Plug into the power of marketing automation.
Before we talk marketing automation, we need a common understanding of lead nurturing.
While there are hundreds of different variations of the sales or lead generation funnel, it essentially comes down to four key parts.
Awareness – identifying the right audience, making them aware of your product or offer, and helping them understand the benefit of choosing you rather than your competition.
This can include mass advertising, content marketing, search, PPC, social campaigns, direct advertising and word-of-mouth.
Consideration – understanding their needs and helping them understand your benefits, giving them more and more information (to address rational and emotional barriers), to convince them to choose your product or offer.
This can include content, email, newsletters, blogs, photos, special promotions and loyalty initiatives.
Conversion – turning a potential customer into a genuine sales lead or a genuine sale.
Actions here include things like retargeting campaigns, shopping cart prompts, social proof, landing page optimisation and conversion rate optimisation.
Retention – this is as simple as keeping the customer. It means keeping the customer satisfied and knowing when to ask for another sale.
It means re-engaging through every part of the funnel from consideration to conversion.
How does automation help?
Marketing automation is using technology to identify where prospects are in the sales funnel, then using an automated system to target them with appropriate messages to engage them better before converting them to a sale or a warm lead to the sales people.
It drives productivity up.
And reduces overheads.
As a company starts to grow, it’s impossible to maintain 1:1 relationships with everybody. At this point, it’s time to hire a marketing director who can build performance-driven, conversion-centric programs at scale.
It uses a broad range of techniques to make your sales funnel more efficient.
These techniques range from raising awareness to education, from tracking to targeting, from running social-to-email programs to running phased direct email initiatives, from qualifying potential leads to handing-over warm leads.
It’s a lead generation tool that turns your website into a salesperson, taking the manual tasks from your team – allowing them to focus on bigger picture plans and provide higher-quality one-on-one contact with genuine leads.
It can rapidly build more precise views of customers and a deeper understanding of their behaviour, helping you customise content and contacts with those customers for more effective communications.
Marketing automation depends on a number of things.
It doesn’t create the content for you – but it will help guide the creation of content by allowing your content to be more relevant for each stage of your sales funnel.
It doesn’t create the ads for you – but it does provide insights into what might make your ads more effective.
It doesn’t make the sales call – but it can track activity and let you know when a customer is most likely ready for a qualifying call, or a sales call.
The right score helps you kick more goals.
The secret to effective automation is setting your scores.
By scoring a customer’s behaviour – depending on how much interest they’re showing in your product – you can tell when a lead should be prioritised and sent to sales.
Scoring – or lead scoring as it is more commonly known – collates information on specific customers based on their behaviour. This includes actions like visiting websites, visiting site pages, downloading white papers, responses to emails, social sharing etc.
Scoring then lets the automated system see when they’re ready for another pre-determined connection, such as emails, social direct messages, banners, or phone calls.
Better than intuition.
No amount of automation will replace the need for intuition.
Marketing automation simply allows you to use your intuition where it’s needed.
Marketing automation gives you objective measures and measurable outcomes – creating a system which can be fine-tuned and made more and more effective over time. Leaving you free to apply your intuition to the critique of brand building and creative awareness campaigns.
B2B marketing is ideal for the creation of marketing automation systems because B2B prospects often have to go through a staged process – a seven step sales process or similar – which can be repeated or fine-tuned for repeat business.
Most B2B purchases are not impulse buys but the result of a lengthy, considered, rational, multi-stakeholder and (probably) benchmarked process.
Marketing automation can be tuned to trigger responses to a buyer’s online research, and can pre-empt research questions (based on their likely position within the sales funnel) and provide them with answers before they known they need to ask the question.
For B2B Marketing Automation, think “lead generation”.
For B2C Marketing Automation, think “sales conversion”.
In most cases, B2C marketing automation is geared towards a faster conclusion. It still tracks behavioural cues, but it feeds cues faster, smoothing the path from awareness to sale.
If there is a need to hand the prospect over to a sales team – as opposed to taking them to an eCommerce function – (for instance, when selling a car or a new home) marketing automation can get your prospect to the point of welcoming the sales call.
CRM knows the customer. Marketing Automation knows when to contact them.
Every great marketing automation system benefits from a finely-tuned CRM system. The better you know your customer, the better the profile you can build of your various key customer types, the more effective your marketing efforts will be.
They work together like strawberries and cream.
The automation takes care of lead generation – across multiple identified channels – garnering new leads, raising awareness, shepherding the leads into the funnel. CRM then takes care of the ongoing relationship.
To best manage this, create a closed loop around both functions to gain greater and deeper insights to make your efforts more efficient and more effective.
Remember the four steps we talked about earlier?
Marketing automation has a significant and positive role to play at each part of that process.
Use your awareness generation to generate leads. When someone visits your site for the first time, make it worth their while to give you their information. It could be by providing gated value. Value behind a gate. Create high-quality, relevant content they’ll want to share. And charge them for it – “it’ll only cost you two minutes.”
If you give them something of value – like extra, valuable information, or downloadable content – they’ll be more likely to give you their name and contact details.
This then feeds into…
The first trick is to understand where they are in your funnel and what they need to seriously consider taking the next step with you.
The next trick is to develop a series of messages you can use at each stage of the engagement – so the messages your customer sees are relevant to where they are. The success of messages they see will depend on how personalised they are, how well-timed the message is and how well targeted they are (segmentation).
By peppering your messages with special offers and relevant promotions (of little value of you but obvious value to them), you encourage further engagement and the likelihood of…
Give them incentive to take the plunge – like discounts, promos and special offers.
Make it easy – add a button, click for a free consultation, ask a consultant to call, free registration for a webinar.
Prompt them at the right time – add social proof at the point of decision, add a “remember to sign up for our award winning after sales service.”
And, once you have them, put your energies into…
Be polite – send a “thanks for signing up”.
Follow up with tips and hints for getting the most from their purchase.
Offer special access to upselling or cross-selling promotions.
Plan to succeed
Marketing automation works like marketing.
Many of the same simple steps apply.
Remember to segment.
It gives you a clearer view of the audience and ensures you’re not re-sending the same message to the same people.
Know the customer
Know their big challenge.
Know your value to them – how much is it worth to solve their issue?
Know why they should believe you – how will you convince them?
Know what success looks like – and how will you measure it?
Then know how to make them want you.
And this is where a good automation system can help you keep improving your results.
Know what touchpoints you need to cover.
Know what channels you need to use to reach them – they’ll use more than one, draw yourself a map as to what channels work best for which stage of your funnel.
Know how much it’s worth to you to convert them.
Know the timing – where they are in your tunnel and what they need to hear to get to the next stage.
Know when you need to contact them.
Know how many emails you can reasonably send.
Know what offers they’re most likely to responds to.
Know yourself – make sure your CRM and Automation and Sales systems can talk to each other.
Know what the customer likes to read, and when they like to read it.
Know their name – automated marketing works best when it’s personalised.
Know what they’re likely to do next – track their behaviours as a group and apply that to individual prospects – look for commonalities.
Know when to back off – no one likes spam.
Know what needs to be improved – through testing and customer research – your automation system should be tied to your A/B testing regime. Test buttons, test calls to action, test social proof, test it all – and apply what you learn to what you do next.
Create a dashboard
Know the metrics you’re using – everything from impressions to sales tounsubscribe rates and complaints, click- through rates, open rates, engagement scores, response times, engagement times – whatever is of value to you and will help you create an effective path to purchase.
These metrics create your feedback loop.
Your feedback loop fine-tunes your sales engine faster and more effectively that anything else.
Set the system to report on those metrics.
Make them visible and reviewable over time – so you can spot trends.
Review and test.
Review and test.
Review and test.
Hard or soft? It’s up to you.
Tune your system to sell hard, or tease a response.
The key will be in finetuning the system based on the feedback you get from real customers.
They will be your guide.
The best lead is the best value
Different leads have different value.
You’ll be able to identify who your best leads are by the score they get. The better the score, the more attention they should get.
It seems obvious, but it’s worth underscoring – and making sure your sales people know it to when you hand the lead over.
Better late than never
The most frustrating place to lose a lead is just before they buy your product.
And, whether they leave because they got distracted, wanted to double check the value equation, or simply got confused by your process and drifted off into a different part of the internet, a lost sale is a lost sale.
By optimising the final conversion section of your funnel – the hand over or the shopping cart you improve your chances of success.
Offer a trial, a webinar, a dollar-off deal, a percentage discount – anything which will grab their attention, distract them from looking for something cheaper or just get them to press the buy button.
Dump the trash
Nothing wastes a sales person’s time and energy like a tyre kicker.
Nothing wastes your automation energy like a bad lead.
Dump any bad domains.
If your lead shares a domain name with a bad lead, your system suffers. Find them and get rid of them, or correct them.
Dump the spam.
Set an alert for domains which have the word spam. Either in their emails. Or in their domain names. Find them. And dump them.
Dump the groups.
You want each message to be as personal as possible. Large group emails are not personalised and need to be eradicated. Dump them.
Dump the squibs.
If you haven’t heard a peep in four months, they’re probably not interested. Dump them and put your money and effort where they do more good.
Dump the tyre kickers.
If your lead is not in a position to buy, doesn’t have the authority to spend money, doesn’t have the budget and doesn’t have a timeline, dump them.
It may not be nice and cuddly, but the warm feeling you get from a bigger bottom line will more than make up for it.
Don’t lose the lead
Losing a lead is like giving money away.
You do all the work, and someone else gets the profit.
It’s frustrating and it’s preventable.
Make sure sales make the call.
Up to 80% of leads are not followed up. This could be because marketing assumes sales is making a call. Or sales not knowing the call needs to be made.
Or having a poor hand-over process.
Remember lead scoring.
Once the lead hits the score, sound an alert and make sure the lead is followed up.
Hand over the relevant information to sales at the right time (yes, this can be automated too) – including name, purchase intention and the assets the prospect has seen.
Track the changes – if the prospect leaves the business, or gets a promotion, the score changes. If the score changes, the lead gets escalated or handed back to marketing.
Learn and learn and learn some more.
Track your results and tweak your system.
Can you identify any barriers in the funnel?
Are there any slow points?
Is there an issue with the hand over process?
Can you make the system better by having regular meetings about scoring with key sales personnel?
Marketing automation works.
If you’d like to know how well it can work for you, give us a shout!
Don’t burn the lead
A burned lead doesn’t just go away.
They stay away.
And they often keep their friends away with them.
Consider your handover process.
Do you have a defined handover process?
When is the best time for salespeople to approach the customer?
Does the salesperson make it a smooth transition?
Would a new app or plug-in help salespeople track the sale?
Or track the customer?
Or keep track of the sales conversation?
Do you need sales training?
Is there anything your sales people are learning that could make the marketing better?
Is there a sales feedback loop?
Is there an app for that?
Ask for the sale
When someone has come to buy, make it easy for them to give you their money.
Have a look at your calls to action.
Could they be more direct?
Could they be more visible?
Could they be more directional?
Do they fit the tone of your site?
Have a look at all the barriers at every stage and ask yourself, “Would I buy from me?”
If you want proven, effective solutions to your challenges, talk to an agency that gets digital marketing, and has 10 years of industry-leading experience in the field. Call Shout today.