So, you recently signed on with a marketing automation suite. Whether you’re using Act-On, Hubspot, Marketo, or Pardot (or any other MAT provider, for that matter), you’re likely wondering, “what do I do next?”
Marketing automation has been called a disruptive force in the marketing landscape, and the interest in the software is growing rapidly — just look at this chart from Google Trends showing the increase in Google searches for marketing automation.
Because of this, you decided that marketing automation software was a must-have for your company, but now that you have it, you’re likely unsure where to start. And that’s how you’ve found yourself reading this blog post.
Below are some of the most important things to keep in mind if you’re just starting with marketing automation software. I’m not going to get into the nitty-gritty details of how to use the software. I just want to help you keep your head above water and keep you focused on the right things as you get going. Oh, and if you think I’ve forgotten anything, feel free to let me know in the comments.
1. Don’t stop creating content
Hopefully you already have a content marketing strategy in place and are producing expert content on a regular basis. Marketing automation will not replace this. In fact, the content will provide the fuel for your marketing automation efforts, which means that you may end up dedicating more time to content creation — so be prepared and plan accordingly.
2. Combine the right technology with the right people and the right processes
The technology is just the first step. If you’re willing to make the investment in the software, you also need to make it clear whose responsibility it will be to manage your marketing automation efforts. You will need to get everyone up to speed and discuss which responsibilities fall on which individuals. You must have some processes in place for it to run smoothly. It is a team effort, so finding the right combination of technology, people, and process is key.
3. You must have total buy-in for using the software
Don’t start using marketing automation for some parts of your marketing, while still relying on other email marketing systems for other parts. You must be committed and run everything through your marketing automation software for it to be able to provide maximum benefit. On that same note, if you’re integrating with a CRM, you must be fully committed to the CRM to receive accurate reporting as well. Your sales team must be using the CRM religiously, and all of your marketing efforts need to go through your marketing automation software. Otherwise, leads will fall through the cracks and you will not achieve what you otherwise could.
4. Garbage in, garbage out
Just because you have the software, it doesn’t mean it’s going to automatically make your marketing better. It can make your marketing smarter, but you must still provide the thought and strategy behind it. Send relevant, timely, and personalized emails for the best results. No more spray and pray.
5. Begin to tailor your marketing activities to your customer’s buying process
This is where you will have to start changing your thinking. All of your marketing will now need to be specifically suited to the various stages of the buying cycle. We can now track the activities potential customers are taking on your site, so make sure you know what content on your website is speaking to researchers and what is speaking to those in the evaluation or purchasing stages of the buying cycle. Do a content inventory. Then, set up your marketing campaigns to send the appropriate information to leads based on what stage of the buying cycle they’ve demonstrated they are in.
6. Focus on nurturing
Not only does your marketing need to focus on the specific stages of the buying cycle, but the goal should be to nurture leads through the stages. In everything that you send out, make sure that you are providing a strong call to action for the next step. Follow your leads through the buying cycle and send them content that will guide them from one stage to the next.
Below are a few stats I came across recently that do a good job of illustrating how important nurturing your leads can be:
- Businesses that use marketing automation to nurture prospects experience a 451% increase in qualified leads. (The Annuitas Group)
- Companies that excel at lead nurturing generate 50% more Sales-ready leads at 33% lower cost. (Forrester Research)
- Nurtured leads make 47% larger purchases than non-nurtured leads. (The Annuitas Group)
7. Lead scoring is your friend
To effectively nurture leads through the buying cycle, you are going to need to utilize lead scoring, so start planning out your lead scoring rules early. Talk to your sales team. Discuss what actions often indicate interest, what pages are important to potential buyers, etc. You will likely end up tweaking the scoring rules over time, but you need to start somewhere, and getting a good head start with scoring will put you on the right path, enabling you to target the stages of the buying cycle and more effectively nurture your contacts through those stages.
I’m going to stop the list at seven. I know that there are a million more things you could start thinking about now that you have marketing automation, but I don’t want to overwhelm you. Let me know if there are any other items that you think should be on the list. I’d love to hear what others think!