Marketing automation can help you place leads that are more likely to convert in an account-based marketing (ABM) plan, so that your sales and marketing teams can operate on high efficiency. On average, marketing automation drives a 14.5% increase in sales productivity and decreases marketing overhead by an average of 12.2%. With sales and marketing productivity being a key component that drives company growth, automation is the answer for many CEOs. Think about this: how much time do your sales and marketing teams waste every day on small, tedious tasks, like data entry and spreadsheet creation? A study conducted by CMO Council determined that at least $1 trillion is lost by companies every year due to mismanaged tasks that could have been resolved with better processes implemented by marketing-automation technology. This reality is enough to make any CEO cringe.
With the right automation tools, companies experience:
- Improved sales and marketing alignment
- More qualified inbound leads for outbound ABM plans and beyond
- A higher percentage of leads that convert to customers
- Increased upsell and cross-sell opportunities
- Development of powerful and growing pipelines
Here’s how to make marketing automation work for your company, so you can reap the benefits of stream-lined, technological advancements and save company hours and dollars.
What Is Marketing Automation, Exactly?
Marketing automation refers to using technology to create automated workflows for tedious, manual and necessary activities implemented across multiple channels to secure more qualified leads that turn into customers. In marketing automation, the term “workflow” refers to a series of steps or processes that are taken to complete a sales or marketing task. Repetitive tasks like email marketing, ad campaigns, social-media posting, lead scoring and creating reports can all be simplified with marketing automation tools, unlocking your employees from those endless data-entry tasks so they can focus more on marketing and sales efforts that grow the bottom-line.
Marketing automation tools work best when software, processes and strategy are combined. Your workflows should allow you to lead prospects through the consumer journey with highly-targeted content that turns them into raving, paying customers.
Now that you know the capabilities, let’s walk through how to create a successful marketing automation strategy with three key steps.
Step One: Understand Your Ideal Consumer Profiles and Journeys
Marketing automation saves you time and money because it works well within the flywheel. This technology allows you to have fully-integrated strategies – which reach your target audience on several platforms – gathering more information about them and allowing better, more accurate lead qualification. The entire process is about attracting, engaging and delighting leads through nurturing touchpoints that constantly remind them why they should choose your products or services. In order to set up the most effective, flywheel-centric, automated touchpoint plan, you have to truly know your consumers and the journey they take to becoming a paying customer.
A practical way to lay out your prospects’ journey is to create a consumer-journey map. These maps are a guide to your customer’s experience from the time they first enter the flywheel as a lead, to the point when they purchase your product or service. This map will reveal what your leads are looking for as they are nurtured through the automated touchpoints, which will clarify their needs and ultimately save and make your company more money. Hubspot research states that more than 80% of companies who prioritize customer experience report an increase in revenue.
To create your consumer-journey map, you’ll need to know a few different things about your consumer:
- Understand your ideal prospect’s profile – Who buys your product or service? Who do you want to buy your product or service? What are their demographics and psychographics?
- Know your prospect’s goals – Understand what the ultimate goals might be in each phase of the consumer journey; think about awareness, consideration, conversion.
- Identify buyer touchpoints – These are the tactics implemented by your marketing automation tools. A touchpoint is when a lead comes in contact with your brand. These could be in the form of an email, an ad, a white paper download, a form fill, etc. The best way to recognize these are to think of all consumer touchpoints for your brand and identify the ones that typically lead to customers. Pro tip: Google Analytics is a great tool to use for this step.
- Identify customer pain points – Where does flywheel friction happen for your customers? Are they disappearing somewhere within your ABM plan, are they unsubscribing from specific emails within a series, are they leaving your website too early?
- Analyze and pivot if necessary – Don’t let your customer-journey map collect dust. As your customer evolves, so will your consumer-journey map. Keep an eye on the touchpoints; are they converting like they should be, or has the journey changed?
Thoroughly understanding your customers’ journey is the key to increasing quality leads and overall sales with your marketing-automation strategy.
Step Two: Set SMART Goals
Keeping track of your goals and metrics is an important step in setting up your marketing-automation tool(s) correctly. If your overall goal is to have 50 qualified leads convert into customers per month, then document how many conversions you are currently generating, as well as the specific marketing and sales efforts that are converting those leads. Does it take 100 whitepaper downloads before 50 of your leads convert? Do you send three emails before someone navigates to your website? When you know the metrics and touchpoints that are getting you to your current conversions, you can better understand the timeline, number of touchpoints and cost to get to your big goals. Additionally, metrics help you to understand which prospects are more likely to close and when they are more likely to close via a lead-scoring program. Lead scoring is a process that assigns numeric value (points) to prospects based on the actions they take during their consumer journey, and the ability to implement this process is another added benefit of marketing automation.
Marketing automation relies heavily on analytics, so measuring your campaigns is intrinsic to your workflows. Whether your touchpoints are email, ads, content downloads, calls or anything in between, measuring the results is part of the territory. However, don’t let the surplus of data overwhelm your team. Here are some key performance indicators to watch when you launch your workflows:
- Website traffic – Watch your traffic spikes after you launch a workflow. If you’re sending an email series out in your automation, look at which emails are driving the most traffic after sending. This is a key engagement metric to help you understand which touchpoints are getting your audience to interact with your brand more. Pro tip: Make sure your Google Analytics traffic is tagged correctly. Marketing campaigns should be specifically tagged to each marketing campaign on your Google Analytics account, so your team can understand which efforts are paying off versus which ones need more attention from your marketing team. Tagging your marketing campaigns on Google Analytics is a practice that let’s Google know where your traffic is coming from online.
- Marketing-qualified leads (MQLs) – Marketing-qualified leads are inbound leads that are approved by the marketing team to pass on to the sales team based on the likelihood that the account will close. This is where lead scoring is helpful; some examples of lead-scoring criteria are how many emails a prospect opened, if they downloaded a piece of content on your site or which pages they navigated to on your website. MLQs are a performance metric. Not every lead will close, so you want as many MQLs as possible. You want to see a consistent increase of these leads in your automation plan. Pay attention to which touchpoints are producing the most MQLs and assign those actions with higher points in your lead-scoring system.
- Customer acquisition cost (CAC)– This is the cost it takes to convince a prospect to buy what you’re selling, and it is an ROI metric. This metric is a good indicator of how well you’re utilizing your marketing-automation platform. By tracking this metric, your team can focus on lowering it (and thereby improving profitability) by nurturing your leads more quickly and efficiently. CAC is calculated by dividing all costs invested to gain more customers (marketing expenses) by the number of customers gained in the period the marketing dollars were invested.
You’ll notice that there are three different kinds of metrics that give insight into different aspects of your marketing-automation strategy, including engagement, performance and ROI metrics. Engagement metrics provide insight into how your prospects are responding to the content you’re sending. Performance metrics tell you things like how valuable prospects feel your content is in each phase of the flywheel. ROI metrics are tangible measurements that justify your marketing automation platform spend and team effort.
Understanding which KPIs are important to your goals will help your team fully utilize marketing automation so that your company can reap the technologically-advanced benefits automation brings.
Step Three: Find Gaps in Your Processes
If you’re finding that your workflows, lead-scoring program and/or other marketing-automation efforts are not performing as well as you’d like it to, there are a few things that could be the cause of the less-than-desired performance:
- Poor segmentation of your audience – Are you sending the right people the right message? If your messaging is right for your prospects in each part of the flywheel, you’ll realize greater results. If certain prospects are less engaged and continually dropping off before conversion, there’s likely a messaging connection, and it’s time to analyze and pivot.
- Sales and marketing misalignment – Are your sales and marketing departments on the same page? Automated strategies, like lead scoring, ensure that your sales and marketing teams agree on which prospect actions are more meaningful in terms of conversion likelihood within your flywheel, meaning that they agree on which leads the sales team should spend energy trying to convert. If the MLQs aren’t allowing the sales team to meet sales goals, it could be time to go back to the drawing board on your automated lead-scoring program details.
- The quality and/or scope of your content – Is your content resonating with your audience? If not, are you split testing a variety of content variables such as the offer, the call-to-action, the language and the design of this content?
If you troubleshoot all of these things and no red-flags arise, go back and take a look at your consumer profiles and consumer journey maps. Are those assets up-to-date and detailed enough to really understand your customers? Do your touchpoints match your audience, meaning are you sending content where your ideal audience lives online?
Step 3: Marketing Automation Beyond Initial Customer Acquisition: Upselling and Cross-selling
The best marketers don’t end marketing-automation sequences when they’ve secured a customer; stopping your automation efforts once a lead becomes a customer is leaving money on the table. Once a lead becomes a customer, it’s time to make them a loyal customer who purchases more of your company products/services and refers ideal clients your way. Continue serving relevant content to your customers through your marketing-automation platform in order to keep your flywheel spinning at top speed. You’re 60-70% likely to sell to a current customer, while the likelihood of selling to a new prospect is only 5-20%.
Additionally, selling to existing customers is far more efficient than acquiring new ones. Depending on your industry, it’s up to 25 times more expensive to acquire a new customer than to retain and grow an existing relationship.
Finding the Right Marketing Automation Tool for Your Company
There are many tools to choose from today, which creates decision paralysis for many companies. Here are a few great questions to ask yourself when choosing a marketing-automation platform:
- What basic features does my team need to implement current strategies and accomplish future goals?
- Where are my prospect pain-points? At what point do your prospects drop off in your sales efforts?
- How can you best complement your inbound and ABM plans with marketing automation? Think about which actions could be automated – are you sending out emails after your prospect receives your grand gesture in your ABM plan?
- Do you already have a CRM that has automated capabilities? Many popular CRMs, like Hubspot and Salesforce do.
- How much tech support will you need from your marketing-automation platform? At what level does your sales or marketing team understand the platform already?
Having answers to these questions is a good place to start when choosing the right platform for your team.
Ready, Set, Automate
Now that you know how marketing automation can increase your company’s productivity and revenue, get the process started by identifying your goals for automation. And if you’d like a hand establishing those goals, choosing the ideal platform, or setting it up, our pack at RedRover has you covered.