The Business Advantage of Marketing Automation
By Casey Cheshire
This article was originally distributed on the Chuck Sink Link.
To start, there were no inbound marketing initiatives to drive people to the website. Once there, a Newsletter Signup and Contact Us page were the only ways in which prospect information was captured. Those two types of gateways are extremes – people were either vaguely interested in keeping in the loop or being contacted right away. The majority of the visitors, who fell in between those two types, weren’t being converted.
Further into the Sales & Marketing process, four Account Executives had almost entirely shifted to prospecting work instead of making sales as the quality of daily incoming leads was always in question. No wonder they were frustrated! The bulk of these “leads” were simply people subscribing to a newsletter and not yet ready to buy.
Does this sound bleak (and familiar)? The good news is that we solved all these issues in about three months with Marketing Automation. Several new product solutions in this space had recently appeared on the scene and made the automation tools, once reserved for stock ticker brands, available for SMBs (small to medium sized businesses).
There are several areas where Marketing Automation can provide 10 times the value of its cost to implement (roughly $1,000/month in my case).
Capture – After taking the time to target search phrases on Google, demographics on LinkedIn, and a multitude of other channels, it’s very important to have optimized landing pages to capture those leads. In many cases, you pay for the visitor’s click regardless of them actually completing a form.
Marketing Automation had me hooked at “forms creation.” Some key features include ease of creation with & without HTML, customized fields, and lots of different automatic options after completion. But the most fantastic of all is progressive profiling; the ability to have smart forms that can pre-populate or remove a field if the answer is already known. Taking it a step further, you can ask additional questions that will help your lead make an informed decision.
Conversion (and reconversion) rates skyrocket with smart forms and the ability to progressively profile your leads moves them through the marketing funnel at a much faster rate.
Nurture – Gone are the days of monthly newsletters for prospects. In addition to taking gobs of time to produce frequently, they leave you in a news reporter challenge: “What should we write about now?” Chances are you’ve probably already addressed key questions your future customers were asking in articles from last year’s October issue. Repurpose your content!
With Marketing Automation, I transformed my news desk back into a marketing desk with a series of nurture email campaigns. Often called “drip nurtures,” these campaigns were specific to the industry of my customers and delivered critical content to prospects on a biweekly basis. From engaging demo videos to helpful case studies, prospects were offered a strategic series of our best content designed to aid them and also aid our sales process! Even better, the emails were all personalized in name, email, and signature from the individually assigned Account Executive.
Score – Lead scoring is a hot topic because there are now low cost options available to B2B businesses from large to small. The concept is relatively straightforward: Give your Sales Team the most qualified and active leads possible! Lead scoring is the mechanism to reward demographics & behavior with points or letter grades which can then be classified and prioritized.
Contrary to popular belief, lead scoring models don’t need to be complex. If you build in too many options at the start, you may find that too many or too few prospects make it through. It’s best to start with a few key engagement areas- like form completions and adjust over time. It’s also not a bad idea to separate a lead’s demographic grade (Decision Maker in the Right Industry) from their individual activity score (Visited the entire site over a period of 3 days.). Doing this allows you to focus on the best leads and avoid spending your sales calls on students doing research.
In conclusion, Marketing Automation is no longer the future, it’s “the now.” Simple emailing platforms will be replaced over the next several years by more the complete Marketing Automation packages. Businesses that adopt this new technology will see faster growth from a multitude of automated, personalized, customer touches. These automations will enable Marketing to get back to marketing and Sales to close more deals.
There are several major players in the space and a few to avoid. Which solution is right for you? It’s a question I answer often and would be happy to assist readers of the Chuck Sink Link in answering at no charge.