Marketing Automation for Education Companies: Where to Start
Marketing automation is the most under-utilized technology for growing education companies. If you have a CRM and a way to mass email your customers and prospects, it's worth transitioning to marketing automation. Take a look at your email system to see if it offers marketing automation capabilities. You might already be paying for it with your current technology. Marketing automation is a valuable tool to incorporate into your marketing strategy that contributes to revenue for your company.
What is marketing automation?
Marketing automation is a technology that helps businesses stay in touch with their customers and prospects efficiently. It offers more than email. With an email provider, emails are sent out one at a time and only provide you with data about email performance, such as open rates and clicks. Marketing automation offers multiple automated ways to get in touch, including emails, SMS, social media, and direct mail. And it provides you with an incredible amount of data that goes beyond email performance, including overall engagement with your communications, revenue generated, and information about people's interests and behavior.
There are many marketing automation tools for education companies to use, whether you're a B2B or B2C company. When selecting a tool, it's important to identify what is important for your company and then evaluate the features across providers. Each tool is different when you look at them in detail, with pros and cons for each. These are some popular marketing automation tools to evaluate for growing companies:
How does marketing automation help education companies?
At the highest level, marketing automation helps education companies save time and make money. Instead of spending time building and sending one-off emails to nurture leads or stay in touch and upsell customers, you can create and build a series of sophisticated messages that are sent out automatically. Marketing automation also provides data that helps prioritize follow-up.
You can improve the performance of your messages through marketing automation in multiple ways. One way is to personalize what content you send and when you send it. For example, if your edtech company sells a subscription service, you can send emails with helpful information catered to their company industry during a free trial. You can adjust how many days are in between each email send based on whether or not they opened or clicked on an email.
You can also program messages to be sent based on actions. If someone downloads a specific whitepaper, opens a certain email, or visits a webpage, you can send an email or send a text message based on their action. Yes, these automations take time to build upfront, but they will save you a lot of time in the long run once they are up.
Another advantage to using a marketing automation tool is the data it captures. Beyond the standard email metrics, open rates and click rates, you can implement lead scoring. Lead scoring assigns points based on the actions someone takes with your marketing automations. Over time you will see who has engaged the most by looking at your contact's lead scores. You can use the lead score to prioritize and personalize follow-up messages or identify your loyal customers and brand advocates.
Not every marketing automation tool has all of these features, so you'll need to assess what features will help your company the most and find the tool that is the right fit for your company.
The first five steps to marketing automation for education companies
When you start using a marketing automation tool, it can be overwhelming, especially with technologies that have advanced features. It's best to start small, learn from what you've done, and build from there. It will give you confidence in using the tool and help you understand what your audience responds to the most. Here are the first five things to do when you start with marketing automation:
Learn about the tool. Many have comprehensive free online resources for you to access - articles, tutorials, webinars, community forums. It's best to get acclimated with the functionality and terminology before diving in.
Organize your segmentation and lists. This is oftentimes one of the most challenging steps because there are so many ways to categorize your contacts. But it will ultimately help your performance and email deliverability.
Build templates for your creative assets. This is a worthwhile foundational step. Create designs for all types of emails you plan to send out, whether it's newsletters, event promotions, or product emails. These templates also ensure your messages are cohesive and consistently represent your brand.
Set-up backend functionality. When setting up your marketing automation tool for the first time, you'll need to make sure some of the behind-the-scenes functionality is ready. This includes setting up your preference center when people unsubscribe from emails, lead scoring, and analytics reports.
Develop your first marketing automation. Now you're ready to dive in and create your first marketing automation!
Example marketing automations to start with
When you are ready to build your first marketing automation, keep in mind that this is an initiative that you will build on over time. It's best to start small with a simple automation to get used to the platform and learn from initial results. There are two paths to determine which automation to begin with. One is to look at the regular communications you send out manually and decide whether they can be automated. For example, an onboarding email you send to new customers. The other path is to think about communications you've wanted to send out but haven't because they take too long to sustain manually—for example, drip campaigns sent to prospects to stay in touch.
Here are examples of what the first stage of these marketing automations could look like:
For growing companies, marketing automation will advance the way you interact with customers and prospects. It will allow you to plan and execute ongoing communications that extend beyond one-off emails. Your contacts will benefit from personalized messages. You will benefit from having more opportunities to reach your contacts and receiving helpful data about what messages appeal to your contacts and who your company fans are.