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You can lead a horse to water…. Marketing Automation can make him drink!

February 16, 2017 |

There’s an old expression, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink”.  Clients and prospects are hard to win, but of course they must be nurtured, supported, convinced, and ultimately trust you before they will buy.

We’re going to explain how a new approach has been created from smarter application of the sophisticated digital marketing tools available in today’s market, that will help you close more sales from your existing leads and opportunities.  It’s called “Marketing Automation”.

When facing the challenges of digital marketing, be it SEO, Adwords, Social Media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram), Email marketing or even with other traditional forms of marketing, a significant opportunity exists to more effectively pitch your offer and close more deals through smart and effective targeting of product and service information.

You’ve done the hard yards to find and establish contact with these prospects.  Now you just have to convince them that:

  1. You have potential solution to their challenge and;
  2. You have the requisite capability to deliver that solution.

How most companies handle their selling activities…

Well typically a business will have an established sales process and engaging a client might involve:

  • Sending them a welcome info email and perhaps a brochure
  • Making a phone call to introduce yourself and discuss their needs
  • Pitching to them, or responding to request for quotation, or sending them a proposal after this
  • Having a follow up meeting, or a follow up email or some extra info
  • Waiting, hoping, and praying!
  • If you’re very diligent a follow up call or email or two at later time intervals

“Companies that invest in marketing automation see 70% faster sales cycle times, and 54% improvement in quota achievement…”
Bulldog Solutions, 2013

A key challenge for most organisations, and in particular for small business where limited resources at a premium, is to execute on this process with consistency and regularity.  Ensuring trust is built via this process, can often end up being a highly variable process that changes depending on circumstance, resource availability, and other factors.

  • Perhaps you forgot to send the second follow up email in your process?
  • Perhaps you didn’t make the follow up call because the client gave you a verbal no on the phone?
  • Perhaps you were all busy delivering on a project and a lead got missed?
  • Perhaps you didn’t convince the client of your capability on the first contact and things drifted after that causing them to seek alternatives?

These are just a few of the (often genuine) reasons that the client engagement process can become inconsistent and opportunities are missed to move the prospect or client through your sales funnel.

Not only that, but compared to the amount of information that is possible for you to glean about your prospect or client, it’s likely you are to some extent, flying blind.   Most companies respond to overt signals like a contact us form submission or a phone call, but miss a lot of valuable information available to them from a well thought out marketing automation approach.

“The most effective marketing automation not only collects data from multiple channels, but uses those various channels to send their marketing messages as well.”  Hubspot.com

What’s involved?

Marketing Automation refers to steps you take to detect additional signals about client’s evolving needs and interests and target you marketing, your offer, and your approach to match these needs.   Specifically it involves:

  • Better segmentation or understanding of your customer groups
  • Scoring of leads and prospects to measure their relative interest so you can focus on the best leads
  • Personalising your content and your offers to their specific needs
  • Automating this process your follow up using high quality Marketing Automation tools

Segmentation of your prospects and clients

There are usually sub groups within your leads and prospects but most people take a one size-fits-all type approach to promoting their products and services.   Do you have a website with a standard set of pages which do not change and you leave it up to your clients to “find” the right information through your website?   Is your initial information and pitch somewhat standard for all new leads.   Your potential customers may already be telling you about themselves through :

  • Visits to a particular page, or set of pages on your website?
  • Viewing your pricing for a particular product?
  • Downloading a product brochure, or clicking on a video to watch a product demonstration?
  • Opening your emails, or clicking on specific links in your email marketing about certain offers or events?

What if you tagged website visitors or social media visitors who took one or more of the above actions, and you were then able to track them as they move between Facebook, your website, your emails.  This creates a powerful ability to take unique approaches to how you market to these customers.

Scoring and tagging

Rather than assuming that all leads are the same, Marketing Automation solutions can provide a mechanism to “score” leads and prospects.   You might say that someone who opens your promotional email gets a score of 10.  You might add 10 to this if they click on a link within that email.   Add to the score again if they watch a product video when they reach your website.   Add to it again if they view the pricing, and again if they inquire through your contact us form, or click on a call button.   Add to it again if they return to your website more than twice. The list of possible indicators of interest is limited only by your imagination and understanding your buyer behaviour.

You can then automatically define levels of interest (casual, modest, strong, hot) for example based on the score these leads reach.   Again, this can then be used to guide your approach to future marketing to these leads, and pass this information on to your sales teams to focus their efforts.

Once you’ve done this, you can then use this within your sales team to prioritise your focus, or you can generate addition targeted content or campaigns which focus on leads with a high level of interest (to drive closed sales) or low level of interest (to try to activate their interest).

Personalising your content and your offers

Do you have a relatively static set of website pages and leave it to the customer to vote with their mouse. What if you could change the website each time a lead returned to your site to tailor the content and information to focus on what they’ve shown interest in already?

Marketing Automation tools also offer personalised delivery of website page content so that for instance you can display content based on their past behaviour or interaction. Imagine if you “latest blog posts” panel showed only articles about the products whose pages they visited before, or the product discount offer you show in your promo panel was for a product who’s detail page they had spent more than 45 seconds on previously.   Imagine if you could dispatch a targeted email campaign email to a person who’d inquired previously with you, not yet purchased, but had returned to your website weeks later to again review your service offerings.  Marketing Automation solutions enable this, creating an ability to target this type of content immediately at the point of interest, increasing your chances of making a sale.   

Automated Landing Page Creation

Most modern marketing automation solutions have tools which allow quick flexible landing pages to be generated based on a range of attractive templates to whip up a targeted landing page in minutes.  Because of the ease with which you can generate these landing pages, it makes it suddenly practical an affordable to have a separate landing page for each different product you are promoting, or for each campaign you kick off.

You can easily adjust and target the imagery, the messaging, the nature of the offer and with some tools like Ontraport you can automatically handle payment fully integrated into the landing page without needing to setup complex payment gateways or turning your simple campaign into a major IT investment.  This means landing pages can be created in minutes to tailor every campaign and improve conversion.

The personalisation opportunities don’t stop there, and many solutions integrate with social tools such as Facebook allowing you to tailor the ads you show leads to further focus your marketing investment

Designing a well thought out communication process

Most customers setup an email autoresponder if a client inquires via the website, which may include links to download some content.   Some go further and setup a series of autoresponders which are sent out at defined intervals.

With a good Marketing Automation solution and some careful planning, you can design a process which goes further.   Why not setup a set of 5 different tailored email pieces which focus on each area of your service and include targeted offers relevant to that area specifically.   When a lead who’s signed up for your newsletter or provided their email through a past brochure download – returns and visits a certain part of your website, you could automatically dispatch a relevant email piece.

You can design a process that simply sends information and tips to leads who are less engaged to try to build their interest (referred to as “drip marketing”), but then target focused offers for those who respond to these informational pieces.   You can have an email alert sent to your sales team when a client opens a document linked from a tracking URL which was used in one of these emails sent to leads so you can call them within minutes of this happening.

For clients that exit your process or are tagged as cold leads, you can have a system send them a follow up a few weeks or a month or two later with special offer or further valuable information to try to re-activate their interest.    Importantly, a well designed response process and dynamic email auto responses which include thought leadership articles, valuable video guides, or whitepapers once setup, will run on auto pilot and drive the consistency in communication, response and follow up to pull more people through your sales funnel.

Marketing Automation Tools

A lot of excellent tools exist on the market today with a specific focus on Marketing Automation.   We’ve listed just a few of the major one here:

We recommend Ontraport as a good affordable entry level product which features powerful workflow, dynamic content support, landing page creation tools, and powerful lead scoring and segmentation, and workflow design mapping but there are many solutions available today which will suit your business depending on your needs.

The technical stuff: These solutions use largely existing technologies such as site tracking cookies, embedded Javascript code which you insert in your website to track behavoir, tracking pixels which load when users open your emails, or interaction with other tracking tools such as Google Analytics but they use them in a clever way that provides rich user friendly interactive tools, and they integrate a number of key web and digital marketing capabilities such as dispatching emails, displaying and managing interactive landing pages, and serving content snippets into other websites.  Some of the capabilities of these tools your marketing team will be able to drive without technical support, but typically in some of the setup of tracking scripts and such you may need a little technical assistance – not unlike setting up Analytics or other common tracking software.

In summary

If this is new to you, or you’ve only dabbled in the basics of a few email auto responders or email marketing campaigns and hand built landing pages, we encourage you to take a closer look at the tools, technologies and capabilities above so you can get the edge on your competition and most importantly drive greater value from the leads you’ve invested heavily to find.

Much of this technology, while available in the market, is not being used by many firms and is still fairly new so there’s still a good opportunity to build a leading position in many industries in terms of the smarts your business is using to market to your leads and propsects in the most effective and profitable way!

This guest post was by Phil Baddock, Digital Marketing expert who current works for Bali Beginnings

Author
James Fulton

A multimedia and design professional with a healthy obsession for all things web. James’ passion for web design sees him stretching his creative imagination to eternal limits and forever sees him thinking outside the box, even if it is not work related. James’ ideas are original and innovative, and implementing them into the world of the web to create aesthetically enjoyable websites is what he does best.

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