A Step-by-step Guide to Marketing Automation with Act-On

Samantha Joyce
April 12, 2023

A step-by-step guide to marketing automation with Act-On

What would make you a hero in your marketing role? Figuring out how to generate more revenue with fewer resources—less time, less headcount, and less budget—might seem like a feat of superheroics. But the truth is, with the right marketing automation tools, you can be a superhero in the eyes of leadership.
Not sure how to do that? Never fear! Act-On teamed up with Marketing Profs, and we’re here to save the day! Read on for a step-by-step guide with everything you need to know to use marketing automation tools to unlock your superpowers.

The Marketing Superhero’s Guide to Marketing Automation Tools

A superhero’s only as good as the tools in their arsenal. Maybe you weren’t born with a genetic mutation that gives you superhuman abilities, but hey, that’s why we have superheroes like Batman, right? With training, dedication, and the latest and most advanced tech, you can be the saviour of your own Gotham City.

Chapter 1:

Suit Up! Consolidate the Marketing Automation Tools in Your Tech Stack
“I love deploying new software!”
-No one, ever

First things first: consolidate your tech stack! What do you really need in your utility belt and what’s just weighing you down?
In an informal poll, we learned that fellow marketers consider their marketing automation platform as having the biggest impact on their marketing efforts, followed by their CRM and then their sales enablement tool. And this is just a sliver of categories that make up the current MarTech landscape, where there are a whopping 10,000+ vendors! Just like the Marvel Universe, it keeps on growing.
As new vendors keep entering the market, you really have to pay attention to what’s in your tech stack. Figure out which ones are serving you versus which are just collecting subscription fees. It’s not enough to stick with the status quo—learn what marketing tools are out there that can help you amplify and grow your business.
So ask yourself: What’s in your tech stack? And how do you “stack up” next to your peers?

Now that you’ve done a roll call of your vendors, time to put them to the test. Assess your tools based on team usage, connectivity, and cost by asking yourself the following questions:
·      Is anyone using this tool? If not, should we be? 
·     Do we have duplicate tools? 
·     Are there other teams in our company that could share this cost? 
·     Is there an integration that could make it more sticky?
·     Is there something else in the market that’s a better value?
And finally, the most important question to ask: what’s the ROI on this tool? With budgets being scrutinised and contracts being challenged these days, you really need to justify the time/cost savings and the amount of business influenced by the products you have in your tech stack. What impact would it have on your business if you gave it the classic Batman ka-pow? If you need to part ways with a marketing tool, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered: here are tips on how to break up with your marketing automation platform.
Hot tip: Ask your vendor to resell you their product, as if you’re unfamiliar with it. Any tech company worth its salt would have had several product roll outs since you first purchased it, and you may not be aware of all its current capabilities.

Chapter 2:

Find Your Sidekick – Do More with Marketing Automation Tools at Your Side

Every Batman needs a Robin. We don’t know what audition process Robin went through to land the coveted gig of sidekick, but when choosing your automation partner, it’s important to discern what’s most important to you. Most marketers want their marketing automation platform to be easier to understand and navigate. How do you find the right match?

One thing we can all agree on: anything that can be automated should be automated. This is true for every stage of the buyer journey and the customer lifecycle. What are some of these key automation activities that will make you look like a superhero for getting so much done?


A great marketing automation platform helps with your communications externally, and internally as well. Notifications to the sales team alert them when a prospect reaches a certain lead score or engagement. You can learn more about how to get the most out of your internal marketing team here.


Nurtures are great for your customers, too. It’s not just about that top-of-funnel – it’s about engaging customers, encouraging up-sell and cross-sell, and making sure they’re getting the most out of your product.

Transactional  Communications

We’re all used to communications that remind us to fill out a form, confirm an event, or post-event follow-ups. We’re trained to expect a sequence of steps that a good marketing automation platform should definitely be doing without any heavy lifting on your part ( save that super strength for more strategic projects and places where you can really add value).

Onboarding  Sequences

Closing a customer only puts you at the starting gate—you then have to think about how to onboard your customer so that they have a really great experience. This encompasses everything from beta programs to end-of-life notifications. There’s a lot of opportunity here to think of each stage of the customer lifecycle and how you’re automating those communications. “Speed to lead” is particularly important—what is your company’s response time to leads? Leverage automation to engage your super speed and make sure you’re not leaving valuable opportunities to be snatched up by the competition.

Product Communications

Some of the most important communications to customers are about specific dates and deadlines about the product. No doubt these should be automated.
One of the best ways you can rely on marketing automation tools as your sidekick is building automated nurture streams. Here are few tips: 
- Build out your ideal customer profiles, so you know how to approach different customers’ different needs.
- Know and understand where your buyer is in the sales process—you don’t want to duplicate communications with the sales team, which creates a confusing     experience for the potential buyer.
- Don’t stop with a sale! Think about how you’re nurturing the customer throughout.
Remember: Automation works best when it’s personalised as much as possible. Personalisation is so important in building trust, loyalty and respect. Base your communications on conversations with customers, the actions they’re most likely to take, and their place in the product lifecycle. For example, three months out from contract renewal, send an automated email to remind them. 
"Firms that tried to contact potential customers within an hour of receiving a query were nearly seven times as likely to qualify the lead."
– Harvard Business Review
Maybe you can’t use echolocation like a bat does, but listen to the information and data you have on a prospect to know when to remove someone from a nurture stream and customise your messaging to them. Timing and segmentation are key. What you don’t want to do is treat all customers or prospects the same.
Learn how Act-On can help you create compelling, personalized messages that engage.

Chapter 3:

Engage Laser Focus! (Use a Targeted Approach with Marketing Automation Tools)

Ever wondered what would happen if Batman didn’t just focus on crime? What if he also wanted to take care of Gotham City’s pothole problem and use the Bat mobile for garbage collection? Even the best of us need a focus. Imagine how confusing the bat signal would be, if it wasn’t clear why the hero was being called.
It’s vital to understand your dataset and focus on metrics so you can identify trends that tie back to your marketing efforts. What channel did prospects come in from? Attribution is key. After all, it’s possible to go way down the funnel with a chunk of leads from a marketing campaign, but with none of them converting. It’s important to assess the data and focus on what you can improve to get better results. It can be as simple as quarterly reviews on all your programs and channels to understand what content is working, and what’s not. What’s your top-performing initiative that’s getting the most clicks and conversions? Hone in with laser focus—don’t just churn out more of the same.

Act-On’s marketing automation tools helped Georgia United Credit Union leverage high customer engagement to segment their customers according to the products, services and accounts they had. By bucketing customers into smaller groups, Georgia Union was able to send more laser-focused communication using marketing automation for personalised and focused cross-selling. The result? 800 upsells in 11 months! This was a new tool in their toolbelt that really created a great customer experience and made Georgia United’s marketing team the superheroes their organisation needed.

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