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

The Real Cost of a Legacy Marketing Automation Package

pexels-photo-75083Have you ever considered the real cost of a “spaceship” marketing automation platform (MAP)?

All too often we look at the subscription price of software as our “total investment.” You might even be willing to spend an extra $10,000-$30,000 on the software itself because a friend or sister company has had experience with it. But let’s dig deeper.

The bells-and-whistles companies that tout large user conferences and an abundance of consultants usually have secondary costs which are rarely investigated.  For example, I saw a recent posting for a “Marketo Expert.” The pay is $100,000+ per year (plus benefits). This tells me three things:

  1. The company is no longer looking for the best marketing mind. They are looking for a robot that knows how to use a complex software package that is already an anchor tied to their ankles.
  2. There probably isn’t a back-up resource with the expertise to use this software, meaning that they are in limbo as a result of lacking this resource.
  3. I would bet you dinner at a nice steak house that when the budget was submitted (and ROI was calculated) that a figure north of $200,000 was not presented to the CEO to buy this software. I’m also going to bet that this decision was driven by an employee that was looking to increase their personal value/salary as opposed to making the recommendation that was truly in the company’s best interest.

What’s even more upsetting is how discriminatory such rocketship systems are. If you need to be an “expert” in the software, it makes you wonder how the rest of your sales and marketing team will be able to collaborate and improve upon the value of such software via execution. How will the maximum number of our employees be able to benefit if the marketing automation platform that you’ve chosen needs someone solely dedicated to that particular brand?

Here is the good news: Even at a price point of $200,000+, and even after leaving untold thousands (or millions) of dollars on the table, this company’s marketing automation program is still likely to be profitable. What we should be asking ourselves is this: Why did we make this decision, when there are so many other programs out there that could have a greater impact on our bottom line. Why didn’t we demand ease of use over functionality that is difficult to use? Why are we willing to place our marketing execution program on the head of a single person, when we should rather be looking at things on a much broader scale?

There’s a better answer. Choose a marketing automation platform that is easy to learn, and doesn’t come with a bunch of hidden, extra costs for it to function properly. Choose a marketing automation platform that has a Support Team that will bend over backwards to help you achieve your marketing and sales goals, which simultaneously automating your lead scoring, segmentations, campaigns, and more. Choose Lead Liaison. 

Ten Things Marketing Should Review with Sales When using Marketing Automation

marketing and salesMarketing automation software is a necessary solution that all viable businesses should use. I’ve said many times that marketing automation is like CRM 20 years ago. Companies that are not using marketing automation risk losing ground to their competitors, who likely are using marketing automation. Unfortunately though, companies seem to think that marketing automation is just for marketers – when it’s not! Salespeople can realize a number of gains from marketing automation software, such as better, more qualified leads, key alerts, reports that identify new leads, and more. Marketers are the main buyers of marketing automation software. However, they’re not always clear on what they should tell their sales team once they bring the software in-house. Here’s a list of ten things marketing should review with sales when using marketing automation:

  1. Ask them if they want to get a daily alert via email that sends them a list of businesses checking out your company’s website in the area they are responsible for. For example, a rep covering Texas, Oklahoma, and Nebraska might only want to see companies visiting your website only in these states. Also, it’s possible to see the people that visit your website, but limit that to only people with whom the sales rep is the “lead owner” of. Ask them if they prefer to filter out what’s on the daily report. For example, only see leads they own, etc.
  2. The Automated Lead Flow Management guide would be a good document to read through to see what’s possible: http://www.leadliaison.com/resources/library-of-resources/. Can your sales team agree on a flow for all inbound leads that help your company establish a process for managing, distributing, and nurturing inbound leads?
  3. Try to better understand from them how they segment clients, so the marketing automation provider can help you build dynamic segmentations from your database. In other words, what “groups” of people do they want to communicate with frequently and why?
  4. Do they ever want emails to be sent by marketing on their behalf? Most marketing automation platforms can send emails from the Lead or Contact owner.
  5. Better define lead distribution processes with them. Most marketing automation systems can help you set up a rock solid lead distribution process.
  6. Get a feel for the buyer’s journey. The Marketing Content Map, http://www.leadliaison.com/resources/library-of-resources/, can help you map out the buyer’s journey. Make sure you build nurturing around each of these journey’s to build the relationship as prospects move through the sales cycle.
  7. Ask if they want to nurture customers (up sell, cross sell ops, birthday wishes, contract anniversary reminders, etc). Marketing automation is not just for top of the funnel activities, but also for bottom of the funnel relationship building.
  8. You could ask them what activities make a qualified lead in their mind, and start building a scoring model with them (what activities to score, what points, etc.). If you’re really digging in, we have a guide that kind of acts like a contract between marketing and sales, called the service level agreement between sales/marketing. You can download it here: http://www.leadliaison.com/resources/library-of-resources/.
  9. Ask them if they want to add a plug-in into their email client (Google Mail, Outlook, etc.) to send trackable 1:1 email. Most marketing automation providers offer plugins to email clients. We do this with our Send & Track plugin.
  10. Ask them if they could use help nurturing trade shows leads (if you attend trade shows). This last one is sort of specific to Lead Liaison. We have a mobile app to simplify the process from lead capture, to transcription, to nurture! It’s a pretty slick end-to-end process.

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.