You’re in the midst of designing a killer new website with updated branding and the cool slider thingies on the home page. At times you find yourself daydreaming about your competitors spilling their coffee as they’re overcome with fear beholding the beauty of your shiny new website widget.
In all this exciting hustle and bustle, there’s a nagging little voice that manages to dampen your spirits. The voice is telling you that you should buy marketing automation. It tells you that for just a small monthly price you will be better for it. That voice may or may not be your agency. If you’re one of MLT Creative’s clients, that voice belongs to me, Billy Mitchell or Craig Lindbergh.
What’s the big deal?
So what’s the big deal about marketing automation? Why is a pretty website and sleek branding not enough these days? Let’s give it a closer look…
The Internet has changed
In the past ten years, the internet has changed the way we buy and sell on this planet. Not too long ago, digital marketing was about building pretty websites with slick branding for a lot of money. Websites pretty much acted like big brochures. Then, websites became measurable – you could track how people engage with your website. With the ability to measure how successful your marketing is, digital marketing science was born and marketing technology came into existence.
Today, marketing isn’t just arts and crafts, it’s not just about packaging your business to new prospects, it’s about how your business sustainably grows in an ever changing marketplace.
In other words, marketing used to only incorporate attracting unknown visitors to your website:
But now, it incorporates so much more:
Where brochureware websites were all that was needed before, companies now have to create an engaging digital experience for everyone from strangers to customers in order to make and keep them paying promoters.
What is Marketing Automation?
The definition of marketing automation is debated and confused, and for good reason: this software is relatively new and is always changing. Also, different products that call themselves marketing automation do different things.
In it’s simplest form, marketing automation software does what it sounds like: automates repetitive marketing tasks. This can include email marketing, social media posts and a host of other tasks.
There is software that technically automates a single or a few marketing tasks, but true marketing automation software usually does a few things:
- Email Marketing
- Landing Pages
- Campaign Management
- Lead Scoring/Management
- CRM Integration
- Social Marketing
- Marketing Analytics
Marketing automation acts as a central hub where you execute and analyze your marketing tasks. Here’s a great article that goes into more detail about the definition of marketing automation. There are a lot of benefits to having one of these all in one marketing automation hubs.
- MA = email marketing – marketing automation started with just email marketing, but as I said above, today it’s so much more.
- MA = spam – marketing automation is not set up to help you spam unsuspecting website visitors. Every MA software out there is only semi automated and needs a human element to set it up, create content and keep it running smoothly.
- MA = leads – marketing automation will not create leads for you, it will only give you tools that can help you create leads if you are already doing inbound marketing well. It’s impossible to do inbound marketing well without content. If marketing automation is your inbound marketing engine, content is your fuel.
Marketing Automation can help
Creating an engaging digital experience is no simple process. Check out all those twelve tools listed in the chart above. Using all those tools effectively and tracking the results is close to impossible without one hub.
That’s where marketing automation comes in. It will help you to move contacts from strangers to promoters and analyze the whole process in one place.
There’s 4 tangible ways that good marketing automation will help you operate in this ever transforming marketplace:
1) Lifecycle marketing
Different people are going to be at different stages of the buyer’s journey and hear about your company in different ways. You need to make sure you are communicating to people in a way that is appropriate with their stage in their buyer’s journey by developing a realistic sales funnel.
For example: You don’t want to try and give someone a sales call who just read one of your blog posts, and if someone is devouring your content and drooling over your pricing page, you should strike while the iron’s hot.
Marketing automation will offer a way to categorize and score your leads so that you know who has just heard about you, who is ready for a sales call and everything in between.
Check out this article to get a better understanding of how marketing automation can help you organize and categorize your contact database.
2) Lead Nurturing
Knowing where your contacts are in your sales funnel is only half the battle, the other half is “nurturing” them to the next stage of the sales funnel.
As you’ve probably experienced, the sales process in the b2b world can be notoriously long. There is a huge difference between someone that’s heard about your company and someone who is ready to buy.
Marketing automation provides you with the tools you need to automatically deliver up the right content at the right time and save you tons of time and money in the process.
Learn more about lead nurturing hear: The Essential Guide To B2B Lead Nurturing in 2016.
3) Delighting Customers
Marketing isn’t over when the deal is closed. You still have to satisfy your buyer and develop a positive relationship. According to Defacto Research, 55% of consumers would pay more for a better customer experience.
Marketing automation can help you improve your client experience, increase your client retention and build a better reputation in your industry.
Want to learn more about the importance of delighting your customers? Check out this article.
4) Closed loop reporting
As I said earlier, when the internet became measurable, marketing technology became a thing. It’s closer to the truth to say that it exploded. Check out this article that shows how the number of mar tech companies has doubled in the past year alone!
You have two choices:
- piece together a digital strategy with a bunch of tools
- use a marketing automation solution
Using marketing automation will help you to manage all your tasks in one place, making it much easier to develop closed loop reporting.
For example: having a CRM system that’s also connected to your content management system will help you to see which of your contacts read which blog posts on your website. If someone closes as a customer that came to you through a blog, that’s the beginning of seeing inbound marketing ROI.
In the end, developing closed loop reporting will help you to measure ROI and know how well you’re reaching your goals. This is indispensable to your company.
No matter how flashy your website or how popular your blog and social media profiles are, unless you have a somewhat automated process for keeping track of who is engaging with you and how, your marketing won’t be scalable.
Marketing automation is key to developing a scalable, measurable and productive inbound marketing strategy. If you want your website to be more than brochureware, you should stop ignoring that nagging voice.