I find it very helpful to separate the idea of “marketing automation” and “inbound marketing automation”. As busy marketers, the idea that software can automate our “funnel” and deliver emails based on triggers and time delays sounds idyllic. But the reality is that GOOD marketing automation is truly inbound marketing automation. By this, I mean we are using software to automate our work, but we’re still using the inbound methodology of centering and personalizing our workflows and communication around our site visitors. The software is helping us to build the relationship with our site visitors by helping us better understand their needs and guiding them through their buyers journey.
So while it’s important to understand that marketing software is not going to give you an “easy button” to press to generate leads out of thin air, it can be an amazingly effective resource to give you the tools to help you define and refine your lead nurturing and sales process.
Seed The Funnel
Before you invest in marketing automation software, take a look at your existing lead sources. If you need more leads, remember that software won’t magically bring you more leads, but the right software can help you better organize and plan for those lead generation activities such as content creation and blogging, social media activities and SEO. Most marketing software offers blogging platforms, content templates, social media publishing tools, and so forth. The tools can make it easier to do those activities, but they won’t do it automatically. Be sure you have a plan in place to build your leads database before you look at investing in software.
Clarify and Track Lifecyles
Understanding your website visitor/prospects’ behavior on your site and having the ability to track a prospect’s stage in the buying cycle is a huge benefit of marketing software. This understanding is key to developing the right content and the right messaging at the right time. Marketing Automation software can give you detailed data on prospects that can be extremely valuable to your marketing and your sales teams.
What metrics do you need to look at to define success? It’s a broad question, but knowing that internally is important, as all great marketing software platforms have robust analytics/reporting functions that can detail specifics on email campaigns, social media reach, and site traffic. These numbers, as defined by your organization’s goals, are key in helping you make smarter and more effective decisions on how to reach and nurture your prospects.
Marketing automation software is a big investment for your business – both in dollars and time resources. It can often times (and most often should) lead to dramatic changes in your marketing and sales process. But when it’s a right fit for your organization, investing in marketing automation software can guide you to a more effective, cohesive, and fine tuned marketing effort.