Let me start with a quick poll:
If you answered “No” or “What is marketing automation?”, then it’s high time you learned more about it and the many wondrous ways it can help you…well, be better at marketing. Even if you answered “Yes,” you might get some more ideas for how to get more from your marketing automation platform.
There are lots of definitions out there, from Hubspot, Marketo, Salesforce, and Marketing Automation Times (just to name a few). And while marketing automation is not the “set it and forget it” solution it sounds like it is, it will help make a large portion of your job much easier – while generating more leads and sales.
Need a visual? Here’s an infographic that gives you a quick and simple primer of how marketing automation works:
Depending on your platform, there are many marketing activities that marketing automation can help you with – ranging from the day-to-day tasks, to high-level strategy. Here are 8 of those activities, which is just a sampling of what it can do:
1. Segmenting your leads. Using your marketing automation platform, you can segment the leads in your database based on a variety of criteria. Depending on the information you collect from leads, you can create segments based on demographics such as industry, location, job title, company size, and more. You can also create segments based on their behavior on your website, such as page visits and content downloads. Imagine what you could do with all the data you have available to you, and how you can target your marketing to just the right segment of your database!
2. Nurturing your leads. According to MarketingSherpa, 65% of marketers have not established lead nurturing. No wonder that 79% of marketing leads never convert to sales (also according to MarketingSherpa). What business could you be missing out on because you aren’t nurturing your leads?
This is another key feature of marketing automation platforms – the ability to create and run lead nurturing campaigns that send targeted emails with highly relevant content to prospects in your database. You can specify exactly who requires further nurturing, then segment them based on certain demographics and/or behaviors to ensure they’re receiving content that is most relevant to them. This will help nurture them through your sales funnel and keep your company top of mind when they’re ready to purchase.
3. Scoring your leads. By scoring your leads, you can determine which ones get passed to sales and which get held back for further nurturing. Using a marketing automation platform, you can score your leads based on demographic data (such as industry, job title and location) as well as behavioral data (such as visits to certain pages on your website, downloads of content like whitepapers, or registrations for events). Then, you can determine a threshold for what gets sent to sales. In addition, most marketing automation platforms will connect to CRM systems like Salesforce. When a lead hits that magic score, it will automatically jump the fence into your CRM for sales.
4. Building personas. If you don’t know what a buyer persona is, head over to the Buyer Persona Institute to find out. Now. I’ll wait.
If building your buyer personas is a marketing project you plan to undertake, then a marketing automation platform is a great place to start gathering your information. Remember what I said earlier about segmenting your leads? That will come in handy here. You can use your database to find out everything from the job titles of your leads and customers, to what page they visit on your website just before buying or asking for a quote. This information will go a long way in helping you understand the buyer journey so you can focus your marketing efforts on more meaningful activities.
5. Communicating with your prospects. Most marketing automation platforms will allow you to create and manage email campaigns, which will eliminate the need for a separate email marketing platform. You can send email to your entire database, or just to certain segments.
In addition, some platforms have testing capabilities, so you can create A/B split tests on your email campaigns.
6. Creating landing pages. Optimized landing pages are crucial for any marketing campaign in order to drive higher conversion rates. However, not every company has a designer on staff who can create those landing pages. Fortunately, many marketing automation platforms allow you to easily create landing pages directly in the platform. Don’t have any design or HTML knowledge? The platform will usually feature an easy-to-use, “drag-and-drop” interface for building your landing pages. In addition, leads and form fills from your landing pages will be tracked directly into your database.
7. Understand attribution. Do you know which traffic sources are driving the most leads and sales? What about content pieces? Marketing automation platforms, in many cases, have an attribution feature so you can see what campaigns drove sales, as well as the path an individual lead took before becoming a sale. Depending on the platform, this could be a standard or add-on feature; however, it’s well worth the investment to know what’s working and what isn’t.
8. Manage all of your marketing activities. Marketing automation can help you manage all kinds of digital marketing activities, such as email campaigns, content programs, and paid search campaigns. But did you know you can manage offline activities, too? Yep! For instance, Marketo allows you to create a program for Events. So, if you were exhibiting at a conference, you can track your leads from all your marketing efforts surrounding that appearance (such as emails, in-booth promos, even print ads) in the platform.
How has marketing automation helped you improve your marketing?