Whether you’ve deployed marketing automation or are contemplating adding it to your marketing arsenal, be aware that a lot of companies today are underutilizing it.
The truth is that marketing automation can be a fairly straightforward solution to implement in your organization.
I’ll take you through some of the common challenges and scenarios, then explain how you can easily get started with some basic steps to utilize marketing automation effectively.
Reality Check: Marketing Automation Today
- 75% of companies are underutilizing their marketing automation platform and 80% do not have sufficient content ~Frost and Sullivan
Why is this the case? A lot of these companies are developing platforms with grand plans that are too much to take on. It’s better to start off thinking big but with a smaller plan that you can progressively build on.
- Sales cycles have increased 22% over the past 5 years ~Sirius Decisions
- 70% of all research is completed before they come to your website ~Forrester
Why is this so important? The processes for segmentation, strategy and the sales cycle stage all need to be aligned. You need to have campaigns where by everyone who comes to your website is evaluated and treated properly. At the end, as a marketer you want to help those customers or potential customers get the information they need through automated processes.
- 64% of CMOs have an informal or no process to manage their marketing automation ~The Annuitas Group.
Why is this the case? Ask yourself this, are your teams in agreement with lead flow, MQL and to win attribution? There needs to be sales and marketing alignment to yield successful results.
Common Scenarios: Postponing MA Implementation
According to Gleanster Research in 2013, the main challenges for top performers to implement lead nurturing is (92%) developing nurture marketing content, (81%) quality of customer data, and (56%) measuring return on investment. There are also several common scenarios we’ve heard as to why organizations have delayed launching or haven’t made the most of their marketing automation solutions:
- “We are waiting to redo our website.” Don’t wait! Tracking visitors is the key to building digital biographies.
- “We are currently using it to blast emails only.” We often hear that companies buy the wrong MA solution. Always remember that you can start small then build out the program later.
- “It’s too difficult” or “We have no plan.” My advice is to just keep it simple and just get started. Every day that passes, is a day lost. You can’t catch up!
- “We don’t have the resources” or “people” to “do it right.” Keep in mind that this is about marketing and not the type of platform you have.
What to Accomplish First: The Basics
The good news is that you can reap value from your program if you start with the basics:
- Tracking – At the most basic level, once you have tracking in place then your marketing automation solution can begin to develop a digital biography of visitor and their interaction with every email and form fill for you.
- Simple segmentation – Emailing already? Develop a simple timeline of emails that can be distributed on a consistent basis to your most specific audiences for your persona-level marketing.
- Basic campaigns – Using existing or re-purposed content, build a simple campaign such as a drip campaign. It shouldn’t take a lot of time. Once someone fills out a form then drop them into a simple campaign.
- Visibility for sales – Give sales visibility into prospect activity and provide real-time alerts to really enhance the connect rate with customers. A good statistic to keep in mind: if a salesperson follows up within the first hour of a potential customer visiting the website they are up to 10 times more likely to get them on the phone.
It’s time to automate! You can’t engage manually with all of the visitors to your website. Best in class companies are showing impressive results if they just focus on these next steps:
1) Agree on the end-to-end lead management process. Marketing and sales now more than ever needs to engage to ensure customers have a good experience through the sales funnel. The ultimate goal is to pull the funnel together to improve the lead flow but keep in mind that it can be a simple process. Also, ask your sales team for keen insights, for example what literature they get the most comments on so you can further build on that knowledge.
2) Define Target Audiences & Develop Personas. Further define your key audiences so you can develop personas for your marketing strategy. There are several options for going about this, you can define it by job function, responsibilities or titles then create value propositions for each; by product or market; by technology vs. business; or specific interest by pages. Once you’ve identified this you’ll really be able to skew your campaigns to specific audiences and develop those personas that you can tie content to.
Content should be developed to speak to different segments. Even with a little bit of information from your tracking program, it can provide you with who people are and what they are looking at. You’ll often find that if you have these personas in place, such as an IT manager or a CFO, your chances of click through, response rate and website activity will go up.
3) Develop Content Strategy and Plan. Once you have your personas, create a specific journey for each persona. Where do you want to direct them and what content do you want to provide them with? IT managers may want hard facts and not fluffy content or costs. However, the CFO will care about costs and higher level content on what your company can provide them.
4) Create Prospect and Customer Journeys. Then create a generic journey and strategy for those prospects that may not fit into those personas. Influencers can come from any part of an organization and can still have an impact on whether someone in that company is going to buy product.
- Also, start with segmentation that focuses on simple audiences and then refine it over time. The criteria may include any demographic, activity or other information that helps get the right message to the appropriate audience. We’re seeing a trend where people are developing simple forms with the name, job function and contact information to determine what that audience is. They are leaving the titles off. Segmentation is the key to putting individuals in the appropriate customer journey. Keep in mind that you can refine this over time. For example, you can start with a basic Drip Campaign then eventually build it out to a simple Drip-to-Nurturing campaign once you’ve identified the pace of that prospect.
- Be sure to set up and use alerts and automated reports, such as real-time lead alert, real-time free-trial alerts and a daily anonymous visitor report to view the overall activity of your prospects and customers.
- Lastly, use your CRM system to give sales the information, especially the visitor activity history, so they have visibility of every movement on your website. This also includes assets downloaded, pages viewed, and overall engagement to provide sales with the type of conversation to have with prospect.
5) Measure, Refine, Repeat – We all want to get the ROI. On an ongoing basis, monitor your campaigns so you know what’s working and what’s not working. This way you can go into your system to refine and repeat campaigns.
At the end of the day, you want to ensure you’re doing your job as a marketer to ensure your making the most of your marketing automation program and collaborating with sales to get make the most of your touch points with your prospects and customers. No matter what campaign or channel you decide to start off with, you want to ensure you have a nice cadence to build upon. This will help prevent fatigue among your customers or potential customers. Remember, patience is a virtue and it often takes many touches to move a prospect through the buying cycle.