Your guide to marketing automation

Marketing automation involves tracking your visitors’ online footprints so you can create tailored workflows to nurture and convert them into customers.

You might not think of marketing as a hub of bureaucracy, but you’d be amazed at the ad-hoc processes that persist, making for an inefficient sales funnel and potentially lost leads.

Marketing automation is a must.

Switching from analogue to digital

Old-school marketing meant pushing out messages and hoping someone listened. Email blasts, advertising campaigns and one-sided conversations told customers what companies wanted them to hear.

Things are different now.

  • 80 percent of buying decisions begin online, usually by typing a question into a search engine
  • The average buyer gets 60 percent of the way through the buying process before they are willing to speak to or engage with a salesperson

Reviews, websites, social media and the pervasive mentality of ‘Google it’ mean that businesses can no longer control the messages that customers receive, but you can still be part of the learning process.

Following customer footsteps

Because so much of a customer’s buying decision now takes place online, there is an opportunity to see where those customers go for their information and what problems they’re trying to solve.

You can then build marketing campaigns that are tailored to a typical buyer journey that delivers useful content to them and gradually nurtures them towards conversion into a customer. Even after a sale is made, it’s still worth watching where they go so as to continue delighting them in order to cross and upsell and create brand advocates.

This concept is known as inbound content marketing, which in itself isn’t automated, but the tools you can use to deploy it are.

Marketing automation

There are quite a few tools out there now, such as HubSpot and Marketo, which not only track these digital footprints, but also link them together and store customer data. This allows you to categories leads by behaviour and put them into automated workflows.

Say, for example, someone visits your website and downloads an ebook designed specifically to speak to CEOs of tech startups, one of your ideal buyer personas. They fill in a lead-capture form, meaning you have a name and an email address at the very least. They then enter the workflow for that particular type of buyer and tailored emails are automatically sent, or details are sent to sales for a follow up call.

‘The process is fine-tuned continuously in response to which leads convert into what kind of deals, to changes in the competitive marketplace and changes in the company’s product and service offerings,’ explains David Tebbutt.

Better business

Marketing automation means that you are able to focus your marketing efforts on the most promising and appropriate leads – again, making your time more valuable. Time is spent following up leads, rather than trying to remember who they are or when you last spoke to them.

In slightly larger businesses, this introduction of software into the marketing process is an opportunity for marketing and IT to work more closely together and increase the efficiency and growth of the business.

‘If the CMO and CIO get their heads together and agree on what’s important from both points of view, and harmonious with the company’s goals and priorities, then they can go into an MA [marketing automation] purchase confident that both short-term and long-term objectives can be achieved,’ concludes Tebbutt.

(Full disclosure: Articulate Marketing, our sister company, specialises in inbound content marketing for technology brands and businesses.).

Next week, part four: Your guide to admin automation

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