Automating Workflows for Digital Marketers

The economy is still reeling from the effects of Covid-19. 73% of employers report difficulty hiring talent in 2022. These days, the average top talent spends just 10 days searching for a new position.

Whether or not talent is scarce at your organization, automation can be a saving grace. Not every marketing task needs manual attention. The many digital marketing automation tools, shortcuts, and resources on the market reduce the risk of human error and free up time for more complex tasks. This inevitably leads to better business outcomes. 

According to Marketo, “marketing automation [is] streamlining, automating, and measuring marketing tasks and workflows, to increase operational efficiency and grow revenue faster.”

Data shows 75% of brands see ROI in less than 12 months, and 78% of brands report increases in overall revenue

In this article, you’ll learn how to implement automation that takes your marketing workflows to the next level by: 

  • Identifying gaps in your marketing operations workflow
  • Saving time with the right automation tools
  • Creating efficiencies in paid media management through optimizing, automating, and analyzing

How to Identify Gaps in Your Marketing Workflow

Pouring energy into a marketing workflow with gaps is like trying to fill a colander with water. Try your hardest, and you still won’t get far. To optimize your workflows, you must first identify these pesky gaps.

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Common gaps to look out for include:

  • Ownership gaps: A lack of governance issue can occur if you allow the process to go forward without mapping out a strategy and determining who should step in for each step of that strategy. Each step needs to have an assigned “owner” (an employee responsible for overseeing or carrying out the step). 

Knowledge-based gaps

  • Inaccessible knowledge: A centralized knowledge management resource can help all teams immensely with the proper framework. A resource hub ensures knowledge is transferred from stakeholders to other teams and is available to anyone needing to revisit the knowledge in the future. This is especially important for established processes and recurring campaigns. Employees work more efficiently when they can access knowledge from prior campaign iterations.  
  • Lack of feedback loops: Challenging the status quo through feedback helps improve processes & teams. When feedback loops are lacking, processes remain stagnant. This gap prevents growth within the organization.
  • Failure to measure performance: Meaning you don’t see what is going wrong but also what is going well and needs to be done more. Measuring performance is crucial. Turn a blind eye, and you miss the trends that reveal what areas are going well and what areas need improvement. 

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Gaps in personal performance

  • Low employee engagement: Employee engagement breeds better performance and better outcomes for the organization. If your workforce engagement is low, prioritize addressing each employee’s needs, improve recognition, and use employee feedback to optimize communication, work environment, etc. 

Workflow-related gaps 

  • Overly complicated workflows: Complicated workflows drag out processes, wasting time, energy, and resources on low-yield steps. Optimizing and simplifying workflows creates more time for creative, strategic thinking that leaves a stronger impact on your goals. 
  • Repeating tasks manually: again using time that could be assigned to more creative/strategic items. Spending valuable time and resources on repetitive tasks that can be automated hampers efficiency. Those billable hours could be devoted to strategic thinking that directly impacts ROI. 
  • Taking the wrong shortcuts: Trying to save time by cutting corners will often cause more harm than good, and many overworked teams with limited resources find themselves needing to cut corners. Automation avoids the risks of unintended consequences by freeing up time without sacrificing performance.

Using process mapping to perform your workflow analysis & start making improvements

Teams can fill workflow gaps by implementing a process mapping strategy. With process mapping you can clearly see how the work will flow and identify problem areas. One of the main benefits of drawing a process map is that it clarifies what needs to be done, when it needs to be done and who will do it.

According to Konrad Treter from AdaptivOps, "Process Mapping refers to activities involved in defining what a business entity does, who is responsible, to what standard a business process should be completed, and how the success of a business process can be determined." 

Business processes are made of interrelated tasks that occur as the result of an event and produce a specific result. Process mapping will streamline your tasks and improve their quality. It does this by analyzing and optimizing the organization’s workflow design, sequence, and role clarity. If you’ve never used process mapping before, these steps are a great place to start:

  • Identify the problem: What workflow/process are you analyzing? What is the desired result?
  • Brainstorm relevant tasks: Write down all the steps necessary to complete the process, who completes which step, and when each step is completed. 
  • Define boundaries: Define a clear, measurable starting and ending point for the process. 
  • Sequence the steps: Describe each step (starting with a verb), then outline the general order they will follow. The sequence can be a general flow or a detailed description of every action and decision related to the process. The level of detail necessary depends on the process. 
  • Implement “start, stop, continue”: Once you have all the steps described in front of you, categorize them using the “start, stop, continue” method. Mark missing steps (your gaps) in the “start” column, unnecessary, redundant tasks in the “stop column”, and steps that are working well in the “continue” column. Next, mark all steps that could potentially be automatized. 
  • Map out your flow chart: Map out your workflow using flowchart symbols (ovals for the beginning or stopping of a process, rectangles for a task that needs completing, arrows for direction, diamonds to indicate decisions to be made, and parallelograms to indicate inputs and outputs, etc.).
  • Review and trim the fat: Finalize the flow chart with all team members to ensure everyone is on the same page, all steps are included without being redundant, and the process is easy to follow. In most cases, simple workflows are more effective than complicated ones. Use this final review stage to trim away any unnecessary steps and delegate as many low-yield tasks to automation as possible.

Following these steps reveals any workflow gaps hindering your team’s progress. From there, you can start identifying what type of automation software your company can use to fill those operational gaps.

Save time by implementing the right automation tools

At this point, you should have an outline of your workflow in its most efficient form. Everyone knows what they are responsible for and when they need to have it done. All that’s left is the how. It’s time to start finding the right tools to fill the gaps and streamline your marketing operations.

Start by asking these questions:

  • What are your gaps?
  • What can be easily automated?

While the list of marketing tasks that can be automated is likely endless, we’ve compiled a list of the most common use cases: 

  • Organic Social Posts & Updates
  • Content Amplification
  • Paid Media Optimization
  • Appointments, Demos, Service Bookings
  • Email Automation for Lifecycle Marketing
  • Lead Nurturing
  • Loyalty & Referral Programs

You’ll notice these tasks have something in common. AI can do them better than we can. You just have to prioritize what needs automating & where you need help in the process.

Setting up a Marketing Automation Infrastructure

Successful automation requires the right tech stack. There are thousands of tools out there– the tools you need to automate steps in your marketing workflow depend on the nuances of your organization and your goals. 

Find the gaps in your operations, determine which tasks are best suited to automation, then find the right tools to support that automation. Below are the automation tool categories marketing teams most commonly require support with:

  • Customer relationship management
  • Email automation
  • Account-based marketing (for B2B)
  • Social media management
  • Pricing automation (for Ecomm)
  • Loyalty program platform
  • Advertising optimization management
  • Leaders in Customer Relationship Management
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Customer relationship management

The right CRM strikes a careful balance between features, usability, and affordability. These three components are central to any good technology, but they are especially essential to software like CRM that enables the growth and success of your business without requiring extensive time and effort.

When choosing any software, simple is typically better. Start by identifying your needs, necessary integrations, and what features will make your employees’ lives easier.

MarinOne integrates with virtually any CRM tool, pending scoping by our professional services team. HubSpot is typically a good choice, due to its long list of features and integrations.

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Email automation

For email automation, you’ll want to look for the following features:

  • A/B testing: Send multiple versions of the same email to sections of your audience, then compare results and optimize your email marketing strategy accordingly.
  • HTML editing: The majority of email apps don't allow you to edit an email's HTML directly. Double-check for an HTML editor to ensure you can quickly edit your marketing emails’ HTML code.
  • Template variety: If you like to use pre-made templates for designing your email, prioritize finding an app with a rich template library. Easily customizable templates allow employees to quickly edit the look and layout of new emails without needing a strong design background.
  • Industry-specific features: Many of today’s email apps focus on a specific niche to provide specialized features. If there is email software designed for your industry on the market, take advantage.
  • Email volume: Some email software options shift the price according to your email volume. Consider how your email strategy will grow. Will you be able to afford the software as your contact list or email volume expands?
  • Customer service: Customer support options vary based on budget. You can find reviews and ratings for your software’s customer service on review sites like G2

B2B account-based marketing

You can find account-based marketing software at a variety of price points, each offering a unique set of features. The tool you choose depends on both budget and expectations. If you have a mature strategy, a tool like 6sense will let you improve your software and help optimize your account-based marketing.

If you’re new to account-based marketing or are looking to scale your strategy alongside your company's growth, then opt for tools like Bound and Triblio.

Social media management

When you manage social media accounts across multiple platforms, even something as simple as leaving a comment through the wrong account can result in an emergency meeting with crisis management. Needless to say, it gets complicated. Logging in and out and in and out of all the different social platforms is tedious– especially when you’re stuck using a personal device. 

Luckily, social media management tools let you bypass that struggle entirely. You can manage multiple accounts across multiple platforms within a single software application. Use these tools to create content, engage with your audience, and view analytics that are often more sophisticated than what the platform offers.

There are so many social media management tools on the market these days. Shop around for the one that best fits your budget and needs. Here are some features you’ll want to look for:

  • Content creation: A place to write captions, research hashtags, edit/resize images, and plan your grid. 
  • Scheduling and auto-posting: Set a time and date for when you want your content to go live, then let the software post it for you when the time comes. This is the definition of “set it and forget it”. Bonus points if the tool recommends the best time to post for your audience.
  • Social listening: Keep one ear open to what people are saying about your industry, brands, products, and services. Use the tool to participate in those conversations and find trends to inspire future content.
  • Analytics: Use sophisticated analytics dashboards to track KPIs, reveal trends for what is and isn’t working, and optimize your organic search strategy. The right all-in-one software simplifies performance monitoring by interpreting the data and generating recommendations for you.
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Leaders in pricing automation (for Ecommerce)

Considering the number of tasks constantly crowding your plate, manually updating the prices of your products to keep pace with the ever-shifting market is probably not your highest priority. 

Good news– pricing software is better at this than you could ever be. Pricing software examines pricing for similar products across the web and automatically adjusts pricing on your website to align with what your competitors are charging and your chosen parameters. It’s especially important for larger ecommerce sites that juggle hundreds or thousands of SKUs, as manually updating that quantity would be nearly impossible.

Here are some questions to keep in mind when choosing your pricing software:

  • Will it fulfill all your needs?
  • Is it compatible with your existing technology, and will it remain compatible as your tech stack updates? 
  • Will it grow with your organization? 
  • Should you work with a pricing software company or operate it independently? 

Referral management software

When it comes to choosing the right referral management software, pricing is the main deciding factor. Some subscriptions require a minimum time commitment, while others have contracts available for monthly plans.

Your target market will also come into play here. Some referral program tools may be better suited for your specific industry or business model. For example, you will likely find niche platforms that cater to small businesses, B2B, B2C, or enterprise-level, and even industry-specific platforms (ie. designed for SaaS or health sciences). 

Another important factor to consider: analytics. A good solution seamlessly optimizes your partner program by letting you collect, compile, and compare detailed reporting data to glean insights. 

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Tackling inefficiencies in paid media management

Now it’s time to cover our area of expertise. Our upgraded platform, MarinOne, makes automating paid media management simple yet effective. 

Marketers can use MarinOne to streamline, automate, and optimize almost every paid media management task on the docket. Instead of covering every single feature, we’re narrowing this explanation to cover the way MarinOne solves the three main problems marketers commonly face. These problems are:

  • Setting optimal bids, targets, and budgets
  • Avoiding wasted time on repetitive tasks
  • Limit time spent reporting

1. How to optimize bids, targets, and budgets

Use MarinOne to automatically optimize bids, targets, and budgets with the following features: 

Respond to external signals with Custom Modifiers 

As a marketer, you’ve probably wondered how to account for external factors in the auction. Marin Customer Modifiers can incorporate external data into your auction for you. For example, inform your auction with data like weather signals, price competitiveness, stock level, or lead time. 

Using stock level data, you can set your bids to lower when you are almost out of a product, then raise when you have more stock available. MarinOne allows you to make these adjustments automatically based on whatever values you set (you can always adjust manually as well). 

The modifiers can be extremely specific, down to the keyword or product group level, or at the global campaign/group level— it all depends on your data.

You’ll find a great case study of a client that used custom modifiers to increase bids on keywords with a longer lead time.

Case Study: Mountain Warehouse Uses Marin’s Automatic Bid Adjustments to Increase Conversion Rate by 13%

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Maximize your ad dollar with Budget Pacing and Allocation

Automated budget pacing helps you get the most out of your budget. It prevents over or underspending through trends that show where you are in reference to your monthly spending goal. These trends provide a holistic view of your budget status, as they account for spending across all publishers and channels. That way, you can track your total budget as well as your platform-specific budgets. 

Marin Budget Allocation takes this capability to the next level. It intervenes whenever there is a discrepancy between your target spend and current spend trend, reallocating spend to better-performing campaigns while letting you set priorities. Max out spending on your brand’s terms and spend the rest of your budget on non-brand as efficiently as possible.

Case Study: Reach PLC lowered time spent on budget management by 50%

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Leverage Social Rules

Marin Social Rules allow users to optimize their campaign settings using both Facebook and third-party data. Manual bids can be adjusted based on the performance of individual ads. Net new budget can be added or removed from campaigns based on historical performance.

2. How to save time with automation

MarinOne has three main automation features: Dynamic Campaigns, Scheduled Actions, and Message Booster. Here’s how they work:

Utilize dynamic campaigns 

Dynamic campaigns allow you to automatically build and maintain campaigns, groups, keywords, and creatives for your entire product catalog without lifting a finger. Automating these actions saves a tremendous amount of time and effort.

This automation pairs well with the Custom Modifier previously discussed. If you have the stock level, price, or price competitiveness for products in your feed, Dynamic Campaigns will convert that data into MarinOne dimensions you can then leverage in Custom Modifiers. 

This automatically builds campaigns equipt with creatives and dynamic prices/stock levels, then adjusts your bids based on price competitiveness. 

Case Study: Buyagift Improves ROAS by 26% Leveraging Marin’s Dynamic Ads

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Schedule actions ahead of time

Marin Scheduled Actions allow you to easily schedule the launching or pausing of your ads and campaigns ahead of time. When you clock out or take a vacation, your ads will remain on schedule.

If you have a weekend sale coming up, you can schedule your regular creative to be replaced by the sale creative at midnight, then return to normal right when the sale ends. 

Marin Scheduled Actions are uniquely powerful because they work across all publishers and platforms and let you schedule multiple actions simultaneously, creating a holistic schedule of future actions. 

Boost posts via automated rules

With Marin Message Booster, you can automate the paid amplification of organic page posts. It works by specifying the campaign’s duration, budget, and target audience ahead of time. The software uses the criteria as rules that trigger the amplification of an organic page post. 

Here’s an example: based on predetermined campaign settings, every page post with an engagement rate of more than 10% will automatically become sponsored. Automating organic post amplification like this frees time to spend on more tactical and lower-funnel social media tasks.

3. Streamline reporting

MarinOne’s automation also streamlines reporting through the Dimensions, Web Query reporting, and Insights features.

How to evaluate multiple dimensions

Dimensions (aka Google Labels on steroids) allow you to monitor your account more thoroughly than traditional account structure allows. It works by auto-labeling your objects based on specific criteria like naming conventions or performance.

With Dimensions, you can tag objectives with multiple dimensions and apply tags to all subsequent levels (campaign, group, and keyword/creative).

Custom automation creates auto-tagging rules based on naming conventions or performance. Within the software, users can easily filter or roll-up Dimensions across all publisher accounts and pivot up to three dimensions in-app. You can also incorporate device segmentation which quickly illuminates where most of the account spend is, which sections work well, and which don’t.

Essentially, you can view Dimensions as a labeling system, with their tab being a massive pivot of all your data that helps you drill down to and understand all levels of your account’s performance. 

They don’t stop there, though. Dimensions are a multi-tool. In addition to reporting, use them for:

  • Bidding via Dynamic Actions and Custom Modifiers

AND

  • Tracking, which comes in handy if you want to add a campaign name to your tracking template and have that value pop up in your Google Analytics. A campaign name isn’t a value parameter, so you’d need to build it out as a custom parameter. While this may seem like a lot of work when done manually, MarinOne fully automates the process. 

How to systemize Web Query reports

Automating report creation and distribution on a schedule is a common way to push data from an app to your inbox. With MarinOne, you can also set up reports via Web query. For example, you can automate the creation of a full-year report that automatically adds data as date milestones are achieved.

Instead of creating a recurring report to be emailed as a CSV, web query reports generate a URL that recipients use to set up a spreadsheet (Excel or Google Sheets). The URL automatically updates the spreadsheet data in real time. This feature is instrumental in managing historical reports with long timeframes, as future dates are updated without the need to touch the report. This “set it and forget it” approach can save whatever unlucky member of your team responsible for data entry a lot of time and headaches.

You can also go one step further by using the web queries in the spreadsheet, then editing your accounts by sending bulk upload files to an email address/FTP location.

How to streamline performance insights

With all the data and sources Marin unites in one interface, we built our own performance insights. Marin Insights provide recommendations that help users quickly identify optimization opportunities. There are currently over 35 insights across multiple publishers and channels, with 13 built to be applied via a single click.

You can then use the Actionable Insight functionality to apply those recommendations automatically.

Sample insights include:

  • Keyword Expansion
  • Duplicate Keywords
  • Disapproved Ads
  • Bid Strategy Opportunities for Publishers from Google to LinkedIn & Apple Search Ads
  • Landing Page Errors
  • Top Performing Products

Wrapping up

Today’s marketers have a wealth of technology available at their fingertips. The last few years were tough, but marketers rose to the occasion and adapted new strategies to succeed, using tech to get there. 

Going forward, simply showing up won’t be enough. The marketers who will thrive in 2023 will fill their tech stack with the right technology and support their software with careful strategy and conscious first-party data collection.

Major shifts in the privacy eco-system mean collecting the data that fills impactful reports takes a lot more work. This makes automating advertising campaigns and other marketing pillars vital not only to save time and money but also to understand your audience. 

MarinOne is an all-in-one tool for automating advertising campaigns. The tool integrates seamlessly with other marketing automation tools in your tech stack, and custom automation can be set up based on your company’s needs when necessary. 

Now is the time to put your advertising strategy on autopilot. Schedule a personalized demo to find out how automating with the tools and strategic support from MarinOne can boost your conversion rate and drop your cost-per-metric.