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 ways to implement marketing automation in your business.
Delivering effective sales and marketing strategies requires a disciplined approach. ‘Less is more’ is also a good reminder when looking at how to get the best results out of marketing automation.
Before you launch marketing automation you first need content that aligns with your sales strategy, your purpose, your story, your value proposition, your promise, your customers, and so on.
First think about:
• What do want to communicate to your customers?
• How often do you want to communicate with your customers?
• What do you want your customers to do with that communication?
• What content and mediums do you want to use to engage your customers?
• How do you want to follow up with any leads that come into the business?
Once you have the answers to these questions you can look at how you are going to use marketing automation to drive new opportunities to your business.
Remember marketing automation is a tool not an end in of itself.
Use this checklist to get you started.
1. Automating repetitive tasks
As the name implies, these platforms automate repetitive tasks that would otherwise be manually completed.
Within email marketing, multiple campaigns can be scheduled ahead of time to be released according to your predetermined settings (also called drip campaigns). Triggers can be added so that if a lead signs up to your newsletter or downloads your e-book, for example, the system can be configured to follow up with the lead by sending an email containing related content.
Being a modern alternative to traditionally manual processes, marketing automation distributes your content in a streamlined, more organised way. This could potentially reduce time, labour and costs.
2. Prioritising leads via lead scoring
Some companies have limited resources to dedicate towards following leads. Realistically, they can’t pursue every lead, and sifting through leads consumes time and energy that can be utilised more effectively.
Marketing automation helps companies follow the right leads by assigning ‘scores’ to each lead based on factors such as demographics, location and their level of interaction with your content. The lead scoring process allows companies to filter out dead leads (with low scores) and spend more time contacting stronger or more promising leads (with high scores).
From surveying users, VB Insight found that 80% of users noticed their number of leads increase, and 77% saw increased conversion rates after implementing marketing automation.
3. Lead nurturing and alerts
Lead nurturing is another illustration of marketing automation. Instead of pressuring a lead to buy from the outset, marketing automation allows you to build relationships with leads over time until they are sales-ready.
Marketing automation platforms can automatically alert you when leads take certain actions such as visiting your website or submitting a form.
Setting up alerts in real time can be extremely valuable. It means hot leads can be followed up on immediately. Emailing the lead within an hour of them visiting your website while their interest is still fresh is likely to increase the chances of a sale.
Of course, statistics support this too. The Annuitas Group observes that “nurtured leads make 47% larger purchases than non-nurtured leads”.
Sales people can help here as well by sharing content online in the right social media channels, making comments or sending links to clients or prospects to stay in touch and be relevant. The ‘relevant’ part is key here. It must be relevant to the customer or prospect; something that will engage them and want them to follow up. The last thing you want is to be relegated to the ‘SPAM’ files. Less is more rings true here as well.
4. Data collection and performance measurement
Marketing automation can report on how well your campaigns are performing or how many new leads were generated from a particular piece of content.
Specific data answers specific questions:
• Are you contacting your users too often, or being too forceful? Check your unsubscribe rates and abuse complaints;
• Are your customers finding your content interesting? Perhaps click-through rates and open rates might reveal this; and
• Who are your most engaged customers? Watch response rates and engagement rates by segments
With every action, there is a consumer-driven reaction. The data collected through marketing automation software provides the feedback needed to improve future campaigns.
This information must be shared with sales people and teams quickly and regularly to give them real time insights about how customers and prospects are reacting. Not all is lost if someone reacts badly to a digital contact. Sales people know that they can take alternative actions to proactively influence and win back disengaged prospects and customers. Sitting there and doing nothing is not an option.
While it is true that technology can often dehumanise certain processes, marketing ‘automation’ is by no means impersonal.
By collecting useful data on a user’s interests and purchasing behaviour, marketing automation facilitates targeted conversations with leads and gives companies the ability to tailor its content towards specific users.
An example of adding dynamic content is sending targeted offers based on a user’s website patterns. When you log into Amazon, you will find your name dynamically inserted around the page and new products presented to you based on predictive algorithms. Such ‘dynamic personalisation’ can be achieved 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 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 assist you along the way with the implementation process.
Remember everybody lives by selling something.