Marketing automation, the tools used to streamline, automate and measure marketing tasks and workflows, can provide a much-needed boost in the efficiency of your marketing campaign. At its heart, marketing automation should enable you to better and more quickly respond to the needs of leads and prospects by triggering the automated delivery of relevant, timely and valuable information when and how it’s needed.
Marketers, however, must be careful to not resort to using marketing automation to blindly send out automated emails that deliver the same message to every recipient. By tapping into your customer relationship management system (CRM), lead management system and web analytics platform, you will be provided with the insight to tailor your messaging. After all, if the content is not what the recipient wants or needs, you’re simply spamming, which seriously burns bridges with potential customers.
Clearly, the market recognizes its potential. IDC predicts the overall market for marketing automation programs will blossom from $3.2 billion in 2010 to $4.8 billion in 2015. While marketing automation remains one of the fastest-growing segments of CRM-related tools, they are also, by and large, being underutilized. According to a 2011 Genius survey, more than half of respondents felt they had not realized the value of their investment in marketing automation tools. What’s up with that?
Make them smarter. Many marketing automation programs leverage only a small amount of the intelligence gathered about customers through lead interactions with a company. Smart marketers collect social, website, and blog interactions, as well as purchase history and behavioral data on leads and prospects. And good marketing automation tools should be armed with that data, as well.
Go further than email marketing. When used properly, marketing automation should encompass marketing campaigns across all channels—from direct mail to phone campaigns to online and social initiatives—not just email.
Base strategy on how customers interact with you. Marketing automation tools work by triggering some form of communication based on some sort of form submission: a request for an eBook or whitepaper or a free quote, for example. Make sure your marketing automation program takes into account all of the other interactions people have with your company.
Don’t ignore your best customers. Some of these folks, the ones who read your blog on a consistent basis or who comment via social media about your products, are often ignored by marketing automation tools. But maintaining good relationships with these customers is crucial to ensure future purchases, as well as referrals to other prospects.
Don’t forget about people once they become customers. Once you’ve converted leads to actual customers, they are often forgotten about by these automated tools, resulting in a missed opportunity to deepen that relationship and drive repeat purchases or possible upgrades.
The successful use of marketing automation depends upon having a well-planned strategy and process in place, strong content and lead flow, and a devoted team of people to put these strategies and processes in place.
What are your top tips for leveraging marketing automation technology? Share them in the comment section below.
Barb Schmitz is professional writer with over 20 years of experience writing for B2B and B2C publications and web sites. She served as an editor on Computer-Aided Engineering magazine for over 10 years before starting her own PR/freelance writing business in 2000. Her expertise includes interviewing, researching and writing whitepapers, blogs, e-books, case studies, and feature articles.