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Marketing Automation 101: Q&A with Jasmine Cabanaw

Digital marketing maven, Colibri COO, and award-winning writer Jasmine Cabanaw has worked for media groups, magazines, and newspapers, gaining substantial experience in digital marketing. Her educational background in history, international development, and communications provides her with robust research and analytical skills, while her passion for social justice provides her with an integrity that is reflected in her digital marketing practices. Jasmine also runs a charity project called Green Bamboo Publishing, which produces children's books based on rescue animals and donates the proceeds to animal and children's charities.

SMPS: Tell me little about your background. How did you become interested in the field of marketing automation?

Digital marketing in general came first, and then as that evolved, we saw a strong need with clients for marketing automation. I used to work at a media group with six magazines, putting together lead capture campaigns and nurture workflows. Their database was 100,000 so you HAD to automate. There was no way you could respond individually. You still need to make it personal, though. Marketing automation is the fine art of making people feel like they’re getting a personalized email even if they’re one of 100,000 people.

I also just really enjoy the process! I think it’s really creative. I enjoy writing the content, choosing images for the emails, building a landing page for lead capture, creating the strategy and all the creative elements for that. It’s almost like writing a book.

What do we mean by “marketing automation”?

This term refers to the automation of various parts of your digital marketing. Instead of having a person make separate posts to all social media platforms or reply personally to each and every email, marketing automation software takes care of these tasks for you. Simply add the content and schedule. This way, you only need to add content once, and the automation software will deliver the content as needed, based on the criteria you establish.

How can small and midsized firms benefit from marketing automation?

Something that’s not talked about very much is finding the right-sized automation program for your company. Many firms make the mistake of buying into an automation software that’s not the right fit. We’ve had clients who are small businesses buy platforms designed for giant companies. The client then gets caught up in trying to understand how to use the product.

"Marketing automation is the fine art of making people feel like they’re getting a personalized email even if they’re one of 100,000 people."

When we say marketing automation people think email. But there are also social media schedulers, RSS feeds for blog posts, things like that. Sometimes it’s good to automate and sometimes it’s not, so it’s about picking areas you want to automate and finding out what automation is right for you.

MailChimp has a lot of it built-in features, for example. You can build landing pages through MailChimp and run Facebook ads. If you want similar features that a bigger platform like Hubspot offers but you don’t have the bandwidth or budget for it, MailChimp is a good option. If you have someone who could manage a program like Hubspot or Infusionsoft, robust marketing automation software does offer great benefits for inbound marketing.

What kinds of analytics should A/E/C marketers be tracking?

Everything. More important is HOW you track your analytics. You want to set benchmarks and goals for yourself, and you want to test them against different strategies. Split test different subject lines, for example, so you can build upon and improve your open rate.

Analytics can give you lots of insights on who your audience is so you can refine your audience down to the people who will really convert. Ultimately you want conversions. It can take time to build up to that, so in the meantime you want to track your open rate, your website traffic, etc, and you want to see how they all relate to one another.

Can you give me an example of a goal or benchmark?

Let’s say you want to grow your email database but you also want conversions. You decide you’re going to run a contest. Your benchmark would be number of leads added to your database. You run your contest and see if you achieved that. From that benchmark you have a baseline: say you got 200 leads; of those 200, how many converted? So then you know how many leads you need to get a certain percentage of conversions. This is when high school math becomes important!

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