Thinking about investing in marketing automation?
Great, you’re on the right step to closing the gap between your business and your customers. But before you get too far, let’s take a step back take a look at these 5 things you have to know about marketing automation:
If you’re not already aware, marketing automation is a beautiful thing. From automated workflows, to email campaigns, to easy to create landing pages and quality lead scoring and filtering, marketing automation is an incredible tool for companies of all sizes.
Whether you’re a small family business or a large international corporation, marketing automation lets your company simplify lead nurturing and customer relationship all while providing real time data and performance and action.
5 Things You Need to Know About Marketing Automation:
1. You Need Content
Answer this question: Do you have a library of content to support your products / services at the top, middle, and bottom levels of the sales funnel? If you answered yes, skip to number two. If you answered no, let’s take a step back and discuss the relationship between content and marketing automation.
Marketing automation is not a tool for content creation. Marketing automation is a tool for engaging with customers, implementing and assessing conversion points on your site, managing email campaigns, creating landing pages, providing personalized / dynamic messages to your leads, and nurturing leads through the sales funnel. But none of these features work if you don’t have content. Think of it like this: marketing automation is a car and content is the gas. A car is a great tool to take you from point A to point B, but it can only do that if you fill it with gas.
You will only receive value from your marketing automation platform if you have content that supports the top, middle, and bottom levels of the sales funnel. Why? Because you need to give visitors a reason to convert from a visitor to a lead. You need to have content to build into workflows and email campaigns. To create dynamic content for your users, you need to first have a library of content to pull from. Landing pages’ lack purpose if you are lacking content to offer on them.
The phrase ‘content is king,’ is over used but true. When it comes to marketing automation, content is king, queen, court jester, and the even the stable boy. Content is everything, and you need it if you’re going to have a kick-ass marketing automation strategy.
2. It’s a Commitment
You know what happens to a plant if you don’t water it? It dies. Marketing automation is the same thing, it isn’t a set it and forget it tool. Your marketing automation requires weekly, or sometimes daily, maintenance and monitoring – but don’t worry it’s easy. You will receive email reports on how many leads you have acquired, how workflows are progressing, and the state of running campaigns. This will give you the necessary information to make changes within the platform and on your campaigns.
If you do not use this information to adjust workflows, lead scoring, and campaigns (just to name a few), you risk having a bloated database with inactive leads, improperly nurturing leads with information they do not want, reaching out to leads too frequently or not enough, or allowing an unsuccessful campaign or workflow to remain while it continues to turn away leads instead of enticing them.
Marketing automation is a commitment, so be prepared to spend at least a few hours a week in the platform making changes, maintaining existing features, and assessing your leads. But it is so, so worth it.
3. Your Contact Data Base Can’t Hit the Gym, So Don’t Let it Bloat
As mentioned previously, this is not a set it and forget it tool. You need to maintain your system and most importantly maintain your contact database.
The best way to avoid database bloat is to maintain your platform and implement workflows that detect inactive leads. Those leads have either lost interest or are incorrect. Remove them from your database. You can always pass the list of inactive leads over to your sales team so they can privately check back in with them.
Having a clean data base will ensure you’re only targeting interested and active leads.
4. Delay to Not be Annoying
One of the biggest grey areas in marketing automation is timing. Timing is everything, and a common problem for companies new to marketing automation is the temptation to immediately reach out to a lead and try to close a deal. If it is a new lead who has recently converted on a top of the funnel offer, it is more likely that you will scare them away than convince them to purchase your product or service.
Companies need to understand that the purpose of marketing automation is to nurture leads, not just harass them with emails and send them to the sales department. Leads should be given room to breathe, educate themselves on a product / service, and assess a company based on relevant content instead of a sales pitch. This is also true for workflows and email campaigns. Delaying that second email or the second stage of a workflow will provide positive results.
Think of it, the more emails you get from a company the more likely you are to get annoyed and unsubscribe. When somebody gives you their email, it’s a sacred thing – so don’t ruin it. Three emails in 12 hours is aggressive and a major turnoff, but three emails spread across 7-14 days is a gentle reminder to your prospect that you are there to help them with their decision, educate them, and not be a nuisance.
Here is an example of one of our workflows spread across 10 days is a user was to download one of our many great free resources:
- Email 1: Download Offer where we provide the user with the piece of requested content right away.
- Email 2: Follow Up email where we check back in with the user to see if there was any questions we could answer, and to provide them with more helpful tips and resources. Our general guideline is to delay this email by 2 days, and make sure it never is sent on the weekends. That way we can stay fresh with a new lead, and not bother them on their time off.
- Email 3: Something great you have to try! This email varies of the subject / topic of the content offer downloaded but for example here is what the email would look like: If a lead were to download our social media cheat sheet, we would talk about something crazy we just did that helped us boost our social media engagement, or help us gain a ton of new followers, and share our tactics with them. Get the gist? The goal is to educate the lead them down the sales funnel where you can, and only then, begin your sales pitch. – Average delay time 4/5 days.
- Email 4: Testimonial/Show Your Strengths. Show your leads exactly what you can do for them by showing what you have done for people just like them. I’ll use the social media example again – If this is what they are interested in, show them how you helped another person/company use social media to grow their business and bring in new leads and what results you achieved. Average delay time: 7 days
- Email 5: Soft Sell – This is where you can begin a sales pitch, but note is is a soft sell and not a hard sell. Entice your lead with a offer they won’t to pass up without having to commit to anything big. For example we could offer a free social media audit to access areas of strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities, or even a free trial of one of our digital marketing packages. Average delay time = 10 days.** Note this is just a guideline and every drip campaign / workflow should always be customized to suit your business and your offers. **
5. Listen to Your Audience and then Target
One of the best things about marketing automation is having the ability to listen to your audience and engage with them based on their interests. Marketing automation allows you to target your audience directly, and in a timely manner based what they are engaging with on your website or business.
All marketing automation platforms will tell you where your audience originated, how they interact with your website, how often they visit your website, which forms or calls-to-action interest them, and what emails or content provide the most value. Use this information to make informed decisions on what is working and what is not working on your website or your marketing strategy in general.
Does your blog typically receive high bounce rates? A marketing automation platform will allow you to assess whether people are leaving your blog because they do not see value in your content or if they are consuming your content then coming back to your website a few days later to learn more. Listen to this information and allow your audience to dictate what is important and where you should expand on content or workflows. You may be surprised at the results – but at least you’ll have a better understanding of your audience and your campaigns.
As you decide whether marketing automation is right for you and your company, keep in mind that content is the backbone of any successful marketing automation effort. Marketing automation is a commitment that requires more than a credit card. Do not allow your contact database to bloat, but also don’t be overly aggressive and harass your leads – no one wants to buy when they feel pressured. Finally, listen to your audience, target them directly, and always strive to improve.