Over the past few years, technology has enabled professionals and organizations to take their business to a whole new level. Marketing automation is one such advancement. Marketing and sales teams have been scrambling to understand and leverage this new technique to their advantage. The reality is that automating the marketing process is not a single technique. Instead, it is a number of techniques and technologies combined.
It is nothing new to bring in potential prospects and follow through with proper lead nurturing to help them through the sales funnel. This is something that has been done for many years. Traditionally, much of the process has been finely defined and manually completed. As computers and the internet became more and more a part of doing business, sales reps and marketing managers began using technology to help. This started with things like email reminders, auto-responders, complicated matrices and mind maps. Still, a lot of the work had to be done by individuals.
Marketing automation tries to remove as much as the labor and man hours as possible, assisting prospects through the sales funnel as far as possible without overworking sales staff on dead leads. There is a both art and science to the practice. You need the right technology and processes in order to be able to get it to work. At the same time, you cannot remove the human element. Those emails and reminders that get sent to your prospects have to sound like they came from a human. Take the time to craft them so that they do.
An Example of Marketing Automation
HubSpot, Marketo, Active Campaign, Pardot, and other systems all provide a solid platform for organizations that need to automate the sales process. But, how does it really work? There are a lot of moving parts. Once you nail down your process, you will end up updating it and fine tuning it on at least a semi-regular basis. First, the marketing team will need to come together to help define the sales funnel and lifecycle. The will include determining the value of different marketing actions to work in conjunction with lead scoring, workflows that follow specific marketing actions, when a lead becomes a marketing qualified lead (MQL) or sales qualified lead (SQL), how to assign leads to members of the team, etc. At this point, you will also be investigating the capabilities and limitations of your marketing platform and customer relationship manager (CRM) as well as their integration.
You have a website that is bringing leads in through search engine optimization (SEO), paid advertisements including pay-per-click (PPC), social media, and other methods. Potential customers are directed to a landing page with a lead form. The landing page will typically provide an offer of some sort, free white paper, webinar, line card, or other valuable piece of information. To get at that valuable information, visitors will enter information into the form such as their name, email address, and zip code. That will get them access and into your database. Once in the database for filling out that form, a workflow kicks in sending emails with additional offers over the course of a week. If the prospect continues to click on offers and come back for more information, the system will log this activity and take action. This would typically include raising the prospects lead score, perhaps moving them further down the sales funnel and lifecycle stage. Upon certain actions taking place, the proper parties will be notified and reach out directly to try and move closer to the close.
That is perhaps an over-simplified version, but that is an overview of the marketing automation process. The ability to do this in today's day and age is what separates successful marketing teams from the rest. You can even have a successful team without doing this. Implementing automated marketing processes, though, will only help to further insure your success.
What are the Benefits of Marketing Automation?
You have the idea of what marketing automation is, but how is it really going to help? Maybe you've been in business with 20 plus years and watching sales grow year over year. Your process seems to be working fine. Why change it?
That's an excellent question. After all, if it ain't broke, don't fix it right? Well, not exactly. Here's the deal. Automated marketing practices will help you improve efficiency, improve ROI, and overall increase profits. Here's how:
- More time for sales reps to focus on the highest value leads
- Less time spent on leads that are not going to convert
- More marketing information tracked through an automated system
- Less room for human error in gathering useful business intelligence
- Well-defined business processes that can be more easily examined and modified
Is Marketing Automation Right for Your Business?
There is no denying that what is good for one business may not be good for all businesses. If you are running a restaurant, small retail store, or gas station, you might not see the immediate need for implementing these procedures. However, if you run a business that is actively recruiting customers and trying to close leads, marketing automation can certainly help. Even if you run a local collectibles store, getting people to sign up for your email newsletter and having a backend system to walk them through the sales funnel, most often unbeknownst to them, you can watch your sales increase. One of the best parts about the marketing automation is that you and your team will invest the time upfront, but the effort will pay off for many years to come. Yes, regular reviewing and modifying is going to help you improve the process, but the overall effort is going to end up paying off. You and your sales team won't be working so hard for every lead that walks through the door or visits your website. You'll be spending your time wisely on highly qualified leads.
Determining if marketing automation is going to work for your business will require you to carefully consider your future business goals.
- Do you have the sales staff that can handle those highly qualified leads?
- Do you have a marketing team that can advise and guide the creation of the automation process, make adjustments as necessary?
- Can you handle the greater influx of business?
- Do you have, or do you plan on having, enough leads coming in that investing in a marketing automation platform and CRM makes sense?