Material specific to marketing automation such as needs, best practices, lessons learned, and benefits of marketing automation.

How to Prepare Your Business for a Marketing Automation Tool

marketing automation checklistAre you wondering how to prepare your business for a marketing automation tool? Marketing automation lets you automate various processes, but before you can enjoy the benefits, you need to prepare your business for the software. Otherwise, you won’t be able to use the various features. If you take the time to prepare your website and your business for visitor tracking and other marketing automation tools beforehand, you’ll enjoy the wealth of benefits they provide.

Set Goals and Identify KPIs

Your marketing automation success rests with your ability to identify goals and develop key performance indicators based on those goals. Once you know your goals, you can program your marketing automation tools to help you achieve them. At the same time, the KPIs will ensure that you collect and measure the right data at all times. Then, you’ll know if you’re on the right track or if you need to make adjustments so you can reach your goals.

Build Up Your Content

Many companies start with marketing automation tools, only to realize they don’t have enough content. These tools work best when there is a lot of content available. In the marketing world, there is no such thing as too much quality content. Put your team to work and have them create some great content for you. Build it up as much as possible before you deploy your marketing automation software.

Identify Your Funnel

Companies often have poorly defined sales funnels, even within their own walls. For example, sales and marketing teams might refer to different groups as leads. In order for marketing automation to work, you need to have a clearly defined sales funnel, and everyone in the organization must understand the funnel and how it works. Discuss the names for each part of the funnel and agree on how people pass through the funnel. Also, discuss the probability of people moving from one point of the funnel to the next. In addition, determine when you need to send someone from the funnel to your sales team so your team can close the deal. You need to iron out all of these details before moving forward.

Once you have everything ready, you are ready to take the plunge with marketing automation! Everything will be ready, making the integration much smoother. Then, you can dive right in with minimal downtime. Your processes will be up and running before you know it.

Buzzwords in Marketing Automation: Database Segmentation

Database Segmentation

Database Segmentation: its meaning and how to apply it. A part of the series Buzzwords in Marketing Automation.

Many small businesses use tracking services to find information about their prospects or leads, be it contact information, age and gender, or even things like their buying behavior. Database segmentation refers to the organization of that data in a way that can then influence outreach such as email marketing campaigns, or strategic company decisions like selecting new product lines or determining pricing strategies. A few examples of ways to segment your data could be…

Lead quality - Within marketing automation software, leads can earn a score. Ten points for opening an email, 100 points for downloading content, 500 points for watching an entire video, etc. Lead qualification is a great way to segment. You could have different buckets according to lead score (i.e. 0-100 score, 101-500 score, 501-1000 score).

Ideal Buyers - Who are your ideal customers? Do they have certain job titles, company sizes, demographics or criteria. Ask your sales people, and then utilize your database segmentation tools. Once you’ve done that, you will be able to treat that group differently than you would a group that may not be as inclined to consume your product or services.

Geography  – Maybe certain areas of the world are more important to you than others. Or perhaps they should just receive separate content that is specific to their region. The folks down in Austin might need to know when your new barbecue recipe is available, whereas the crowd up in Chicago are more interested in when your winter boots are on clearance.

What’s even better (and more effective) is that you can then combine these! Perhaps you would like to send a handwritten letter & company t-shirt out to only your highest scoring leads in California. If you’ve utilized the data segmentation features within your marketing automation tool, you can get that personalized content out to that specific group of prospects in no time.

Reflections on Marketing Automation in 2016

Reflections on Marketing AutomationWe live in a time of extraordinary change. Marketing has come a long way in a small amount of time. And the industry is just continuing to refine itself! To be able to entirely appreciate the current state of marketing automation, it’s best to briefly acknowledge where it has been.

Marketing automation first came into existence in 1992, focusing on email alone. Businesses did not have a lot of online presence at the time, so there wasn’t really a huge opportunity for it to take off until the late 2000’s. Now, it has grown its capabilities so greatly that it is able to help companies deliver various marketing content through different channels to customers based on their online behavior.

As digital platforms become increasingly more powerful, there is more untapped data at our fingertips than ever. The need for organizing, integrating, and maximizing the benefits of that data has become essential. The phrase “work smarter, not harder” rings true. We have access to increasing demographic, psychographic, historical, and behavioral information. It’s information overload!

Marketing Automation now has the ability to capture all of this data, listen to it, interpret it, and utilize it in the most effective ways possible. The field of marketing automation is something that started small, exploded, and is now refining itself. Technology is more intuitive. Platforms are becoming easier to navigate. Consequently, the tools are more often used to their fullest potential.  Companies such as us have mastered content personalization, customizable resource centers, and integration.

What’s to Come in Marketing Automation

The marketing automation industry is somewhat saturated. This can be beneficial to the end user, in that companies must listen to their clients’ needs, wishes, and dreams. Even more customization, personalization and integration (with systems like mail or additional CRMs) is in the near future.

Another thing that is fast-approaching is an upgrade to the customer journey, or more specifically customer journey optimization. Instead of combining many customers’ courses of action into a few general paths, automation is challenged to grow to support infinite customer journeys. According to industry expert David Raab, this is “quite different from pre-determining an ideal customer journey and trying to force customers to follow it.” The industry seems to be taking back control over the user experience, instead of just reacting to it.

It’s an exciting time in marketing automation. With every challenge comes greater exploration and innovation. What do you see on the horizon for the industry? We look forward to hearing your feedback below!

Personalize Your Website to Convince and Convert

Personalize Your Website to Convince and ConvertPersonalize your website with the use of dynamic content to make a tremendous difference in your conversion rates. As the world of online marketing has grown increasingly competitive, it is no longer enough to simply update your website with new content. Instead, you must focus on creating dynamic user experiences that encourage visitors to convert. The use of personalized content makes this possible. By moving visitors to conversion faster with a personalized website, you can significantly reduce the sales cycle.

Benefits of Personalized Website Content

Simply relying on generic content is outdated. Today, you must make web experiences as relevant as possible to each individual user. Personalization offers a number of benefits, including a highly targeted approach that helps you cut through all of the noise, clutter, and distractions faced by your visitors. Providing a personalized experience encourages visitors to remain on your site longer, download more, and in the end, make more purchases.

To maximize the benefits offered by a personalized website, it’s important to use on-page content in conjunction with targeted emails. Doing so helps to ensure that visitors see an offer designed to move them to the next part of the sales funnel.

Getting Started with Personalized Website Content

Personalizing your website content is easier than you might think. For instance, you might include text referencing the visitor’s location on your home page. Even something this simple can be all it takes to capture a visitor’s interest and encourage him or her to stay on your site longer. Another option for personalizing your website content is to upsell your current customers by displaying dynamic content for a solution for which the customer is not already paying. You could also use a visitor’s name to catch his or her attention. Case in point, with Lead Liaison’s solution, known as SiteEngage™, standard and custom fields can be used to create rule criteria to determine what is shown to a prospect and at what time and that data can also be included into the content.

While this may sound complicated, the right marketing automation package can make this a breeze. Not all marketing automation packages provide this level of personalization, so make sure you review what your package provides.

Integrating Your Website Forms to Convert More Visitors

Integrating Your Website Forms to Convert More Visitors

Integrating Your Website Forms

Adopting a marketing automation system can provide a number of benefits, including helping you save a tremendous amount of time and maximizing your resources. Unfortunately, many people miss numerous key opportunities to maximize their marketing automation system. The first step when you’re adopting a marketing automation system is to integrate all your website forms. From there, you can use one of several approaches.

Options for Integrating Web Forms into Marketing Automation

  1. One option is to have your existing form scanned. You can then pipe the data from your form directly into your marketing automation system.
  2. Another option is to replace existing web forms with forms that are developed by your marketing automation system.
  3. You could also post form results back to your marketing automation system and your own system using a parallel approach.

Using the web forms developed by your marketing automation provider offers several benefits, including progressive profiling that helps you collect new information on visitors rather than asking for information that has already been provided. Marketing automation forms can also often block or even redirect submissions sent by your competitors.

One of the most common concerns for many people is whether forms will reflect the same look and feel of their website. Forms built by marketing automation can be designed to look identical to the theme of your website, ensuring a completely natural look and feel. Integrating a form designed in another system is a snap. All it takes is a small snippet of code to insert such forms into your website.

Exactly what is provided with a form will depend on your marketing automation provider, but some providers will capture basic information automatically. Such information may include name, company name, and email.

Summarizing the Benefits of Integrating Forms with Marketing Automation

Regardless of the approach you choose, once you have integrated your web form the marketing automation system can correlate anonymous users with a recognized identity. Doing so can make tracking visitors more powerful, as well as easier. Once you have linked up your form, the marketing automation system will then be able to make necessary connections between past and future website activity, as well as other types of digital engagement.

3 Easy but Important Steps to Prepare for Marketing Automation

Prepare for Marketing AutomationAutomated marketing sounds complicated, but with some advance preparation, can be straightforward and managed with ease. The following three steps can make the process of launching an automated marketing campaign simpler, faster, and more effective. Let us help you with 3 easy steps to prepare for marketing automation.

1. Determine Sales Funnel Stages

Well-defined sales funnel stages are critical to automated marketing success. The goal of this process is to determine the various challenges and stages a prospective lead might go through before converting to a paying a customer. After these challenges and stages have been defined, marketing automation can be used to assist prospects in navigating the sales funnel with more ease. From sending prospects relevant, timely content at the various sales funnel stages to setting up campaign triggers to determine when leads are becoming hot, a well-defined marketing automation campaign can maneuver prospects through the sales funnel much more quickly.

2. Define Sales Targets

Far too many businesses skip over this step in preparing for a marketing automation campaign. It is vital to identify sales prospects along with their needs and wants. Consider the features of a product or service that prospects would appreciate most. What fears or concerns might prevent a prospect from making a purchase? What questions do prospects need answered? Understanding the answers to these questions makes it easier to identify prospects and develop content to drive greater success in an automated marketing campaign.

3. Match Content to Sales Funnel Stages

The entire goal of marketing automation is to provide the right content to sales prospects at precisely the right time. This means mapping content and correctly matching content to sales funnel stages at the appropriate time. Begin by identifying the type of content that will appeal most to target prospects, such as blog posts, videos, articles, whitepapers, etc. Next, determine which type of content sales prospects would find valuable enough that they’re will to provide personal information in order to receive that content. Finally, consider the type of content prospective customers would want once they moved further down the sales funnel.

Planning and preparing for an automated marketing campaign is vital to succeeding. With proper planning, automated marketing can help any business reach its expansion goals. We hope you enjoyed these 3 easy steps to prepare for marketing automation.

5 Tips for Making Marketing Automation More Personal

5 Tips for Making Your Marketing Automation More PersonalWhile marketing automation might seem a bit mechanical and cold, there are steps that can be taken to make it less robotic. The marketers who tend to make the most of marketing automation are those who take the time to understand their audience, and who customize their content to meet the expectations of that audience. Here are 5 tips for making marketing automation more personal.

1. Building Your Own Marketing Automation List

A marketing automation campaign is only as good as the quality of the list behind it. Rather than purchasing lists, generate unique lists featuring qualified leads. We suggest using a solution like SiteEngage™ to engage and convert visitors using relevant “engagement windows” to offer valuable content and build your list.

2. Scalability Over Time

A common mistake made by many new to marketing automation is trying to grow too quickly. This type of approach can result in an impersonal feel. A better approach is to start simple, by identifying the most important stages in the sales funnel. Over time, what is working or not working will become more easily visible, offering the opportunity to add additional stages.

3. Nurture Relationships

Ultimately, the goal of any marketing automation campaign is to develop and maintain valuable relationships that will increase both the quality and quantity of leads over time. By delivering high-value content to leads at the right time rather than focusing solely on numbers, it becomes possible to do precisely that.

4. Getting Creative

Marketing automation may get its start with email, but it involves a multitude of channels to move leads through various stages of the sales funnel. For a successful marketing automation campaign, it’s important to develop a marketing automation strategy that focuses on the delivery of relevant content throughout every channel.

5. Always Include a Personal Touch

Marketing automation performs at its best when it functions with a personal touch. Service is at the heart of marketing automation. Ideally, the needs of an audience should be anticipated in advance to ensure that customers receive the right information at precisely the right time. Never become so bogged down in the mechanics of an automated marketing campaign that the real goal is lost.

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.