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Jul 10, 2018 9:19:00 AM

Win Big by Using Growth Hacking Tactics in Marketing Automation

Ville Loppinen

General Manager, Finland

growth-hacking-marketing-automationHow to use growth hacking methods and tactics in Marketing Automation? Let’s start with the essential: Marketing automation should not be a waterfall project.

Marketing automation starts to be one of the key elements of every growing company’s marketing architecture. But what is marketing automation? It's hard to describe it in just a couple of words. Partly because it can be understood so differently. For some, marketing automation is a tool and for others it's a completely new way of thinking about customer experience through customer journeys (buyers’ journeys). The most relevant subcategories of how people see marketing automation are:

  • Content and Inbound Marketing for buyer journey awareness, consideration and decision phases
  • Data Driven marketing and Retention Marketing when goals are set for creating great customer experience which turns into growth
  • Personalisation and Optimisation for growing online conversions

For each of these you can – and should – use Growth Hacking tactics.

So where to start when you want to move your marketing operations away from an implementation project approach to lean and data based marketing automation model?

Remember: Waiting for the go-ahead decision on strategic marketing automation and budgeting can cost you possible income you could have reached by just starting to do experiments and then showing the results and learnings.

First, opportunity mapping: decide on a business case for a growth hacking experiment

How to define a business case? One good idea is map your buyer personas and customer journeys, and try to find ideas for experimentation. You will surely find multiple ideas on how to get more leads (inbound), close valuable leads (nurture) or improve your current customers’ retention. Selecting the right idea to experiment with might be challenging – but you can do it. Just try to clarify the value proposition and you have a winner: inbound campaign, care model, or data driven campaign to develop step by step.

Tip: a great tool to validate your business case is the Concept and Value Proposition canvas from www.leanservicecreation.com.

Then use specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound goals aka ‘SMART goals’ to define criteria for your success. Make those goals clear and connect the them to real KPIs. Only this way you will get the relevant stakeholders onboard.

Next, align your data and channel needs to your existing marketing architecture

You might have tools and platforms ready – or not. If not, this is the first phase where you need to use fresh thinking and start a culture change. With growth hacking there is no time to wait for quarterly platform updates or cloud investment budgeting – you need to deliver data based results, every day, starting now. You have to act and test your business case immediately. And trust me, after you have proven your business case it is much easier to get money for bigger investments.

Ouch, I don’t have a marketing automation tool

Niche email marketing tools such as MailChimp, Klaviyo or ActiveCampaign have evolved from plain email services to automated workflow management tools. Because these tools have already reached a satisfactory usability level with email marketing features it is quite easy for them to move forward. With these lighter (more affordable) tools it is quite easy to validate a concept or business case before heading into big implementation projects. From business case results with actual monetary impact, it’s quite easy to scale to enterprise solution implementations.

Yes, we have already invested in a marketing automation tool. Better ROI please!

Of course, in most cases you’ll already have some tools up and running. Then the challenge is having the knowledge and inspiration of implementing your business case. Remember that a marketing automation tool is just one part of you marketing architecture. You can decide which of its features you use and which you don’t.

Many companies have already experience from marketing clouds or legacy marketing tools. Maybe they have Salesforce, Oracle or SAP clouds to serve their CRM, customer service or ERP needs and they want to redeem cloud possibilities in marketing automation as well.

Next comes the part where many companies make bad decisions: It is very critical to focus on the decided business case, not on IT architecture. The easiest and sometimes the best solution is to stay in one cloud and use its own plug-in integrations. Cloud providers continually look for tools to complete their solutions to make them the best option for businesses. Cloud integrations by providers mean that tools are more and more in plug-and-play mode for a marketer. Still, always keep in mind that tools are there just to help you. Go for niche tools if nothing else works.

Then the most important part: people – your growth team

You need skills and energy to experiment, and to create content, digital marketing, copywriting, marketing automation triggers and rules, data analysis and design. So set up a growth team: (Growth Owner, Designer, Marketer & Analyst and Developer). Remember to manage internal resources and time allocations for your team, and if needed, find external help for them. Try to provide a strong mandate to make decisions for your team.

So, now you have a growth team, business case, tools, data and channels selected. Time to start experimenting!

Steps to walk through when starting an actual experiment

  1. Growth hypotheses and backlog. Map your care model or campaign so that it is accessible for everyone. It can be an inbound campaign or a data driven customer retention program. It is your business choice. Define the triggers, content, actions and your own tasks to complete the needed marketing operations. Align your value proposition for the customer (buyer persona) you selected for this business case.
  2. Install data analytics. You get what you measure, so be precise to have clear goals. Configure KPI metrics to follow your success. Use room walls and analytic dashboards to make everything visible.
  3. Start a continuous growth process (define hypothesis, test, measure, grow/kill, learn, update backlog, show results at bi-weekly demos). Develop the first trigger, content, action verticals. Learn – and do it better.
  4. If possible do A/B testing from the beginning.
  5. Remember to measure and share your learnings.
  6. Align everything with your company’s other marketing actions in necessary channels.
  7. Do more. 

Remember to invest some time to develop your marketing architecture on a regular basis. It’s the only way to ensure future business case opportunities go live.

Focus needs to always be on growth and getting data based results, but at the same time you should see the big picture and look for opportunities. Always invest some time to follow marketing technology trends and success stories.  

And you will learn and grow every day.


P.S. We're looking for nice people with a 'get shit done' attitude to join our team at Columbia Road! Take a new leap in your career, we have open positions in all business areas. Send a message, call us, visit us — we'd be thrilled to hear from you!


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