Inbound marketing automation doesn’t have to be complicated.
Check out our beginner’s guide to email automation if you want a little primer on the topic before diving into this post.
You might be imaging a dozen different software platforms communicating behind the scenes to sell your products and services all according to some mastermind plan that took six months to set up.
We’re here to break this down in a more straightforward way for you and show examples of how you can automate your inbound marketing to:
- Get better results from individual pieces of content
- Follow up with interested leads
- Proactively reach out to help frequent site visitors
- Communicate reliably with the right people at the right time
One of the essential ways to make all of this a reality is to gain email subscribers, but we’ll be showing you other forms of automation too.
Why set up inbound marketing automation?
On average inbound leads cost 61% less than outbound leads. Automation and evergreen content are certainly factors in that statistic.
With outbound marketing, you still usually need to put some effort into it. There’s minimal ROI from fully-automated outbound marketing since someone needs to personalize the pitches to make them effective.
But with inbound marketing, where you set up entertaining and educational content to pull in your best potential customers, you can continue to reap the benefits of automation (with no additional man-hours) for months or years to come.
- Get continued results after initial setup
- Generate leads and sales on autopilot
- Deepen customer relationships
As we all know, labour is expensive. There’s an initial time investment with inbound marketing automation, and then that falls off, and all that’s required is reporting and optimization.
This means that inbound marketing teams can keep building flywheel after flywheel of demand generating content that lives on after the initial setup. In contrast, outbound teams usually have to put in the same amount of effort to get the same results week and after.
1. Create a quiz for immediate app sales and a follow-up funnel
Quizzes are fun and engaging. They can also be an easy way to automate inbound leads from all sorts of channels. Just because someone downloads your freebie does not mean that they will remember your brand. Can you recall all of the free PDFs you’ve downloaded? No. That’s why it’s so important to get creative with lead-generating content.
With quizzes, you can set them up so that people don’t even give you their email address until they’ve answered all of the questions. This means that they’ve already interacted with your brand and are more likely to remember who you are when you pop up in their email inbox later.
Here’s an example from Habit House, which is an app for fitness accountability, habit setting, and training. They sell their app to consumers and also to enterprises that pay for their employees to use it (pretty smart perk during these work-from-home orders).
With their quiz, people can learn what type of exercise habit builder they are. This is a smart content idea because it very closely relates to their app.
Also, when leads discover their shortcomings, they learn what they need to do to improve their fitness. If someone has a problem with habit-setting, then just watching exercise videos isn’t going to help them. They need accountability (which is what the app provides).
At the end, the quiz-taker is prompted to enter their name and email to see the results.
Next up, the quiz pop up lets the quiz-taker the results are coming to their inbox, and then it invites them to sign up for a free trial of Habit House.
Here’s what the email with the results looks like. It offers value via the results and recommendations and then ends with next-steps to join Habit House.
This entire quiz funnel is a smart example of inbound marketing automation because you can get free trial subscribers in several ways:
- People who sign up for a free trial directly after taking the quiz
- People who sign up for a free trial from the link in the results email
- People who sign up for a free trial from any of the follow-up emails sent after the results are delivered
The quiz can get organic traffic in any number of ways: press coverage that directs readers back to your site, SEO blog posts, affiliate sharing, and so much more.
2. Let YouTube SEO help you gain organic leads
Now let’s see how you can automate an inbound marketing funnel from YouTube. As you might know, YouTube is one of those social media platforms that (like Pinterest) is more of a search engine than a typical social network where visibility is solely based on the newsfeed and the algorithm.
By SEO-optimising your YouTube videos, you can set up an automated funnel of inbound leads that works for years to come.
Here’s an example from marketing consultant Sunny Lenarduzzi. When you type in “Instagram growth strategy” in the search bar, hers is the first organic result.
She’s SEO-optimized the title and metadata of the video. To increase her likelihood of ranking, she also makes sure to create short, snappy, engaging content which improves watchtime. When you post a video that drags on and on and has horrible watchtime rates, you won’t be as likely to rank the video organically in YouTube search.
Beneath the video, in the description, she has a link for her free training on YouTube marketing.
This link takes you to an automated webinar that sells her course. Webinars are popular for a reason: they allow you to dive deep with the content that you want to share and to create an emotional connection with your audience since they’ll be able to hear your voice as you walk them through the content.
Inbound marketing automation doesn’t have to be a gigantic, overly complicated system. You can begin with a few different automated funnels, such as the above webinar example.
3. Send automated email to frequent website visitors who aren’t customers (yet!)
So far, we’ve shown you two creative ways to collect email addresses so you can get immediate sales from highly interested leads and follow up continuously via email with those who don’t buy right away.
Other than following up with people after they take your quiz or watch your webinar, how else can you use email?
Sending emails based on real live website behaviour might seem like the stuff only experienced inbound automators can do, but it’s actually pretty simple.
Here’s an example of an email you might send to someone who is already an email subscriber and has been on your website a lot. You can use the following filtration criteria to select the right people to receive this message:
- Are an email subscriber
- Have been on your website 3x in the past three months
- Have not received this exact message in the past four months
And here’s an example of what you might say to this frequent website visitor:
Since they’ve been on your website three times in the past three months, you at least know they’re interested in your brand and your content. By offering a short product-focused video, you can help them take the next step by deepening their understanding of what your product can help them achieve.
Then, you can follow up with people who have visited that video’s landing page by using a different automated email message which invites them to start a free trial.
The settings for that sort of automation would be that you’re sending this email to anyone who has visited that landing page with the video. You can set the message to not send to people who have already received the message within the last four months, so you don’t keep sending the same email every time someone views your 2-minute tutorial.
4. Build a partially automated flow (to get past organic algorithm restrictions)
Just because you’ve set up inbound marketing automation, doesn’t mean your work is done. Let’s say you have a free mini-course. When someone signs up for it on the landing page, they become part of your email list and receive an email, just like this one from Justin DeMers of Click Go Live to gain access.
Now they’re an email subscriber, and you can continue to send the content and promotions every week.
But how do you get more people into your automated email funnel? How do you get more sign-ups for your mini-course?
Sometimes, you can’t rely entirely on automation. When you combine manual methods with automation, that’s when you get the best results.
Here’s an example where Justin posts about the mini-course on Facebook and uses that common algorithm-boosting hack of asking people to comment to receive the link to sign up.
This algorithm hack (often used in LinkedIn and Facebook) is two-fold:
- Doesn’t hurt your post’s visibility with a non-native link that takes users outside of the social platform
- Boosts your post’s profile by giving you an influx of comments, which algorithms love
So just remember, after you’ve got your automation setup, ask yourself what manual tasks you can do to make sure you’re sending as much traffic to that automated funnel as possible.
5. Trial an in-app message that offers a demo to highly interested prospects
Here’s an example of inbound marketing automation that is great for SaaS companies. Let’s say that there’s a website visitor on your site who is showing signs of being highly interested in your product.
There are a few different website visitor filtration criteria you might use to select out non-customers who are highly interested:
- Downloaded two or more ebooks
- Have been an email subscriber for 3+ months
- Have been on your site two or more times in a single week
- Have visited your pricing page three or more times
- Have visited your features page three or more times
- Have read two or more case studies
To select the right people to offer a demo to, you can use one of the above criteria on its own or combine it with something else.
When someone reaches your criteria and is on your site, here’s what you might say to invite them to book a 1:1 product demo using a chat prompt.
“Hey! Is your team ready to collaborate on design work? Book a 15-minute call.”
While automating your inbound does take some forethought, once you’ve got it running, it will continue to help you gain sales, leads, and demo appointments on autopilot.
Learn more about marketing automation powered by website visitor behaviour.