It happens with so much of the technology available to today’s marketers. It sounds like a great solution that will give you more time to be creative and be the amazing marketer you know you are, but it also sounds complicated and full of potential pitfalls. So how do you know how to “do” marketing automation correctly and ensure you’re getting the most from the technology you’ve invested in? We’ve put together some tips and best practices to help you succeed.
10 Tips for success with Marketing Automation:
1. Create a plan
- Sounds simple enough, but too often marketers are so crunched for time and under pressure to get something launched, that they don’t spend the time at the beginning of a project to ensure it’s been thought through. Now is the time to take a step back and ask stakeholders to assist in the creation of a plan. This will help you select the correct automation platform that can satisfy your current needs and grow with you in the future, as well as effectively measure your campaign metrics.
It’s also the right time to ask those involved what goals they have for the initiative. Knowing the metrics your success will be measured by will help you to effectively develop strategy to work towards these known goals. It will also help you to manage expectations from the beginning so that none of your coworkers are expecting Rome, built in a day.
2. Involve your sales team
- You might think of automation as a way to stay in touch with potential customers and create awareness and brand loyalty, which will in turn support your sales efforts. However, it’s important to go into automation with the mindset that the biggest beneficiary will be your sales team. In order to most effectively implement automation, you need to understand the buying process and you should use your sales team as a resource to achieve this. By being transparent and open with them, you can ensure they understand how marketing automation is meant to help them as well as better understand the consumers and goals you’re trying to achieve. It can also help as you build the tool so that it can be of best use to the sales team. Using this knowledge you can create buyer personas, attach realistic completion goals to campaigns and know the right questions to ask when requesting completion of a form so that your team has the answers they need to carry the ball to the finish line.
This is also the right time to fully understand how leads should be routed. Who gets what leads from your marketing automation platform and at what time? How will they be tracked?
3. Content is key-
Good content drives results and builds audience. It shows you as a thought leader and resource to your audience when you keep their wants and needs in mind. If your content can help them, inform them or answer their questions, they’ll come back for more. This again relates back to our second point, involve your sales team. They know the audience and the audience’s needs. The other reason to really think through your content strategy is that with good, useful content you have the option to gate it (ask for more information from a user in order to obtain your content). You’re not asking them to buy at this point, but you are asking for some additional information. Users won’t give up additional information for no reason, so that content needs to entice them enough to be willing to share information with you.
4. Automation isn’t set-it and forget-it-
You have to engage with your automation plan and platform. You can use the data you obtain to help drive the decisions you make about how to proceed. You can use engagement information like open rates, user actions, etc. to help you evaluate if you’re headed in the right direction. You should also be in constant contact with your sales team throughout this process. They can help you to evaluate lead quality and adjust as you go. It’s important to be objective and keep evaluating. The good news here is that you’re not flying blind. The numbers will tell you if things are working and if they’re not, you can change them.
5. Interest vs. Intent-
Being able to see page views is a start, but they alone can’t tell the full story. You could see huge views, but they could be the result of someone writing a research paper about a product of your industry, an overzealous employee studying up on the business or your mom might be really proud of you and she’s showing all her friends you’re latest work. Knowing who is engaging is an important factor in your strategy. Most automation platforms include a scoring and grading function that allows you qualify leads more effectively and help you determine when a prospect is ready to buy.
6. Don’t over complicate the process-
We know you’re anxious to get the information you need to prove your automation plan is working and get your sales team selling. But the more complex you make a landing page or form, the more links and buttons you include in an email, the harder it is for users to complete the actions you need/want. Keep things simple and keep them coming back for more with that engaging, relevant content we spoke about earlier, and before you know it you’ll have the leads your sales team needs in order to be most effective.
7. Treat your leads like your friends-
The key to employing effective marketing automation is that it takes time. You won’t just flip a switch and see sales increase, and part of that time is spent knowing when not to contact someone. Don’t bombard your audience with email after email and then become frustrated when you see your engagement number decrease. Of equal importance, don’t neglect the relationship by ignoring or forgetting about them. When they ask a question, respond. It’s all the kinds of things you know are proper friendship etiquette put into practice with your marketing automation.
8. Organization is everything-
Keeping things organized when using an automation platform will make the whole process so much easier. Having well thought-out and structured labels that anyone with access to your system understands the meaning of will make it simple to access previous campaigns in the future, know who has received them and help you track your results so you can continue to examine, evaluate and perfect your process and strategy.
9. Make sure your Automation and CRM are friends-
Having an automation system that interfaces well with your current CRM (if you have a CRM) is a huge win. You can more effectively route and track sales leads when these two things are functioning in concert and help to ensure not only that your sales team is receiving leads when the lead is ready, but ensure that the hard work you and your marketing automation efforts are doing share the credit for the sales that result. To do all of this with the most effect and benefit, you’ll want to take the time to develop a routing strategy by working with your sales team manager. This helps you determine who gets what leads, when, and how they are followed up on.
10. Don’t forget about your current customers-
Sure, in general people see automation as a tool for generating new sales leads, but don’t get so caught up in getting those new leads that you forget about your loyal customers. Ensuring your current customers and their information are entered into your automation platform is key in tracking them and ensuring they are well cultivated as well. Do they only know of one product you sell? Would they have use for or be open to more? You already know they are interested in some way in your industry, so it’s a great way to stay top of mind and expand their knowledge of your brand and its offerings. Automation tools often allow you to segment audiences so you can, in turn, customize messages. Take full advantage of this feature so that you can keep interacting with the customers who’ve already seen value in your brand.
These tips are meant to get you thinking about how marketing automation can help you evolve your marketing tactics. With proper use and good integration with your sales team, these tools can help your marketing efforts be directly tied to sales success. Cultivating brand awareness and affinity has lasting implications for your business, and with effective campaigns and touch points leveraging marketing automation, you can help move your company forward.
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