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.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Revenue Marketing: Transitioning from Cost Center to Revenue Driver

by Dan Freeman 
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Modern marketing is no longer an intangible, creative endeavor; it produces tangible and measurable results. Today, revenue can be traced back to marketing activities and touch points; not with exactitude, but with enough precision to steer an organization’s strategy towards its most profitable marketing activities and to avoid those without much payoff. Because the revenue impact of marketing is now intelligible, companies are less willing to put money into marketing’s black box and hope sales happen. Increasingly, the marketing department is expected to perform as a revenue generator, not a cost center.

But making the transition from cost center to revenue engine is not easy. It’s a gradual process, one that can take two to three years to accomplish, and requires ongoing investment in marketing technologies as well as in the data, content, and business processes that enable these technologies.

The good news is that at each stage, you will see a significant and measurable impact on your marketing results. Learn the four stages of transformation from basic, cost-centric marketing to revenue driven marketing and discover the key differentiators of each stage.

Basic Marketing

At this stage, a marketing department follows a checklist of activities, but none of these activities are effectively monitored for results. Sure, there are “must do” activities—the website, email marketing, a social media presence, and trade shows, for example—but these are mostly dictated by historical precedent and there is only a hazy idea which of these activities produces results. Instead of hard data that provides real insight into the effectiveness of marketing actions, the focus here is on activity itself. Marketers speak in terms of spending and outlay rather than expected response rates and revenue impact. At this basic stage, marketing is a cost center where anecdotes, theory, and history—not hard data—support the decision on the marketing spend.

Lead Generation

As the marketing department realizes that activity alone is not enough, attention shifts to strategies that generate leads for the sales team. At the lead generation stage, budgets shift from activities whose results are purely theoretical to those producing tangible results—leads. The nascent awareness of which marketing channels and techniques produce tangible leads is a significant leap beyond basic marketing. At this stage, companies concentrate on developing content, attracting visitors through search engine optimization, and using email marketing to get their content in front of prospects with the hope of generating clicks. Emphasis may be put on development of white papers or other downloadable content.

The quality of the lead, however, is still not considered. Leads delivered to sales are neither scored nor prioritized. Here marketing can influence revenue but it’s still largely considered a cost center. While it’s a major step up, a business that focuses on lead generation rather than lead scoring, nurturing, and development is still far from maximizing its marketing potential as a revenue generator.

Quantitative Marketing

When the marketing team moves from amassing leads to scoring, prioritizing, and sorting those leads, it reaches the third stage: quantitative marketing. This stage is marked by a shift to repeatable and quantifiable processes. Here, a marketing automation platform is required. Two new dimensions characterize the quantitative stage. First, lead scoring enables marketers to deliver higher quality leads. Whereas in the lead generation stage, a white paper download alone may constitute a lead, in the quantitative stage, marketing takes a richer view of the prospect, taking into account firmographic, profile and behavioral information before sending it to sales. Second, nurture campaigns allow marketers to deliver customized streams of contents based on prospect profiles and behavior. By combing scoring with nurture workflows, the quantitative stage represents a major leap from the lead gen stage.

Revenue Marketing

At the apex of modern marketing is the revenue marketing stage Here, not only are leads quantified by their profiles and behavior; each opportunity can be tied back to a set of marketing activities. The impact of every marketing activity is now associated with revenue results. This is accomplished through integration of marketing automation and CRM systems like Salescorce.com. Leads flow into CRM where they are converted into sales opportunities and revenues.

This integration between sales and marketing enables marketers to use advanced nurture flows to influence and accelerate the sales cycle. Each lead is qualified and moves through a customized nurture program. Every marketing activity serves a purpose and is a part of the greater whole. The cost of every campaign can be assessed in terms of expected returns on the company’s investment.

At the revenue marketing stage, revenue generated and attributed to marketing is now repeatable, predictable and scalable. The revenue marketing stage requires advanced use of marketing automation software but the payoff is huge; marketing has now fully transitioned from a cost center to a revenue driver.

© Marketing Tech Report 2015 All Rights Reserved.