If 2013 was the year of content marketing, then 2014 is the year of marketing automation. I know, I know, you’re cringing at yet another buzzword to keep up with, but hear me out. A recent study by The Lenskold and Pedowitz Groups shows that companies that use marketing automation outperform companies that don’t in several key areas:
To put it simply, marketing automation is a process that helps you reach the right leads at the right time. It encompasses four main areas of your marketing campaigns: defining, scheduling, segmenting and tracking.
As consumers gain more access to information, it only makes sense that they will want to do their own research before contacting a sales department. That’s where marketing automation truly shines. When used properly, it can help you create an automated campaign that sends different types of information to leads based on their location in the sales cycle. No more email blasts, no more pushy, ineffective outbound marketing tactics. It’s a truly innovative process that provides a much larger return-on-investment (ROI) than other marketing tactics.
As a subset of Customer Relationship Management (CRM), marketing automation is designed to:
Now that you know what marketing automation can do for your company, it’s time to establish a plan for how to implement this tactic.
Before you even look into marketing automation platforms, you must have a strategy in place for how you plan to use it. If companies don’t see the results they expect from marketing automation, it’s because they either a) don’t have a strategy in place, or b) aren’t using their automation platform correctly.
In your initial meetings about adopting a marketing automation platform, make sure to include all relevant departments, especially sales. In order to get the maximum benefit, everyone in the company must understand what you’re doing and why, particularly if they’re going to be directly impacted by your automation results (as sales will).
This meeting is also a good place to have a discussion about your current lead generation/sales funnel system. Ask people to write down some pros and cons of the way you currently do things and make sure to address both sides. If, for example, sales complains that all of the leads that come from marketing are under-qualified, you know that you need to put more effort into evaluating prospects.
You should also create a plan for how you’re going to use each area of your marketing automation platform. Many companies think the most important aspect is email, so they focus all of their efforts there and let everything else fall to the wayside. This is a mistake. Today’s automation tools have so many features that can help you get a better understanding of your customers, from social monitoring to lead scoring to segmentation. Make sure you think about how to use each feature to get the maximum impact.
ROI: Building a strategy to take advantage of all aspects of your marketing automation platform will help you streamline data collection, increase revenue and automate traditionally manual processes.
Check back next week for steps two and three in this process.
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