Take Advantage Of The Rise Of Marketing Automation: 6 Tips
For an increasing number of B2B companies, marketing automation has become the software tool of choice. A variety of automated marketing tools and strategies— from social media initiatives and email campaigns to other forms of sophisticated lead generation— are now considered indispensable in the effort to retain and extend customer relationships.
As marketing automation grows in importance, you can’t afford to let your company be a late adopter. Here are six tips to help your company reap the benefits of everything marketing automation has to offer.
#1 Learn from your vendor.
Every marketing automation system comes with its own idiosyncratic features and tools. A quality vendor will be happy to guide you in their system’s “best practices” through focused trainings and continuous alerts on improvements and updates. Take advantage of the vendor’s consulting services (no question is too simple or obvious to ask!) and see if they can direct you to online platforms where you can talk with businesses similar to your own about how best to use the system.
#2 Set specific goals.
It’s easy to get swept up in marketing automation and jump head-first into a new automated email campaign, but a wiser approach involves starting with concrete, big-picture goals. Determine your key business objectives and what you hope to achieve with this great new tool. Focus on your target audience, how they’re likely to learn about your company and the information needed to hasten their conversion from prospects to customers.
With the right data in hand, you can structure a marketing automation strategy that works best for your particular goals.
#3 Build a workable implementation plan and process.
Create a plan that grows out of your defined objectives. Among the elements to consider as part of the plan:
- Who are the appropriate administrators and users of the system?
- What are the best methods for integrating the platform with other automated systems?
- How can we incorporate lead-generation forms (including contact and subscription forms) on our website?
- What’s the best way to scale the system over time?
#4 Include your sales team.
Marketing automation should always be viewed as a “sales enablement” platform. Be sure to include your sales team in all discussions about choosing the right system, designing the most effective lead scoring process and determining how best to align sales and marketing. In order to succeed, there must be company-wide agreement on what constitutes viable lead generation and scoring. Your automated system will be far more effective when there’s consensus on what a “good lead” actually means.
#5 Start small (with an eye on the future).
Embarking on your first automated marketing campaign doesn’t have to be something unprecedented or dramatically different from what you’ve done in the past. B2B marketing experts advise that you start with what you’re currently doing and build from there.
For example, take an established sales message— a special offer, email newsletter, new product announcement etc.— and use marketing automation to send it to all the prospects in your database. From the resulting analytics, including unsubscribe rates, bounce rates, conversion rates and other useful baseline information, you’ll see where to refine your message for greater impact. The lessons learned from initial campaigns will help solidify your future objectives.
#6 Measure your efforts.
Gauging the success of your marketing automation campaigns depends on choosing the right ways to measure their impact. Some metrics are “fun” to collect— like the number of impressions on a press release or a spike in Twitter followers— but without a direct link to revenue growth, how useful are they?
Instead, align the goals of your efforts with your stated objectives. Establish specific ROI estimates before launching a campaign to better determine performance metrics and KPIs. Analyze the information gathered to gain a clear understanding of what worked and what could be improved, as well as leading indicators for future campaigns.
Finally, the effectiveness of marketing automation depends upon the content you feed it. If this content directly addresses the problems experienced by B2B buyers, you stand a far greater chance of favorably influencing their eventual purchasing decision. Great content combined with customized marketing automation is the best formula for success.
Scott Taback is VP of Business Development at Highland Solutions, the premier provider of sales and marketing automation solutions and consulting services for businesses across a variety of industries.