Marketing automation is a software platform that streamlines, automates and measures the way we communicate with prospects and customers. It augments sales efforts allowing you to: nurture relationships with leads who are not ready to buy, educate customers on your products or services, and compile critical data to measure marketing return on investment (ROI).
Enterprise organizations were early adopters of automation platforms, but now small businesses (companies with $5-500 million in revenue) make up the fastest growing segment in the space.
Taking on new projects can be complicated, and when it’s intended to impact your bottom line you want to do it right. To make tackling marketing automation a bit easier, I’ve broken the process down into the following five steps:
1) Start with why.
Like anything that costs you time, money or both, you need to consider why.
Conduct a quick audit and crosscheck your business needs against the “Why You Need It” list.
Why You Need It
- Sales is unhappy with lead quality
- Your sales process is complicated
- Most new leads aren’t yet ready to buy from you
- You need better data to drive marketing decisions
- You’re unable to personally contact the opportunities you generate
- You need a way to better quantify marketing value (ROI)
- You need a more efficient sales and marketing process
- You want to get the most from limited sales resources
2) Identify who you will target.
Unless you have an infinite budget, it is critically important to identify prospective targets. A great place to start looking is at the customers you’re already having success. Be sure to answer questions such as …
- Who are they?
- What is their job title/function?
- What size is the company?
- What industry?
- What are they buying from you?
- What is your most profitable product or service?
3) Segment Your Email Lists.
One size does not fit all. In modern marketing, you have to create relationships AND nurture them. It is important to understand who your customers are as people and just like any relationship that takes time. Segmenting your contact lists allows you to personalize communications to address custom needs per industry, job title or whether they’re a client or prospect.
To take step two to the next level, use buyer personas — a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data in list segmentation.
Some key attributes of buyer persona are:
- Job Title
- Buying Criteria
- Buying Triggers
- Industry Demographics
- Pain Points
See more on personas in an earlier Perfect Blend post, “What Every Business Should Know.”
4) Create Customer Journeys.
All leads are not created equal. The conversation you should have with a new lead, who you know little about, should be very different from the kind of conversation you have with an established sales opportunity. It’s critical to reference your buyer personas when creating the meaningful content you will serve up for each step of the buying funnel. Marketing automation gives you “behind the scenes” insights to which messages are working well and which areas need improvement.
5) Pick a Software Platform.
Marketing automation software is an investment. Most platforms feature the following functionality:
- Batch Email Marketing
- Landing Pages
- Triggered Email
- Lead Management
- Lead Scoring
- Automated Sales Alerts
- Campaign Management
- Web/Campaign Analytics
A few important things you should know …
- Most platforms base their pricing model on the size of the contact list.
- You will need to delegate an internal team to create, manage and evaluate campaigns. If you don’t have the resources, either consider hiring a point person or partner up with an agency.
- Be sure whichever platform you choose can integrate with your CRM.
- Identify goals for marketing automation.
- Increase marketing productivity.
- Align sales and marketing efforts.
- Earn more quality leads.
Share your experience about how marketing automation has impacted your sales team?