Marketing Automation: What It Is and Why You Need It

Updated: July 11, 2010

Marketing automation provides the solution to many companies' objectives:

  • Improves the quality of leads that are passed on to sales
  • Optimizes conversion or profitability from various sources of leads
  • Measures marketing performance more effectively

The main benefit for replacing manual lead generating processes with marketing automation is that it allows companies to reach out to potential customers in a timely, more efficient, manner.

Here's a simple look at how marketing automation works:

  • A sound advertising and social media strategy is developed, and tactics like SEO and valuable content bring visitors to your website.
  • The website or landing page offers strong benefit copy and valuable content, and visitors fill out forms to become leads.
  • Based on the questions asked on the "contact us" web form AND website behavior (downloads, pages viewed), leads are automatically scored (a model defined before the system is in place).
  • Leads are segmented based on their score and enter various tracks for follow-up. Following up with leads through email is called lead nurturing and includes links to additional valuable content such as white papers and webinars. Nurturing allows increased engagement of potential customers. The more engaged they are, the more likely they will become customers.
  • Higher quality leads are turned over to sales immediately. Lower quality leads remain in the system until additional engagement occurs. In essence, salespeople receive less total leads, as they only receive the quality leads. When they can spend more time with quality leads, their time is spent more efficiently, they close more deals, and the revenue per deal increases, thus overall ROI increase.
  • By integrating with Salesforce and other CRMs, salespeople report their deals and win values, which then are reported within the marketing automation system, which in turn allows us to evaluate what media sources, messages, events or other tactics generate the most efficient quality leads and sales, thus an analyses of "cost-per-deal" can be done.

Marketing Automation is more than a glorified email program. By tracking website behavior of prospects and putting them into lead nurturing sequences, you can truly provide them with unique messages based on their behavior. When messages are relevant, increased engagement occurs and the likelihood of sales increases.

The key reasons to adopt marketing automation into your business is plain and simple:

  • You have a need to increase new customer revenue
  • You have an opportunity to resell/upsell existing customers
  • You have the ability to engage with prospects with relevant marketing messages

Marketing automation won't work properly if you don't take these steps to make sure you're ready:

  • Have an ideal customer profile
  • Know what the customers needs and issues are
  • Have a content strategy that maps out messages toward all levels of your prospect's buying cycle
  • Understand the customer buying process
  • Map the content towards a "drip process" whereby the content is distributed throughout various touch points and delivery channels in a timely,ongoing manner
  • Ensure your current database is cleaned and optimized for the newer system
  • Have a specific editorial calendar grouped for each audience segment
  • Have a pipeline of content ready for implementation- white papers, case studies, webinars, newsletters, surveys, etc. all written and designed.
  • Assignment of roles to those responsible for the activities- managing the platform, the content, and the measurement.
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