Marketing automation has revolutionized marketing. We can now connect with our prospects at every point in the “sales funnel.” We no longer have to guess about any digital marketing effort’s efficacy.
Effective marketing automation doesn’t mean “stalking” or “annoying” your target audience. It means you give them the information they want at each point along the funnel.
Here’s a great example of a sales funnel or “digital marketing funnel” from CrazyEgg.com…
As marketers, we used to struggle to “stay in front of the customer.” Now, we can use marketing automation tools like HubSpot, Marketo, SharpSpring, and more to automate this process with just the right message at just the right time, and can track all of it in one dashboard.
Marketing Automation – Best Intentions…
Here’s the problem with that. We pay for this platform, sometimes a little but oftentimes a lot, and then work happens. We become distracted with all the stuff we were doing before marketing automation came along.
Yes, marketing automation can make our lives easier and more productive, but we have to set it up first. 😉 And this can be a downright Herculean effort.
There is so much built into these platforms that it’s tough to know where to begin. Don’t worry, we’re going to make this easier for you. Below, you will find the 3 key takeaways you need to do to dial in your marketing automation and get it working for you.
- Marketing Automation should support your needs and goals
- How to wrangle data and analytics
- Achieve total visibility of your sales and marketing processes
Let’s take a look at each of these…
1. Marketing Automation Should Support Your Needs and Goals
The issue we see more than any others with marketing automation is a failure to do the necessary discovery and setup at the beginning. Many marketing directors, CMOs, small business owners, etc. focus heavily on the tool and not enough about what its purpose is.
Whether your cost for the marketing automation platform is high or downright reasonable, it’s a waste of money if you’re not setting things up properly. And the best way to get to a proper setup is to start at the beginning.
There tend to be two scenarios we face when it comes to buyer personas…
- The client either has no idea what they are or knows but has not done any.
- The client has 1-3 already completed but has done nothing significant with them.
Either way, it’s not the end of the world. Let’s address each concern real quick.
No Buyer Personas
Buyer personas are semi-fictional caricatures of actual clients. They serve as guides for all marketing decisions and efforts. You ask yourself things like:
- How would Persona A react to this post?
- Does this ad appeal to Persona A or B?
- What will it take to guide Persona B through our digital marketing funnel?
You can create a one-sheet overview of a persona or a multi-page study. I prefer the one-sheet, so you have something you can pin to your wall and look at whenever working on any marketing task.
I’m not going to spend too much time on personas. It’s important to do them and we plan on writing another piece more specifically on the buyer persona creation process.
In the meantime, here’s a great definition from HubSpot with a persona worksheet that you might find helpful..
A buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about your existing customers.
When creating your buyer persona(s), consider including customer demographics, behavior patterns, motivations, and goals. The more detailed you are, the better.
Once you have your personas created, you can then focus on your goals. What do you want from these people? And, more importantly, these days, what do they want from you?
Outline Your Marketing Automation Goals with User Journeys
You now have the building blocks for a solid marketing automation foundation. You have your sales funnel and your buyer personas. Now, it’s time to set up the User Journey.
The term user journey was typically used in the UI/UX world to help map out how a user will interact with an app or some piece of software. Designers and coders would use these journey maps or stories to build their software, first with a prototype, and then with a beta version.
User Journeys for marketing are very similar. Think about it this way, your marketing automation platform is a piece of software. So, it makes sense to chart the anticipated path or paths the user will take.
I don’t want to go too deep down the user journey rabbit hole. We’d be headed for a 5,000-word post. So, in the interest of brevity, we can rely on HubSpot again for a little help. Here’s a great user journey definition and worksheet…
A customer journey map is a visual representation of the process a customer or prospect goes through to achieve a goal with your company. With the help of a customer journey map, you can get a sense of your customers’ motivations — their needs and pain points.
So, now you have your buyer persona and your user journey. The goals should already be written. Just follow the journey while referring to your persona profiles as you set up your marketing automation platform.
When do you need a touchpoint with the customer as they travel down the funnel?
These touchpoints are usually something like:
- Blog post, downloadable content, utility (like a worksheet, calculator, etc.)
- Standard or retargeting ad
- Email offer or newsletter
- Targeted landing pages with offers
Mapping out these touchpoints should be simple because you have the customer journey map. And, please, do not let perfect be the enemy of good. Do not overthink this stuff. It’s digital. It’s online. You can change and adjust as needed.
If you are worried about putting something bad out there, just remember a few digital marketing golden rules…
- You should be fine with your mom seeing it.
- No one should be annoyed by any of these touchpoints.
- Furthermore, your touchpoints should be seen as helpful.
- Do unto others…
You get the gist. Now onto the powerful stuff.
2. Wrangling Your Data and Analytics
This is where a marketing automation platform will impress you. The whole point of marketing automation is to effectively track, improve upon, and pivot your marketing efforts as needed.
A marketing automation platform like HubSpot, Marketo, Pardot, SharpSpring, etc. will be able to show you exactly what your customers are doing. This is light years beyond the data you get from Google Analytics, your email client, social media, etc.
Let’s say you, or someone on your staff, runs your social media, email marketing, CRM, and Google Ads. That’s four different platforms that you have to interact with and pull data from – four separate times.
A marketing automation platform acts as your digital marketing central nervous system. This is your one, overarching platform to connect your various digital marketing initiatives into. Not only can you manage all of them within the marketing automation platform, but you can also see the data woven across each initiative to truly understand how they all play a part in gaining a new lead or converting a lead to a customer.
Think about this power at your fingertips:
- Do you want to see click-through-rates with your email campaign? No problem.
- You want to see how many people clicked on a Google ad, then fill out a form, which triggered an automated email? Easy.
- You want to combine all of your marketing initiatives into one lead-generating campaign and how they’re all working together? Now you’re talking.
The beauty of data on a marketing automation platform is that you can drill down and get very granular, or you can see high-level, overarching analytics. You don’t need to log into four different platforms to try and guess how they’re working together, you have all of the data you need right in one platform.
3. Achieve Total Visibility of Your Sales and Marketing Processes
One of the biggest enemies of an effective sales process is disorganization. You never want to hear the following from a potential client…
- I couldn’t find you when I needed you
- No one called me back
- I didn’t know you did that
Marketing automation is like an administrative assistant with psychic abilities, but you have to get the sales team to recognize this. Instead of pitching it to them as a new tool they have to use, show them how this tool will make their jobs easier and help them achieve their goals.
Getting their buy-in is crucial. This will not work unless they help to feed it data. Fortunately, these tools are making that easier and easier with each new version.
The CRM functionality in tools like HubSpot is easily on par with SalesForce. And, if you do not use the native CRM, most tools have developed an API (or hook) that will integrate your CRM with your marketing automation platform.
Mapping the Sales Process
Now that you have built out your buyer personas and customer journey maps, this should be a breeze. Take some time on a whiteboard with your journey map and personas in hand and start charting all of the sales touchpoints…
- Qualified lead via email
- Call in lead
They certainly could be others that go here. Don’t worry about making this perfect, just focus on getting all of the possible touchpoints mapped out.
Mapping Your Sales Touchpoints
Once you have this you can set up the hooks for each touchpoint.
- Qualified lead via email – is there an automated response or is this handled directly by a salesperson? Who will handle this? How are they notified? Where did this lead come from? What is their level of interest and what are they interested in?
- Call-in lead – where did this lead come from? Are you using a trackable phone number so you can tie a call-in lead to an ad or offer? Who will field this call and how will they track it and pass it along to if necessary?
- Follow-ups – once a lead is assigned, when should follow-ups happen? At each follow-up, when does this prospect become a lead? When does the lead become a sale? When does the sale become a re-sale or fan or both?
- Analysis – how well are your ads, emails, and landing pages working? How many leads are they generating? Can this be improved upon?
- Demo – who handles the demo and on what platform? Are you prepared for any obstacles they may present? How will you handle that? Do you know their needs and their goals? Is your demo geared toward their specific needs? It better be or you’ve lost them. This could also include webinars that are product or solution-focused. Here’s a great resource guide on webinar platforms from my buddy Vlad Falin.
- Proposal – similar to the demo, is this proposal addressing their needs, goals, and concerns? Are they ready for a proposal? Make sure your demo addresses all concerns before you through a proposal in their face.
- Negotiation – this should be the easiest negotiation ever because you’ve already addressed their concerns, developed solutions for their pain points, and thoroughly qualified them as someone ready to buy.
Now, think about your current sales process. What’s missing? Going through the exercises and answering the questions should identify any glaring needs and problems you’ll need to address. The point is to use your marketing automation platform to automate where you can and track everything.
Are Your Marketing Efforts Helping Your Sales Efforts?
If you’re as old as I am, you might remember when marketing was more like voodoo. You would run an ad and then hope the phone would ring. And when it did ring everyone argued over why it rang.
Did marketing get credit for bringing in the lead? Or is it something the salesperson did? Or something else? No one freaking knew!
Those days are long past us. Even at the most basic level, you can track a Google Adword click through to a conversion goal using nothing more than a simple Google Adwords account with analytics.
But, even that feels a bit antiquated these days. Marketing automation has turned this one up to 11…
You can now track every lead source, every touchpoint, and the entire sales funnel. You can control the customer journal as they go from tire-kicking to proposal signing. And everyone can agree that both sales and marketing get credit for the sale because you’re tracking everything.
We covered a lot of great information in this post, which truly shows the extreme power marketing automation can give you. We know taking the reigns of such power is not for everyone, but the output of digital marketing through marketing automation is for everyone.
Our marketing automation team are the kind of folks that live for managing and executing marketing automation for businesses like yours. Check out our marketing automation service page and fill out the form at the bottom to set up some time to talk more in-depth with our team about how marketing automation can transform and elevate your digital marketing efforts this year.
Or, if you want something faster, give us a call to speak to our marketing automation team, today.