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Marketing Automation

Raghu Raghavan

Marketing automation is a set of technologies that help the marketer manage the customer experience across online channels. The better the customer's experience, the more likely they are to buy, remain loyal, and become an ardent advocate.

Meet customers where they are: online

Buyers research websites, reach out in social media, open targeted email, listen in on chats, click interesting ads, attend virtual events, and watch videos, all for the sake of gaining intelligence about challenges and making decisions about solutions. It's become the marketer's job to discover the best digital channels in which to find their buyers, optimize those channels, and coordinate them so that the buyer's experience is consistent, positive, and engaging, no matter the channel.

What the marketer needs now is an integrated multi-channel platform that makes all the many facets of online marketing manageable and optimizable, and tracks and aggregates ongoing cross-channel customer engagement. What's needed is marketing automation.

Marketing automation includes:

Database

Your marketing automation platform hosts database supports every feature and function of the platform, and is the home of contact data and activity histories for each lead and customer. You can:

  • Import and export lists easily, without creating duplicate records
  • Segment lists for targeting by any number of characteristics or actions
  • Import a list from a CRM, and export chosen data to a CRM, updating without overwriting data improperly
  • Manage lists for data hygiene
  • Look at individual profiles and see how that lead or contact is engaging with you: actions taken, web pages looked at, forms filled out, emails clicked on, webinars attended, media downloaded, more

Automated Programs

Also called "drip" programs, these are used to automate a series of scheduled follow-up messages. As examples, you might create a multi-step lead nurturing program for people who attended a webinar, or launch a free trial conversion program that provided a series of helpful hints followed by a "Your trial ends in 5 days" message, followed by a "Last chance" message only for those who still haven't converted.. Automated programs let you:

  • Save the time of manually keeping track of individuals and sending them appropriate follow-ups
  • Set up conditional statements, so that the follow-up you send to a particular individual is based on their profile or behavior
  • Create early exit conditions, so leads that convert or become hot prospects can move into another program, or be sent straight to sales

Lead Scoring

Lead scoring is the process of assigning numerical value to a lead's attributes, demographics, and actions. It's a good way to identify where a lead is in the buying cycle, and whether a lead is worth spending time on. It's impractical to do by hand, but marketing automation makes it possible and powerful. Consider:

  • Work with your sales department to determine which buying signals to score, and with what values
  • Use negative scoring to identify and people who are least likely to buy, such as job seekers or people with low authority
  • Lead scores become part of a lead or contact's dynamic history, providing more intelligence for follow-up
  • Leads that pass a certain threshold can be automatically sent to the sales team

Landing Pages

A landing page is a single web page that appears when your prospect clicks a link in an email, an ad, a blog, or other channel. Landing pages let you deliver specific, targeted information and offers to satisfy a lead's need for information or further action. Marketing automation:

  • Makes it easy to create landing pages, and include forms and surveys
  • Makes it easy to edit a page on the fly and have it served immediately
  • Lets you track the amount of traffic a landing page gets, where it came from, and whether an offer was clicked. This can help you determine whether a specific campaign is driving traffic, or not
  • Hosts the landing page, and shares collected data with the database

Forms

Forms and surveys are among the most powerful engagement tools marketing automation gives you. Companies that use marketing automation to tailor forms to prospects' interests enjoy 3X the submission rate. With marketing automation, you can:

  • Integrate with a data source such as Data.com, so a visitor identified as anonymous may be researched by company
  • Set alerts so sales reps know instantly when a particular person or company hits the website
  • Assign a lead score value to specific pages, so the visitor looking at a pricing page would get more attention than a visitor looking at job listings

Website Visitor Tracking

While applications such as Google Analytics look at your web traffic from the point of view of your website, website visitor tracking focuses on unique visitors. Being able to see who visits your website and which pages they look at is very valuable information. You can:

  • Integrate with a data source such as Data.com, so a visitor identified as anonymous may be researched by company
  • Set alerts so sales reps know instantly when a particular person or company hits the website
  • Assign a lead score value to specific pages, so the visitor looking at a pricing page would get more attention than a visitor looking at job listings

CRM Integration

If you're using Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics, Sugar CRM or another CRM system, integrating with your marketing automation database supports lead lifecycle marketing and gives you powerful benefits:

  • Keep raw or top-of-funnel leads in your marketing database and nurture them until they become qualified
  • Move only qualified leads into your CRM for sales to work with, so sales isn't distracted by low-priority leads
  • Return sales-qualified leads that don't close to marketing for further nurturing

Web Event Integration

Web events generate good leads, but are laborious and time-consuming to plan and execute. Marketing automation dramatically reduces the time you spend on organizing for your webinar and creating messaging for it. You can:

  • Create an automated program of invitations, reminders, and follow-up emails that will automatically be personalized to the recipient's actions
  • Set the timing of messages precisely and pull the trigger, knowing that your messages will all go out at the times you've designated
  • Send second invitations only to people who haven't yet signed up
  • Capture information from the sign-up form that will create, enhance or update a database listing
  • Score registration and attendance separately
  • Follow-up with messaging targeted to audience segments based on their attendance and level of participation
  • Re-use a past webinar, including its attached messaging and lists

Analytics & Reports

Being able to see how campaigns and programs are performing is a key benefit of using marketing automation. You can measure campaign results in real-time to get insights into campaign performance, and adjust a campaign on the fly. You can also analyze the bigger picture to determine which lists are performing, conversion rates, and more. Marketing automation lets you:

  • See results in graphical or spreadsheet formats
  • See the details, such as email opens and click-throughs, landing page visits, form submissions, webinar attendance, Twitter retweets, keyword rankings, and much more
  • Measure your return on investment (ROI) to see the results you’re getting from your marketing spend.

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