When you’re shopping for a marketing automation provider, take a look at The Big Marketing Automation Software Comparison and look for the combination of features and price you need. Lead generation and workflows are the two main areas that every marketing automation package should focus on. All the features offered by any marketing automation package can be categorized into one of these broad groups.
The first step in marketing automation is lead generation. This is because workflows are useless without leads. As HubSpot points out, “automation is a fantastic tool to further qualify and nurture leads, but when you don’t even generate enough for Sales, what’s the point?”
There are many ways to generate leads. You could host webinars, create web forms, and much more. However, some of these lead generation activities are more valuable than others. For example, you’ll get much better leads when you build a blog and develop great landing pages.
When a landing page is configured properly, visitors will become part of a contact list with a very high conversion rate. These landing pages are the gateway between the blog articles you write for your buyer personas and the marketing materials you use to nurture potential customers.
Email, webinars, white papers, ebooks, and many other forms of content are very inexpensive to create. However, blog posts are the least expensive of them all. For this reason, blogging should be the widest part of your sales funnel.
The goal here is to connect with as many of your visitors as possible and direct them to landing pages where they can become qualified leads. Once these people become part of your database they will enter into a workflow which will apply segmentation and lead nurturing.
For those new to workflows, HubSpot offers a good definition and a great introduction. Workflows are, “series of automated actions that you can trigger to occur based on a person’s behaviours or contact information.” Basically you can segment and nurture your leads based on specific events.
When a contact requests a free report, completes a form on your website, or visits your site a specified number of times, you can have that event trigger an action within your marketing program.
The first step in developing workflows is to identify segments of your list. Are your products and services more popular with businesses that have more than 50 employees or independent contractors? People over 40 years of age or under 30? And People in Edinburgh or in London?
Ask questions about your customer segments and begin identifying patterns. These patterns will inform your workflow development and help you identify the segments that respond to specific forms of nurturing.
Not all leads will respond to the same form of nurturing. You may find that people over 40 respond to an email with a more professional tone while people under 30 respond to an email with a humorous tone. Once you’ve identified some customer segments and developed your workflow you can begin nurturing your leads with the information they need to become customers.
It is very important to regularly add new leads to your database and continually monitor your workflows . Marketing automation is not a set-it-and-forget-it process. This is a common misconception because people think automation implies the system will last forever. Instead, you must recognize that your list will loose leads from attrition at a rate of about 25% per year.
Also, the workflows that you start with will not be perfectly calibrated and can always benefit from fine tuning. Even if you’re lucky enough to get your workflow exactly right, people are prone to changing their preferences and buying habits. You must update these systems regularly to stay current and keep the sales coming in.
But remember you are doing this to be personal with your prospects you still need to pick up the phone and talk to your leads.
Now it’s your turn
Which marketing automation features are important to your business? Let us know in the comments.