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Over the past few months, we’ve had lots of people contacting us to clear up questions they had with regards to Marketing Automation and business marketing. To save you that hassle, we decided to compile a selection of the most popular questions and answers:

We have an email¬† auto-responder. Isn’t that the same as Marketing Automation?

No. Although Marketing Automation platforms offer an automated response function, that is just a tiny component of a comprehensive feature-set.¬† Marketing Automation systems replace all the separate systems you have for email, web visitor tracking, lead scoring, nurture campaigns, campaign management, reporting and other core components with one solution that drives revenue, generates higher quality leads, increases marketing efficiency, aligns sales and marketing and quantifies marketing’s performance.

So, Marketing Automation is just another name for an email marketing platform?

Again, Marketing Automation has all the functionality of an email marketing platform, but offers much, much more. From email delivery to website analytics, ROI reporting to content management, Marketing Automation encompasses a whole lot more. But perhaps it’s the features such as Lead Nurturing, Scoring and Grading that really make Marketing Automation platforms stand out from the crowd.

You can find out more about the differences by reading Deep dive: Email Marketing versus Marketing Automation solutions report by Gleanster here.

Lead scoring, grading and nurturing? What are they?

These are the tools that can help you gain that competitive edge over your competitors. Lead Scoring is the process of assigning prospects points based on activities they complete such as an email open, a click-through or a file download. By using a points scoring system, a business can effectively assess how far progessed in the marketing funnel a prospect is, and when they are ready to be passed to Sales. For example, a company selling laboratory equipment might conclude that for a prospect to be sales ready, they must have taken certain actions and reached 100 points. Upon reaching these criteria, they can be automatically assigned to a Sales rep (who can then have a clear overview of the prospects journey thus far).

Whereas lead scoring deals with explicit factors such as website activity, lead grading is focused on other, more implicit buying factors. Prospects are assigned a grade, usually between A+ and E, which indicate their interest to the business. For the example Medical company, the Procurement Director of a pharmaceutical firm might be given an A+, whereas an intern doing research for his thesis might be given an E.

In a nutshell, Lead nurturing is the automatic delivery of customised emails to prospects, ensuring a continuing conversation with prospects that are in the Marketing funnel, but not yet Sales-ready.

Check out Gleanster’s Marketing Automation overview to find out more.

So, by nurturing leads, am I not just doing all the work for the Sales?

Don’t see it as doing somebody else’s work, see it as making a bigger contribution to your business’ success. And with Marketing Automation, it doesn’t create any more work for you. Automatic Lead nurturing means that you don’t have to worry about sending out content, and you can set up rules so that once prospects reach a certain score, they are automatically passed on to Sales. The initial time needed to set these up will more than pay for itself when your CEO starts to realise the impact Marketing is having on his bottom line.

You mentioned content. You mean adverts right?

Wrong. The way in which people in business are buying today has changed. By content, we mean information that prospects will find valuable. Your prospects are much more likely to engage with you if you provide them with information of value on topics that interest them as opposed to advertisments pushing your sales message onto them. To be successful, your business needs to build a comprehensive library of content, ranging from White Papers, to case studies, to Webinars. The more quality content you have, the more reliable a source prospects will consider you to be, and the more likely they will be to come to you when they have an issue that needs resolving.

Doesn’t producing all this ‘content’ take time?

If done properly, yes, it should. But that shouldn’t put your business off dedicating time to produce some strong content. See it as an investment. By creating content that your leads want to read and share, not only are you increasing the chances of them picking your product or service, but you are also creating one of the most powerful advertising tools available: word of mouth. Great content will be passed among friends and colleagues and most likely bring new prospects into your marketing pipeline.

And it delivers all this content automatically?

Yes. But that’s not to say that you can’t target. Most Marketing Automation platforms allow for dynamic lists and automation rules, meaning that the content received by prospects very much depends on their past activity. This is where Marketing Automation really stands out, as prospects are receiving targeted and relevant content which is more likely to give them the answers they need and proceed them through the marketing pipeline. For example, a prospect that downloads a white paper on Renewable Energy can be automatically put on the ‘Green Technologies’ drip marketing list. It really is one-to-one dialogue on a massive scale.

Where do I get leads to nurture? Should I buy lists?

Absolutely not. Not to mention the questionable quality of lists, most reputable Marketing Automation platforms don’t allow the use of them. The reason is simple; poor quality lists result in a low deliverability rate which impacts the server they are sent from. One of the most successfully proven methods of attracting quality prospects to your mailing list is through an effective Inbound Marketing strategy.

Inbound Marketing. Advertising, right?

As discussed advertising and other traditional outbound marketing techniques are losing their efficacy because they are poorly targeted and interruption based. Inbound Marketing is all about a ‘pull strategy’, that is to say attracting prospects with quality content diffused by a variety of methods (blogs, social media, etc…). The emphasis with Inbound Marketing is being found rather than presenting yourself. Potential customers should come to you because they’ve seen and read some of your content, and want to learn more. By all means compliment all this great content with some subtle, targeted advertising of your content, but don’t bombard your prospects.

I installed a platform 2 weeks ago, and I’m not seeing results. What should I do?

Relax! Marketing Automation success isn’t an overnight phenomenon. It will take some time to start seeing changes. The number of leads you throw over the wall to Sales might even decrease slightly initially. But rest assured, you will notice not only the quality of the leads going to Sales increase, but also shorter sales cycles and higher win rates. And once your Marketing Automation system is up and running efficiently

Hopefully this post has provided you with most of the answers you are looking for with regards to Marketing Automation. If you’d like to find out more about Marketing Automation platforms and how they can help your business, check out our Marketing Automation homepage, or contact us.

More questions? Drop us a line! We’ll do our best to answer you.

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