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Association membership team builds an automated renewal campaign
July 12, 2018

5 Marketing Automation Features You Need to Start Using Today

Marketing automation can transform your member engagement, but you need to use these five essential features to truly make your campaigns shine.

In the survey we did for our recent State of Marketing Automation: Association Benchmark Report, we asked associations what additional marketing automation features they’re using. We discovered that many of them aren’t making use of certain features that could be taking them to the next level.

If you pair this with our finding that one of the biggest marketing automation challenges for associations is a lack of platform knowledge, it starts to look like associations might not be making use of these essential features because they don’t realize what they can do.

Without these features, it’s difficult to make your marketing automation campaigns shine. Increasing member engagement requires that you personalize their digital experience, which is hard to do if you’re not using these features. Marketing automation can deliver on its big promises, but you’re going to need to do more than use the basic email and reporting aspects if you want to elevate your success.

Energize your marketing automation strategy with these features

1. Web tracking

  • What it does:

Web tracking allows marketers to look under the hood of their website. Marketers that have a web tracking code installed on their website can send emails with links that have tracking code embedded, and when subscribers click those links, a data packet called a cookie is installed on their browser. You can then see subscribers’ activity as they visit different pages and click around your website.

  • Why it’s important:

From our survey data, it appears that around 25 percent of associations never use web tracking, which is a shame. This tool creates follow-up opportunities that have never been possible before. It also provides so much insight into the actions marketers should take, and we’d like to get that statistic down to zero.

Web tracking reveals your audience’s interests and helps you determine how to act. If you’re not using this tool, you’re missing out on an incredibly powerful data input that could help you act more intelligently, as you learn your audiences’ preferences.

Additionally, you’ll be able to track member or prospect engagement and even automatically add subscribers that visit specific parts of your site to automated campaigns. After they clicked the link in your email, where did they go? If they bounced off your landing page immediately, what drove them away? The extra insight you get helps you to ask questions like these that lead to increased efficiency and effectiveness.

2. A/B Testing

  • What it does:

A/B testing is your chance to experiment with the content and design of emails in your workflow – your landing pages, your ads, you name it. You can use the results from your tests to determine how to improve things like your open rate, click rate, or unsubscribe rate.

You can set up complicated tests where you test two workflows against each other and see which one performs best, or you can test single emails to get results before running a workflow.

  • Why it’s important:

More than 30 percent of associations we surveyed never use the A/B testing feature of their marketing automation software. But without testing and refinement, your results will plateau, rather than grow. Improving your engagement requires that you look for pain points and then hypothesize and test ways to improve.

3. Scoring Tools

  • What they do:

With scoring tools, you’re able to give your prospects a score based on the actions they’ve taken (or not taken). As you value certain actions more highly or less highly, your automation system gives prospects a ranking and helps marketing and sales evaluate where they are on the buyer’s journey.

  • Why they’re important:

Lead scoring is all about efficiency. Using lead scoring well will mean you’ll need to do some planning ahead and requires that you work closely with your membership team, but the roadmap supplies you with a solid plan for your year. You’re able to pursue prospects who you’ve prioritized automatically, so you don’t have to waste time on leads only to find out they’re not interested. And crazily enough, almost 50 percent of survey respondents never use scoring tools.

4. Retargeting

  • What it does:

Retargeting is a way to use your web tracking data to continue advertising your content off-site. For example, if you’re using retargeting and a member visits your membership renewal page and leaves, an ad for membership could appear in their social media feed later that day.

  • Why it’s important:

Almost 50 percent of survey respondents never use retargeting features, but retargeting is a helpful way to keep your content in front of your members. Continuing our earlier example, if they moved on to doing something else and just forgot about renewing their membership, your ad could be the helpful nudge they need to complete the process.

5. Social media integration

  • What it does:

While we didn’t ask about this feature in our survey, we saw a healthy number of respondents write comments about it in some of our short answer questions.  Social media integrations definitely seem to be a valuable part of some marketing automation software. These integrations help you catch social media mentions in your net of lead capture. You’re able to add leads into workflows when they connect with you on social media.

  • Why it’s important:

When you incorporate social media, you’ll get more leads faster, instead of having to manually go through your social mentions and pull these leads out into workflows. The integration improves both your response time and helps you improve your response to activity across multiple marketing channels. Since we didn’t ask about this in the survey, we don’t have a stat to share, but if you’re not using social media integration yet, we recommend checking it out to see if it can work for you.

The Takeaway: Start using these features to elevate your success

If you’re in the camp where you’re just plain confused about your platform or feel like you lack the knowledge to get started using these features, check out our blog and resource center for more educational materials. And if you’re not using these marketing automation features just because…you’re not, try them today! You’ll get a better return on investment because you be fully utilizing all of the features that you’re already paying for, and be loaded with tons more data that will help you create the personalized experience your members are lacking.

Download the Engagement Trends Report 2020

Shayna McGroggan

Shayna is a former Marketing Automation Manager at Higher Logic. In her role, she provided automation strategy for clients, while developing campaigns and assisting with persona development. She delivered quality coaching in marketing automation strategy to a growing list of at least 7 individual organizations, acting as a subject matter expert by providing guidance on the creative design of client emails/landing pages and the integration of email, web tracking, community, and CRM data for campaigns.