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What is the Difference Between a CRM and Marketing Automation?

When you step into the world of marketing and sales, two phrases you will hear a lot are CRM and marketing automation. They can often be used within the same sentence, but they are not synonymous with one another.

A CRM, which stands for customer relationship management/manager, does exactly that – it manages your customer relationships by organizing your contacts (by company name, job title, potential deal size, etc.) and the interactions your company has with those contacts.

A marketing automation solution specializes in communicating with those contacts based off of many different factors that may are may not be tracked within the CRM. The goal is to educate or nurture those contacts until they are ready to buy. Or, if the contact has already made a purchase, marketing automation can help continue that relationship to encourage renewals or repeat business.

What is the difference between a CRM and marketing automation?

CRMs manage your company’s interactions with current and prospective customers, while marketing automation helps create, automate, and distribute those interactions. Marketing automation can also measure the effectiveness of those efforts, so that companies can minimize “wheel-spinning” and really focus on what works for their specific business.

If you are familiar with marketing and sales terms, you may have heard some (or many) references to “the sales funnel.” At the top of the funnel, you’ve got a large group of people who may or may not be interested in the products or services your company has to offer. As the funnel narrows, uninterested leads are filtered out, leaving Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs) at the bottom – those that are ready to buy.

Marketing automation helps track prospect activity closer to the top of the funnel (but not the very top, as is commonly misconceived!), while CRMs are used to track interactions closer to the bottom of that funnel.

It’s important to note that marketing automation is not for the tip top of the funnel. It should not be used to “spray and pray” or “batch and blast” marketing material. Doing this will result in being flagged a spammer. Marketing automation should focus on prospects that are interested enough in your product or solution to be on your website, reading your educational content, and actively reaching out to learn more. They provide their email address to you.

Another common misconception is that sales teams and marketing teams are communicating to different audiences. This can be a dangerous and divisive way to think. In reality, marketing and sales teams should be working side-by-side to generate revenue. Marketing teams build brand awareness, educate and nurture prospects until they are ready to buy. Then, those prospects are handed of to the sales team as Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs), however the communication and nurturing should NOT stop here (and neither does the involvement of marketing automation!). It only needs to shift gears. Once a prospect has become a customer, the education and nurturing should shift gears again – but never cease.

If you are interested in learning more about how a CRM and marketing automation interact, request a free demonstration with an expert today!

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.

Marketing Automation is for Universities

Educational Institution

Educational institutions don’t often realize that marketing automation is for universities and colleges, too. The key to any department at your educational institution being successful is rooted in a foundation of strong communications with your stakeholders.

Unfortunately, small departments are often tasked to communicate with thousands of people. This can be time consuming and expensive. The alternative is often selected: a single emailed laundry list for all. The result is that your audience will quickly tune out.

Platforms like Lead Liaison position you to drive the interest and involvement of your key stakeholders. The more that they associate with being “part of” your university, the more likely they are to help you. And, it’s often without even being asked!

But wait – you say, “we don’t sell anything within my department!”  I would disagree. You are selling your brand. You are selling a connection. You are selling information to your audience, even if that information isn’t paid for with immediate dollars.

If you can do a great job communicating during a student’s life cycle with your university; you will see:

  • Higher Enrollments
  • Deeper support for academics and athletics
  • Enduring support through a strong alumni base
  • Increased fundraising opportunities
  • A stronger network

Lead Liaison is on a mission to be on the front lines of colleges and universities that want to strengthen the bonds between your message and all of your prospective students, students, and alumni.

Some of the areas that we have served in colleges and universities are:

  • Continuing Education
  • Athletic Departments
  • Alumni Relations
  • Fundraising for capital projects
  • Community Relations
  • Volunteer/Outreach

It doesn’t matter if your school is designated for profit or not-for-profit, Lead Liaison has an unique staff and set of functionalities that has been built to help you.

To learn more, contact one of our industry experts today!

The #1 Mistake that Prospective Marketing Automation Buyers Make

marketing automation decisionsWe won’t beat around the bush.  The number one mistake that prospective marketing automation buyers make is delaying a decision.

This results in:

  • Lost opportunity cost for your company
  • Jeopardizing your current and future employment opportunities because you are missing out on providing your organization a basic necessity
  • Giving your competition a bigger head start in marketing
  • Failing to support your sales staff (and we’ve never met a sales manager that said “let’s not sell anything for the next few months… while we get our ducks in a row.”)

Now, let’s look at some of the reasons that you might delay your decision (and why you are wrong if you do):

1. You don’t want to be “tied down” to a technology until you are sure that you have found the right one.

The reality: Most commitments are only one year in length.  If you look at three marketing automation providers and choose one within a month, you might be questioning your abilities as a marketer.

2. You want to make sure you have all of the features that you need.

The reality: While this is a very justifiable goal, the reality is that this is a moving target. It’s far more important to do something today, than to worry about not being able to execute an advanced functionality 8 months from now. Why? Well, first of all, 8 months from now you won’t be in a position to use that functionality because you are so far behind already. Secondly, if you lack that functionality at that time, you can make plans to upgrade vendors as you learn from doing. You will still be 8 months ahead of schedule!

3. You are “too busy.”

The reality: If you are telling your management team that you are too busy to maximize the success of your sales and marketing team because you can’t automate, you clearly are not looking to end your struggles anytime soon.

Cost

There is a HUGE cost in going through too many rounds of reviews (or looking at too many vendors). Consider one company who went through at least 5 rounds of reviews as they whittled their list from 20 to 3 vendors! Each review had 3-6 employees involved. A conservative estimate is that they spent 450 person hours thinking about which software they would buy. To put another way, they spent $30,000 to make sure that they didn’t overpay for a $15,000 software decision. This doesn’t even factor in the $100,000+ that they lost in missed sales opportunities during that time.

So, what are our recommendations?

  1. Look for products that are highly rated on vendor review sites.  Pay particular attention to reviewers that are in your line of business. G2 Crowd & Capterra are perhaps two of the best sources of legitimate reviews for software products.
  2. Be prepared with 2-3 core strategies that you would like to execute in the first 30-60 days. Insist that the prospective vendors are able to meet those needs.
  3. Once you know you can accomplish your central needs, focus on the marketing automation vendor’s reputation for execution and support. Software is only 40% of the equation. The other 60% lies in how the well that vendor actually performs and supports their clients. We’d much prefer a vendor that has excellent support and onboarding over someone with an esoteric plug-in!

Here are a few tips for success:

  • Have a plan before you speak with any vendors.
  • Know what your budget is.
  • Know what you want to do.
  • Know who will have the final decision on the project.

That information will give you much more leverage to negotiate the best deal for your company and your potential marketing automation partner.

Most of all: Don’t be afraid to pull the trigger. Regardless of who you chose to work with; you are going to learn more (and experience more success) by doing. Don’t fall victim to paralysis by analysis in your marketing automation decision-making process.

 

Interested in seeing what a great demonstration should look like?

Marketing Automation Like my Pool Guy

Background on Pool Shopping

Professionally, I work for Lead Liaison as a technical solutions specialist. Personally, I’m a father of two beautiful girls, 10 and 7, with an amazing wife that puts up with my shenanigans – for 12 years running now! Occasionally my professional career and personal life overlap. When you’re immersed in your job, and understand the real benefits of marketing automation technology, you start to look for real life use cases for how this technology is used. You’re more aware of it once you understand it. A recent experience in my personal life made it easy to discover how a company is benefiting from the power of marketing automation. My experiences starts with shopping for a pool in our backyard, only because the kids and wife really need it (ha!).

I started pool shopping pretty much clueless. I was uneducated. Most of my initial knowledge base was built up from talking to friends, family, and neighbors about their own experiences. My final list after conducting my research included 10 pool builders, so I began making calls. Most of the providers stopped by our house and gave us their pitch. Through the information from the pool designers and salespeople, I began to build up my knowledge on pools. As a buyer, I tended to gravitate towards the companies that didn’t give me a hard sales pitch or bash other pool companies. I gravitated towards the companies that educated me the most, the companies that really highlighted why they were unique, the companies that made me feel comfortable about the process and what would happen from our meeting to actually diving into the water.

The ones that fell off my radar sounded good at first, but they never followed up and didn’t continue to educating me or build the relationship. After getting to the 10th pool builder, they all started to blend together. I took copious notes on each provider, noted their pricing, and tried to decide who to partner with on the project. My budget was small. It turns out that it wasn’t possible to get what I wanted for our budget, so something had to give. Fortunately, the budget expanded – because we really wanted a backyard haven and outdoor quarters to relax!

Selecting a Pool Builder

Marketing Automation Like My Pool GuyI narrowed my list down to three providers. One had a great reputation. They were #1 in the marketplace, but their price was high, I knew multiple people would be involved, and I was concerned we’d just be another number in the 100s of pools they build. If this provider had used technology to support their sales process, I probably would have chosen them. The 2nd provider was a smaller company, building 30 to 40 pools a year, but the salesperson was the owner, who was also the project manager. I felt like I’d be taken care of. This person also had a ton of knowledge. Since I’m a first time pool buyer, I thought from the very beginning that I would be comfortable putting my trust with this provider. The 3rd provider really caught my interest though! Their bid came in as the most expensive bid of all ten providers, which I kind of knew coming in. And their sales person was new to the pool industry, so didn’t have a ton of knowledge to offer in our conversations. But, they really shined with their approach to pool buying. They were different. They focused on educating me, with a process that is bullet proof – regardless of the sales person running the deal. Although I went with the 2nd provider, the 3rd provider is worth talking more about. They did it right for sure.

Pool Builder’s Use Marketing Automation Too!

This company used marketing automation to it’s fullest potential by educating the buyer, me, with different ways of communicating. They sent me emails, a brochure, and postcards. Their themes changed, but their core focus was on educating me.  They knew that most pool buyers probably have no idea what they want, what they are doing, and what a pool costs. They sent me a brochure along with a CD about two days (since I’m local) after our first meeting. The CD provided “backyard ideas”, totally appropriate for someone like me in the early buying stages. I thought that was impressive. It was a great follow up, and gentle, educational reminder from this company that got me thinking more about them.

After this impressive touch point, I was pleasantly surprised to receive more communication. They sent me the Top 10 questions to ask your pool provider, another very relevant touch point. They knew that buyers will talk to other companies. They phrased their questions in a way that also highlighted their strengths and differences. Then, they sent me something with a little humor in it, a postcard with the top ten reasons to buy a pool over an RV.

Marketing Pool BuilderAll things considered, they walked me through the buyer’s journey, over the typical timeframe – also known as the sales cycle – for buying a pool. Communication was spread out about every 1-2 weeks. The communication was gentle, informative, educational – with different types of media (mail, email, etc.). Being critical here, they could have sent me some text messages, or maybe a real handwritten letter from the president of the pool company thanking me for their inquiry. These educational touch points were complemented by two phone calls from the sales person. The sales person didn’t have to be the authority here, since the material was helping to educate the buyer. The material was likely created from experienced pool professionals that work at the company. The key is that they transferred this knowledge from their heads, into sales and marketing material that wasn’t pushy, but was educational. In general, they nailed it! As a potential buyer, I remembered this company. Their brand and company name is at the top of my mind. They helped me through the process.

 What Could they do Differently?

After seeing their marketing, here’s what they could have done differently:

  1. Sent communications from their sales person. This would have built more trust and the overall relationship during my research phase.
  2. Used marketing automation to onboard me as a new customer, sending me tips, keeping me updated on the schedule, etc.
  3. Used a hand written letter
  4. Sent a gift card thanking me for the inquiry

Summary

The takeaway here, is that the pool provider used technology to differentiate themselves from a saturated pool provider market. If I wasn’t on a budget, and finances were not that much of a concern, I probably would have selected this provider. The provider knows this though. They are aware that they install premium pools, at higher costs – they admitted that and were upfront about it. Less pools, at higher prices, probably nets them about the same amount of revenue as other companies doing more pools at lower prices. The company can invest in marketing automation technology to reduce the cost of sales, and help educate prospects through the buying process. Technology works for them – and they’re the only company doing it!

I’ve added some pictures of what the pool provider sent me so you can get a glimpse. If you want to know how your company can use multi-channel marketing to assist your sales team, let us know. We can help you build a scalable, systematic process, that stands the test of time and employee turnover, that your company can use to differentiate themselves and walk your prospects through the buying cycle. We can help you send postcards, handwritten letters, emails, and text messages – to build stronger relationships with your potential buyers as they navigate their buying journey. Whether it’s a pool, a car, enterprise software, professional services, it doesn’t matter! Every company has something to offer, something to educate their buyers with, unique philosophy’s or approaches that prospects would benefit from. Help your company by taking the initiative to:

  1. Map out the buyer’s journey. What decisions do they need to make, what do they need to know, what questions do they ask.
  2. How long is their journey? What is the typical sales cycle.
  3. Transfer knowledge from brain to paper, then put this knowledge into marketing technology from a company like Lead Liaison to help scale your business and reduce your operating costs!

Interested in utilizing marketing automation for our own business? Sign up here to receive a complimentary demonstration of all that we can do!

How Marketing Automation Can Help Real Estate Agents Convert More Leads

 

Home for SaleWhen used correctly, marketing automation is a powerful tool for real estate agents. It allows agents to streamline their marketing efforts and push leads through the funnel much faster. Here are some specific ways that marketing automation helps real estate agents succeed.

Better Buyer Profiles

Lead Liaison uses data from over 100 social networks to enrich Prospect (Buyer) profiles with social information, giving you more insight into who you buyers are and what they are looking for. We also track what your website visitors are searching for on your website, and can categorize buyers based on their search keywords. Knowing what your buyers want is the first step to finding them the perfect home.

Utilize Web Forms

Agents can use web forms to convert more website visitors while simultaneously gathering additional information about that buyer, like their bedroom count or location preference.

Send Your Message Strait to Their Phone

Text messages are a great way to get a quick message out, and since it’s (usually) conscience, the chances of your audience reading it is very high. With marketing automation, you can send a text message to a list of people that might be interested in a new home you have for sale. You can even use the merge feature to make the entire message dynamic, so your text message could read: “Hi Jennifer, I have a new listing available at 123 Street Lane. Let me know if I can schedule a showing for you!”

Send Updates in Real Time

Real estate is a fast-paced industry, and buyers want information quickly. It is easy to deliver that information when you use marketing automation software. Agents can build customized email templates in advance, and simply plug in relevant information which can then be sent immediately or scheduled for later. Educational or touch-base emails can also be sent out as a part of a nurture campaign, or can be sent to certain lists (ex: “Buyers interested in 3 bedrooms” list, or “lakefront buyers” list). This type of real-time, relevant information is critical in real estate. Here are 11 Time-Saving Email Templates Every Real Estate Agent Needs.

Reach the Right Leads with Lead Scoring

It’s no secret that some people merely browse on real estate websites without much interest in buying, while others are ready to buy immediately. Marketing automation software allows users to take advantage of lead scoring. This process scores leads based on how likely they are to convert. Using a lead scoring system, real estate agents can put all of their resources into leads that are ready to buy. This will allow them to increase conversions without wasting their time on browsers that aren’t ready to buy a property.

Speak Directly to Leads with Dynamic Websites

Many real estate agents create websites with general information that doesn’t speak to a buyer. Lead Liaison’s SiteEngage™ allows agents to create dynamic content on their websites based on each individual visitor. For instance, an agent can tailor their website to speak to visitors based off of their location. This is especially helpful for agents that cover a large geographical area. Dynamic content could also be used to speak to a buyer’s preference by showing them a featured property based on their Prospect Profile.

Social Media Marketing

Social media is an important part of real estate marketing. But, it can also be time consuming, especially if you’re logging into and posting on multiple accounts. Real estate agents can streamline their social media marketing by posting to multiple accounts at one time, and even scheduling those posts in advance so you’re sure not to miss peak social media hours.

These are just some of the ways that marketing automation helps real estate agents convert leads. When you use marketing automation software, there is no limit to what you can do in real estate. Request a demo from one of our experienced professionals, and we can show you how we can help you succeed in the real estate business!

How to Run a Webinar: Syndicate Webinar Content

How to Run a Webinar

This is the ninth and final installment in the series How to Run a Webinar.

In our most recent post in this series, we talked about pre-webinar bonding & follow-up. The last step of the process is to syndicate your content.

Syndicate Webinar Content

You’ve invested a ton of time planning and preparing for your event. Make sure you get the most out of your investment by syndicating your content. Syndication means taking the content and reformatting it to fit other mediums or marketing channels. For example, take your webinar recording and:

  • Have the video transcribed. We suggest using Upwork to hire someone to transcribe your video. It’s super affordable and worth the money!
  • Format the transcription into a white paper. Place the white paper on your website as Trackable Content in your marketing automation system and gate the content.
  • Put your video on an internet video hosting and analytics company like Wistia, embed it in your website, and gate the video.
  • Break down the white paper into smaller blog posts. Schedule the blog posts using your CMS.
  • Include the video, whitepaper, and any other related tools or documents in a downloadable “kit”, which is a fantastic lead generation strategy. Prospects are more inclined to give you their email address in exchange for lots of value.
  • Put the webinar recording in a “Resources” section on your website.

What to Expect

Attendance depends on the factors described in the beginning of this document. About 40-60% of registrants will show up for live viewings, but you can expect more registrants to trickle in and watch on demand over the next few days following your webinar.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this series. If you’ve got an idea for a series, we’d love to hear it! Comment below.

Do you want your own personal copy of the entire guide? Download the full white paper here.

Interested in a demonstration of our robust marketing automation tool?

 

How to Run a Webinar: Pre-Webinar Bonding & Follow-Up

How to Run a Webinar

This is the eight installment in the series How to Run a Webinar.

In our last post in this series, we talked about building a compelling landing page and “Thank You” page. The next step is to get comfortable with pre-webinar bonding and follow-up.

Pre Webinar Bonding

If possible, create further short pieces of content that cover any possible objections and start building more trust with registrants. This can be drip fed via email before the webinar. This content could be short videos or articles or just a nice webinar cheat sheet to download and print off before the webinar. Your marketing automation software can help you build a simple drip track for new registrants prepping them for the event.

Follow Up

Make sure to follow up with attendees and no shows once the event is over. We suggest doing so three (3) days after the event. In your follow up, include a video recording of the webinar. Put it into an email, but only include an image of the video. When clicked, the recipient should be taken to a landing page, separate from your registration page, where they can play the video. Separating your follow up page from your registration page will help you isolate statistics and get better tracking from your marketing automation system. This is especially handy for people that couldn’t attend the event as they can watch the video later at their convenience.

In the next, and final, installment of How to Run a Webinar we’ll talk about syndicating your content.

Can’t wait to get your hands on the entire guide? Download the full white paper here.

Interested in a demonstration of our robust marketing automation tool?

 

What Does a Marketing Automation Platform Cost?

Marketing Automation CostAlthough marketing automation is one of the most rapidly growing segments within the business software industry, there is still tremendous room for growth. If your organization is considering the implementation of marketing automation in the near future, you might wish to know how much of a budget you should set aside before beginning a search for the right program. There are numerous marketing software pricing plans and models. Below, we explore the various factors affecting marketing automation platform costs.

The question of how much a marketing automation platform costs is one that many marketers often ask. It should be understood that the cost of a marketing automation platform will vary based on a number of factors. While there are some open-source marketing automation platforms that may at first appear to be free, most such platforms have a certain cost of ownership. Generally speaking, prices for marketing automation software will be based on the following factors:

  • Number of prospects, which is how we refer to contacts at Lead Liaison
  • Edition (whether you choose standard, professional, or enterprise)
  • Third-party services that connect to the platform
  • Number of emails sent per month
  • Number of unique active contacts per month

Additionally, there could also be other plug-ins or add-on fees. Examples include fees for APIs or other third-party services that connect to the platform. Extra fees may be based on the following features:

  • CRM integration
  • Number of users
  • Training
  • Feature add-ons, SEO, social media management, content management plug-ins, SPAM analysis, email deliverability testing, customized landing page URLs, dedicated IP addresses, etc.

Each of these factors should be taken into careful consideration before choosing a marketing automation package to ensure the package you select is in line with both your budget and your needs. In addition, consider the size of your organization as well as scalability for growth.

On the low end, a small to mid-sized package will typically begin at about $300 per month. However, it should also be noted that pricing can range up to about $4,000 per month for higher-growth companies.

Interested in a demo of our marketing automation platform, free of charge? Click here to put in a request!

How to Run a Webinar: Building a Compelling Landing Page and Thank You Page

How to Run a Webinar

This is the seventh installment in the series How to Run a Webinar.

In our last post in this series, we talked about Promoting your webinar. The next step is to build a compelling landing page and “Thank You” page!

Build a Compelling Landing Page

Your marketing automation system should have some great tools in place to help you build a landing page and web form that’s styled and customized to fit the look and feel of your brand. Here are a few ways you can make a compelling landing page:

  • Keep your communication succinct and list out the three benefits to joining the webinar (what you’ll learn).
  • If the presenters are well known, consider putting a picture of the presenter on the page to personalize the event.
  • If you’re offering an incentive, make it clear to the user what that incentive is.
  • Keep the focus on the page, and converting the visitor. Don’t put other things like your website navigation menu or other links that could divert the user’s attention.

Build a Great “Thank You” Page

Similar to the landing page, you want the Thank You Page to be simple, with an easy way for the user to add the event to their calendar. Add a “add to calendar” button with instructions on how to add the event straight to their calendar. AddToCalendar has some neat tools to create buttons and links for this purpose. After the registration form is submitted, make sure to send a thank you email. All of this will increase your attendance rate.

In the next installment of How to Run a Webinar, we’ll talk about pre-webinar bonding.

Can’t wait to get your hands on the rest of this intuitive guide? Download the full white paper here.

Interested in a demonstration of our robust marketing automation tool?