The 8 Sexiest Features of Lightweight Marketing Automation
Some people are into legs. Others are into muscles. It’s all a matter of personal taste and preference. But regardless of what you’re into, there’s one thing on which we all can agree. There’s some dead sexy software out there on the market just waiting for you to engage with on an up-close-and-personal 1:1 basis.
Maybe you’re into tantalizing tools. Perhaps you’re more of a scintillating specs kind of person. Me? I’m into cloud-based stuff. Nothing gets me going like an Internet-based application that can get the job done without always asking me to shell out tons of dough on hardware and upgrades. Maybe that’s why I love Lightweight Marketing Automation so much.
Perhaps the most attractive characteristics of Lightweight Marketing Automation is that it sets up fast (you don’t need to get IT involved), it’s easy to use (no coding experience needed), and it’s affordable (perfect for SMBs and agencies). Who doesn’t love fast, easy, and affordable? But like any software, not all tools are created equal. To help you get started, we’ve pulled together a list of what we consider to be the 8 sexiest features you should look for in a Lightweight Marketing Automation platform.
1. Integrated Email and Landing Page/Microsite Tools
As you know, email marketing is a key component of Marketing Automation. But email is no longer a stand-alone marketing channel. And while most marketers know that they should be integrating email with other channels such as landing pages and microsites, many still struggle with how to do this, particularly if their email and page building tools are part of separate platforms.
Lightweight Marketing Automation eliminates this struggle, helping you build integrated emails, landing pages, and microsites in the same platform. This integration makes it easy for you to synch your outgoing messaging with your inbound marketing hub in a way that helps you maintain a consistent message across all channels while increasing conversions.
[Tweet “Microsites and landing pages can increase conversion rates by up to 25%. “]
The integration of emails with landing pages and microsites also simplifies the process of tracking lead progression from the top of the funnel through the bottom. By monitoring the user behavior from one touch point to the next, you can use the data collect from their journey to optimize future emails and landing pages.
Integrating emails with landing pages and microsites also helps with communication between sales and marketing. When the two components are synced, both teams will have access to data that provides an understanding of where prospects are coming from, and what they’re interacting with. This data will be instrumental in determining how best to approach each lead.
2. Drip Nurture Capabilities
As a small business marketer, you’d probably prefer to be spending your time interacting with existing customers and hot leads rather than continually checking in with top of the funnel leads and prospects. With Drip Nurture Campaigns, you can do just that.
[Tweet “Companies that excel in nurturing increase qualified leads by over 450% “]
A Drip Nurture campaign is an automated process that sends a series of messages to individual leads and prospects at a particular point within sales cycle. Drip campaigns let you stay in touch with prospects and leads by providing them with relevant content and information based on their previous behavior with your content and marketing materials. You can schedule messages to go out at pre-specified time intervals, or when certain actions (form completions, downloads, etc.) are taken by prospects on your website, landing page, microsite, email or direct mail campaign.
Assuming you select the right platform and configure it correctly, your software will step right in and handle your regular outreach for you, helping you build relationships with prospects while you educate them on the benefits of your products and services. It’s like putting your lead follow-up process into overdrive and then flipping straight to cruise control. In fact, companies that excel in nurturing increase qualified leads by over 450%[vii] and sales leads by 50% while decreasing their average cost per lead by 30%[viii].
3. Personalization that’s easy and powerful
The best sales people use information they’ve learned about prospects along the way to speak to each lead as if they have known them for years. But when you’re trying to create a relevant online conversation with thousands of people through email, microsites, and landing pages, you can’t exactly be expected to remember information on all of them.
Personalized email campaigns deliver 6 times higher transaction rates than non-personalized email[vi]. That’s why it’s so important to find a Lightweight Marketing Automation tool that can speak to each lead with relevant, fully-personalized content.
What do we mean by fully-personalized? Well, we’re not just talking about personalizing with a prospect’s name (though you should be able to do that too). Look for tools that offer personalization through variable data inserts. These are fields within an email that change based on each prospect’s individual attributes. You want as many variable fields as possible (some software offer up to 30). These fields let you speak to each of target on an individual basis by displaying completely different content (text, images, calls-to-action, offers) for individual segments of your email lists.
But the key to achieving effective personalization is to create an experience that flows through the entire journey. From emails and landing pages to forms and calls-to-action, your personalization should be and consistent and persistent throughout if you want to start building true 1:1 relationships with your prospects.
4. Direct Mail & Offline Media Integration – pURLs and QR Codes
Contrary to popular belief, email marketing and Marketing Automation have not killed direct mail. In fact, they’ve done quite the opposite. The Direct Mail industry is thriving by embracing these innovative technologies, and adjusting their processes, formats, and systems to get the most from them. In fact, when direct mail and e-mail are combined in a multichannel campaign, response rates increase across the board. If executed well, they can more than double.
[Tweet “Direct mail with a personalized URL (pURL) leading to a variable data-driven landing page can increase response rates by 300% “]
When combined with Lightweight Marketing Automation, direct mail is elevated to an entirely new level, making it an incredibly effective traffic, lead, and revenue driver. By merging variable data printing with highly personalized information from CRM systems and 3rd party data sources, marketers can take advantage of tools that drive offline audiences online like personalized URLs (pURLs) and quick response codes (QR) to create a customized experience for each individual user.
And it works, too. In fact, a well-designed direct mail piece with a personalized URL leading to a variable data-driven landing page can increase traditional direct mail response rates by 300%. Likewise, printed QR Codes have settled in as great ways to drive mobile audiences online to mobile optimized landing pages. Smart usage of QR Codes include direct mail to younger demographics, printed POP at retail and hospitality locations, and inclusion in product packaging to drive mobile users to how to videos and/or upsell landing pages.
5. Responsive Design
Look for a Lightweight platform that also offers built-in Responsive Design. Responsive Design means that the emails, landing pages, and microsites you create are pre-configured to identify which type of device your prospect is using, and “respond” with a layout that fits perfectly into that device. And since 68% of all emails are now opened on a Smartphone or tablet[i], you’d be doing yourself a major disservice if you’re not designing for the mobile customer.
Not only do responsive emails and landing pages look better, they also perform significantly better than non-optimized properties. In fact, the first link in a responsive design email has a 30% higher click through rate on mobile than a non-responsive email[ii].
Still not convinced you need a platform that offers responsive? Consider the fact that:
- 85% of users say that a company’s mobile website should be as good if not better than its desktop site[iii]
- 48% say that if a site doesn’t work well on their phone, it makes them feel like the company doesn’t care about their business[iv].
- 67% are more likely to make a purchase with a smartphone on a mobile friendly site than a non-optimized site[v]
6. Deliverability Optimization
When setting up an Email Campaign or Campaign Drip, a good Spam Checker will raise flags in your content and code. This will help you hone your campaigns to ensure they have the best possible chances of being delivered. After all, you can send all the emails in the world, but you won’t make any headway if you’re not getting into your prospects’ inboxes. And even though you have permission to send emails to these prospects, there’s a chance your messaging could get stuck in any number of potential spam traps set by email clients if you’re not careful with your subject line and email body copy and structure.
For example, some email clients scan for certain keywords or phrases and will automatically send you to the spam filter if you use a word that’s considered “spammy”. Imagine if your copy read, “Your leads will be so prolific you’d think your content was taking Viagra.” You could end up right in the spam folder – even if your email was totally relevant to your audience and your recipients had double-opted in to your list. This is why it is so important to find a platform that offers deliverability optimization features like spam checking. A good spam checking tool will let you know if you’re using terms and phrases that could impact your deliverability rate.
Another deliverability tool to look for in a platform is List Cleaning. A good List Cleaning tool will weed out bad addresses before you sit send, ensuring your campaigns will result in higher click-through and conversion rates and an improved deliverability rate. Additionally, modern List Cleaning tools will eliminate spam traps and “honey pots”, which are planted email addresses that infiltrate lists with the goal of triggering spam filters, as well as flag email addresses which have a history of marking many marketing emails as Spam. These features combine to improve your Sender Reputation, which will help all of your emails reach their intended destinations. For example, if you remove subscribers who have not engaged in any of your outreach for over a year, you’ll instantly increase your email deliverability rate by 3 to 5%.
7. CRM and Web Application Integration
Adding a Lightweight Marketing Automation component to your CRM or Web App workflow can create a powerful sales and marketing tool, a tool capable of solving major marketer pain points such as poor lead quality, lost pipeline leads, and an ineffective lead handoff process.
Many Lightweight Marketing Automation solutions offer out of the box API integrations that make it fast and easy to integrate your existing marketing tools or CRM. Designed to save you time and money, these integrations help you leverage your investment in our best of breed marketing automation software.
Thanks to the emergence of Zapier, a platform for connecting apps to automate tasks, integrations are easier than ever. Zapier is an incredible new technology that lets web-based applications talk to each other in a simple, easy, and affordable way. With Zapier, you can easily connect your Marketing Automation platform with CRM’s like Sugar, Nimble or Zoho, web page/form tools like Gravity, Wufoo or Formstack , or even other marketing apps like Lob, Thankster or Calldrip. Zapier’s directory of connected apps includes hundreds of the most popular web applications that can all be connected in workflows with a few clicks.
8. Robust Reporting Tools
Whether you’re operating on a full-blown Marketing Automation platform, or streamlining your efforts on a Lightweight Marketing Automation system, you’re going to generate a lot of data from your efforts. Not only will you use this data to track and optimize your campaigns, but you’ll also need it to determine ROI. Because whether you’re spending $50,000 dollars a year or $100 a month, you need to justify your investment and show that the technology is working and paying off.
Look for a platform with built-in analytics and reporting tools that provide a comprehensive view of how your audience is interacting with your email, landing pages, and microsites. Or, if you’re already using a third party service for analytics such as Google analytics or Site Catalyst, look for a platform that integrates easily with them. You don’t want to implement an entire marketing platform before realizing that your tracking isn’t working, or even worse, isn’t compatible with your system.
Got any questions about Lightweight Marketing Automation? We can help.
At Boingnet, we are the creators of the world’s first Lightweight Marketing Automation platform. We also have deep roots in designing, developing and supporting successful direct marketing campaigns for our clients. We would be happy to share some of these success stories with you and further discuss how this business model could help you achieve your goals. Our experienced team of Marketing Automation experts can help guide you through every step of the process, from design and user experience to technology selection, integration, hosting, and support.
[i] 2015, Movable Ink, US Consumer Device Preference Report, Q2 2015
[ii] 2014, Litmus, “The Science of Email Clicks: The Impact of Responsive Design & Inbox Testing”
[iv] 2012, Google, What Users Want from Most Mobile Sites Today
[v] 2013, Sterling Brands and SmithGeiger,
[vii] 2012, The Annuitas Group, Marketing Automation by the Numbers
[viii] 2011, Forrester, Forrester Wave Report