The average person sees between 300 to 700 marketing messages a day. Information overload is keeping your marketing from making an impact on potential customers.
Companies that stand out are able to position themselves as helpful experts that assist their target audience as they progress through the buying cycle. Sending the same email to every one of your contacts is not going to position you as memorable or helpful. Doing the same things as your competition for the sake saying "us too" is even worse.
But how can you make each of your hundreds or even thousands of contacts feel like you're helping them along in their buying journey?
Marketing Automation allows you to send tailored messages to customers based on their interactions with your emails and website.
But emails are only one piece of this Marketing Automation puzzle. Marketing Automation helps you make each individual person feel like your company was built just for them. They have a question, you have the answer. They have a problem, you're right there and positioned the entire time as the right company to purchase from.
What is Marketing Automation?
Essentially marketing automation comes down to sending the right messages, to the right people, at the right time.
Marketing Automation helps you keep track of how users interact with your site, what pages and information they want to read and what's not holding their interest. These records are then used to help you create emails, blog posts, webinars and other points of contact that show them you know who they are, you understand what they want from you and you've got exactly what they want.
For example, let's say you market to the builder and you've just collected a bunch of leads from a trade show.
You would add the leads and their contact information to your marketing automation platform (more on what a marketing automation platform is in a minute) and begin sending them emails and content based upon topics that came up at the trade show or needs that you see they might have as a group.
Follow-up emails will be based on how each lead reacts to your original message. People who open, spend time reading and click a link you've included will receive a second message that's offering more information about you, your company and your services.
People who do not click the link but do open the email may receive an email with a reminder about the valuable information that was included in the first email with some additional incentives about why they should bother clicking on it. (Perhaps one of your clients learned something valuable from your article that you're sharing. Tell the email recipient that.)
This might sound a bit complicated, but once you get it setup, you'll have a very powerful tool for creating personal interaction with your audience that runs automatically.
Every trade show you go to or promotion you run can have a systematic way of helping people progress through the buying cycle.
Tools Required to Get Marketing Automation to Work
You essentially need 5 things to get marketing automation running on your site.
This is a no brainer. Your website is going to hold all of your content and forms that website visitors will interact with. Your website will connect with your marketing automation platform and record the actions of every visitor.
Marketing Automation Platform
Marketo (a well known marketing automation provider), defines marketing automation as a system that "streamlines, automates, and measures marketing tasks and workflows … so companies like yours can increase operational efficiency and grow revenue faster."
That is an excellent definition because it focuses on the results of using the platform.
Depending on how a lead has interacted with you, you can score, profile, and prioritize them and then automate the process of nurturing them down the path to becoming a customer.
This might sound like a lot of manual work but it's actually the opposite. Once you have marketing automation up and running, everything will happen automatically (hence "automation").
Content is like the gasoline that keeps your users moving along the sales funnel track. The variety of your content is the key to not just getting users on your site but keeping them engaged as they learn more about you and your industry. It's all about the quality of the content as well. Having a wide range of content is important, but it should be focused on helping your audience and offering them the exact information they need.
Potential customers will need different types of content based on where they are in your sales funnel.The farther along a potential customer is, the more in-depth information they'll need. It's important to have several types of content for all of the topics of questions customers may want to find on your sight.
The image below outlines a scenario where a builder is looking for materials that will help him differentiate his homes from his competition. As he progresses through your sales funnel he's looking for more technical information as well as continually asking more narrow questions to make sure he's considered every angle before coming to a decision.
Customer Relationship Manager (CRM)
Some would say that you don't need a CRM to get your Marketing Automation program working, but we disagree. Your CRM keeps track of the contact information for each of your leads. A good CRM should also be able to log emails and phone calls as well as any notes you make about each lead and where they are in their buying cycle. SalesForce, SugarCRM, andMicrosoft Dynamics are some of the bigger names.
Understanding of Your Audience
All of these systems and tools are important, but without a firm understanding of your audience it will take much longer to see the results you want.
You can't assume who you're marketing to. You have to really know who's coming to your site, what they want to know and how they want information to be presented to them. Conducting consumer research and creating buyer personas will help you create content your website users actually want to read.
Components of Marketing Automation
Automated programs are the technical term for the part of marketing automation that automatically sends emails based on each visitor's behavior.
For example, if someone reads an article you wrote about construction prep then your Marketing Automation would send them a white paper that includes more in depth content about that topic.
The best part is that it won't look like just another marketing email. It will be personalized with the receiver's name, will come from your email address and can look exactly like a standard email instead of a graphic-filled marketing email.
List segmenting categorizes your contact lists into groups based on specific behaviors such as the forms they've filled out, the number of times they've been to your website or the number of emails they've opened from you.
You can also segment your list based upon how much a customer might spend, where they live or what they do for a living. That means you can send distributors one type of email, send retailers a different email and builders another - just by filtering your list.
Connecting your marketing automation platform to your website typically entails getting the forms on your site to collect and send data to your marketing automation platform. It also includes placing tracking code on your site so that you can monitor what visitors do when they visit your site.
Syncing your CRM with your Marketing Automation software means you'll have more accurate reporting about how long consumers are in your sales funnel and what pieces of content are helping them move along.
This helps your marketing efforts to stay in sync with your sales efforts, so you not only have better communication between two teams, but you can see how a given marketing event translates into actual sales dollars. In short, this integration is the key to understanding your digital marketing ROI.
Leads are individuals who interact with your brand through your website or emails. Each action receives a score, and the total of those actions is called a lead score. Lead scores tell you how ready a user is to purchase. A low score means they've just found you and aren't ready to talk to a salesperson, but higher scores mean they may be ready to hear from a salesperson and make a purchase.
The Marketing Automation software will keep track of what types of information you have about each contact so that when they're asked to fill out a form on your site the user is being asked for new information - like their phone number or company name - instead of constantly being asked for only their name and email address.
Benefits of Marketing Automation
Generate more sales
Although the word "marketing" is in "marketing automation," it's just as much a sales tool as it is a marketing tool. It is a platform that gives you the ability help each lead in your sales funnel regardless of where they are in the buying cycle.
Marketing automation allows you to help new leads with their issues, up-sell and re-sell existing customers, and create referral programs to encourage new leads - all at the same time.
Personalize your message
There is a saying we have around the Venveo office, " Helpful is the new sexy." The more helpful you can be when a lead is at the top of the sales funnel, the easier it will be to convert them to an actual sale once they've reached the bottom of the funnel.
By personalizing your communication with a lead based upon their interactions with you in the past, you are helping them, and when consumers feel helped they also feel motivated to purchase from the brand that helped them.
Personalizing messages might be easy for one of your salespeople to do with a handful of leads, but trying doing it regularly for the thousands of contacts that come to your site is practically impossible.
Accelerate your sales funnel
Consistent, personalized interactions collectively help you to analyze how close someone is to buying. Your Marketing Automation platform can prompt you when it's the right time to send a marketing message to a prospect to help accelerate them through the sales funnel.
Essentially, you have the ability to track a lead's behavior through the entire sales process (before and after they purchase from you) and send them relevant content (emails, content downloads, videos, etc.). Positive interactions with consumers that help them make decisions will build trust and decrease resistance when it comes time to make a purchase.
Build stronger relationships with your audience
Regardless if you target dealers, builders, or even the homeowner, you can interact with them on a personal level and use marketing automation to deliver the help the need – when they need it.
The more your company can care for each person that you come in contact with, the stronger the bond potential customers will have with your brand.
Make every prospect, lead, and customer feel like you understand their problems and hesitations. Show them that you have the solutions for these issues.
Save time by automating what you already do
Knowing all of the various questions and issues a prospective customer might have in the buying cycle is valuable, but when you set up personalized communication with your entire audience that is when things become really powerful.
Creating useful, personalized, and tailored email campaigns that run on autopilot and adapt based upon what a prospect has done allows you to nurture more prospects and expand your marketing efforts. The time and money savings can be tremendous.
Create a consistent brand presence
Consumers want to know what they are going to get. If one day you're blasting emails about a new product line and then all of a sudden you just stop, it can make your audience question whether or not you're committed to helping them and if you have your act together.
Solve this problem with marketing automation by steadily and consistently communicating with your consumers about not just product releases, but happenings in your industry, in their industry and relevant content based on what they frequently read on your website.
Gain greater customer insights
It is one thing to study how one customer interacts with your brand as they progress through the sales funnel. It is a completely different thing to analyze how thousands of prospective customers interact with you.
This kind of insight not only helps you adapt and pivot your marketing efforts, but can also help you improve everything from product development to your approach to sales.
Before You Get Started, You’re Going to Need Help
The marketing automation software you purchase will come with customer service. It will be helpful in getting you set up, but it's not their job to take the data you gather from their software and turn it into something useful. That is your job, and it isn't an easy one.
We've been a part of several marketing automation implementations, so we know how daunting of a task it can be. In our experience, we have found that syncing the marketing automation software with your website and CRM is only the beginning of the battle. The real challenge is consistently creating content that will educate and engage your website visitors.
Making a major shift within your company is never easy, but the time you put into your marketing automation efforts will come back in customer insights, quality leads and increased sales.
Research shows that 3 out of 5 marketing automation implementations fail. The truth is, most companies will need help with getting their marketing automation efforts off the ground and keeping it going for the long term.
If you're thinking about getting started on your own marketing automation journey and want to know how we did it and how we can help you, I'd be happy to walk you through our experience and show you how marketing automation can help your building materials company make the move into increasing leads.