What is marketing automation?

Marketing automation is the use of a software platform to automate repetitive marketing tasks. These platforms are typically associated with email marketing but can also automate tasks within lead segmentation, lead scoring, and sales processes.

You interact with marketing automation every day. If you’ve ever left something in an online shopping cart for more than a few hours, you’ve almost certainly received an email trying to pull you back to the purchase. If you still don’t return and complete the sale you may have even started receiving offers and discounts to your inbox trying to sway you back. These marketing events were triggered by your actions and sent autonomously from an automation platform.

As you visit sites and engage with companies online, your actions are most often recorded and segmented so the company can help you along the buying process effectively. If you visit pricing pages, download eBooks, subscribe to newsletters, and more, you’re helping the company understand who you are and how they might earn you as a customer.

What does good marketing automation look like?

Good marketing automation is an organic and natural extension of the company/customer interaction.

Typically, marketing automation begins when a customer exchanges their contact information (name and email) for something that they perceive as being valuable such as an eBook or blog subscription. This process is called lead generation.

When the customer subscribes to your blog they’re expecting to receive content similar to that which led them to subscribe. They’re expecting valuable, relevant information. They didn’t give the company license to endlessly fill their inbox with deals and promotions. When you do send this valuable, relevant content, you might link to further learning about your product or service.

If the customer does start visiting pages about your product, then sending resources like FAQs, webinars or other comparable content can be helpful and timely.

Maybe, the subscriber starts visiting competitor comparison pages, perhaps even pricing pages. You might send them an email asking if they have any questions about your product. And you might send an email from one of your sales representatives with their calendar availability. Testimonials, video demonstrations, and more can be helpful and powerful content to receive when making a purchase decision.

All of these actions can take place autonomously. With little to no sales engagement. Helping your customer along the sales process naturally and empowering the customer to make decisions.

What email marketing can accomplish:
Attract and build a list of leads and potential customers
Automate repetitive tasks like rescheduling and abandoned carts
Automate CRM tasks like lead status, customer type, and buyer stage
Provide timely updates and promotions directly to interested buyers
Nurture and propel leads through the buyer’s journey
Build and nurture customer relationships through timely and helpful content

What email marketing won’t accomplish:
Email marketing doesn’t open the door to list-buying. Cold-outreach may still have a place in some sales plans. But it’s widely considered ineffective and self-damaging to buy lists and perform cold-outreach.
Email marketing won’t move customers directly to ready-to-buy stages. Only 27% of leads sent to sales are qualified to buy. Email marketing helps customers move from stage to stage in the buyer’s journey; it doesn’t move buyers straight to the ready-to-buy stage.

How does marketing automation fit into the customer journey?

Every business is different, so exactly how automation fits into your buyer’s journey will be unique. But for most businesses marketing automation is the framework that sits between almost every marketing event.

Marketing automation can help capture new leads, nurture leads, close deals, boost up customer support, and encourage customer evangelism.

What is the value of marketing automation?

Effective email and marketing automation is consistently one of the highest-return marketing actions. This is because email marketing is one of the few channels that businesses typically can access where they can go to the customer instead of waiting for the customer to come to them.

By meticulously assisting your customers through the buyer’s journey, you build trust and empower them to make purchasing decisions. According to the Direct Marketing Association, companies typically see a $42 return for every $1 spent with an effective automation strategy. With marketing automation, you can build a business that creates customers for life.

How do you get started with marketing automation?

If you’d like to learn more about how marketing automation can help you and your business, and how to get started, you can read more from our eBook on the marketing automation fundamentals.

If you’d like to speak with an Epic Marketing representative about what we could do for you, fill out the form at the bottom of the page, and we’ll get in touch!

Facebook Ads Not Delivering? Use The Ultimate Checklist

There are so many possible reasons why your Facebook Ads are not delivering and it can be so frustrating trying to figure it out. Being a marketing agency means that we see problems like this pop up on accounts for all kinds of different clients. We are always happy to take on more work, so feel free to reach out if you’d like help from one of our specialists. However, if you would like to try fixing the delivery issue on your own, I created this checklist for you that you can go through to get your ads up and running again.

Menu:

Ads Are Disapproved
COVID-19 Ad Disapprovals
Your Ad Has Too Much Text
You Forgot To Publish Your Ads
Your Billing Method Failed
You Reached Your Spending Limit
You Reached Your Budget
Your Campaign Ended
Your Audience Is Too Small
You Recently Edited An Ad
Your Ad Is Stuck In Review
You Have Too Much Audience Overlap
Your Ad Falls In A Special Category
Your Ad Is Low Quality
You Used Accelerated Delivery
Other Reasons

Ads Are Disapproved
There are a lot of reasons why your ads might get disapproved. Facebook’s official list of ad policies is here, but I will list some of the most common reasons that ads get disapproved:

  • Too much text in your image; tool listed here
  • Your product is not allowed to be advertised on Facebook
  • Your ad copy is inappropriate or not allowed; Facebook doesn’t allow overly sensational copy, bad grammar, or content that assumes the viewer’s personal attributes
  • Your image or video is inappropriate or falls into the Adult Content category

Occasionally, fixing the problem is as easy as removing a question mark, but sometimes you really need to dig deep into Facebook’s Ad Policy page to find the exact reason why your ad is being disapproved.

If you’re wondering what your error is, you can hover over the red warning triangle for more information. You can also click “Edit” on the disapproved ad and you should see a specific reason listed there as well.

COVID-19 Ad Disapprovals

Businesses in all industries have been affected by COVID-19 in some way. If you are like us and are still able to run Facebook ads during this pandemic, you might have run into the same problem that we are seeing. Some ads that merely acknowledge COVID-19 are getting disapproved for “Controversial Content”. The specific Facebook policy is designed to stop price-gouging of sensitive products like hand sanitizer and medical masks, but in some cases ads are getting disapproved by mistake. That full policy from Facebook can be found here.

The main policy summary states:

“Ads must not contain content that exploits crises or controversial political or social issues for commercial purposes.”

Our ads definitely aren’t exploiting this crisis, but still some of our ads and our clients’ ads were getting disapproved for this reason. I tested removing words like “COVID-19”, “pandemic”, and “hand sanitizer” and republished them. In some cases, that worked.

You also have the option to request a manual review. As long as you are not exploiting a crisis, once an employee at Facebook views your ads they should easily be able to see that your ad is okay to run. I have been able to fix ad disapprovals for controversial content this way several times. In my experience, it has taken 24-48 hours for decisions to be made after submitting an ad for manual review.

Your Ad Has Too Much Text
Facebook wants their ads to feel more organic, so they restrict how much text can be overlaid onto your image. This is an issue that comes up fairly frequently with clients who don’t know about this rule. They want to the name of their business really large, or they want to promote a big wall of text because they want customers to know every single thing about the sale they are running.

You can fit plenty of copy into the Headline and Text portions of your ad, so follow Facebook’s rule and keep the amount of text on your image to 20% or less.

If you want to test your image to see if it follows the 20% text rule, Facebook has a text overlay tool that you can access here.

You Forgot to Publish Your Ads
If you manage Facebook campaigns long enough, this is bound to happen. Go back to Ads Manager and see if your ad is still a draft or if it has been published. You can review all current drafts by clicking “Review and Publish” in the top right corner.

Your Billing Method Failed
Sometimes a payment fails, credit cards reach their limits faster than normal, and the payment method needs to be reauthorized. Open up Ads Manager and check to see if there are any red warning messages. With that information in hand, open up the main menu, go to Settings, and click Payment Settings to manage your billing method.

You Reached Your Spending Limit
Spending limits can be useful tools, but if someone else sets them without telling you, then you might find yourself wondering why your ads aren’t running.
There are a few places in Ads Manager where you can set and edit spending limits.

  • The account level (Found in Payment Settings)
  • The campaign level (Click Edit on any campaign)

You Reached Your Budget
You can set lifetime budgets at the campaign level. If you forget to add more to the budget or to create a new campaign, then you might be surprised when your ads stop delivering at the end date you set.

Your Campaign Ended
Like the previous tip states, you can set lifetime budgets at the campaign level. If you forget to add more to the budget or to create a new campaign, then you might be surprised when your ads stop delivering at the end date you set.

Under the Delivery column you will see that your campaign says “Completed” when it has reached its end date. You can duplicate the campaign and start again or you can edit the completed campaign and add new end dates and an increased budget.

Your Audience Is Too Small
This error usually doesn’t come with its own special warning, so it can be easy to overlook. If you narrow your audience down too much by geographic area, gender, age, interest, or some other demographic, then your ad set might be too small to run at all.

Check out the Audience Definition section at the Ad Set level to see what your potential reach is. If it says your audience is too small here, then you might need to make some changes.

You Recently Edited an Ad
Facebook ads often take up to 24 hours to get approved and start delivering again after you make an edit to them. I know it can be tempting to make changes every day, but it is best to plan ahead and make edits less often.

Your Ad Is Stuck in Review
Facebook ads often take up to 24 hours to get approved and start delivering again after you make an edit, but has it been longer than that?

During busy online sales times like Black Friday, approval times for new ads can take even longer. I have seen ads take up to two or three days to get approved and start delivering during those busy times. If you have an important campaign coming up, don’t wait until the last minute to publish your ads.

If that is not the case, try duplicating your ad and often the new ad will get approved quickly.

You Have Too Much Audience Overlap
If you are running too many ad sets with very similar audiences, then your ads might not spend their full budgets. Luckily, Facebook has an audience overlap tool that will let you see how much your audiences overlap.

Open the main menu in Ads Manager and click on Audiences. From there you can select up to 5 audiences, click the three dots, and click Show Audience Overlap.

I have seen this problem mainly when advertisers are using a lot of look-alike audiences that they don’t really realize are very similar.


Your Ad Falls in a Special Category
“If you’re based in or targeting the U.S. and are creating a campaign that includes ads that offer credit, employment or housing opportunities, you must choose the category that best describes your ads.”

If your product or service falls into one of these 3 categories, then you will have to deal with some restrictions. You can find more information here, but before you can run your ads at all, you will have to designate which category you fall into or your ads might get disapproved.

You can find these settings at the campaign level.

Your Ad Is Low Quality
“Low-quality ads on Facebook, such as ones that include clickbait or direct people to unexpected content, create bad experiences for people and don’t align with our goal of creating meaningful connections between people and businesses.”

You can read more about Facebook’s policy here.

Just know that low quality ads might work for a little while, but eventually they will get disapproved and can even lead to your ad account getting suspended if the content is bad enough. Promote the best product you can and create ads that have honest, enticing copy and imagery.

You Used Accelerated Delivery
Accelerated Delivery is an option at the campaign level of your ads. If you select it then Facebook will “spend your budget and get results as quickly as possible.” It sounds pretty good, but you may be left with no budget at the end of the month if you are not careful.

Other Reasons
There are a lot of reasons why your Facebook ads might not be delivering or why they are disapproved. If you make it through this whole checklist without finding the solution to your problem, then you have found a truly unique issue and I’d love to hear about it. Fill out our contact form with your issue and we can work on it together.

The Ultimate SEO Checklist

Getting a new SEO client is super exciting! Months of hard work finally paid off. So… now what? Whether you’re a seasoned SEO expert or this is your first client, you should have a strategy and workflow for the campaign.

Between on-page optimizations, technical SEO fixes and adhering to Google’s guidelines, your SEO strategy is set up for success. Check out our SEO workflow checklist below.

seo checklist

Step 1: On-page Optimizations

On-page means everything you and your customers can see on the website.

Use a Keyword phrase
Choose a primary keyphrase or topic for each page. Use Google Keyword Planner for ideas.

Use Synonyms
Create a list of alternative keyphrases (synonyms) for your primary keyphrase.

Create title tag
Include unique title tag
Include primary keyphrase
Keep your title is under 70 characters

Meta description
Include unique meta description
Keep description engaging with a CTA
Include primary keyphrase and/or synonyms

H1 tag
Include primary keyphrase in heading of page

Image file name
Include primary keyphrase in the file name

Image alt text
Include primary keyphrase in alt text

Image file size
Optimize images as much as possible

URL
Keep URL under 115 characters
Include keyphrase
Make descriptive/meaningful

Have quality content
Ensure each page has atleast one paragraph of content around 300 words

Headline
Write catchy headline with your goal, audience and placement in mind

Links
Aim for at least 3 internal links per page (not including menu)

Step 2: SEO Essentials

This step might require you working with a web developer.

Create an XML sitemap

Robots.txt
Create a robots.txt file
Add a link to your sitemap from your robots.txt

Check Speed
Check your site speed and reduce it as much as possible (I recommend using GTMetrix and PageSpeed Insights)

WWW
Make sure your site URL with AND without the WWW goes to the same place (301 redirect)

Find Broken links
Check for broken links (I recommend brokenlinkcheck.com)

Responsive
Make sure your website looks great on mobile and desktop

Step 3: Google Google Google

Very basic SEO strategies to keep Google happy.

Create a Google Webmasters account.

Create a Google Analytics account
Follow the instructions to add it to your website

Create a Google My Business listing
Optimize for best practices