Marketing Automation Missteps: 4 Things to Avoid

Marketing automation software solutions are incredibly intricate, power-packed and can be intimidating for nonprofits that are often slow to adopt new and emerging technology. Getting the most out of marketing automation requires an intentional approach and an understanding of what to focus on, as well as avoid in the process.

In our last two articles of this series, we made the case for adopting marketing automation software solutions and laid the groundwork for how to effectively implement these platforms. We’re confident that your organization is ready to dive right into planning its 24/7 donor development strategy using these powerful software solutions. To ease your efforts — and your minds — we’ve detailed four of the most common marketing automation missteps to steer clear of in the process.

1. Falling in Love With the Bells and Whistles

While there are plenty of affordable software solutions out there, some of them can be costly and packed with capabilities your organization will never use. It’s easy to get excited about all of the potential features and solutions that these platforms offer, but the reality is that most nonprofits will never take advantage of their full potential. Work with your team to really nail down what you want to accomplish and what tools are necessary to get you there. Be realistic about your goals and capacity to implement — and know the difference between what would be nice to have versus what you must have.

If you want to revolutionize the way your organization is communicating with its current and prospective donors by collecting and tracking data, leveraging personalization and developing targeted email campaigns, then a more robust marketing automation platform is for you. But if your goal is to simply enact an automated email cycle, a software solution like Constant Contact will suffice. There are hundreds of marketing automation software solutions out there. Starting small gives your organization an opportunity to warm up to these platforms, and as your team learns along the way, you can always upgrade later.

2. Letting Your Hard-Earned Data Collect Dust

One of the most valuable benefits of marketing automation software is the ability to collect and utilize data in ways that can nurture and ultimately convert your organization’s prospects into actively engaged donors. The data gathered on these platforms can tell you a lot about your current and prospective donors’ needs, interests and desires.

Through these robust software solutions, your organization will have access to individual data points that show your current and prospective donors’ level of engagement with you online. Tracking what pages on your website your leads visit and for how long, their email open and click rates, and what content pieces they’re downloading yields valuable information that guide your automated platforms’ next steps in engaging them.

Consider a prospect downloading a content piece or visiting your organization’s donation landing page, but ultimately not making a donation. Your marketing automation software will recognize this behavior, automatically triggering a series of emails you’ve created that are designed to nurture prospects like them along their journey toward donating.

3. Not Personalizing Your Communications

While automating tasks is one of the key functions of marketing automation software solutions, it’s important to not lose the human element in the process of planning your communications strategy. Donors increasingly expect to receive personalized communications from the nonprofits they engage with, and that means more than just being addressed by name in an automated email. This is where utilizing that valuable data you’ve collected comes into play.

Marketing automation software will track your donors and prospects each time they visit your site. And if they’ve voluntarily given you their contact information by downloading a content piece, such as an annual report or signing up for a newsletter, you’ll have what you need to communicate with them directly based on their history, background and interests.

Imagine you’re a nonprofit focused on alleviating hunger, and an individual in your database has repeatedly visited your page promoting volunteer opportunities. You can enter them into an automated email campaign promoting numerous volunteer opportunities for contacts who’ve demonstrated an interest in them. Each of your supporters has diversely invested support or interest in your mission. Using the data gathered by your marketing automation platform, you can effectively bridge a meaningful connection between them and your organization with content geared directly to them that’s delivered when and how they want it.

4. Setting and Forgetting

Once you’ve finally landed on a marketing automation platform, don’t fall victim to the “setting-and-forgetting” mentality. Implementing a marketing automation solution requires testing, tweaking and enhancing from time to time, and there is enormous learning potential for your organization along the way. Putting your marketing automation software into place and leaving it to do the work for you is one of its most appealing returns. But it limits your organization’s ability to take advantage of all the insights provided and opportunities to generate stronger connections with your donors.

To truly leverage the power of marketing automation software solutions and transform your organization’s efforts, you’ll need to set goals, track results and modify your campaigns as needed. From adjusting workflows to creating new ones, your team will continue iterating its campaigns and processes as you learn more about what your donors are truly interested in and the best ways to convert your prospects.

When it comes to marketing automation missteps, it’s not about doing things the wrong way — it’s about not taking full advantage of these powerful tools or getting in the weeds when it comes to all of their features. Avoid these four missteps, and you’ll be well on your way to getting the most out of your investment.

Embracing marketing automation software solutions is the best way forward for nonprofits. Despite the sector’s lack of resources, nonprofits are continuously faced with the challenge of solving some of the world’s most pressing problems — but resource constraints won’t stop your organization from working toward its mission. Marketing automation software can help you reach new donors, retain current ones and increase operational efficiency.

This blog was published as a guest article for Nonprofit Pro, the go-to source for nonprofit management and strategy.

Photo Credit: Franck V. via Unsplash 

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