The ‘Driving Sales with Marketing Automation’ series of three articles has been developed by Rishad Sukhia, director of Brightlabs, and Sue Barrett, founder and chief executive of Barrett. Sukhia and Barrett will present ideas, concepts, research and findings about how to make the most of marketing automation and sales activation.
Marketing automation has become the new digital buzzword, with many adopting it under the impression that it is a quick fix for lead generation and repetitive tasks. While its popularity is evident, you will find it is not the silver bullet to more sales in of itself. Like anything, we need to factor in marketing automation and digital lead generation into a prepared purposeful sales system for it to function at its best.
Over the next three articles we are going to look at what marketing automation actually means, and how can you incorporate it into your marketing and sales strategy, making sure you avoid the hurdles along the way. Specifically we will be addressing:
• What marketing automation is and how can it drive more sales;
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• Five ways to implement marketing automation in your business; and
• Five things to be wary of with marketing automation.
What is marketing automation?
Marketing automation refers to software platforms and digital technologies that are designed to enable organisations to automate, streamline and track particular marketing processes.
Marketing automation does not merely assist with email marketing. Part of its appeal is its cross-functionality — it connects various marketing channels including social media, email marketing and content marketing.
As businesses grow, they compete with each other to engage with customers more often, convert more leads and expand their presence on multiple platforms. Marketing automation has the potential to revolutionise the way businesses go about achieving these goals.
Here are a few marketing automation platforms to consider: Hubspot, Marketo, Pardot by Salesforce, InfusionSoft and Act-On.
With marketing automation software now readily available to business-to-consumer (B2C) and business-to-business (B2B) companies of all sizes, it’s really about finding the right one for your company and customers.
Here quality, not quantity comes first. You need to factor in which one will suit your needs as a business and help you deliver the best experiences for your customers.
Getting started with marketing automation
Before we do anything, we need to understand the differences between sales and marketing.
As discussed in this article about the seven differences between sales, marketing and networking, simply put, marketing talks to groups and sales talks to individuals. Sales and marketing need to work together and understand that one helps enable the other to get up close and personal with clients. It is critical for people to see that it is not an ‘either or’ scenario. Instead, it is a ‘we’ partnership that delivers real returns.
Speaking personally, at my own business, 35% of Barrett’s revenue in the last two financial years came from inbound leads delivered by a digital content marketing strategy underpinned by marketing automation. This did not happen by chance; Barrett’s results were underpinned by deliberate and integrated sales and marketing strategies.
So before jumping in to invest in just any marketing automation platform the first thing you need to do is develop a robust sales strategy that tells you the following:
1. What is our purpose as a business?
2. What are our target market segments?
3. Who are our customers in each segment? And what does the ideal customer look like? (For example, company size, turnover, and decision maker role).
4. What are our customers looking for and what do they value?
5. How do our customers want to/like to buy?
6. What is our value proposition?
7. What is our competitive advantage in each segment?
8. How do we need to sell in each segment?
9. What resources and tools do we need to use to sell better?
10. What results do we expect to achieve in each segment?
These are just some of the questions you need to get answers to before you can figure out how you are going to use digital content marketing and marketing automation to get better leads and opportunities for your business and sales teams.
If you are unsure where to start or what to do, first avoid any ‘sales or digital content gurus’ who promise you ‘silver bullet solutions’. Brutal fact: there are no silver bullets
Instead find an experienced, strategic business consultant who specialises in sales strategy, sales process and selling in general to help you develop an integrated sales strategy and go-to-market action plan. Then find a digital agency with an understanding of the digital content marketing and marketing automation landscape who can take your sales strategy information and help you in developing content and choosing a platform that offers you the right features in line with your sales strategy, and then assists you along the way with the implementation process.
Remember everybody lives by selling something.