If your eyes are open to it, you can’t miss the information available today talking about how marketing automation promises great opportunity for all types of businesses, small and large, business to business or consumer. While the tactics are different depending on they type of buyer and sales cycle, I strongly believe that Marketing Automation technology adoption provides a better, more profitable way of nurturing clients and prospects until they are ready to buy.
I’ve already confessed my belief that today the responsibility for new business development rests squarely on the shoulders of marketing. While evangelizing about Marketing Automation, I’ll often recite the now stale 2007 survey results published by Marketing Sherpa showing that the buyer finds the seller 80% of the time. The report focused on technology businesses however I’ll argue that it applies to all types today.
Marketing Automation technology isn’t hard to find. There are well over 200 providers fighting for a piece of an industry that is expected to reach $4.5 billion in 2016. I’ll argue that the software is the easy part – the lowest part of the cost. The expensive part is what happens when you don’t use it properly or you have the wrong resources and mindset guiding your marketing efforts.
Over 53% of nation’s Fortune 500 companies are already using MA systems and getting better at it. Now that the technology is more affordable, small and mid-market businesses are adopting the concepts rapidly. Early adopters are gaining market share faster and more cost effectively than ever before.
So, why Marketing Automation?
First, let’s make some baseline assumptions. Salesman and their leaders are compensated on performance. The goals may change the measures different but for the sake of this article, let’s assume that they all earn more when they perform better. Next, let’s assume also that the purchase cycle is long, six months to two years possibly. And finally, let’s assume the dollar amount of the purchase is large – six figures or more.
Imagine your company provides highly specialized engineering products and services. Here in Detroit, Michigan where I grew up a product of the automotive industry, these companies are plentiful. Tier 1, 2, 3 etc providers keep the industry going and both live and die together. Strategic relationships have kept some businesses fat and happy and left others looking for more opportunities. Businesses must constantly adapt to stay competitive. Your business has always reinvested in itself to protect from being replaced.
Your next investment should be in marketing automation. Your customers need to know why you are different. They need to know what you do better…stronger… faster and more cost effectively than your competitors. How do you tell your current and future clients about the benefits of doing business with you? You start by telling the world. Using the Internet and your best voice, self publish your knowledge.
Next share the content through popular channels that your prospects frequent. There are many paths to choose from but I love LinkedIn for targeting my audience. I can select very specifically the folks that I want to reach by job title or role, by location and industry. Someone in your audience may be in market today and you might get a quick bite but that isn’t the only goal. You are presenting yourself as a subject matter expert or thought leader. When I have problem that you can solve, I’ll become engaged. Further, if I saw something you wrote and shared previously, it will build credibility and I’ll listen more closely.
Each element of content that you publish should draw your prospect to your website. Using Marketing Automation we collect data instantly, identifying the company by name and assigning key contacts with telephone and it’s possible to collect email addresses if by matching the company with big data providers. To really know who is visiting, we offer an exchange. You’ll offer the prospect some very desirable information but only in exchange for an email address. This allows us to really begin to nurture the relationship as you now know they’re engaged.
Lead Generation Scoring and Personalized Follow-up
You’ve collected a long trail of data already giving you a glimpse of their interests by identifying each type of content they’ve viewed. You will use this information to send a highly targeted and timely email to follow up. You will also add them to lists by interest so that you can reach them again with future publications. You’ve built a comprehensive program of relevant industry and product information for this buyer already and will begin testing the level of their interest and engagement over the next few days or weeks. When something grabs their attention, your software will make a note and score the activity. We’ll also use this activity to identify where they are in the purchase cycle. How they respond to your marketing is the key.
Finally, as the prospect moves through the sales cycle, your salesperson will engage them personally. They will first review the lead score and actions to make sure they know exactly what your prospect needs. No more guessing means higher sales.
This process works well for new prospects but also for existing clients. With clients, you have even more data to design your marketing around. You know what they’ve purchased before, when and why. You can use this to your advantage and don’t have to wait for an email address to be provided because you already have it. These nurtured clients will tell you when they are ready to buy by their actions. You’ll save a ton of effort in often unnecessary follow up by using this process.
Marketing Automation is going to change the way all businesses view marketing. Early adopters will gain the most and laggards will lose market share. Business to business sales leaders who see this opportunity will see large gains in sales and derive more value from marketing initiatives at lower cost.
Want to find out if you’re ready? My team at Biznet has created the “Marketing Automation Health Check,”a free online assessment created to help you evaluate your own sales and marketing preparedness for the next step.