Find out how marketing automation can help you nurture leads in a more efficient and effective way
Many marketers have had a somewhat frustrating experience with marketing automation. The software promises to make our lives easier, and yet it can often seem that it’s failing to live up to its promise. Often, a lot of effort goes into setting up and running automation software – and even then, it can be hard to see what benefits it is bringing.
No wonder almost 70% of marketers, in a survey carried out by expert David Raab, said that they were either disappointed or only marginally satisfied with automation software.
But don’t write automation off just yet. With a proper understanding of how to use the software, it can result in real business benefits – and exciting new developments in the field mean that it’s only going to get better.
These days, customers expect a personalised, seamless buying experience. They are informed about which products and services are on offer, and shrewd enough not be persuaded by mass-marketing strategies.
In order to respond to this, marketers need to adapt the way they work. This is where the power of automation comes in. The software provides a range of capabilities that allow better understanding over how people behave through the buying cycle, and control over how your business interacts with them.
One advantage of marketing automation is that it can integrate insights from different systems – like CRM, web analytics, and lead management – in order to give you a fuller understanding of how customers behave throughout the buying cycle.
Because of this overview, marketing automation allows you to integrate your interactions with people at different stages of the buying cycle. So you can use the data you have on what pages someone has viewed on your website, which content they have downloaded, and the demographic information they have provided you with, to send them an email tailored to their likely interests. And depending on their response to that, you can follow up later with further communications.
Automation helps you achieve a “single customer view”, meaning you can engage with leads at every stage of the cycle. Without automation, it would be a lot more difficult to retain this knowledge of the customer through the buying cycle.
So automation helps you to refine, diversify and personalise your marketing techniques. And because these interactions and their results all feed back into your database, it also helps you to measure the success of your strategies, so you can keep going with what’s working, and change what isn’t. All of this enables you to work more efficiently – meaning you’ll be getting a better return on your investment, and more time to focus on the bigger picture.
But the capability of automation to create precisely defined workflows can also cause potential problems. All of these features threaten to make it almost too sophisticated for its own good. Workflows can become extremely complex, and the need to adjust them to your developing knowledge of customer behaviour becomes time-consuming and difficult to manage.
But marketing automation is now developing solutions to this problem, in the form of predictive intelligence. This uses the data that your system has on customer behaviour to change workflows automatically, without you needing to intervene. And as the system produces more and more data, it can learn to understand customers better and better.
Best practices for marketing automation
Often, marketers fail to get the most out of their automation software because of a failure to implement it in the right way. Here is some expert advice that will help you stay on the right track.
1. Have a strategy
Marketing automation is a powerful tool, but it is not enough on its own. Failing to appreciate this is one of the key reasons why so many marketers aren’t getting the most out of their automation software. Automation does not replace the need for clear strategic thinking about key areas like content and lead generation, and aligning the goals of your different teams. But the good news is that it can help you do all of these things more effectively.
2. Get people on board
People within your company need to be comfortable with automation in order for it to be a success. It’s essential that staff who will be working with it have the right training, so they understand its purpose and how to use it. It could be worth hiring specialists in certain areas, such as analytics. It can be equally important to get buy-in at a senior level – explain to executives how automation can make a difference in terms of the challenges facing the business.
3. Create buyer personas
Creating buyer personas is a key step in defining your buying cycle. In order to create successful automated workflows, you need to understand the different groups of people that you’re aiming to sell to. Your existing customer data, additional research, and informed estimation should all feed into defining personas. As your use of automation develops, you may find yourself adjusting and refining your personas in response to your observations of how leads and customers behave.
4. Define and score leads
It’s important to clearly define the criteria that you use to define leads, and how important each of these is. Is someone’s role within the company crucial, or is it more important that they have been reading and downloading content on a certain topic? How will you decide what makes a marketing-qualified lead, and a sales-qualified lead? Finding answers to all of these questions will mean that you can design effective automated workflows to nurture your leads through the buying cycle.
Making automation work for you
The huge potential of marketing automation means that some people expect too much from it, and become frustrated when it doesn’t deliver immediately.
If you’ve found that automation hasn’t delivered what you were hoping, don’t give up just yet. When used together with a clear strategy and the right people, it gives you the agility and adaptability your campaigns will need in future – making your life simpler, instead of more difficult. And as automation becomes more powerful and easier to use in future, it’s only going to get better.
- Automation software promises to make our lives easier, and yet it can often seem that it’s failing to live up to its promise. Used in the right way, though, it is a very powerful tool.
- Marketing automation can integrate insights from different systems – like CRM, web analytics, and lead management – in order to give you a fuller understanding of how customers behave throughout the buying cycle.
- Automation does not replace the need for clear strategic thinking about key areas like content and lead generation, and aligning the goals of your different teams.
- It’s essential that staff who will be working with automation have the right training, so they understand its purpose and how to use it.
- As automation becomes more sophisticated, it will be easier to get the best out of it in future.
Find out how automation can help you interact more effectively with your customers. Download: The Automated CMO's Guide to Marketing Automation