing automation.
Despite the sophistication of Sitecore’s marketing automation tools some teams never actually end up fully leveraging this functionality. The reasons for this are numerous – it can be down to resourcing, or a lack of integration between marketing platforms already in use (CRM, email marketing platform etc.) and Sitecore. It can also be about a lack of knowledge; some teams perceive that setting up marketing automation or building any necessary integrations is a much larger effort than it really is. They also don’t realize that they can work at their own pace; Sitecore is great at suiting both the needs of highly sophisticated and complex marketing automation, and something relatively simple for those just starting out.
What is marketing automation and why is it so powerful?
Marketing automation can be considered the automation of key tasks and workflows to deliver targeted campaigns, experiences and communications. Usually the specific automated action is based on different rules.
When done well, marketing automation:
• helps small marketing teams to carry out tasks that they just don’t have the resources to complete, as well as allowing larger teams to focus on more value-added activity
• supports the delivery of sophisticated marketing and effective campaigns, for example connecting your contacts to campaigns in ways that would be very difficult to manage manually
• helps you to respond to customers interactions in a timely manner, again in ways that would be difficult to manage manually, particularly in a multi-channel environment
• helps you to develop smarter and more intelligent ways to respond to customers that remain consistent
In a nutshell, Sitecore’s marketing automation gives your team considerably more marketing “muscle” by freeing up time and helping you achieve things quicker in smarter ways that would be impossible done manually.
How does marketing automation work in Sitecore?
At the center of marketing automation in Sitecore is the idea of “automation campaigns”. These are sets of actions and activities based on certain rules and conditions; for example, the sending out of a confirmation email if somebody fills out a form on your website.
At the micro-level, Sitecore delivers automation in three ways:
- Enrolling a particular contact in an automation campaign at a particular time
- Evaluating the contact based on defined rules (for example if they should enroll in the campaign or not)
- Performing market actions (for example tasks and workflow) for that contact within the campaign
While this sounds basic, when you start to create many campaigns with multiple rules and actions, the impact can be very sophisticated.
Sitecore’s intuitive design and impressive detail also both help teams get the most out of marketing automation. The easy drag and drop interface certainly makes it easier to pick up for beginners, for example.
As with other Sitecore capabilities, you’re also in control. You can easily evaluate and remove contacts, or adjust the rules of the automation campaign, and add new actions.
How do we get started?
When you start to think about marketing automation you’ll need to have an idea about what you want to achieve. There may also be some dependencies including integrations with systems like your CRM, whether you have access to the data you need, and also where you have permission from customers to stay on the right side of GDPR. If you’re not sure about this, consider getting an external party to come in and help you talk through your options.
Once you have a higher level strategy in place, it’s time to actually get started. In our recent post about getting started with Sitecore personalization, we proposed a six step methodology that focuses on starting small and working iteratively to build up knowledge, confidence and learning, so that personalization becomes an everyday part of the way you work with Sitecore. You can use these six steps to get started with automation too:
- Make the commitment: Commit some time to extend use of Sitecore
- Make a plan: Work out the broad steps you need to take and shut off time over the next six months so it actually makes it happen
- Get the knowledge and confidence behind you: Understand the possibilities and what you need to do
- Identify the obvious use cases that have value: Identify the “low hanging fruit” that will be easier to implement and will have stakeholder buy-in
- Implement your first steps: Put your learning into action
- Review, improve, repeat: Review what you have done, make improvements, and then regularly repeat the process.
Let automation take your marketing efforts to the next level
Whether you’re a small marketing team or a larger function, automation will help you to deliver better marketing efforts. If you’re not using marketing automation and its one of the reasons you chose Sitecore in the first place (or even if it wasn’t) then it’s time to get automation operational. Again start small, learn from what works and then become a little more ambitious over time. If you’d like to discuss Sitecore marketing automation and what it can do for you, then get in touch!