If you’re like most businesses out there, you have heard of, and possibly even considered, marketing automation but have not taken the plunge yet. There are actually many misconceptions about what exactly marketing automation is. First, let’s be clear about what it isn’t. Marketing automation is not Lead Generation. And Marketing automation is not Email Marketing.
So What is Marketing Automation?
Marketing automation is technology that allows you to effectively manage your raw leads and transform them into sales ready leads through lead nurturing campaigns. It is the middle part of your sales funnel and it works best when combined with inbound marketing to generate quality leads and unique, informative content of various types to drive leads through different stages of your sales funnel.
How does a Marketing Automation Campaign Work?
As an example, here are the steps that a basic marketing automation campaign could consist of:
- It all starts when you generate a lead typically by offering a free ebook, report or whitepaper about a topic related to your product or service.
- You send an email thanking them for the download and providing a contact if they have any questions
- You send an email providing a download for another piece of content that engages the lead further or for a webinar you are hosting. In exchange, you collect some more information from the lead.
- You send an email thanking them for the download or webinar and providing a contact for questions
- Based on the industry that the lead is in, you send them a case study of a client in the same industry
- If they download the case study, the lead is routed to a sales rep who can view all the information collected from the lead during the campaign and access the entire engagement history with them.
No matter what your sales funnel looks like, and however many stages it has, an effective marketing automation campaign with well thought out content will help you convert raw prospects into sales ready leads. Indeed, this is not an overnight process and can take weeks or months. But all the while, your brand is right in front of your prospects with content that provides valuable information instead of shamelessly promoting your wares. This establishes trust with your leads and builds strong brand recognition so that by the time the sales rep makes that first phone call, they are very receptive to the conversation.
How Marketing Automation Benefits Your Business
- It saves you time: By automating email campaigns, you can send out personalized emails with custom content to groups of prospects. This takes the manual work out of creating the emails individually and remembering to followup regularly.
- It helps pinpoint your top prospects: By using the lead scoring feature of your marketing automation solution, points can be awarded to leads based on different criteria such as the type of content they have downloaded (for example ebook vs pricing info), the prospect’s title (for example, manager vs vice president) and so on. This enables you to quickly identify the best prospects for your business and prioritizing those.
- It produces more sales-ready leads: Most leads you generate will typically not be ready to purchase right away. In these cases, repeated emails and phone calls are your only choices but these have proven to be ineffective and will drive the prospect away. With marketing automation, you can nurture the leads with quality informative content, gradually building trust and establishing yourself as an expert in your field. You will also be able to determine the right time to pass the lead on to sales by monitoring your campaign for specific signs.
- It increases your revenue: Of course more leads will equate to more revenue however marketing automation helps grow your revenue in another way. It tracks customers through the entire buying cycle and helps you determine the lifetime value of each customer, what specific channels engaged them and what content they found most useful. You can then focus more of your marketing dollars on campaigns that have worked the best.
While the impact from a marketing automation solution is clear, proper processes and best practices need to be followed in order to ensure successful execution of campaigns.
Are you using, or thinking about implementing a marketing automation solution for your business? I would love to hear about thoughts in the comments section below.