In this episode, Kenda MacDonald, the CEO of Automation Ninjas shares her thoughts on what is automated marketing and how to use it to powerfully drive business growth.
Some topics we discussed include:
- What is automated marketing
- Why does automated marketing fail
- What does good marketing automation look like
- How to start the process of marketing automation
- How to personalize the experience while automating marketing
- How to find and deliver value for customers
- What should we be doing to orient automated marketing the right way
- How to ensure you have organizational buy-in for automated marketing
- When is the right time to invest in marketing automation
- When is the right time to think about marketing automation tools
- How to choose the best solution
- The four-part, framework that Kenda uses to define the customer journey lifecycle
- and much more…
Vinay Koshy 0:02
Is automated marketing really about automation or is it more about knowing your customers really well? I think that you'd agree that from a business perspective, it is incredibly important to know your target market and make sure they keep coming back for more. Today, with so much data available to businesses, there has never been a better time to leverage opportunities that present. But just how do we leverage automated marketing? Well, our guest has a few answers.
She was a forensic psychology major is now an award winning business owner, author of the best selling book hack the buyer brain, and founder of automation, ninjas. Automation ninjas helps forward thinking businesses get better quality leads that convert better for happier customers that come back and spend more. How do they do this? You ask? The short answer, she says is by creating amazing customer journeys using buyer psychology and marketing automation. I, however, am hoping to dive deeper and discover more. But in the meantime, Kenda Macdonald welcome to the podcast.
Kenda Macdonald 1:53
Hello, hello. Hello. Thank you very much. Thank you for having me here.
Vinay Koshy 1:56
It's great to have you.
Kenda - Automation Ninjas, I'm curious, what was the problem that you were trying to solve when you started out? And has it evolved since then?
Kenda Macdonald 2:08
Oh, that's a really good question to start with. So effectively, I was studying Forensic Psychology at the time that I got into marketing automation. And I noticed that there was quite there was there was no understanding, in most automation and in most marketing, about how the buyer brain actually works like how people actually behave. So when I first started the company, it was really to try and bridge the gap between how consumers behave and how like what we understand as marketers, because very often, they're two entirely different things. So I wanted to kind of show marketers, how the brain actually works, and how to therefore improve your marketing automation as a result. So that's that's kind of how I started. And no, I guess that's not really changed in the years that we've been running. Not really where we do that better than Fs are. It's quite exciting, really
Vinay Koshy 2:59
I am curious as to how psychology and the whole marketing space sort of coincided for you.
Yes, so I was I was paying my way through university because I moved to the UK from South Africa. And I needed to pay my pay my uni bills, which are very high as an international student. So I kind of had several jobs on the go at any point in time, and my uni was a nighttime uni. And I just happened to start working as a personal assistant in a business that did marketing automation. And very quickly, within six months, I was their operations manager. I didn't stay as a personal assistant for very long because it turns out, I just kind of clicked with the marketing automation stuff. And it was, it was just a happy coincidence of time. And I enjoyed it so much. I just ended up starting my own company, kind of focusing on that.
Excellent. And looking back on your experiences today, what would you say is your personal area of strength?
Kenda Macdonald 4:02
Oh, oh, oh,
I guess my just constant desire to learn. I'd like it never stops. I'm like constantly like, Oh, what's that thing over there and like not not kind of like a shiny object syndrome because I don't like just learning basic things. Like when I when I researched something, I researched very in depth. I like drop everything and we're gonna do 100% I think that's the thing that keeps you on my toes. I read a lot. And I consume vast amounts of information all the time. So like right next to me right now I have a massive stack of books that I'm like reading constantly and referencing and that kind of thing. So I think that's what keeps me ahead of the game ready? More than anything else.
Vinay Koshy 4:46
Excellent. From a business point of view, what would you say is something in your area of strength that businesses don't know, but should?
Kenda Macdonald 5:01
Okay, so it's definitely going to be the purchase formula. So that is the process that the brain goes through when it is deciding to make a purchase. And as businesses, we tend to always explain to our customers very logically why they should buy our products and our service. And that's not actually what the brain needs at that point in time, what we need to be doing is we need to be adding value to our consumers and showing them and building relationship with them. Because as you build a relationship and add value, you increase the reward activation in the brain that your consumer gets when they think of your products and services. And that's the number one thing that you can do to increase the likelihood of purchases, increase that reward activation. So not necessarily logically explained things but to build that relationship instead, that's definitely the one thing if you can get that right for your business, you'll be able to flip your marketing on its head completely, and make it something really, really powerful. We did that for a client, and we increases conversion rates, he's actually in New Zealand, we increases conversion rates by 325%. And also his average order value, we doubled that over about 18 months. So just flipping that one thing can make a world of difference to your business.
Vinay Koshy 6:12
I think a good place to start as we explore automated marketing is perhaps a definition of what it is. Would you give us your take on that?
Kenda Macdonald 6:22
Yeah, sure. So automated marketing is basically anything that you do to get and keep a customer. And it's anything that you are doing to leverage that process. So consumers can't, you can't really have a relationship with the consumer. Now that is that is purely offline, it's very difficult to have that purely offline relationship. So anytime you are doing things in an online manner to get and keep a customer that becomes automated marketing. And generally, when we talk about marketing automation, we are saying things like things that might send emails for you, or ways to keep in contact with the client pre or post purchase. That's generally what we talked about when we say automated marketing.
Vinay Koshy 7:07
Excellent. And why does automated marketing fail? Because everyone's into this whole thing of automating as much as we possibly can. Yet there are a lot of instances where, obviously just doesn't work for for a business. So could you contrast between what bad automation looks like and what good automation should look like?
Kenda Macdonald 7:30
Yeah, sure. So automated marketing generally fails, because businesses tend to make it about themselves. So we tend to kind of like we want to tell people about how great our products and services are. And, and we don't take the time to think about what the consumer actually needs. So we're not increasing that reward activation. And so we focus it all on ourselves. But also, we only focus on the sales part of the journey. So bad marketing automation is only focused on getting the sale, it doesn't do any of the nurturing doesn't do any of the post purchase a journey, it doesn't focus on building a relationship is just focuses on getting the sale. So that's bad automated marketing, good. automated marketing is everything about the consumer, everything about your end customer, you are adding values by providing amazing information to people in an automated way. You are sending amazing emails that are full of tons of helpful information. You are there with your sales and you're still doing your sales process. But you're making sure that you don't have any gaps in the process. You are there at the end of the purchase, making sure that you're onboarding and welcoming your new customers and treating them really nicely. And you're continually keeping a cycle going of engaging people and bringing them back into the sales process in a really nice way. That's good automated marketing. But but the bad mark, automated marketing is just about you and you trying to make your sale rather than making the customer's life better.
Vinay Koshy 8:57
What would you say to someone that says automated marketing? Also, depersonalizes the sales experience? How would you counter that?
Kenda Macdonald 9:11
I would get very angry.
Vinay Koshy 9:16
Tell us more.
Kenda Macdonald 9:20
So I guess marketing automation is a bit like a sausage machine, right? You the quality of the sausage is depends on the meat that you put into the machine. If you're gonna put bad quality meat into the machine, you're gonna get bad quality sausages, and it's exactly the same if you put a really bad depersonalized process together, and you don't focus on creating that personalization, you're gonna have a bad time. But if you work really hard to create a personalized process and to make something that is behavioral, and to make something that cares for your customers, then you know, it's not going to be depersonalized. So it's only depersonalized if you haven't put enough effort into it or If you just haven't spent enough time planning, planning that journey out, you might not know how to do it. And that's, that's totally fine. But no, it doesn't depersonalized the process it only depersonalized the process when it when bad quality things have gone into it.
Vinay Koshy 10:13
Okay. So when we say, or when you say bad quality material goes into the entire process, what should we be doing in order to make sure that we are orienting automated marketing the right way? should be in line with business objectives? Or should they have separate goals entirely what would be ...
Kenda Macdonald 10:35
So, you definitely want to have it in line with business objectives, because it's not, if it's not helping you increase your conversion rates at the end of the day, or if it's not helping you increase engagement, then it's not worth anything. So it should definitely be in line with your objectives. But in terms of how you structure things, and how you put it together, you should really be focusing on the customer journey, you should really be taking a look at the entire process that your consumer has to go through and trying to figure out how can you personalize it? How can you nurture? How can you add value at each and every one of those stages, and then make sure that you've got something in print in place for that it isn't actually more complicated in that it can be difficult to sit down and do that process. And there are lots of experts out there that will help you do that. But sitting down and structuring everything to make sure that you've got something catered, and then providing the right information in each of those stages is really important. But yes, definitely make sure that it is in line with your business objectives, but also spend time setting specific goals for specific parts of the journey. So I like to break things down and go, Okay, I need to get, you know, for this client, we need to get an X amount more leads. So that's a goal that we might have. But we want to take those leads, and we want to convert those. So that's a goal I might create. And we want to make sure that those those leads are engaged. So that's another goal that I might have. So I like to break everything down into smaller goals, and then work towards achieving those in certain time periods. That just means that we're getting the most out of the out of the automation, but sitting down creating a journey, and then deciding which parts you're going to automate and how you're going to help people is the most important thing.
Vinay Koshy 12:14
If I understand this correctly, you're saying that you should map out the customer journey, in order to ensure that you have a clear picture of what's going on. From a customer perspective. An issue that I I haven't counted at times, though, is that people within the organization don't necessarily understand why you're making the changes, or why you're recommending a certain pathway and there's some resistance to it. Could you talk to us about buying, if you've been part of that whole process of ensuring buying within the organization as well?
Kenda Macdonald 12:52
Yeah, so I'm gonna, I'm gonna lean into some stereotypes here. So forgive me for my extreme stereotypes. But the the most difficult part that we always struggle to get buy in with is from sales. So sales doesn't want its things automated. So if you have a sales department, they don't want their stuff automated, there have a way of doing it, they don't want to buy your new system, they don't want to work with it. So the rest of the company could be bought in. But But very often, it's hard to get sales on board. So I'm going to use that as an example. And I think that's because sales have their processes, they have their ways of doing things. And most salespeople are very ritualistic. They know what works for them, right, and they're gonna stick to that process. So when you come in with a shiny new system, and you're like Tada, they kick back against that they don't, they don't want to be part of that they want to do the thing their way. So what we generally tend to do when we're struggling to get buy in from a certain department, is we bring them into the planning process. So we either interview them, and find that information, find out the things that are struggling and focus on how can we help you solve this problem. And then we slowly start to introduce the automation. So we don't just like Chuck people in at the deep end, we slowly start to bring things through. And we slowly start to bring that back that automation in and implemented through. And generally because we are giving sales, better quality leads, and they're getting higher conversion rates, they will love it after a while it just takes a little while. But the most powerful thing that you can do to get buy in is to bring people into the planning process. So very often we'll bring different departments into the customer journey planning sessions, and we'll sit down and we'll go Okay, this is the part that we're doing now help us unpick this help us create a way that we can do this better, what improvements Would you like to see what things are you really interested in? What's the problem for you right now? And how can we solve that? That's the most empowering way that we've got it. I have been part of some implementations where people have just implemented it and just said you have to get on with it. It's a new thing that never goes down. Well, if you empower people and kind of, you know, bring them into the process, then buy in can be a lot easier. And that customer journey planning is a very powerful tool for that, because everybody can see what you're trying to achieve. And it's all on one piece of paper all on one flow, and everyone can see everything that's happening. So he tends to break down those divides between the silos and a company. And it tends to increase the buy in quite massively. So bring them in, empower them, that's the best way to get buy in.
Vinay Koshy 15:27
So just so I'm clear on in the picture that I'm creating my mind. So you're inviting people from within the company. But are you also inviting customers in as well?
Kenda Macdonald 15:38
Oh, it is interesting, bringing customers into the planning session. So we don't tend to bring customers into the customer journey planning session only because customers very often have one specific thing that they will try and derail the whole process with, they don't mean to, but they get very focused on something. So what we might do in an instance, where we're trying to improve something for a customer and trying to improve the experiences, we might take them through a bit of user testing, we might just sit with them and go how how does this bit work? What what are your suggestions, but we try not to let that derail it because they can feel very strongly about one thing, and not realize that something else is causing that. And so they can they can accidentally bias things?
Vinay Koshy 16:24
Sure, just from my experience, I often, though, have a bit of an eye opening experience to have them sitting with customers, and actually hear the experience of customers went through Yes, yeah. So that they understand some of the choke points, if you will, or bottlenecks in the entire process, and then allows for better feedback. And you're used to trying for years,
Kenda Macdonald 16:50
You're 100% One of the things that we really like doing is we put tracking software on websites, and and show people like, you like the way that formula works, or you like the way that looks. But look, that's where people are dropping off, you might have thought that was a good thing. But your customers are not enjoying it. Having that user testing and asking people questions and being like, how did that work? How did you feel when you did that? And kind of is. So it's super eye opening. But we don't necessarily bring customers into the actual planning process. But bringing them in to get those ideas. You're right is just it can be mind blowing, sometimes in the shift can be quite significant for business.
Vinay Koshy 17:27
So yes, absolutely. So would I be right in saying that, even though you're very much focused on automated marketing and automation in general? It's really more about customer experience design?
Kenda Macdonald 17:42
100% 100%? Two things have to go hand in hand.
Vinay Koshy 17:48
Yes, sure. Yeah. So in doing what you just described, are you in fact, doing a bit of an audit on the entire process?
Kenda Macdonald 17:59
Vinay Koshy 18:00
Kenda Macdonald 18:00
Yeah. So when we, when we plan a journey out, there's two parts to it. The first part is what are you currently doing? Let's have a look at what's currently happening. And then we plan the ideal journey out, but you always have to audit the existing stuff, to figure out what you've got to work from, so that we're not chucking anything away. And also, it's quite revealing, when you actually really realize what people are working from. So yeah, you're right.
Vinay Koshy 18:23
Certainly. Is there a good starting point, when you come into an organization that you particularly particularly like to unpack first? Or is it you try and get everything on the table and pick it apart?
Kenda Macdonald 18:37
I do try get everything on the table. But I do always start in one place. And that is how you attracting customers in that's, that's the always that's the beginning part. That's the bit we always start with, because that generally gets people to talk about their collateral and the materials that they're utilizing, and always send people here and these are the questions we get. And it starts the conversation really easily because everyone understands that if you jump straight into the intricacies of how we're going to automate the sales pipeline, and all the tech stuff, people just tend to glaze over. But people get really excited when they unpick, how do we bring customers on board, everyone in the business understands that bit. So we always start with that, and then we'll kind of move on to the rest of it, we will lay everything out, even if that's like several days worth of work. But we always start with how are you bringing customers in because it's a nice, easy conversation and people are very comfortable with that.
Vinay Koshy 19:31
Okay, and allows for a bit of rapport building in the meantime? Are you also once you've mapped everything out. Do you then go about identifying the tools of the use and trying to select the right ones? Is that an appropriate time to start thinking about tools or does that come down the track?
Kenda Macdonald 19:50
So once we've mapped out the existing journey, we then move on to the ideal journey. So this is the thing that you're wanting to create when we're During the existing journey, we'll get an idea of what systems are already in place dealing with different things. But when we do the ideal journey, very often it's like, oh, okay, so you want to put together like a behave resegmented long term nurture. While your system isn't going to do that, we'll have to take a look at how we can either make your system do that or getting another system. So the ideal journey at the end of that is generally when we tend to break everything out in such a way that we can actually get some clarity as to what the different tech is the tech stack that we're going to utilize at the end. Yeah.
Vinay Koshy 20:34
And a question around that, because there's so many different systems out there. And certainly business needs vary from their unique standpoint, quite quite significantly as well. How do you identify the right types of software that you'd need to be using in order to enhance the process? While at the same time not allow for tool bloat?
Kenda Macdonald 21:03
Yes, yes. So it's difficult because as you say, there are literally 1000s I think the last time I looked at the list, there were over 1000 marketing automation platforms out there, or providers is just kind of crazy. So what we tend to do is, we tend to get really clear on what the company needs, and I'm very, very particular on stop looking at the tools and telling me you want to use that tool, let's just get a list together of what you actually need. And then try and find the tool that matches that list as close as possible, whilst allowing for a bit of growth, you know, some ideal things that you might want to work towards in the future. So we always go from the list and then we find the tool, because if you do it the other way around, that's when you get tool bloat, right? Because then you're like, Okay, I want to use HubSpot. But HubSpot doesn't allow me to do this and this and this, but I can put these plugins that do this and this and this, and it's like, well, maybe HubSpot is not right for you, maybe we need to look at Marketo. And because my cancer has all of these things, or maybe we need to look at Salesforce, or maybe we need to look at Infusionsoft, or, you know, depending on the type of company, some companies want to use things like HubSpot, but they only need MailChimp, you know. So it's kind of looking, let's get the requirements down on paper first, and then we choose the tool. Because otherwise you're you know, you get yourself wrapped up in tools and plugins and all sorts of things. And then you have a really bad time.
Vinay Koshy 22:23
And is there as tool experts, so to speak, I know you call yourself automation ninjas, but with 8000 tools out in the marketplace, but they can seem quite daunting to be an expert in on all 8000. So how do you manage the integration of the right tools with a company's processes?
Kenda Macdonald 22:45
Yeah, so we're quite lucky that we work with a core a core group of tools, there's there's a few that we work with specifically. And if we have any requirements that are outside of that, we have a really great network of specialists that we go to what we prefer to work with, you prefer to work with specialists and specific tools, because as you say, there are 1000s out there and you can't, you can't be good at all of them. Most of them do the same things in the same way anyway, like they're they're sort of basis all pretty much the same when it comes to marketing automation. But when there are really specialist tools, we'll reach out to our network, because we think we feel that's the more appropriate way to make sure the client gets the best out of the deal.
Vinay Koshy 23:27
Certainly, and in terms of content, that that you use to fuel communication with your potential clients. What What does that process look like? Because I'm assuming that they will have certain bits of content that they thought was particularly ideal, but then you creating this ideal customer journey? How do you audit their content, and then look at filling in the gaps?
Kenda Macdonald 23:53
So the content questions was a funny one, when we first started, we were like, we're not doing content, we're never gonna touch content that's too complicated. And then we realized that you could build the best campaign in the world, and it was amazing. But if they put bad content in it, you're gonna have a bad time, you're gonna get a bad conversion rate. So now we actually do have content, we have content in house now. And what we generally tend to do is we will look back through we do like a, like a cut, we do a competitor audit. And we do in as part of that competitor, audit will audit our clients website as well. So we take a look at their content, we're like, okay, that's not SEO friendly. that blog post needs recreating that kind of thing. It depends what kind of packages that person is, on how deep we go. But we do audit everything to fit with best practices. And then generally, when we're creating an ideal journey, will either give our clients all the templates and the structures that we've created over years of experience to know that these things work, if they're gonna create it, and then we'll critique it and we'll make sure that it's good before it goes out, or we'll do it for them. them, because we realize that many businesses just don't have the time. They don't have the time to write stuff. And they don't have the time to make it be good. So we sort of do that for them. But we like it when businesses do their own content. Because it's more authentic, it has a better tone of voice, and it comes across better and your customers, you know, know, like and trust you. But yeah, we do audit everything. And that's, we have some templates and structures that we work from to know like, does the blog post have all of these things? Does the email have these things? Is this the right email for the right part of the series, that kind of stuff. So that's the only way we can manage it with lots of templates.
Vinay Koshy 25:40
When we were talking offline, you mentioned a four part, framework or process that you use to define your customer journey lifecycle. Could you talk us through it and tell us where you see most automation, maybe in light of content fails, and where the opportunities lie?
Kenda Macdonald 26:03
Okay, so the framework is, it's a lifecycle marketing framework that we utilize. And it is in, as you say, in those four parts. So the four parts are attract, engage, sell, and Wow, so attract pretty straightforward. It's what you're utilizing to attract business in. And that's made up of three individual little sub phases, which is targeting your audience and knowing exactly who they are and how they get, like how they're going to interact with you. And that kind of thing, knowing what they're interested in, so that you can create the kind of stuff that's gonna bring them through the door, and then also collecting those leads, right, so the way to actually collect that information, so that's attract, then engage is everything to educate and add value. And that's probably the most important phase after kind of getting the leads in, because that's the thing that creates that reward activation in the brain. That's how you get that conversion rate. So you have the education is all the content that you're sending out. And the adding value is, is making sure that you're creating stuff that's moving people along the journey. And then you have sell, which is about making the appropriate offer at the appropriate time. And also closing and making sure that you are closing that sale and doing what you need to do to close it. And then you have Wow, which is all about like people sitting back and going wow, that was an amazing experience that I just had. So you're delivering in a really great way you are checking in to see how people are doing, you're collecting your referrals and your testimonials. But you're also going through and you're offering the next step. So your upsells and cross sells and your down sells. And the idea is that you should really have if you map all of that out, you should really have equal amounts at each level. And what we tend to see most businesses do is like attract is like ram packed, it's full of stuff, and people are doing to get like leads in the door. And cell is full of all these processes that people use to like sell to their clients and that kind of thing. But then engage and wow, like pretty much totally empty, because people jump straight from attract to sell. And then once people have sold, they just leave it. So engage is the most important for content, because that's where you're building the relationship. That's where you're providing that value. It's where you set yourself out aside from the competition. It's your differentiator, it's the thing that positions you and makes you look great. So engage is super important. But it's also creating a better quality lead, because it's teaching them things so that your sales doesn't have to work so hard. So engage is very important for content. But then why is very important for customer lifetime value and getting people to come back. And that's where your content comes in again, because you're then nurturing after the sale, to make sure that you get that second and third sale and for sale, etc, etc. So those are the two areas that I see language the most. and engaging definitely the one that people pretty much have nothing in most of the time.
Vinay Koshy 28:56
Okay, what about the well set of things? Do you find that most companies are quite competent, I guess is the word when it comes to onboarding and creating that ideal experience as a customer?
Kenda Macdonald 29:11
No, I don't find that.
Vinay Koshy 29:14
What do you think is quite often missing?
Kenda Macdonald 29:18
Yeah, so definitely, I would say that the one thing that's mostly missing is that onboarding actually, is very often, people just like are like, yeah, we've got the sale. Now we run back to the beginning and we focus all our energy getting more sales in and they forget that you've got a customer there who wants a bit more information, they want to make sure that they utilizing their product in the best way possible. They want to make sure that they're going through that whole process, and we ignore them once we've sold something to them and that makes for very unhappy customers who do you feel like you don't care about them. So I feel like that's that's your area of opportunity is you really should be putting as much effort into post purchase nurture as you did to get them to the sale in the first place. So if you look at your own processes, and you don't have as much work going into post sales as you did into actual sales, then you know, you've definitely got an imbalance there and you're not doing as good a job as you could be doing, it probably means you're not getting as good of a customer lifetime value as you could be. So you're leaving money on the table there for sure.
Vinay Koshy 30:25
Would I be right in saying that, as you mean, an organization that has been going through that process for at least a few years, that perhaps a quick win for them would be to actually invest in automating some of the customer winback strategies as well? Because that could quite easily double the lifetime value and certainly give it a shot in the in terms of revenue.
Kenda Macdonald 30:52
Yeah, yeah. 100%. So I hate that term, but it is low hanging fruit. And the thing is, I can't remember the statistic or the top of my head, but I think it was something ridiculous, like, it's 600% cheaper to sell to your existing customers than it is to bring new customers in. So it's way cheaper to get your you know, you don't have to spend much ad money, if anything, on getting new customers getting your existing customers converting a second time, they already know you, they already like you, they already trust you, hopefully, if you've done a good job. So focusing definitely putting together some stuff to get to reengage people and to get them to a second and third sale, especially if you're an e commerce if your e commerce and you do some RFM. So some recency, frequency and monetary value campaigns can be a really nice, really nice quick win that you can put in place.
Vinay Koshy 31:41
So getting this picture in my head, at least have an entire process that is optimized for a customer experience, which is great once I have it all laid out. But at some point, perhaps sooner rather than later. customer's expectations change, and their expectations of experience that they would like also change. So how do we put in metrics or checks and balances in order to ensure that we're tapping into or keeping our finger on the pulse of their changing expectations? And then be able to feed that back into what we've created in order to optimize it further?
Kenda Macdonald 32:23
Yeah, so that's a really great question. And you're really great question. So we like to put what we call data anchors in place. But it's a fancy term for basically having some KPIs that you monitor, things like engagement, things like customer retention, things like just your acquisition rates, and that kind of stuff, all the different little important KPIs within each thing. So just anchoring different points along the process and tracking those. And anytime your numbers start to drop, you know, you need to do a little bit of work. But also, you should always be focusing on consistently optimizing your system, I think people tend to have this idea that marketing automation is something you can put in place. And it will automate something forever, and you never have to touch it again. And that is like the dream that we get sold, right? You can lie on the beach, and your business will make money in your sleep. And yes, it does to a certain extent, but you have to keep optimizing that all the time. So we like to do things like once a quarter go in and look at all of the email subjects, which one's performing best, which ones aren't performing, and just go in and optimize them, tweak them, and just focus on continually experimenting with stuff. And if you keep doing that, sometimes you'll change something and your conversion rate will drop, and you're like, oh God, and you'll have to run back to the beginning and change and change it back. But that's okay. Because you've learned something, and you learn what your customers like and what they don't like. The other thing that you can do is you can just keep abreast of of the trends, right? keep keep your finger on the pulse as to what other companies are doing an experiment with new and up and up and coming technology, and just constantly be trying new things. But you've just got to work at it all the time consistent optimization. So Kaizen, right? always focusing on optimizing something, that's the way that you win with marketing automation
Vinay Koshy 34:11
Certainly. Are there particular data points that will indicate that some things need to be prioritized as opposed to others?
Kenda Macdonald 34:19
Yes, so engagement is your number one priority, if you're not getting engagement, so if you're not getting decent open rates and you're not getting decent click through rates, everything you know, that's a good indication that you're totally missing the mark with something. If your engagement rates start dropping, then you know, you're not sending people the right information. If your click through rates just aren't good enough so they're not over sort of 2% then you need to be working on improving those click throughs because you're obviously not giving people enough incentive to click through. So those that that core engagement how many people are opening your emails, how often they open your emails, what your general open rates are, and what your general click through rates are give you a good indication of how how interested your audience is in what you are telling them. So it's a nice, it's an easy way to tap into the process. That's the one I would always prioritize for. Because if you're providing the right information, the engagement will be there. And then of course, conversion rate. That's the big one, right? consistently focusing on that, but I always prioritize engagement and conversion over everything else. So over reengagement over all those other things. Because if you're not getting the core messaging, right, you're not going to get the conversion rates. So those are the two things I'm always looking at.
Vinay Koshy 35:31
Excellent. And I think we've covered a fair bit. But is there another aspect of automated marketing that you feel we haven't quite touched upon, but it is important to, to highlight?
Kenda Macdonald 35:44
Yes, there is one thing, and that is the behavioral elements in it, we get a lot of data from how people are interacting with your emails, even if you have like a really small list. Even if you have a small list and you're not sending very much like information out, you still are getting to know what people like and what they dislike based on what they are clicking on and what they're interacting with. So our modern consumers don't like to talk to us, they don't want to talk to marketing, they don't want to have a conversation with us most of the time, because we're gonna try to sell them something and they don't want that. But they tell us by how they are interacting with our emails, how they're interacting with our site, how they're interacting little different content that we're putting out there. They tell us what they're interested in. So if you are tracking behavior, you can segment your audience. And if you're segmenting your audience really, really well, you can provide them the type of information they want to hear more about. And as you learn more about them, and you segment them further. And you continue doing that segmentation, we call that progressive profiling, you're learning more about your audience, each time they interact with something and provided you're creating your campaigns in such a way that you're consciously working on that all the time, you'll you'll be able to get a great amount of information and you can behave really start to enhance their journey, provide more that have the stuff that they like, and provide less of the stuff that they don't trigger different campaigns when they reach certain engagement threshold. So add them into a sales series, when they read certain blog posts or watch a certain video or have interacted with certain pieces of content enough times that behavioral element can really, if you're really doing marketing automation, well, behavioral element can can really take you to the next level completely in a totally amazing way. So the behavioral bit is the is the really exciting bit. Everythings exciting.
Vinay Koshy 37:31
The behavioral bit, do you combine that with scoring of some sort, in order to filter the wheat from the chaff so to speak? Exactly, yeah. Okay. And, and then that would be embedded within the tools that you use a key component of that, okay. Is there another aspect of psychology or, or the behavioral component that that you believe is quite useful in terms of nurturing people through their buying journey?
Kenda Macdonald 38:00
Yeah, so the one thing that you're doing, if you are consistently providing content, so the great thing about content marketing, if you're focusing on utilizing content marketing, so sending information out to your audience all the time, so educating and adding value, what you're actually doing is you're getting lots of micro conversions. So you're consistently getting people to click through to something and read something. And every time you're doing that, you're creating a positive relationship with somebody. So we should be focusing all the time on understanding what our audience cares about. And then providing that kind of content to them in such a way that we are furthering the relationship and we're moving them down the sales process. That is the one thing that we have to focus on all the time. But there is something we have so many cognitive biases that happen, we have little corruption errors that happen when we're trying to make a decision. And the brain has lots of crutches that it uses to make that decision making process really easy. But it's very easy to fall foul of these cognitive biases. And therefore people don't pay attention to your office, or they hit the sales page, and they don't do anything. So there's lots of little corruption areas that can go wrong. But when you are consistently focusing on building a positive relationship with an audience and providing information and education, you're effectively hacking that corruption error process, because the brain starts giving priority to your messaging because it trusts you. So that's why content marketing works so well. So if you're consistently focusing on educating and adding value, not only are you increasing the likelihood of purchase, because you're you're weighing the purchase formula that the brain goes through in your favor with that value activation, but you're also increasing that trust level, which means you get through the cognitive biases that a little bit better. So there's those two key behavioral parts that you can really play into and who knew all you have to do is be really good to your audience to hack that process.
Vinay Koshy 39:55
Could you talk to us a bit more about adding value because it's often talked about but What does that actually look like? Because it can vary from customer to customer?
Kenda Macdonald 40:05
Yeah. So I think the most important thing, if you're going to add values, you have to understand what's the problem for your customer? So what is that issue? What's that thing that, you know, we often say in marketing, what's the thing that's keeping your customer awake at night? And it is that what's the thing that they're going off? And they are researching for? What's the thing that they're interested in currently solving, the best way that you can add value is you can answer the questions that your consumers have the you're an expert, you have all the answers, they're not an expert, they have a problem, and they need those answers. So you just answer those questions in the best way that you possibly can. And that will add value. So consistently understanding where are they're in their awareness journey? What content Do I need to provide here? You know, you can do that in video format, you can do it in podcast format, you can do it in blog format, you can do it by lead magnets, all sorts. But how do you answer those questions, so that you're taking them through that journey to get them closer to that conversion? That is adding value is answering the questions and helping them get closer to solving that issue. You don't have to give everything away for free, but you do have to give enough away for free to get them to the point of conversion.
Vinay Koshy 41:14
That's excellent. Would you say that another term that is used increasingly is thought leadership for what you've just described?
Kenda Macdonald 41:23
Correct? Yeah. Yeah. And I think the thing with thought leadership is people tend to get like, really wrapped up in that thought leadership is like this esoteric principle. It's like, and you know, intangible, you can't like put your finger on that it's not true. You don't have to have complicated things that you're answering questions do and that kind of stuff. It's literally about showing up consistently. And being like, Yeah, I got the answers. Our question here is, it's about almost downloading your brain in a way so that your your audience can can unpick it in a way that they are comfortable with interacting, they build that relationship with you before they reach out. So it doesn't have to be complicated. The thought leadership bet. I mean, one of our clients is a thought leadership on socks. You know, they're, they're the leading soft experts, as they like to call themselves and you know, they've completely niche that side of the market. So it doesn't, you can be a thought leader in pretty much anything. As long as you're answering questions people are asking.
Vinay Koshy 42:19
This has been terrific. There's certainly a lot of golden in what you just shared the Kenda. But if you were listening to this episode, what would you say is your top takeaway?
Kenda Macdonald 42:31
Oh, I guess the importance of the value add, right? Because it's the it's the thread that pulls everything together. It runs through absolutely everything. It's the thing that gets you leads in the first place. It's the thing that gets that increased conversion rate is the thing that gets the customer lifetime value. It's the thing that you're automating effectively is that adding value. So I would say that would probably be at the top takeaway for me.
Vinay Koshy 42:55
And Kendra, if listeners want to find out more or to connect with you, where would you recommend they head to?
Kenda Macdonald 43:02
So you can check out the website so it's just automation engines.com you are welcome to email me with any questions that you have. That's just Kenda at automation, ninjas comm we have the book as well, which is hack the buyer brain. So anything, if you're interested in the psychology behind it, and the marketing automation and the lifecycle marketing process that we spoke about, that's what the book is about. So you can go check that out. That's on the website and on Amazon. But yeah, everything's pretty much there. You're welcome to reach out to me anytime.
Vinay Koshy 43:32
Thanks so much.
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Links and resources mentioned
- Check out Kenda’s site
- Get a copy of the Hack The Buyer Brain: A Revolutionary Approach To Sales, Marketing, And Creating A Profitable Customer Journey
Connect with Kenda
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