The key to a great relationship is good communication, right? Well, it’s time to recognize that the relationship between companies and customers requires the same level of respect and effort as a valuable interpersonal relationship. Let’s look at four ways to put this into action.
Understand The Hidden Sales Cycle
One of the biggest mistakes you can make in implementing marketing automation is to rely too heavily on the sales team for input. We’ve all seen the stats that say 80% of the purchase decision has been made by the time a customer is talking to a sales person. This means there have likely been multiple touch points where you and your sales team weren’t part of the conversation. Before you can map a plan for marketing automation that touches every phase of the buying cycle, you have to know what those stages are. Buyer’s Journey Mapping is a discipline that has rapidly evolved over the past few years, but you can take a few steps to scratch the surface fairly quickly. Take a second look at SEO keywords to see how many people enter the site using words that might signify an early stage buyer versus a late stage buyer.
For example: If I’m looking to buy new project management software but am just getting started, I might use the term “Enterprise Project Management Software” to see what pops up. However, if I’m later in the buying process I might search for “Microsoft Project versus Oracle Primavera review.” Reviewing the key terms bringing folks to your site can reveal a lot.
Next, ask some critical questions about what you do know and put together a workflow diagram. Are you calculating how many people you have at each stage of the buying cycle? How can you help push leads into direct sales? Where are people stuck? Creating a graphic detailing where your potential customers are in the buying stage will not only inform what you need to do with marketing automation but it will get your whole team on board too.
Browse your internal documents for Buyer’s Journey insights (e.g. Transactional Sales Data, Key Leaders for mind-mapping, Customers That Might Share Insights Freely).
Become A Publisher
If you’re serious about marketing automation, you’re going to produce a lot more content – a lot. Welcome campaigns, bait content, engaging videos, helpful walk-through content…all of it is critical to building and keeping engagement through key points of your buying process. Your goal is to educate and be helpful with content so you can earn the right to sell something. It’s a big shift in mindset for a lot of companies.
Think about what content do you have? What content are you missing? What content can you re-purpose? Go back to your Buyer’s Journey map and create a workflow that clearly maps Customer Journey paths,reveals Hidden Cycles and see what content you have that can address customer questions at each stage – and what you’re missing to create a positive customer experience.
Personas are important, but only because you don’t understand the needs of the individuals in your contact list. Every campaign should be designed not only to move individuals through the buying process, but to gather helpful information. When you send an email to a segment of 100,000 contacts, expect the behavioral observations and new data inputs to result in a few new sub-segments. Look at those who gobble up all the information you put out. Separate the non-responsive contacts and set up a split test with new content. See where contacts go on your site after you email them and see if any patterns emerge.
Your customers and prospects are dripping with information that can be used to sub-segment into increasingly smaller audiences with exponentially more relevant messaging. The problem is, most people either don’t have the appropriate tracking codes in place or haven’t made contact data augmentation a key goal of new automated campaigns. It’s a missed opportunity.
Be Realistic About The Costs
One myth about automation is that it is cheap. But the truth is it’s an investment that pays off. Implementing marketing automation in a typical organization with a mature email marketing program tends to be more costly in the short term run but that’s only because it’s extremely profitable in the long term run. It’s important to note that your marketing automation implementation plan will require more than putting your existing email marketers on new software – it’s a whole new system. This system can and should affect (and augment) other existing systems like CRM, sales processes, analytics and content production.
What do you want your marketing automation to do? Be specific. Generate a 15 percent increase in acquiring leads, increase sales over the next two years by 20 percent?
Your people will be affected. Is there a team augmentation plan in place? Do you have someone on your team who is certified and well-versed in the IBM Silverpop language? Or will your team need training in everything IBM Silverpop to get you up to speed on how to run the machine? Deploying 1-2 people as the conductor of Silverpop will make it easier to deploy marketing campaigns at lightening fast speed, but it would be great if the whole team was made aware of the basics. Either way, be sure to budget for new people, training or even an agency partner to get you going.
Big Scary Cranium is an “Agency Of The Year” for IBM Silverpop and winner of the “Best Use Of Marketing Automation” award. For advice on how to advance your marketing automation regimen, give us a shout. Or, for more thoughts on successful marketing automation, see how Data, Process and Content are critical to marketing automation success.