Best practices for lead generation, marketing automation and revenue generation topics.

Improving Customer Relationships with Marketing Automation

Improving Customer Relationships with Marketing AutomationWith all of the hustle and bustle associated with attracting, growing, and converting leads, it can oftentimes be easy to forget the real key to achieving sustainable growth: cultivating loyal customers. This means not only a customer that will offer a consistent source of revenue, but who will also provide valuable recommendations to help in enhancing products, and even drive new prospects to your brand by recommending your products and offering testimonials.

Strong customer relationships are vital to any business strategy, but unfortunately, they are often given little priority. Marketing automation can help in improving customer relationships. While there is a common misconception that marketing automation comes to an end once a customer is converted, that is actually not the case. Marketing automation can continue to provide a number of important benefits, even after a deal is concluded.

Improving Content

Oftentimes, marketing automation efforts focus on personalizing content for the purposes of bringing new clients on board. In reality, however, customization is just as important to current customers. Marketing automation can provide a wealth of information regarding a client’s recent activity, including any content he or she may have recently downloaded, areas where he or she may be struggling, or an area where they may be interested in expanding their knowledge. Having this information available can ensure that the right questions are crafted, while also ensuring that you’re providing a more valuable customer experience.

Identifying Brand Ambassadors with Lead Scoring

Lead scoring can prove to be a highly effective method for identifying the biggest fans of a brand quickly and easily. This is important for several reasons. Customers who download and share content regularly and who interact on social media accounts are extremely valuable. Not only can they offer credibility, but they can also become powerful brand ambassadors. Lead scoring offers the opportunity to identify such customers and begin the process of building relationships with those individuals, while also rewarding them for their loyalty.

Marketing automation is excellent at providing drip marketing capabilities, which can be quite beneficial for helping current customers have an even more valuable experience. This is precisely what drives true customer loyalty and retention.

Mistakes with Marketing Automation – and How to Fix Them

Mistakes You May Be Making with Marketing Automation and How to Fix ThemWhile marketing automation has become an increasingly popular approach for generating quality leads and driving them through the sales funnel efficiently, it’s not uncommon for marketers to make mistakes in implementing marketing automation tools. The power of marketing automation cannot be denied, but it also is not a magic solution that will resolve all marketing problems. As is the case with any solution, marketing automation is only as effective as the team behind it and the time you invest in it. Failure to properly implement and make the most of marketing automation will almost always result in failure. In this post we’ll share common mistakes with marketing automation and how to fix them.

Failure to Develop a Documented Strategy

Without a documented marketing strategy, marketing automation tools cannot possibly hit your desired target. A proper marketing automation strategy should effectively tie together the goals of a company with the techniques used to reach those goals. Marketing automation tools serve as a means to execute a proper strategy; they are not an actual strategy on their own.

Only Using Marketing Automation Tools as Email Marketing Tools

Marketing automation tools provide far more than just email capabilities. While email is still an incredibly effective marketing automation tool, a successful marketing automation campaign requires harnessing all available features, which may include lead scoring, search engine optimization, landing pages, and metrics and reporting.

Focusing on Selling Instead of Nurturing

Lead nurturing is one of the most powerful benefits of a marketing automation tool. When used properly, it can help to move prospects through the sales funnel more quickly than when using traditional marketing tools. The problem is that many marketers focus on selling rather than nurturing leads at the top of the funnel. When a heavy sales pitch is used too early, it often drives leads away rather than moving them forward. Selling should be reserved for the bottom of the funnel leads, while the top of the funnel leads should receive useful content related to their specific interests.

Tracking the Wrong Metrics

It can be incredibly easy to get sucked into the vast array of data available from marketing automation tools. Placing too much emphasis on the wrong data, however, such as social shares and traffic, can prevent you from tracking metrics that really matter, such as lead conversion rates. Always keep in mind that the importance of certain metrics may change based on where a lead is in the sales funnel.

Taking the Next Step after Implementing Marketing Automation

Taking the Next Step after Implementing Marketing AutomationAs important as planning is to the success of marketing automation, it’s also important not to drop the ball after a marketing automation campaign is implemented. Unfortunately, marketers often tend to struggle with the next step after implementing marketing automation. Most often, these areas include starting small, sourcing quality content, and implementing steps for passing leads on to sales management as quickly as possible.

Begin with Micro-Campaigns

Many times, marketers are so excited at the prospect of launching a marketing automation campaign that they try to implement too much too soon. The key to success is to drive some valuable activity to your marketing automation system right away. Launching small campaigns by targeting great prospects, including existing customers, can generate high-value activity. Try offering valuable information and educational content to encourage leads and get them excited about what is to come.

Sourcing Good Content

Among the biggest bottlenecks many marketers face is trying to source good content while keeping it updated, fresh, and relevant. Planning ahead can help to eliminate many of the struggles associated with sourcing good content. It is vital to the success of an automated marketing campaign to always have a steady supply of quality content. Consider the different types of content available, and plan to include a mix of content genres to keep things interesting. For example, mix it up between articles and videos, blogs and infographics. Sources should be updated frequently. The ultimate goal is to deliver fresh content that will help target leads to move to the next stage of the sales funnel without delay.

Tips for creating good marketing content.

Pass It On

The results of an automated marketing campaign are only beneficial if they arrive in the hands of sales managers as quickly as possible. Establishing report subscriptions to deliver valuable data from the marketing automation system to the right people can ensure that leads are acted upon quickly, before they grow cold.

Following these easy steps can help in getting data flowing into an automated marketing campaign once it is implemented, and ensure the greatest degree of long-term success.

What You Need to Know to Make Your Marketing Automation More Effective

What You Need to Know to Make Your Marketing Automation More EffectiveThe benefits of marketing automation are well known, including improved lead management, staff efficiency, marketing ROI, and increased sales. Even so, not all marketing automation campaigns are as effective as they could be. The tips below are provided to make your marketing automation more effective.

Planning Is Primary

The first and most important step in developing an effective marketing automation campaign is identifying and fleshing out goals for connecting with leads. Whether that is through social media, email, website content, or a mix of methods, it is important to consider the best ways to communicate, as well as how frequently to communicate with leads, to obtain optimal results.

Gathering Data

The process of building an effective marketing automation plan relies heavily on understanding as much about a target audience as possible. Taking the time to gather and analyze data for the purposes of determining a lead’s choices is well worth investing the effort and time.

Tell Prospects What to Do

Including a clear call to action is vital to help prospects uncover the information they want while also driving follow through. By linking a call to action with an offer, a marketing automation campaign gives prospects greater incentive to take the next step. This is particularly important for prospects at the top of the sales funnel.

Scoring Leads

Among the greatest benefits of marketing automation is the ability to score leads. While marketing automation tools are great for driving leads, it should be recognized that not all leads are the same. Some leads are hot, while others are simply should be passed by. Lead scoring helps to discern the difference between the two, and ensures that valuable time and effort is not wasted on leads destined to generate little return, while simultaneously focusing more effort on leads with the most potential to convert to paying customers.

The process of building a new marketing automation plan can at first seem overwhelming. If you approach the process in a step-by-step manner, however, the process becomes simpler and sets the stage for greater success.

 

Building Referral Programs using Marketing Automation

Building a Referral Program using Marketing AutomationThe dynamics of buying and selling are complex. Buyers have a hard time making a purchase if they don’t have much to go off of. For example, no reviews to look at, no other customers to talk to. Sellers have it just as rough too. Closing deals is not easy, especially if you’re starting a relationship from scratch. It’s much harder to convince prospective buyers to make a purchase if they’ve never heard of your company or solution before.

As a buyer myself, I think about the recent experience we’re going through with a house renovation. We’ve got a three car garage and the third by in our garage is about to be converted to a mother-in-law suite. We thought that would be better than the attic ;-). I couldn’t tackle the project by myself, so we needed a general contractor to do the job. We contacted five general contractors. We found all five off of the Good Contractors List, on our own, with no references. Unfortunately, we didn’t know anybody that recently used a general contractor or went through a similar renovation project. If we did, and someone said – hey, try these guys out, they were great and we had a wonderful experience, you bet your bottom dollar they’d be our first call. Doing all the outreach and going through the process with these five contractors is painful and time consuming. When it comes down to it, people get lazy about all that research and most people will take the short route, which is the referral from someone else.

Building referral programs for your business using marketing automation is easy. It’s something every company should do, especially since:

  1. People are 4 times more likely to buy when referred by a friend – Nielsen
  2. 65% of new business comes from referrals – New York Times
  3. The LifeTime Value of a new referral customer is 16% higher – Wharton School of Business

You can see why it makes a lot of business sense to set up a good referral system. Here’s a four step plan to take to build your referral program with marketing automation:

1) Engage Customers

Engage customers through email and/or direct mail campaigns created and delivered with your marketing automation system. Your marketing automation system should have an easy way for you to segment your database to target customers only. This is one way to go back into your database and get a touch point out to existing customers. For new customers, set up a trigger-based automation to have your marketing automation system detect new customers, then fire off the email or direct mail message asking them for referrals. You might want to consider timing your referral request for about 3 to 6 months after they’ve become a customer.

2) Provide a Landing Page

When your referral request goes out you’ll want to send your customer to your purpose-built landing page. Once the landing page is submitted by your customer, you’ll be able to track who is making the referral using this landing page and form built with your marketing automation system. Moreover, when the form is submitted you’ll send an introductory email created with your marketing automation system to the person being referred introducing your company.

3) Trigger Incentives

The web form submission serves as the “trigger” for other actions. When the trigger happens an email or postcard is automatically sent to the referral with a concise and beneficial call to action: “try us”, “free trial”, or gift card. Your marketing automation system can match the appropriate incentive with the referral’s demographics (role, job title, etc.) if needed, setting the table for more precise and relevant communication. Tracking kicks in and the referral’s interaction with your company is monitored. Based on engagement, provide the new prospect with the appropriate level of nurturing.

4) Nurture

Using automation, nurture people that were referred but did not respond so that your business remains top of mind when service is needed. Nurturing is a great way to automate touch points and systemize the referral process.

We hope you enjoyed this guide on building referral programs using marketing automation.

Download this free brochure on Building a Referral Program using Lead Liaison and stick it up on your wall! It will help you stay on track with setting up your referral program.

 

What You Need to Know Before Implementing Marketing Automation

What You Need to Know Before Implementing Marketing AutomationSo, you’re thinking of giving marketing automation a try. There are certainly many excellent reasons to do so. Marketing automation can help to make your workload much more efficient while also delivering a positive return on investment. On the flip side, marketing automation can also increase your workload and be a drain on your budget, if it is not handled properly. The difference lies in how well you plan the implementation of marketing automation.

Develop a Plan for Implementation

The most important step you can take before adding marketing automation to your current projects is to ensure you have a plan for implementing it. While this might sound simple enough, this is a step that is too frequently ignored. Far too often, business owners get carried away with all of the many benefits that marketing automation can provide. That may be true, but in order to take advantage of those many benefits you must make sure you have a high-level plan in place.

Begin by ensuring expectations are established. In the past, marketing and sales were often completely different functions. Today, the line between marketing and sales has become blurred thanks to marketing automation. More and more, tasks that were previously handled by sales is now being moved to marketing. This also means that marketing and sales divisions must understand and agree on how their responsibilities will be handled. Try using a Service Level Agreement (SLA) to align sales and marketing.

Start Off Small

Additionally, it is important to make sure you start small. There can be a lot of excitement surrounding the implementation of marketing automation. It can be tempting to want to go big and take advantage of everything marketing automation provides at once. Even so, trying to implement all of the features provided by marketing automation as soon as you get started will usually only result in failure. It is much better to start slow and small by choosing one specific audience and working to build your first marketing project around that audience. Testing is a common practice in the world of marketing and it maintains its importance in marketing automation. The information you glean from your first trial run with marketing automation can prove to be invaluable to the success of later campaigns.

Remember that organization is the key to succeeding with marketing automation. If your operation is already inefficient, marketing automation is not going to change that.

Know What You’re Going to Do with Leads

It is also imperative to ensure you have a system in place for handling the leads that will inevitable result from your marketing automation efforts. This is the ideal time for Marketing and Sales to work together to determine priorities and goals. If your company already has an effective sales team in place, they probably already know how to handle new leads. If not, this may be an area you need to address.

While the prospect of implementing marketing automation might be overwhelming, the right help can make all the difference. Find out more about how you can effectively implement marketing automation today.

Tips for Succeeding with Marketing Automation

Tips for Succeeding with Marketing AutomationThe benefits provided by marketing automation can be truly phenomenal. Allowing you to create successful marketing campaigns and then automate the process, marketing automation provides virtually unlimited capabilities. Among the most important factors involved in determining exactly how successful marketing automation can be for your business is the set-up process. These tips for succeeding with marketing automation will help you ensure the best possible outcome when implementing marketing automation.

Pay Attention to Your Customer Relationship Management

Your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is of vital importance for the success of your marketing automation campaign. When your marketing automation software synchs with your CRM, it is imperative that your list be as clean as possible, otherwise you are likely to end up with duplicate lists that you will need to untangle. Take the time to delete any duplicate records and ensure all account names are correct. This may mean merging, deleting, and purging, but it will be time well spent in terms of ensuring optimal success for your marketing automation program.

Are All Email Addresses Correct?

Imagine uploading contacts only to discover you have a high bounce rate due to wrong email addresses. This could be a very real possibility, if you do not run your email addresses through an email verification service. AccuWebHosting.com provides a good article here on email validation services, comparing multiple providers. Here’s another good resource from the Marketing Tech Blog on email validation. There is no need to run the risk of experiencing deliverability issues and potentially having your IP blacklisted, which could happen if you fail to clean up your database and verify emails prior to importing. Take the time to ensure your email addresses are correct before you get started.

Work with Your Sales Team So They Know What to Expect

Marketing automation may provide many benefits, but it also dramatically changes the processes you already have in place. This includes processes utilized by your sales team, so it is important to work with your team to let them know what to expect and answer any questions they may have about marketing automation. For instance, marketing automation could change the way in which leads are assigned to your team. You also need to work with your team to ensure there is a process in place for handling leads as they arrive. Make sure you conduct ample research and work one-on-one with your sales team prior to rolling out your marketing automation campaign. Here’s a good reference for achieving sales and marketing alignment.

Be Committed to Ongoing Education

Do not make the mistake of underestimating how much time it may take to learn everything you need to make the most of marketing automation. This may mean making a commitment to continually educating yourself about marketing automation integration, best practices, usage, etc. Although this does mean committing to additional time on top of a schedule that is likely already packed, it is well worth it.

Marketing automation can be incredibly powerful for your business, but you must learn how to make the most of it. Following the tips above can help you get off to a great start. Find out more about how you can operate a successful marketing automationcampaign.

Mistakes to Avoid with Marketing Automation

Mistakes to Avoid with Marketing AutomationWhen handled properly, marketing automation can turn around even the most ineffective marketing programs. Unfortunately, as is the case with anything else related to marketing, it can be easy to make mistakes with marketing automation. The power of marketing automation cannot be denied, but it is only as good as the effort you put into it. If you have noticed that you are not getting everything from marketing automation that you would like, you may be making one of the following mistakes. Here are some helpful tips on mistakes to avoid with marketing automation.

No Strategy in Place

One of the most common mistakes made by many companies when implementing marketing automation is not having a documented strategy in place. This is rather akin to trying to hit a target in the dark. The goal of your strategy should be to link the goals of your company with the activities and techniques you will be using. With a solid strategy in place, you will be able to ensure you are headed in the right direction. Start by creating a Service Level Agreement (SLA) between sales and marketing.

Not Using the Full Potential of Marketing Automation

Failing to harness the full power of marketing automation tools is another common mistake. Marketing automation has an incredible amount to offer, including the potential for lead scoring, search engine optimization, landing pages, reporting, and more. Unfortunately, many brands make the mistake of using their marketing automation tools solely for email marketing. While marketing automation tools can help you make the most of your email database, it is important to recognize that you can do much more with them.

Not Generating Enough Quality Content

Content always has been a vital part of all online marketing efforts. That does not change with marketing automation. Despite the many benefits offered by marketing automation, if you are not producing enough high-quality, targeted content, your marketing efforts are likely to suffer.

Tracking the Wrong Metrics

Are you sure you are tracking the right metrics? Today, we have the opportunity to take advantage of a dizzying array of data, particularly from marketing automation tools. The problem is that it can be easy to become overwhelmed by all of that data. Eventually, you may fall into the trap of tracking the wrong metrics and even overemphasizing certain metrics, such as social shares and traffic when you should be focusing on customer conversion rates. In order to ensure you are leveraging the full power of your marketing automation tool, it is important to identify the metrics that matter the most for meeting your company’s goals.

Thinking You Can Put It on Autopilot

Marketing automation can provide your company with a great number of benefits while also making your marketing campaigns easier to manage. With that said, you cannot put marketing automation on autopilot and simply forget about it while hoping for the best. You must continue to make the most of everything that marketing automation gives you.

Find out more about how you can make the most of marketing automation and avoid some of the most common mistakes.

How Marketing Automation Levels the Playing Field for Startups – Marketing Automation for Startups

How Marketing Automation Levels the Playing Field for StartupsAll companies can be vulnerable, but startups can be particularly vulnerable as they experience the pains of the growth stage. In the past, there were relatively few ways to level the playing field, giving startups the ability to compete with the big boys in business. Technology; however, has changed all of that and is now making it possible to minimize growth pains while providing even startups with the ability to compete with much larger companies. Introducing marketing automation for startups.

Marketing automation, in particular, is proving to be incredibly beneficial for startups. By giving startups the ability to operate much in the same manner as established businesses, marketing automation provides the opportunity to target audiences with accurate messaging with only a minimal amount of effort. When handled correctly, marketing automation provides entrepreneurs with the chance to make the sales process far more consistent and ultimately more successful.

Avoiding Potential Downfalls in Marketing Automation

If there is a potential downside to marketing automation it is that too many entrepreneurs look at it as a get rich quick strategy that doesn’t require any work at all. While marketing automation can help to level the playing field, it is important to separate fact from fiction.

First, it is important to understand that marketing automation is not some type of magic ATM that will deliver qualified sales leads without any effort. Marketing automation can be effective, but it will only automate what you tell it to do. If you have not already taken the time to target your audience or completed your content mapping strategies, there is not much that marketing automation can do for your business.

Another common misconception when it comes to marketing automation is that it will generate results overnight. Marketing automation works by compiling information based on lead scores, buyer behavior, and sales feedback. This is not a process that takes place overnight. Meaning, you cannot expect rapid results. Marketing automation should be viewed as a long-term investment.

It is also important to understand that while marketing automation is effective in terms of process management and lead nurturing, it does not actually generate leads on its own. Basically, it warms up the leads you give it.

Marketing Automation Strategy Tips

In order to make the most of everything offered by marketing automation, including the ability to compete with larger companies with more resources, you must make certain you have a plan in place. Furthermore, this plan should be scalable and capable of growing with your business as it matures. When planning your strategy for marketing automation, keep these tips in mind:

  • Always think ahead and ensure everything is scalable.
  • Ensure you have enough resources to avoid becoming bogged down.
  • Commit to a documented process strategy.
  • Create a long-term strategy calendar.

Strongly consider marketing automation for startups if your buisness is in this category. Developing a plan for how your startup can benefit from it can help you leverage the power of marketing automation regardless of the size of your business. Find out more about how your startup can benefit from marketing automation.

Bridging the Gap Between Content and ROI with Marketing Automation

Bridging the Gap Between Content and ROI with Marketing AutomationIt’s well known in the world of marketing that content provides the fuel necessary for successful marketing. That is no less true with marketing automation. Ultimately, you cannot expect a positive ROI, if you do not have a solid content strategy. Even the best marketing automation program in the world cannot resolve a lack of quality content. Determine ROI with marketing automation.

Despite the importance of content, many businesses continue to struggle with implementing quality content for their marketing automation needs, with their ROIs suffering as a result. Below, we go through several critical steps you can take to bridge the gap between your content and your return on investment.

1. Analyze your Content Plans

Quality content does not develop on its own and it does not happen by accident. In order to feed your marketing automation program quality content, you must first stop and analyze your content plans as well as what it is that your target audience actually wants to see. Of particular importance in terms of marketing automation, is mapping the customer journey and ensuring that your content plan aligns with that journey.

2. Think More in the Long Term than the Short Term

Far too often, many marketers focus more on the short term than the long term when it comes to their content development goals. In order to ensure you are making the most of content within the context of marketing automation, you need to pay attention to any gaps that might exist in the various stages of the buyer journey and ensure you create highly targeted content to address those gaps. This means you must stop thinking in the short term and think in the long term.

3. Develop a Content Development Calendar

Do you create content as it is needed or do you have content on reserve based on your objectives? The problem that many business owners encounter is that they create content only when they need it. In order to succeed with your marketing automation strategy, you need to have a solid plan in place. Creating a 12-month content plan can help you to do that.

4. Evaluate, Evaluate, Evaluate

Marketing automation can help to automate many of the processes related to your marketing campaign, but it cannot do everything for you. The same is also true for your content plan. You must take the time to analyze how you are utilizing your marketing automation system and how well your content is working for you. Make a commitment to evaluating your current systems at least once per quarter.

5. Make Improvements

Analyzing only works if you take the information from your evaluations and put it to work for you. After evaluating the data generated by your marketing automation system, determine what is working, what is not working and make changes to generate necessary improvements to boost your ROI.

Want a copy of our Marketing Content Map (MCM) document? Contact us with a brief note requesting the MCM and we’ll send it to you.

Marketing automation can drive a higher ROI. By implementing the steps listed above, you can bridge the gap between your content and your ROI. Learn more about how you can benefit from marketing automation today.