How to automate customer journeys Marketing by MATT KEENER March 09, 2021Most new business endeavors start small. The founder identifies—and capitalizes on—an opportunity to serve a specific customer in a specific way. One satisfied customer leads to more customers, a larger team, and new opportunities. What was once small grows into a much larger entity with many moving parts—and numerous customers, all of whom still expect the same level of service.To scale in a way that is supportive of the customer journey, businesses are turning to automated systems that help them strike a better balance between growth and personalization. And marketing automation tools, such as Insightly Marketing, can be especially useful when implemented thoughtfully and strategically.Let’s take a closer look at some best practices for automating your customer journeys.Why marketing automation & customer journeys go togetherAs we discussed in a previous article, your customer journey map is a visual representation of the process that your buyer goes through from awareness to satisfied customer. A well-crafted customer journey map should help team members understand your buyer personas, their internal motivations, and their interactions with your organization.Journey mapping is also helpful for improving the customer experience and overcoming internal inefficiencies. For example, you may find it easier to identify:Content gaps: Articles, eBooks, technical guides, and other resources that might help the customer achieve his or her goal faster.Unnecessary friction: Points in the journey that make life difficult for customers, such as confusing calls to action or redundant steps.Time-consuming, manual processes: Steps that, if automated, would benefit both the customer and your team, such as appointment confirmations.Fixing these challenges is not easy when you’re dealing with hundreds or thousands of contact records. That’s where marketing automation comes in especially handy. Unlike batch-and-blast email tools that offer minimal configuration options, marketing automation tools are built to enable highly customized, rule-based journeys that align with customer and internal objectives.Marketing automation enables your company to systematize your processes and scale them to keep pace with growth. The net result? Better informed customers, less friction in the buying process, and improved efficiency.4 marketing automation tips for a better customer journeySo, what’s the best way to align marketing automation with your customer journey? Consider these four tips.1. Collect raw ideas & develop your automation strategyResist the temptation to start “doing.” Instead, invest time into the process and develop a game plan. Go back to your customer journey map and note any content gaps, broken processes, and improvement opportunities, such as:Implementing auto-responder emails for form submissionsAutomating the distribution of blog content to subscribersRegularly following up with leads who have requested pricing but failed to buyAccelerating the onboarding experience for new customersAsking customers to post reviews on social media and review sitesAsk key stakeholders in sales, support, marketing, and other departments for feedback. Aim to understand how much time and effort is involved in supporting existing processes and workflows. Quantify the potential business impact that could be realized through automation.2. Sequence your workTake all of your automation ideas and organize them into a central location. You can use kanban boards, which are visually intuitive and make it easy to organize projects into a sequential order for implementation. Start with the project that represents the largest value and least effort. Or, if you’re completely new to automation, perhaps it would be best to start with a very small project with minimal impact. This way, you can familiarize yourself with the marketing automation platform and reduce the risk of unexpected delays.One additional note about sequencing: If everything is in-process, nothing is in-process. Therefore, it’s best to implement one automation project at a time. Focus on using automation to add value to the customer journey—rather than maximizing the amount of work.3. Gain a clear understanding of your marketing automation technologyThere are a variety of marketing automation systems on the market today. Some offer visually intuitive user interfaces, while others are somewhat antiquated and tedious to use. Some are natively integrated with your CRM, while others require a third-party integration. Regardless of the technology that you intend to use, it’s vital to read support documentation and familiarize yourself with the platform, UI, and terminology. (If you haven’t selected a marketing automation system, check out Insightly’s marketing automation checklist.)Insightly Users: Insightly Marketing users should read What are Journeys? and brush up on important definitions, such as prospects, lists, steps, actions, triggers, and checks.4. Use data to measure impact, avoid issues, & inform future decisionsAs you automate various aspects of the customer journey, be sure to refer back often to your marketing automation system for data and insights. In addition to top-level campaign metrics, drill down into specific steps in the journey. Your system should make it easy to understand:Total number of deliveries, opens, and clicks for each emailTop-performing and under-performing steps in the journeyOpportunities to continuously improve the journeyOne final note: Your business is continuously evolving—and so is the customer journey. Therefore, you must regularly update your automation rules as things change. Set a goal to review all active automations on a regular basis. Monthly or quarterly is probably a good cadence, depending on the amount of automation. Check for any automated workflows that overlap or detract from the customer experience. Look for ways to consolidate and simplify.Automate your customer journeys, one step at a timeAutomation can be tremendously beneficial to the customer journey. It can also be a little overwhelming, especially if your company has been slow to adopt new technologies. As you begin to formulate your automation strategy, don’t try to do too many things at once. Remember, any incremental improvement will be a net gain for your customers and team.Keep it simple, focus on value, and keep iterating.If you’d like to learn more about Insightly’s unified platform for sales and marketing automation, request a demo and get a free needs assessment. Request a demo Customer Data Management | Customer Journey | Digital marketing | Marketing Automation MATT KEENERMatt Keener is a digital marketer and President of Keener Marketing Solutions, LLC. In addition to consulting for Insightly and other SaaS clients, Matt enjoys blogging about remote work. 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