It’s been well-publicized that most businesses that purchase marketing automation are not using it to its full potential. That’s often because — with all of the many tools available within most marketing automation platforms — it’s easy to become overwhelmed and not know where to start.
Based on our experience, there are realistically just a few key features that, if fully utilized, can significantly impact your business. Now, you can’t just flip a switch and make it happen — each of these requires some work to set up and maintain (so much for automation, right?), but the rewards of doing so should far outweigh the cost.
So, without further ado, here are the five must-use marketing automation features:
1. Lead Scoring
If you do nothing else with marketing automation, you should at least use it to find out who your best prospects are. Lead scoring enables you to do that. It does require putting some thought and research into what profile attributes and behaviors indicate that a lead is a good prospect, but once you do that and get your scoring in place, you put yourself in a position to always know who your best leads are. But be prepared to spend time thinking through your scoring methods and revisiting/tweaking them over time as you learn more about your ideal prospects.
On a side note: lead scoring is truly an enabler. You can use your lead scoring to trigger alerts to your sales team or to trigger email campaigns to individuals once they reach a certain score level. Or you can just use your lead scores to segment a list to identify hot, warm, and cold leads.
2. Targeted Email Campaigns
Any email marketing software can send email blasts, but marketing automation allows you to send relevant messages to a targeted audience in a timely manner — right people, right message, right time.
Think about the content you’re creating for your website. What segment of your contacts would your content speak to most directly? Identify that audience and then send them a personalized email based on that content.
Don’t just blast all your emails to your full list. That’s a quick route to opt-outs. Instead, spend a few minutes thinking critically about what segment of your audience should be receiving each email you send out. Odds are, you’ll see better open and clickthrough rates along with fewer opt-outs and spam complaints.
3. Website and CRM Integration
Marketing automation has a lot of great features and can provide some really awesome data, but you really only get the most out of it if you are very tightly integrated with both your website and your customer relationship management (CRM) platform. This integration allows you to easily track behaviors and determine what marketing efforts are having an affect on your bottom line. Marketing automation allows you to close the loop in your lead development ecosystem, and generate true ROI reports.
4. Progressive Profiling
The biggest goal of your website is to generate leads and capture their information, right? Marketing automation allows you to do this and take it a step further. By progressively profiling your leads, you’re able to learn new information about them with each form they fill out on your site. It’s something that you can set up and then just let ride, which is great.
However, the work comes in once you have the data, as this new information allows you to better segment your lists and send more targeted email campaigns. It can also help you score your leads.
5. Lead Nurturing
The last must-have feature of marketing automation is lead nurturing. I’m not going to sugar-coat it. This is the hard one, but often the most rewarding. You will have to spend time developing automated campaigns that will help move clients from one stage of the buying cycle to the next, which can be a difficult task and require a lot of content creation and time spent researching your personas and how they are interacting with your site. But, once in place, it can help you create more opportunities from your website and nurture existing leads until they are ready to engage with your sales team.
While there are many other beneficial features of marketing automation, if you are doing all 5 things on this list, then you’ll be ahead of the crowd and well on your way to marketing automation success.