Friday, June 5, 2015

Guiding the Buyers’ Journeys with Marketing Automation

by Dan Freeman 
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Few great journeys take place alone. Columbus had a crew, Jason had his Argonauts, Frodo had the Fellowship of the Ring – and your audience has you. You may not literally be present for every marketing decision, but with a properly designed marketing workflow that guides your buyers at pivotal points throughout their journey, you have an active role in the process. You’re steering the course of events without constantly telling your buyers what to do and where to go.

How do you guide decisions intelligently when you aren’t present in the boardroom while they’re being made? You tailor your marketing message to your audience and stay sensitive to your potential buyers’ behaviors, adjusting the type of content and the rate of information flow to match their needs. When you use personalized, responsive marketing, you’re able to anticipate how your prospect will handle those twists and turns in the road ahead and can prepare accordingly.

Segmentation

Giving your prospective buyers what they need to make key decisions along their marketing journey depends on knowing as much as possible about who they are. Accessible, actionable marketing segments let you address each individual within your global audience as personally as if you were having a face-to-face conversation.

If you were with them in the boardroom, you wouldn’t try to give clients in vastly different industries the same pitch; you’d do your research and shape your presentation to their needs. Marketing automation software can help you segment your customers and prospects by grouping those with common traits together. These segments can have any degree of granularity you choose, dividing current customers from prospective buyers, large firms from small businesses, and members of one industry from those in another.

A marketing automation system then lets you address each of these audience segments with personalized messages. You aren’t a random voice in the crowd telling an anonymous buyer to act now; you’re a knowledgeable guide who understands each potential buyer’s unique challenges. Just as important, marketing automation lets you offer custom-fit solutions that address those concerns precisely.

Responsive Marketing

Automation takes formerly static elements of your marketing campaigns and makes them dynamic. Instead of having a single image and the same lines of copy in every email you send, you’re able to deliver custom graphics and content that are more relevant. By capturing and synthesizing information from your web forms, preference pages and on-site behavior, you gain a clearer and more comprehensive picture of each prospect – a picture that’s essential to building a responsive marketing campaign around that individual buyer.

To illustrate how this rich data can be used to guide a prospect through the buyers’ journey, let’s look at what happens with two customers in the same industry but different budgets. For the first buyer, a software purchasing agent with a large firm, money isn’t an issue; she wants a product that offers plug-and-play utility with outstanding tech support. Your marketing team knows this because of her demographic, firmographic and behavioral data, and it adjusts your marketing campaign to her needs to focus on her concerns. Her journey takes her not through pricing gateways but through service-oriented ones.

Your second customer is just as keenly interested in your product line, but he’s an independent business owner with a limited budget. For the past few years, he’s worn many hats and is happy to wear another by upgrading on his own; add-ons and future capabilities are big selling points to him. He wants a product that can grow with him, but his primary concern is the initial expenditure. To respond to his needs and guide him along his buying journey, your marketing automation system delivers information about your product’s flexibility.

On-Site Targeting

Guiding your audience members on their individual buying journeys via email, a marketing channel you control completely, is one thing; but how do you continue to guide them online?

With a marketing automation feature known as real-time personalization, you can unmask, engage, and convert your anonymous visitors the moment they arrive on your site by delivering personalized content to each individual based on their behaviors, geography, referrer site, referrer terms, entry page or static attributes such their job title, industry, company size, and more.

Let’s go back to our service-conscious customer and our cost-conscious buyer for a moment. Marketing automation not only supplies tailor-made content in email marketing messages, but it also directs these buyers to custom landing pages. Your service-sensitive buyer sees a landing page that describes your 24/7 tech support and access to training courses, while your price-sensitive prospect finds copy directed at economy and future growth
possibilities.

Want to get more out of your marketing automation software or thinking about a purchase? Contact Us.

© Marketing Tech Report 2015 All Rights Reserved.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Driving Lead Generation with Marketing Automation

by Dan Freeman 
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Generating high-quality leads is one of the key marketing challenges for most B2B companies. Without a regular and adequate flow of qualified leads, the opportunity spigot dries up and revenues fall off quickly. Marketing automation offers a host of benefits, but how does it fit into your marketing strategy specifically as a lead generation tool? Here’s a look at how automation help drive new leads and nurture existing leads from initial contact through sales conversion.

Personalization and Customization

How do you interact with those you want to impress in a face to face meeting?
For one thing, you address them properly. When shaking hands you probably don’t say “Hello Friend”. It’s probably more like, “Hi Jason”. Automation allows you address prospects & customers individually or as member of a group that has some relevance to them. For example, “Dear Customer” or “Attention IT Managers”.

If you want to have an engaging face to face conversation with a prospect, you don’t just spew talking points; you respond to other’s comments, questions, and thoughts. Automation lets marketers respond with content based on your prospect’s past digital conversations. If they have demonstrated interest in product X, you can respond with some benefits that product X provides. As with a face to face conversation, the more relevant your message is, the more engaging it will be. By delivering customized content, you increase your response rates dramatically – sometimes by over 500 percent.

Timely Testing

Marketers have used A/B split testing to find the most effective ways to reach their audiences for decades, but modern marketing automation technology makes testing more valuable by shortening the gap between tests and live releases from days to minutes. Think of how the nearly instantaneous communication possibilities of email revolutionized how we talk to one another, and you’ll have an idea of how much of a difference timely test results can make in your lead generation strategy. Automation lets your marketing team find the best email, landing page, banner ad, or promotional message and blast it to audience segments almost in real time, ensuring that every campaign uses optimal content.

Drip Campaigns

Not all your leads start off ready to buy. That’s where drip campaigns can help, feeding small amounts of information to a prospect at a measured pace to nurture that contact over time. You don’t have the bandwidth to run drip email campaigns by hand, especially as your marketing operation expands, but marketing automation gives your team the power to optimize every part of the campaign. Channeling the flow of leads through a drip campaign keeps every potential customer moving forward in your marketing pipeline.

Marketing to Sales Hand-Offs

Your sellers work most efficiently when they don’t have to sort through an undifferentiated pile of leads to find the ones who are sales-ready. With marketing automation software, you can score and rank leads, and set sales alerts when those leads reach a sufficient score. Because all the marketing work has been done, sales people can focus on the high value work of selling. Instead of tossing leads over the fence to sales, your marketing team hand-delivers them complete with useful analytics as gift wrapping.

Lead generation is where your content and prospects intersect, and that’s where a marketing automation system truly shines. To learn more about how marketing automation drives lead gen, contact us.

© Marketing Tech Report 2015 All Rights Reserved.

Monday, January 26, 2015

What's Automated About Marketing Automation?

by Dan Freeman 
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Note, this blog post was originally published at Reach Marketing.

You’ve all heard of marketing automation.

It’s what we call that class of software that helps marketers nurture and quantify leads.

But the term marketing automation does not do justice to the software it’s named for.

Tracking visitors, sending emails, scoring leads, creating workflows, generating sales alerts…all of these automation features are critically important. But the real value behind marketing automation software lies in its ability to reach and engage with more prospects and to covert these prospects into leads, sales opportunities and customers. These benefits extend well beyond automation.

Here’s a synopsis of how marketing automation software can help your business.

Discover

First and foremost, marketing automation software helps you discover more about who your prospects and customers are. You can track and expand your prospects’ profile data, including demographic and firmographic info that you can use to better segment and target the marketplace. Profile data can even include attitudinal info obtained from surveys or form questions that can provide powerful insights into prospects’ intentions and/or authority.

By tracking what was previously invisible—the interactions your prospects have with your content—you gain a much richer view of your audience and how your content meets their needs.

Reach

Armed with a greater understanding of your prospects, you are in a position to expand your market
reach. With automated outbound messages, whether in the form of newsletters, messages triggered by site registrations, or intricate automated nurture campaigns, you can exponentially increase touch points with prospects and expand your marketplace presence.

Engage

More touch points mean more interactions and a deeper knowledge of your prospects—who they are and what content they consume—and you have now primed them for engagement. Engagement starts with understanding the buyer’s journey, the process that a buyer goes through from awareness to research to a purchase decision. You can now create content to better meet your prospects’ information needs at every stage of their journey, and track their level of engagement.

Convert

As marketers, your ultimate goal is to convert visitors to leads, and leads to sales opportunities and profitable customers. Marketing automation software enables you to convert anonymous visitors into qualified prospects using features such as reverse IP look-up and real-time website personalization. You can then track and score these leads and convert into sales opportunities based on agreed upon lead scores and activities that reflect their level of engagement.

So, the next time you hear the term marketing automation, think about these benefits.