Why You Need Marketing Automation.
Digital marketing has undergone a quiet revolution of sorts in the past few years. From the earlier focus on PPC, search engine manipulation and display advertising, marketers have now shifted their attention to engaging with prospects via social media channels and providing genuine value through inbound / content marketing. This shift has been helped by the availability of tools that have allowed marketers to identify, analyze, understand and target customers better.
With so many channels available to reach our prospects it was just a matter of time before things got automated – which is exactly where we are now. Marketing automation software systems like Marketo, HubSpot and Silverpop aid marketers by increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of generating and nurturing leads. Typically, marketing automation software digs through mounds of customer data and helps businesses to stimulate demand by identifying, customizing and personalizing marketing content for prospects’ specific requirements.
Specifically, marketing automation works by identifying leads based on their requirements and their existing relationship with your business. As any salesperson will tell you, not all leads are equal – identifying the prospects’ position in the sales funnel and ensuring that the marketing messages being delivered are appropriate is crucial to leading the prospect along the sales journey, achieving conversion and ultimately, winning the business.
Leads at the top of the sales funnel, who are unfamiliar with your brand and in ‘research’ mode, are provided with different marketing collateral than those at the bottom of the funnel, who will already be intimate with your brand and have very specific requirements. By carefully calibrating the marketing message, it is possible to turn top-of-the-funnel MQL (Marketing Qualified Leads) into bottom-of-the-funnel SQL (Sales Qualified Leads).
In layman’s speak, marketing automation identifies the requirements of each lead and shows them content that will enable them to make a purchase decision, or barring that, move a step further in the sales funnel.
Crucial to marketing automation is a well laid-out content strategy that can educate and motivate prospects into customers. Thus, a top-of-the-funnel lead who knows nothing about your brand but has a requirement for your products, would be identified and shown white papers, eBooks and research reports that will help position your business as the authority, while highlighting how your product(s) or service addresses their pain points.
A middle-of-the-funnel lead who may be more aware of your proposition and has a vague idea of their own requirements will be shown different content altogether. These might be blog posts and slideshows that educate the lead on the benefits and uses of your product, and how it can help save money, sell more, etc.
A bottom-of-the-funnel lead who is well-versed with your brand and business offering and has a specific requirement for a product, on the other hand, must be approached completely differently. Since this lead has very particular requirements and is an educated prospect, the marketing automation software will essentially ‘hold the prospect’s hand’, guiding them through the selection and purchase process. The prospect might be offered a personalized demo of the product, a detailed product brochure, or a one-to-one call with a salesperson to iron out the details of the transaction and close the deal.
Of course, creating and implementing your own automated marketing campaign is no mean feat. Setting the strategy (who gets what and when, scoring leads and identifying their position in the funnel etc.) as well as the task of producing all of the fantastic, engaging content that’ll drive the process to the point of sale – all takes time, effort, constant updating and refining.
However, marketers that choose this route to engage prospects will find that ultimately their efforts will put them in good stead. The ability to identify leads and personalize content in this manner wasn’t possible a few years ago. With the plethora of customer data available to businesses today, marketing automation software, backed by a robust content strategy, will not only ensure that customers are making informed buying decisions, but also help marketers create greater brand-value, increase efficiency and improve conversion rates.