7 May 2012 in Email Marketing, Lead Nurturing, Marketing Automation
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 more. Instead, you get 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?
Marketing automation offers all the functionality of an email marketing platform, but also much more. It encompasses everything from email delivery to website analytics, ROI reporting to content management, and more. But the features designed for lead nurturing, scoring, and grading really make marketing automation platforms stand out from the crowd.
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, like a click-through or a file download. By using a point-scoring system, you can effectively assess how far a prospect has progressed in the marketing funnel, 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 scored 100 points. Upon reaching this score, they can be automatically assigned to a Sales rep (who will have a clear overview of the prospect’s journey thus far).
While 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 in the business. Within that hypothetical 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.
Aren’t I just doing all the work for Sales by nurturing leads?
It’s not doing somebody else’s work, it’s making a bigger contribution to your business’ success. And it’s worth noting that marketing automation doesn’t create any more work for you. Automated lead nurturing means that you don’t have to worry about sending out content, and once prospects reach a certain score, they can be automatically passed to Sales. The initial time needed to set these up will more than pay for itself.
You mentioned content. You mean adverts, right?
Wrong. The way people in business are buying 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 valuable information on topics that interest them, as opposed to advertisements pushing your sales message. To be successful, your business needs to build a comprehensive library of content, ranging from white papers to webinars. The more quality content you have, the more reliable a source prospects will consider you to be, and the more likely they are to come to you when they have an issue that needs resolving.
Doesn’t producing all this content take time?
If done properly, yes. But that shouldn’t deter your business from dedicating the time. 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 shared among friends and colleagues and bring new prospects into your marketing pipeline.
And marketing automation 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 depends on their past activity. Prospects will receive targeted and relevant content which will give them the answers they need and move 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. Leaving the questionable quality of lists, most reputable marketing automation platforms don’t allow their use. Poor quality lists result in a low deliverability rate, which impacts the server they are sent from. One of the most successful, proven methods of attracting quality prospects to your mailing list is through an effective inbound marketing strategy.
Inbound Marketing; advertising, right?
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”: attracting prospects with quality content distributed via a variety of methods. The emphasis with inbound marketing is on 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 complement all this great content with some subtle, targeted advertising of your product, but don’t bombard your prospects.
I installed a platform two weeks ago and I’m not seeing results. What should I do?
Relax! Marketing automation success doesn’t happen overnight. It will take 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 an increase in the quality of the leads going to Sales, as well as shorter sales cycles and higher win rates.
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 these platforms and how they can help your business, check out our product page or contact us.
More questions? Drop us a line! We’ll do our best to answer you.