Most business owners today know that web and email marketing is hugely popular because of its proven benefits. But the days of buying a list at random, crossing your fingers and blasting the list with your generic, brand-centric message are over. With that method, you will, at best, get a few leads that you will then need to manually follow up with and nurture through to a close. At worst, you will find yourself with a bad list, no sales, and end up blacklisted. Neither one of these is considered a Best Practice, not to mention the valuable time (and money) a manual process like that burns.
Marketing automation solves those problems and more. The benefits of marketing automation are many, the least of which is certainly not the vast improvement it can have on your marketing and sales efficiency. A more efficient revenue engine means more revenue with less effort. Sound good?
Here are five ways marketing automation can speed things up so you can make room for more leads (gasp!) and get back to work growing and managing your business.
1) Lead Capturing: It might sound silly, but sometimes, the difference between a closed-won and a closed-lost can simply be capturing the relevant info at the right moment. Sticky notes with scribbled phone numbers and email addresses are not only cluttering your work space, there’s a really good chance that you might write something down incorrectly or even lose the note altogether (we know it happens). And even if you are able to correctly capture the info and keep track of your notes, a piece of paper on your desk isn’t going to send you an alert when it’s time to check in with that lead. Let your leads fill out their own info in an online form (built and/or tracked with marketing automation software) found on a landing page that integrates directly with your Customer Relationship Management program (such as Salesforce.com) and grow your database with good data.
Additionally, marketing automation allows you to progressively profile your leads so that you gather important information about them over time instead of all at once. For example, the first time they visit your site, they might get a form asking only for their name, email address (automatically validated) and company name. The next time, the form would be different, asking them for their job title, phone number or a piece of information specific to your sales department’s needs. With a little info, marketing automation programs can then use online tools to fill in the gaps and give you a complete profile of each lead.
2) Automated Lead Nurturing: Once your lead has expressed interest in what you have to offer, give the people what they want when they want it! Marketing automation allows you to tailor the message your leads receive as well as the timing of that message. If you sell “Whosits” and “Whatsits,” make sure that the leads looking for “Whatsits” get specific info about them when they need it. Don’t confuse your leads or waste their time by telling them all about your great “Whosits” when they never wanted one in the first place—seriously, who wants one of those? With marketing automation, you can create branching campaigns, kind of like a “Choose Your Own Adventure” book where your leads’ behavior (opening emails, clicking links, visiting websites, downloading material) or identity (B2B, B2C, CEO, Influencer etc.) can automatically set them on their best path. Automating this process makes them feel like they are in the driver’s seat, as you give them green light after green light.
3) Improved Lead Quality: Now that your leads have been properly captured in your database and have been given the information that they truly want and need in order to make a decision about their purchase, they might be ready to buy. Marketing automation software improves efficiency here by keeping track of all of the behavior that will help your sales teams identify when someone is ready to buy. Actions often speak louder than words, so track behaviors! Without marketing automation, you could call 100 prospects with an average rate of five calls in that list turning into leads. With marketing automation, by the time you’re making calls, the people you’re calling have already identified themselves as leads, saving your sales team from 95 fruitless calls.
4) Lead Scoring, Grading and Sales Alerts: But wait. It gets even better. With marketing automation, you can assign points for certain behaviors or “engagement.” For example, every lead who opens an email gets 10 points. For each link they click, they get another 10 points. For each item they download, they get 30 points and so on, until they amass a lead score high enough to trigger a customizable alert to your sales team.
But anybody in sales knows that a highly interested lead doesn’t mean the bonus is in the mail. Even if all signals point to “ready to buy” you can waste time calling someone who isn’t the right fit. Perhaps they aren’t a decision maker at their company; they lack the budget or they actually need a “whatsit” and you only sell “whoseits” etc. This is where the profiling in the first step really makes a difference. Once you have identified your ideal customer, for example: B2B, CEO, budget >$150,000, you can assign lead grades based on that perfect grade using a grid similar to this one:
So, your sales team might get an alert on a lead with a score of 250—indicating very high interest, but an F grade, meaning they are not the right fit. Or they might get a lead with a lead score in the 150s, but an A grade—which would definitely be a call worth making!
5) Meaningful Data and Optimization: All of these steps can give you an immediate efficiency boost, allowing you to capture and nurture more leads, pass better qualified leads off to sales and prioritize efforts based on lead scores and grades. But after your marketing automation has had a chance to move your sales team into warp speed, you will also have the huge benefit of real, meaningful data that can tell you what’s working and what to scrap as you move forward. You can’t optimize what you don’t measure. The more optimized your sales process is, the more efficiently your leads can move through your sales funnel.
Finally, all this data means that you will also be able to prove your marketing department’s ROI, moving it from a cost center to a revenue engine.