Congratulations! You picked Zoho Marketing Plus as your marketing automation platform. Zoho offers a comprehensive suite of apps to accomplish (almost) any business objective. This particular package of nine apps offers small businesses a great jumping-off point to launch marketing campaigns and engage with customers.
And while Zoho isn’t the most complicated tool out there, you still need to have a roadmap for a successful implementation. Here’s what I suggest:
Pick out your apps
The Marketing Plus package includes nine apps: Brand Studio, Campaigns, Social, Marketing Automation, Survey, Page Sense, Webinar, Backstage, and Analytics. If you’re just starting out in digital marketing, focus on these core apps. But if you already have your own martech stack, you’ll need to understand three things:
- Any non-Zoho apps you use that integrate with the Marketing Plus package
- The Zoho-built equivalents of anything you use today, and their benefits
- Any really essential apps in your stack that don’t integrate with Zoho
Do some research to understand how your current tech stack will work with Zoho. Check the user forums to see if other users have reported issues or challenges with those apps in the past. This will help you decide if you want to integrate, switch, or just go without your current apps.
For example, let’s look at Zoho Forms. This app builds complex, customizable forms and integrates well with the Zoho CRM. But, it does not create the connection between a form submission and the user’s browser cookie (a pretty big miss, in my opinion).
As a result, you won’t get any web activity for the contacts generated by those forms. So instead, you may opt for a third-party app or stick with the super-simple sign-up forms offered by the Zoho Marketing Automation lead generation form builder. Those will track your lead’s web activity.
Integrate with your CRM
Chances are, if you picked Zoho for marketing automation, then you probably also chose Zoho CRM. If so, this integration will be as straightforward as possible, and the Zoho support team will be on-call to help you with any unforeseen challenges.
Zoho does offer native integrations with a few other CRMs, including Salesforce and SugarCRM. However, these are less common, and there are arguably better marketing platforms, like Pardot or HubSpot, that integrate with those CRMs.
You’ll need to decide which objects you’ll be syncing, the frequency, field mappings, and any specific contact lists or exclusions. Most teams set up the integration to immediately sync after data updates in order to trigger automated follow-ups or campaigns.
Pro-tip: Keep in mind that the pre-built integration only syncs one way, from the CRM to the Marketing apps. You’ll need to specify how and when data is passed back to the CRM using the Marketing Automation app.
Create your email lists
Much like MailChimp, Zoho campaigns use mailing lists to power their email campaigns. Start by mapping out which lists you need. Many marketing teams begin with lists based on buyer personas, product interest, newsletter subscriptions or buyer lifecycle stages, or they make their lists campaign-specific.
Before importing your contacts, you need to determine if you have email marketing consent. If not, it may be best to not import those contacts. At a minimum, run an opt-in campaign and email anyone without a clear record of email marketing consent to ask them to opt in. Following this best practice will help with email deliverability and engagement down the line. Plus, it keeps you out of trouble.
At this point, make sure the forms on your website are adding new contacts to the correct lists and that the web tracking for those contacts is working as intended.
Set up autoresponders
Now that you’ve built your forms and lists, you’re ready to start automating. Auto-responders are the best place to start. You’ll probably use auto-responders to send confirmation emails after form submissions. Zoho expands your capabilities with date-based, cyclical, smart-series, closed group, or email-action-based auto-responders.
At a minimum, send confirmation or welcome emails to contacts who submit forms on your site. Users expect to hear from you if they just gave you their email address. Sending emails that your users expect helps strengthen your email delivery rate and email sender reputation.
Any other autoresponders you choose to use will depend on your business model and objectives. As you map out your marketing plan, you can decide when to use an autoresponder and when you need the added reporting and customization of the journey tool in the Marketing Automation App.
Plan campaigns in the planner tool
With your immediate setup taken care of, it’s time to start thinking about the future. What campaigns, events, and webinars do you want to tackle? Build out your campaign plan in the Zoho planner tool to stay organized. This tool helps you plan and track the events and activities necessary to run your marketing strategy.
The campaign planner also gives you an extra layer of reporting by uniting all the activities and assets that make up a larger campaign. It then allows you to compare apples to apples if you’re trying to analyze multi-channel, multi-touch campaigns. Without, it’s tedious to first identify, then aggregate all of those data points manually or in the reporting app.
Build your first journey
If you’ve gotten this far, you’re ready to build and launch your first journey in the Marketing Automation app. Unlike autoresponders, journeys allow for more targeted control of email marketing campaigns. You can build complex logic and execute integration actions, including syncing with your CRM or creating tasks for the sales team. The journey tool also provides for A/B testing and decision rules so you can send the right email at the right time. Genius!
Start small when building your first journey. I recommend making multiple smaller journeys with clear objectives and then stitching them together to create the final end-user experience. This lets you move contacts to the next journey as they accomplish the objective of their current journey, minimizing the overall complexity of the system.
I wish you luck getting started on Zoho Marketing Plus. Go forth, and automate!
I am a marketing operations expert with a decade of experience working for startups, agencies and enterprise-level companies around the globe. After stints in Boston and Madrid, I’ve settled in an idyllic Vermont farmhouse with my wife and two rescue dogs. When I’m not at my computer, you’re most likely to find me tackling a home improvement project way beyond my skill level or trying to find a new fly fishing spot in a nearby river. Say hello or hola on LinkedIn .