Driving sales with marketing automation: Part three

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. In the second article, Sukhia and Barrett look at five things to be wary of when implementing marketing automation in your business. 

There are many things to be wary of in this space. There are lots of false prophets and digital content marketing gurus out there promising nirvana in this space. Too many people still want to avoid the topic and process of selling, opting for ‘marketing’ to save the day and avoiding having to sell. Do not fall into this trap. As mentioned in part one of this series you must have sales and marketing working together.

You must be both sales and marketing fit to make all of this work for you.

Here is a list of what to be wary of when it comes to marketing automation. 

1. List buying

It may be tempting to buy email lists to generate leads, particularly for businesses lacking traffic and lead numbers. However, sending unsolicited emails to people who have never requested any information from you raises obvious issues, aside from the costs of buying the lists.

It can lead to low engagement, as such contacts are unlikely to respond to a cold email and some may associate your company with spam.

Businesses should instead build their own customer database (for example, through launching a blog or newsletter) and use marketing automation to genuinely connect with users.

Remember, marketing automation done properly is not spam. It means targeting the right customers with the right content at the right time in their customer journeys.

2. It’s not just for marketers, it’s for your sales team too

The term “marketing automation” is misleading and it’s no surprise that many mistakenly believe it is only relevant to marketers. Marketing automation extends beyond marketing and is in fact fundamentally linked to the sales process.

According to Marketo, supporting the sales team is a marketer’s number one job, and marketing automation helps them do it more effectively.

For effective use of marketing automation, both your marketing and sales teams should be invested in your chosen platform. This will ensure that the platform supports your sales cycle and provides your sales team with access to qualified leads.

This work needs to start from the top with sales and marketing leaders working together in a co-ordinated fashion driving the sales and marketing strategies and tactics down the line to all concerned. Too often we have seen lead generation positioned under the domain of marketing with sales nowhere in sight. This means that sales ends up with no accountability and when leads come through, it is too easy for sales to blame marketing if they do not work.

3. It’s not a replacement for poor sales performance

Benefits aside, some companies make the mistake of jumping into marketing automation without first dedicating the right people and resources to its adoption.

Specifically, many have hastily invested in marketing automation before building up a sufficient pipeline of traffic and leads to automate. While it can be used to reduce repetitive tasks, it is not a substitute for human connection.  

Marketing automation is no ‘quick fix’ for poor sales performance, but it can be a powerful tool for companies that have made the effort to build up a solid foundation of suitable leads to nurture.

This message needs to be shouted from the roof tops every day until everyone gets it. Sales people must be disciplined to follow up and effectively pursue leads. Assuming sales people are trained well to prospect and sell (sadly, not always the case), there needs to be a constant feedback loop between marketing and sales where sales people effectively and consistently engage and sort through viable and non-viable leads. This will inform marketing in their targeting efforts  — and with digital marketing we can be very targeted.

4. It should align with your customer relationship management (CRM) system.

Marketing automation is often defined as a subset or integral component of customer relationship management (CRM). A common pitfall arises from the failure to consider whether and how a marketing automation platform will integrate with a company’s existing CRM system.

Integration of a company’s marketing automation software and its CRM system is necessary as the benefits of marketing automation flows from this process alignment.

By drawing data from a company’s CRM, a marketing automation platform can refine the sales process and create better visibility of leads for both the marketing and sales teams.

Your CRM can be a hidden treasure trove of new business opportunities. All you need to do is keep working through it, cleaning it up as you go and making meaningful contact via relevant content using marketing automation and good old fashioned prospecting.

As noted in part one of this series, 35% of Barrett‘s revenue from inbound leads was generated by digital content marketing, however, 25% came from working the CRM contacts, those already familiar with Barrett. It pays to do both well.  

5. It delivers value, but only with time and effort.

Be patient. Companies who don’t appreciate that these platforms take time and effort to implement and maintain end up unhappy with the ROI of their marketing automation investment.

Although we have mentioned many ways marketing automation can boost productivity and increase operational efficiency, most of these benefits are not realised immediately and certainly not without first devising comprehensive strategies.

While some may be deterred by the initial lack of results, those who stick around and integrate the right processes, people and content are likely to be rewarded with progressive results.

Barrett has been engaged with a digital content marketing strategy of over 10 years and can attest to the power of getting it right, reading the signs and making adjustments based on sound feedback along the way.

Unfortunately, most people opt for a quick fix, short term, multi-channel blast, failing to build a consistent voice and message that makes it easier for people to find and engage with you when they are ready to do so.

Once you have a strategy in place that underpins your marketing automation plan, it is recommended to develop a schedule that shows you what you are doing every week in this space. This needs to be communicated to the sales team so they know what to expect and how to respond to each campaign. Get this right and you will be in the box seat to drive more sales with marketing automation.  

If you are unsure where to start or what to do, 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 that 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 assist you along the way with the implementation process.


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