Modern-day customers expect a personalized buying experience in any kind of purchase they make, be it online or offline. Time- and resource-strapped marketing teams on the other hand are expected to deliver exceptional customer experience, generate more orders, and save time and money all at once. This is where workflow for marketing automation comes into play.
Marketing workflow automation frees up your time from mundane, time-consuming marketing activities, so you can focus on other tasks that enable better conversions and deliver superior customer experience. This blog focuses on what a marketing automation workflow is, examples of marketing automation, and top marketing automation examples to consider for your business.
What is a Marketing Automation Workflow?
A clear understanding of marketing workflows is a must before we get into improving these workflows. In simple words, a marketing workflow is a series of tasks or activities that the team needs to perform in order to complete a task or an asset. Depending on the nature of marketing activities in the organization, these workflows can either be simple or complex.
A simple workflow is usually a sequential one where one task’s output is the trigger for the subsequent task. A complex workflow on the other hand is usually parallel tasks and several tasks are covered at a time. Simplicity or complexity of the workflow depends on the task, volume of work, and size of the team. A streamlined marketing workflow allows the team to be more effective and productive. They help teams work better, faster, and more efficiently.
Marketing workflows can be effectively streamlined when repetitive and low-value tasks are automated. A marketing automation workflow means automation of certain marketing tasks that are repetitive and predictive in nature and do not require human intelligence for execution.
Marketing automation workflows consist of a set of steps that are performed automatically once the triggers for each task have been set out in a tool or app. An automated workflow goes from one step to another based on preset triggers. Triggers are nothing but certain actions performed by the user or the marketing team.
When marketing automation workflows are created, you ensure a better and more consistent customer experience. According to a social media survey, automated marketing workflows can create a more segmented and personalized customer experience with 46% higher open rates.
A personalized customer experience in turn leads to higher conversion rates, increased lead generation, and a higher return on investment. The best part is that along with happy customers and more effective marketing, automation also frees the team from low-value, time-consuming tasks.
Marketing workflow automation makes use of technology to automate tedious manual tasks in the workflow. Automation software typically uses conditional business rules and triggers to execute tasks in a predetermined sequence.
A workflow automation software like Cflow uses visual elements to create a workflow, which eliminates the need for complex coding for building marketing workflows. The visual form builder in Cflow allows users to create a workflow in a stepwise manner with complete details of the automation that occurs at each point of the workflow.
A streamlined marketing automation workflow helps you automate marketing tasks by arranging individually automated marketing tasks into a series of ordered steps that make your marketing campaigns more effective. Marketing automation when done right helps you save time, avoid mistakes, and move potential customers down the marketing funnel faster.
Synergy of Marketing and Operations
The marketing function is closely associated with operations. Marketing workflows can be extremely powerful and useful to the team in saving time and effort, but they need to be created with much forethought and precision. The marketing team and operations team need to work closely to build robust workflows. Creating a vision for customer experience is for the marketing team, while technical and operational expertise is required to automate the process. When operational realities are made an important part of the marketing vision, it becomes easy for teams to get creative and find the best alternative.
Need for Automating Marketing Workflows
Workflow automation allows teams to increase efficiency by reducing the amount of time spent on manual tasks in the marketing workflow. Workflow automation is the best alternative when the volume of tasks is more than the availability of resources, or if things are falling through the cracks because you don’t have time to personally guide accounts from one step to the next. Moreover, automation makes it easier for operations and marketing teams to work together.
Workflow automation saves time for marketing teams by creating a repeatable and predictable marketing experience. Rather than focusing on what the next step would be every time a customer takes an action, an automated workflow would have mapped out the course and decided what comes next. Marketing workflow tools take a proactive approach to managing marketing workflows.
How to create Marketing Automation Workflows?
Automating marketing workflows offers several benefits to the team, but implementing these flows can be intimidating for the teams. The amount of time, effort, and money required for implementing marketing workflows can be overwhelming for marketing teams. However, the right workflow automation tool can help you set up workflows easily and quickly. Before getting into details on automating the workflow, let us first understand the key components of an automated workflow.
A trigger is an action or event that instructs your technology that it is time to move on to the next step. Typically, user actions or periods of inactivity are triggers in the workflow. Triggers can be chosen from form submission, clicking on a link in an email, or making a purchase.
Typically, in programming terms, the trigger is the “If” condition, and the action is the “then” condition. The action taken by the marketing platform in response to the trigger is programmed by the automation tool. For example, when someone opens an email (trigger), then (action) your system sends a follow-up email 24 hours later.
Conditions in the workflow are essentially characteristics that must be in place for the system to complete the triggered action. For example in a marketing automation workflow, the trigger is usually a customer completing a purchase, and the action is to send them a discount code for next time only if the initial purchase was for $50 or more.
In this example, the user must perform the trigger action and meet the conditions for the follow-up action to happen. Conditions exist to set guardrails around automation to ensure that the action is only triggered under the right circumstances. Bidirectional conditions work in two ways; if the condition is met then they receive one message; if the condition is not met, they receive another message.
These controls are also referred to as flow controls. Time controls are used to determine when precisely an action is taken. When time controls are customized according to the workflow, most of the automated marketing tasks are executed on a delay. The delay could be as short as a few minutes to as long as days, or even weeks.
Points to bear in mind while creating a marketing automation workflow are –
- A trigger instructs the system about the action that needs to be taken
- Conditions are like guardrails that ensure that the action taken is appropriate for this contact and situation
- Time controls or flow controls determine when the action is taken
- The action engages with the contact to deepen and continue the relationship
The best thing about marketing automation is that after the action is taken, the user has an opportunity to set off the trigger. Setting off the new trigger sets the next step of their customer experience into motion. When customer experience improves, it ultimately leads to higher customer retention and higher revenue.
Creating a marketing automation flow should be done with all the points in mind. Workflow automation software usually offers a range of ready-to-use workflow templates for common scenarios. These templates can be customized as per the requirements of the business.
Creating marketing workflows can be done more effectively when the following points are included in marketing automation workflows.
Segmenting your audience
Segmenting the audience makes sure that the right message is delivered to the right person, at the right time. Segmentation of the target audience allows the marketing team to create much more personalized campaigns. Instead of sending standardized emails to every one of the target audiences, email communication can be tailored based on the recipients. Factors like location, demographics, browsing and purchasing history, the likelihood that they stay subscribed to the business, or the volume of purchases with you, must be considered for segmenting the audience.
What triggers the marketing automation workflow is the most important aspect to consider while setting automation triggers. Triggers will vary based on workflows, such as:
- Filling out the sign-up form, triggering the welcome email
- Adding an item to the cart and leaving, triggering a cart abandonment workflow
- Visiting a specific product page, triggering a product abandonment workflow
Creating messages is the first step in marketing workflows. The next step is to check whether they resonate with your audience. A/B testing is the most effective way to verify which piece of content appeals more to visitors/viewers. It is better to have two versions of communication running at the same time to ascertain which one performs better. A number of variables like CTAs, Subject lines, personalization of content, and body content, must be tested to see which drives the most open, click, or order rates. For SMS campaigns the open and click rates can be monitored. A/B testing allows marketing teams to monitor which channel drives the highest overall rate of completed orders on your store pages.
Using more than one communication channel for marketing increases sales significantly. Statistics show that marketers that used 3 or more channels in a campaign had an order rate 494% higher than those using single-channel campaigns, even better-incorporating push messages drove a 614% higher order rate. Marketing teams can get creative on how to implement multiple channels into your campaigns. One way is to send an email with an offer and follow up with an SMS if the recipient hasn’t opened it within 2 hours.
10 Best Example of Marketing Automation Workflows
Let us consider marketing automation workflow examples to understand marketing automation better. Exploring what marketing automation examples help in designing effective marketing workflows for various tasks in the marketing process.
1. Welcome automation workflow
The welcome workflow is triggered when a user subscribes to a product or a service. A welcome email is the first communication that a new subscriber receives after signing up. The average open rate of welcome emails is 30.69% more than 202% higher than usual email campaigns. Welcome emails can be individual messages or a series of messages, and we usually see a series of 3 emails to generate better results. Some popular ideas for welcome email content are –
- Company’s story
- Showcasing products
- Special offer or discount
- Reviews from existing customers
- Invitation to social media handles
2. Page abandonment workflows
The page abandonment workflow is triggered when browsers leave important pages. Page or browse abandonment workflows help you re-engage visitors who look through your website without taking action. The goal of this workflow is to bring back visitors to the website to recapture lost conversions. This workflow is an effective way of engaging visitors, and if they do buy the product/service, they will also be sent an order confirmation email that would fuel further engagement and interest in the brand.
3. Product abandonment Automation Workflow
The product abandonment workflow is triggered when the visitor lands on a specific product page only. This workflow is similar to the above workflow, with the only difference being that emails are sent for specific products only. A browser abandonment email on the other hand is broader and is sent on a general basis. Product abandonment workflow is triggered when particular pages have been viewed, hence, highly targeted messages that highlight product features or customer reviews are sent to prospects.
4. Cart abandonment workflow automation
This workflow is triggered when visitors add a product to their cart, but abandon the purchase. This is one of the most popular marketing automation workflows that is capable of generating substantial revenue. This workflow uses a mixture of communication channels like emails, SMS, exit-intent pop-ups, and retargeting campaigns on Google, to remind visitors of the items in the cart and also helps them overcome their hesitation.
5. Order confirmation workflow automation
This workflow is triggered once the visitor completes the transaction. Order confirmation emails are the most effective in open and click-through rates. This is mainly because the person who has made the purchase expects the email that includes details of the order and the estimated date of delivery. The customer uses these emails for reference to check on the price, date of delivery, and delivery address. To make this workflow more effective, include the following best practices –
- Include order timeline and set expectations for each step from the order being processed to delivery
- Include details on the best-selling products that other buyers consider
- Include upsells and cross-sells that prompt the customer to pair other items with the order
Order confirmation workflow can be expanded into a larger marketing workflow by sending additional emails that guide the user through care tips for product usage, the best way to pair with other items, or cross-sell related products.
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6. Shipping confirmation workflow automation
It is triggered when the order is shipped to the delivery address. This workflow is a relatively short one that consists of a single message that informs the buyer that the order has been sent. The scope of this workflow can however be expanded by replacing the order confirmation series of workflows with an automated email workflow that follows shipping confirmation.
Informing the buyer that the item is on its way is a great time to prepare them for its arrival tips. Apple does this part really well by offering help on trading in or recycling older Apple devices or sharing FAQs and advice on setting setup.
7. Upselling or Cross-selling workflow automation
The segmentation rules of customers based on their purchase behavior are what triggers this workflow. The main advantage of this workflow that appeals most to customers is that the buyer already trusts you (because a product/service has already been purchased), and the recommended items are closely related to what has been purchased already.
Upselling is when you encourage the customer to buy a similar item but a higher-end version of the product they are considering. While cross-selling is about encouraging the customer to buy something that complements their purchase. Customer segmentation is the primary basis for upselling and cross-selling workflows.
8. Lead nurture workflow
This workflow guides contacts through a longer buying cycle. This is a very important automation workflow that uses actions to assign user attributes and trigger the most appropriate marketing messages. Communication channels like emails, and SMS marketing are popularly used for lead nurturing. For smoother lead nurture marketing systems must be closely integrated.
9. Re-engage workflow automation
This workflow is triggered when inactivity is detected at the visitor’s end. Re-engaging with contacts who have stopped interacting with you is an important marketing strategy that helps expand the customer base. The trigger for this workflow can be set based on how many days since the contact last engaged, or how many emails they have received but not opened. Such triggers tell the automated system to start sending messages designed to reach and reactivate inactive users.
10. New customer onboarding workflow
The manner in which a new customer is onboarded can be pivotal in retaining them. Right from the welcome message to messages updating them on new products to messages containing use and care tips, are all part of the onboarding workflow. An effective onboarding workflow ensures the working relationship runs smoothly.
Marketing workflow automation is key to lead conversion, lead nurturing, and keeping customers engaged. A well-designed workflow for marketing automation helps the team go about their activities with ease and plan their strategies more effectively. Automating the marketing workflow with a no-code workflow automation solution like Cflow is the best way to set up marketing workflows. To learn more, sign up for the free trial.
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