The absolute best way to reach a potential customer is to build a relationship with them. In the old days salespeople did this by calling on prospects either by phone or in person, to learn what their needs were and provide them with the right information at the right time, using the best media for the individual.
Nothing has changed. That’s still the best way to generate new sales, but marketing automation has changed the way we do it. Here’s how to manage your marketing automation effectively for excellent results.
Define Your Target Audience Precisely
To understand your buyer on an organic level, you need to define who you’re targeting very clearly. It’s not enough to identify whether the client is a consumer or an intermediary. In the past, marketers sorted business clients into groups such as “company procurement officers,” “C-Suite executives,” or “retail outlets.”
Such blanket categories are no longer enough for marketing automation, however. You need to develop detailed buyer personas based on the individual contact’s pain points, the channels through which you acquired them as a lead, the product or service they’re interested in, and other geo- or demographic facts. Once you have assembled this information, the offers and promotions you create can be based on the needs of these personas.
Maintain Data Accuracy
With marketing automation being a data-driven activity, it’s essential to base it on accurate, complete and valid data. Campaigns based on poorly integrated data with gaps in the information compromise the core objective, undermine the process and can actually damage customer relationships. One survey from Trillium Software showed that 47% of prospects who were sent information irrelevant to their needs were “annoyed,” while 35% said this type of error damaged their faith in the organization’s ability to perform. This isn’t unusual, either. A survey by Demand Gen Report revealed that more than 62% of companies relied on data that was 20% to 40% incomplete or inaccurate, while 85% operate databases with 10% to 40% bad records.
Before you start with marketing automation, perform these three main data compliance steps:
- Test and evaluate the quality of your data, its reliability, consistency, and relevance to your specific marketing needs.
- Standardize and correct your customer record fields to ensure they match associated data from other channels when you’re ready to integrate them.
- Implement a process to correct data at the point of capture and to audit your lists regularly for quality purposes.
Identify all sources of information that matter, and subject them all to this “cleansing” process before integrating them into a database for storage in a safe, secure virtual location.
Create Campaigns Based on Buyers’ Journeys
Aligning with the buyer’s journey provides a solid framework for your marketing automation. With up to 70% of the buying journey taking place before a prospect contacts sales, it’s important to know what buyers are doing during this time, and how you can keep pace with them throughout their search.
Create high-value content aimed at appealing to your various, carefully-identified personas. This could include:
- Written content, such as eBooks, targeted landing pages and email campaigns
- Audio-visual content, such as explainer videos and podcasts
- Live or on-demand webinars, infographics, industry surveys, etc.
Every buyer has a unique set of circumstances. Some will want to see how you compete with other suppliers in your industry, while others are more price-conscious. To leverage marketing automation effectively, you’ll need to create different content for each funnel stage and segment, to convert your leads into customers.
Develop Powerful Lead Scoring Metrics
Your methods of lead scoring are vital to the success of your marketing automation activities. Having a good lead scoring model enables you to prioritize leads based on their likelihood to purchase, the potential size of the deal and the purchase timeframe. This helps your salespeople to stay focused on the hottest and biggest prospects at all times. With a good lead scoring system you can also:
- Identify and target lower-scoring leads that need to be nurtured to increase their interest and engagement.
- Test your assumptions about the characteristics of your personas, and the behavior that precedes a buying decision.
- Use the results as a predictive model to forecast future revenue.
- Identify brand ambassadors among your existing clients, whom you can encourage with automated campaigns.
All this enables you to refine your marketing communications and determine which approaches work better than others, based on scores for different campaigns.
Managing your marketing automation properly doesn’t need to be a complex, nightmare process. By following these recommendations from the get-go, you can start out on the right foot and make sure you end up with a viable marketing option.