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The Complete Beginner's Guide to Marketing Automation

So, you’ve been sending mass emails to the same email list for months now. This list is beginning to dwindle down because your recipients can’t hit “opt-out” fast enough since they’ve received multiple emails from you with irrelevant content. Now what?

The goal is to have those receiving your emails engage with your brand and eventually purchase from you. However, it is difficult to know if the people on the other end of that email actually want to hear from you. Even if they do, how do you track the rest of their engagement? Did they visit your website after they received your email? What pages are they looking at? What content gets prospects engaged?

I am sure these are questions many of you face. You want to increase conversions and lead generation, but no one has the time to create email after email for prospects who may not even be interested in what you have to offer. Content marketing is time consuming and costly.

Marketing without data-driven decisions and automated processes is just like playing darts in the dark and hoping something sticks. Ditch the guessing game and start allocating your marketing dollars and time effectively.

What is marketing automation?

Streamlining marketing activities through an automated process.

Automated marketing allows you to automate key processes and tasks that are crucial for capturing and nurturing leads in the buying process. In a nutshell, marketing automation refers to the software that sends specific content to each individual relative to their behaviors. The result? Effective marketing. Automated marketing accomplishes this by driving traffic to your website, converting that traffic into leads, and turning leads into customers. Automated marketing can be useful for all types of businesses - including B2B and B2C.

Let’s Talk Value.

Make decisions based on “I know so” rather than “I think so.”

Automated marketing provides you with insight into the behaviors of the market. It shows you who is interacting with your content and when. This information identifies who your prospects are and what they want. It’s the golden ticket to purposeful marketing. Why? Because you’re sending the right message, to the right person, at the right time. How do you know this? Because numbers do not lie! Marketing automation tracks the amount of engagement visitors are having with your content and assigns a numerical value to those interactions. This data collection provides you with the ability to measure the effectiveness of your automated programs.

“Businesses that use marketing automation to nurture prospects experience as much as a 451% increase in qualified leads” -The Annuitas Group

Leads sit at different stages in the buying cycle. Some leads are ready to buy now and some are entering the beginning stages. As a marketer, you need to respect and understand the fact that people are at different stages when they interact with your company. For example, a customer who is just learning about your company will not respond well to a “buy now” call to action. Lead scoring is one way to sort out the marketing qualified from the sales qualified. This way you can strike when the iron is hot! Automated marketing programs develop funnel reports for each website visitor.

Every marketing process is like a funnel of conversions that drive your prospects to the desired outcome. Tracking conversions and opportunities through the entire process gives you a clear picture of where you are strong within the sales process and where you can improve. Marketing automation allows you to customize the criteria for each stage of the funnel by using list profile fields, behavior and lead score.

Funnel reports:

  • Provide you with insight into the effectiveness of your marketing campaign
  • Uncover gaps in the conversion process
  • Track prospects through key conversions
  • Determine what campaigns are driving the best results

Funnel reports uncover gaps within your conversion process, because all of the data is put into one system. Rather than keeping it in silos, you can get better insight by integrating the data together through marketing automation. Although the conversion stages can be easily mapped out, measuring the results is what uncovers the performance gaps.

Results give you insight into when prospects are falling off and what is getting prospects to convert quickly. Having identified your pain points, you can work aggressively to improve specific pieces of your sales process. For example, are you losing opportunities in the consultation stage? Do prospects drop off near the end of the email campaign? Identifying your pain points is a necessary step for an effective marketing campaign.

When you know where your prospects are in their customer journey, you can actually generate more revenue with fewer leads.

A sales team will spend precious time seeking out the most promising lead, but with lead scoring you can use that time efficiently. Lead scoring provides your sales team with higher quality leads and gives your prospects a better user experience. Segmenting prospects by common behaviors, job titles and demographic details allows you to send tailored messages that will resonate with the receiver.

>“Organizations that currently use lead scoring experience a 77% lift in lead generation ROI over organizations that do not use lead scoring.” -MarketingSherpa

How Do You Use It?

Set up scoring rules for specific behaviors and segment leads based on their scores.

Many marketers rely on emails to get results. Although email is effective, there is a right and wrong way to go about email marketing. Automation moves away from the idea of buying email addresses, and focuses on generating inbound leads and getting more out of your existing database. Inbound leads are generated by laying out a trail of valuable content that lead your prospects towards your company. So, what does it really take to develop automated marketing?

It starts with content. You need to have content visitors can interact with. Using data from an automated program will give you a better understanding of the kind of content that moves prospects from one stage of the sales process to the next. Content should address your customer’s needs and demands. Quality content is key. Each piece of content you create should provide utility for the buyer, while also being entertaining, engaging and shareable. No matter what industry you operate in, you can develop content that will be useful to your prospects. Leveraging common pain points of your current clients is a great starting point.

Content Marketers Use Most

  • e-Newsletters
  • Articles on company website
  • Blogs
  • Case Studies
  • Infographics
  • White papers

Let’s say you get a visitor to your website. The goal is to turn that visitor into a known prospect. This is done by capturing a visitor’s information (name, email, etc.). Known prospects captured from your site are quality leads! Actively converting prospects = great email database.

“The average email database expires at a rate of 25% per year.” -Hubspot

Okay, so we want unknown visitors to turn into known prospects, but how? Landing pages and content! Landing pages have specific call to actions. The call to actions within a landing page could be something like, filling out a form or clicking a button to download specific content.

Converting an unknown prospect into a known prospect is important because it decreases the cost per lead. When you give your prospects content that provides utility, it builds trust. Offering prospects solutions to similar problems they face will not only build trust with that prospect, but they will actually see value in that information as well; This opens up the opportunity to further the conversation and relationship.

Consider yourself an industry expert, then put yourself in your buyers shoes and begin creating content that you feel would be useful to the receiver. It is important to remember, but is easy to overlook. Content must be relevant to the buyer - from the brand awareness stage to education, conversion and post-purchase. Here’s a tip: think of your buyer's persona, do you think they would find this content irresistible? If not...next subject please!

Let’s not forget the Rule of Seven: a prospect needs to “hear” the advertiser’s message at least 7 times before they’ll make a purchase.

Automation, Automation, Automation!

Reduce costs and time by creating email campaigns once, and then letting them run based on your instructions.

Once you have the prospect’s information. You can create automated email programs that begin the lead nurturing process. This automated program runs per your instructions. By using “if then” logic within your program, specific actions taken by the prospect will determine what type of content they receive and when. As a result, your emails are timely, relevant and personalized.

Automated Workflow Examples:

  • New Lead Drip Campaigns
  • Top-Of-Mind Drip Campaigns
  • Reengagement Drip Campaigns
  • Event Drip Campaigns
“Emails with personalized subject lines are 26% more likely to be opened” -Campaign Monitor

We live in a hyper-personalized marketplace and the best way to stay relevant is to personalize your messaging. Automated email programs gain the interest of your prospects over time through a series of email workflows. Instead of sending one generic email blast, automated emails send messages based on behaviors and preferences of the individual. Automated marketing makes it easier to send personalized, 1:1 targeted messages.

Do You Need to Invest in Marketing Automation?

If you want to increase conversions, lead generation and sales, then invest in automated marketing. Generating leads through inbound content is the most effective way to capture quality leads. Here are a few questions you should ask yourself if you are considering marketing automation:

  1. Are you generating quality leads?
  2. Do you have a process in place that nurtures prospects into leads?
  3. Do your sales team and marketing team know what type of conversation they should be having with your leads?
  4. Do you know your buyers journey?
  5. Are you tracking conversion rates and lead generation?
  6. Are you actively searching for gaps in your sales process?

Marketing automation gives you insight into all of these questions. The tools within automated marketing software help you reach marketing and sales-related goals.

“The average cost per lead drops 80% after 5 months of consistent Inbound Marketing.” -Eloqua

Let’s End With a Solid Why.

Marketing automation is a modern marketing tool that increases ROI by nurturing quality leads.

Automated marketing is purposeful marketing because you’re making decisions based on facts and figures. In order survive in modern marketing, you need the right tools. Marketing automation provides several tools to take your lead generation to the next level. A/B test your content, so you can determine what is working and what isn’t. You can segment prospects as they trickle down the sales funnel into sales-qualified leads.

Features and Benefits:

  • Segmentation: Delivers relevant messages to the prospect
  • Automated Workflows: Save time and deliver messages at the right time
  • Reports: Real-time data that allows you to determine what works and what doesn’t
  • A/B Test Content: Determines which content increases conversions
  • Behavioral Scoring: Allows you to see where prospects sit in the buying cycle
  • Website Prospector: See who is visiting your website and what they are interested in

All other features aside, it comes down to quality leads. Marketing automation is effective, in that it sends the right message, to the right person, at the right time (you’ll start saying that a lot). In doing this, you’re saving time, money and recycling content you spent hours putting together!