Leveraging Your Marketing Automation Tool for Efficiency and Growth

The Marketing Squad
By: The Marketing Squad
Reading Time: 6 minutes

Previously we shared about what exactly marketing automation is and how to select the right tool for your unique needs. Having the right tool is one thing. In many ways the selection process is the easy part. Leveraging your selected tool the way it is intended is everything.

A primary consideration when utilizing any form of marketing automation is how to remain human. On the spectrum of personal and human versus streamlined and techy, we find the choice being on one end appearing slow and possibly inconsistent but authentic and on the other end being fast and clean but possibly predictable and cold. You have to find the right balance for your brand. What is going to help your business scale without losing what makes your brand unique and intent on connecting with other people?

Our goal is to share with you some examples of marketing automation that extend beyond the basic drip campaign or quick auto response. 

Marketing automation is meant for more than just the middle of the funnel

When we think about marketing automation, our minds quickly go to the classic marketing and sales funnel. We think about what we can automate to push people further down the funnel and closer to a decision. While this is where automation has proved its worth, relying too heavily on this application can lead to a disjointed experience for prospects and customers. There has to be intentional points of handoff from a computer to a human. 

At what point should automation give way to a personal phone call or an invitation to a meeting or event? When does a chatbot get programmed to hand off the interaction to a sales rep waiting in the wings? Thinking that marketing automation lives only in the middle of a decision cycle synthesizes your entire audience into a one-dimensional group with the identical intentions. This approach will inevitably turn off the very people you’re trying to nurture. 

Examples of Marketing Automation

Taking marketing automation beyond lead nurturing through the middle of the funnel requires that we think about the intersections marketing has with your organization other than with the sales team. How does your marketing team support your Human Resources department? Or does it? What does marketing do to engage current clients and empower the operations of your business? Marketing automation can play a role in more than just the marketing-to-sales paradigm.

Gated Content and Email Nurturing

Gated content is any online material, such as whitepapers, eBooks, videos, recorded webinars etc that requires the visitor to fill out a form before accessing the content. Typically you’ll ask for just a name and email address. For richer content, you may ask for information about the company they represent or even a phone number. In any case, the ultimate goal in marketing is to get someone to raise their hand that they are interested in your product or service and to do so by sharing contact information with you. Gated content fulfills this purpose.

Once you have someone’s contact info, you now have permission to market to them. We call this a marketing qualified lead (MQL) and it’s the job of the marketing team to nurture that lead into someone who is ready to talk to your sales team – a sales qualified lead (SQL). A prime way to do this is through a series of pre-drafted emails sent automatically to the lead over a prescribed period of time. This is classic email nurturing. This is often referred to as a drip campaign.  

The emails in the nurturing campaign should be relevant to the content that first attracted the lead. Afterall, you know a bit about this new contact based upon the content they downloaded or accessed. The emails should find natural ways to link back to your website and provide relevant and useful information. Ultimately, you are encouraging this lead to take steps closer to a sales decision.

By tracking the open rate and click thru rate of your email in this drip campaign, you can learn what information is helpful and where your leads may lose interest. A well-planned and executed campaign will provide powerful insights into your target audience and help a marketer plan better content in the future. Through analysis of your campaign’s success you may choose to segment your audience or create entirely new streams of content to meet a need you hadn’t previously known existed.

Engaging Customers

Marketing automation provides countless opportunities to keep customers engaged or simply helps them take the first steps of their journey with you as a paying customer.

Perhaps you offer a service. It’s likely that even after your customer purchases your services, they still have questions about what is expected of them to find success with your service or who they can go to with questions should they have issues. Marketing automation can answer their questions before they even ask. A series of emails to new customers informing them of next steps or prompting them to provide additional information about themselves or their company can help ensure long-term satisfaction.

Consider marketing automation’s role in introducing a new product or service to your existing customer base. A proper automation tool can help you segment your contacts based upon previous purchases or content they’ve interacted with. You can quickly build lists of people who are prone to making an additional purchase and create warm (dare we say “hot”) leads for your sales team from your own database.

Marketing automation enables you to mine the depths of your existing database and shortens the overall sales cycle.

Event Management

Chances are that attending conferences and tradeshows or hosting events are a part of your marketing strategy. You can use marketing automation to maximize the time your team puts into engaging in or producing events. 

If you’re hosting a booth at a tradeshow or inviting prospects to your facility for an open house, you’ll want to capture the contact information of as many attendees as possible. You might offer a small token (ie, branded sports bottle, T-shirt or hat, etc) to each person who fills out a form or enter everyone into a drawing for a large prize (ie, iPad, airline ticket voucher, exclusive experience etc). Whatever the carrot may be, what you do with that information next makes all the difference. 

You can enter them into your CRM tagged according to the event they attended or the buy persona they align with. You can send them a series of emails to keep your brand front of mind after the buzz and energy of the event is over. Those emails could invite them to follow your social accounts or to take the next logical step in the buyer’s journey.

Think about how events could be coupled with smart marketing automation to multiple your efforts. Host a seminar, workshop, or lunch-and-learn in your facility. Build up to a new product launch or demonstration. Invite your database to a party to celebrate a company milestone. Host a webinar for MQLs to see if you can fill your sales pipeline. Marketing automation has a role to play leading up to and following each of these events.

Events can generate more business, increase brand awareness, and lead to a better understanding of your products and services. What’s more, events offer an opportunity to build relationships and position you to be seen as a thought leader. Done well, events can ultimately establish trust between your brand and your audience. 

Lead Scoring

Let’s face it, not all leads are created equal. Some leads are more valuable than others based solely upon how you captured them. Others carry more weight due to the perceived value they could generate in terms of revenue for your business. Many marketing automation tools give you a way to assign a score to each lead based upon factors you deem to be important. 

Each of your prospects’ actions is an added data point for your marketing strategy, telling you what customers are looking for. As helpful as this information is, manually tracking these behaviors is impossible. However, with marketing automation software, businesses can use these inputs across multiple channels to deeply understand their customers’ needs and deliver the right content at the right time.

Perhaps the business card you received at the booth you were working is worth 50 points, while the form fill you received for the giveaway you were offering is worth only 10. A business owner handing an old school business card with a handshake and a brief conversation is always more promising then someone giving you an email address just for a chance to win a new cooler.

Once you have your lead scoring models set up, you can begin to trigger email workflows to see just how good your lead scoring truly is.

Company Culture

Your team members can be contacts in your marketing automation system too. They have important information you should be tracking as a leader – birthdays, work anniversaries, etc. Your automation platform can be used to trigger the appropriate people with reminders to celebrate your team members at relevant times. Additionally, staff surveys can offer valuable insights as well that could direct the overall direction of the company. We should not overlook our internal teams when considering the value of marketing automation.

You get out what you put in

Ultimately, your marketing automation platform is only as good as the information you feed it. A thoughtful approach to setting up contact details with segmentation in mind and carefully setting up your categories, tags, and custom fields will pay dividends in the long term. Being diligent to keep your data clean and even audit it with some regularity helps to ensure that your marketing efforts won’t be in vain. There’s no sense in segmenting lists and setting up automations with data that’s sloppy or out of date.There is much efficiency and scale to be realized when you utilize a marketing automation tool. As we’ve said, choosing the right tool is only the first step. At The Marketing Squad, we recently introduced our own sales and marketing engine for businesses looking to transition from a platform they’ve outgrown or one whose features and/or pricing have left them behind. It’s called Spark, and it’s designed to be adaptable to your business’s unique needs. If you’d like to learn more about Spark or schedule a demo, visit this page.

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