Disclaimer: This guide is software-agnostic.There are lots of great tools in the market but you should first focus on your strategy and the key points you want to adress in marketing automation. Choosing the right software will be way easier afterwards.
What Is Marketing Automation?
There are a lot of different definitions out there, but we can sum it up as follows: marketing automation is the combination of software and tactics used to attract prospects and convert those prospects into customers.
You can think of Amazon, which is frequently given as the perfect example. Depending on your age and gender, you are most likely to have seen targeted ads on your Facebook feed. If you click on one of them, you will land on a specific page, showing the right product. And, even if you don’t buy it at this time, it is likely to appear again, on another website’s ad banner. Additionally, if you subscribed to Amazon Prime and gave your consent for marketing emails, you might even receive a personalised one giving you information on related products, or notifying you of a discount.
That’s what marketing automation is about: orchestrating all those contextualized touch points, and present a frictionless and delightful experience to the customer, from the moment they click on the ad to the end of their purchase.
From a broader perspective,marketing automation includes other benefits. It saves time, scales marketing and sales efforts and offers the ability for better measurement of your return on investment.
Why Do You Need It?
Marketing automation should be at the core of your inbound strategy as it allows you to deliver a flow of leads to your website or sales team. Furthermore, marketing automation helps you nurture prospects for the long-term, which means focusing beyond a simple one-time sale, and transforming customers into promoters.
In order to do that, you want to create quality conversations, by sharing relevant content and offers, and maintaining consistency through all communication channels, in order to bring value to your customer and deliver a tailor-made experience through the buyer journey.
Getting to know this buyer journey will also bring you valuable insights on your potential customer’s behavior and the difference between the infamous cart abandonment and an actual purchase.
The Stages Of Your Funnel
At the core of your marketing automation strategy is the funnel, the mapping of the different stages of the buyer journey. Each company has a different funnel but they always follow the same structure:
The first step of your funnel will always be about creating leads, whether you do it via paid ads or search, or by attracting and engaging your customers with content marketing such as blogs or white papers. You can give this away for free, just ask for an email address and some basic information.The key here is to focus on delighting the user, create a first point of contact and start building trust.
The next step is all about qualifying and prioritizing. All the people that went to your website are not at the same level of interest or potential. Scoring each lead will give you the opportunity to better direct your sales efforts and handle each user with a specific workflow.
Bear in mind that scoring should assess two critical points:
- The qualification fit: How close this lead is to your ideal buyer, and how big will their LTV be.
- The level of interest: The probability that they will buy your product, you can assess this with their level of engagement, and the frequency at which they consume your content or go to your website.
LTV: the Lifetime Value is the prediction of the net profit attributed to the entire future relationship with a customer. It is typically compared to the Cost of Acquisition (CAC) as a way to measure the efficiency of your marketing/sales process.
Once you have attracted your customer and assessed their potential, you should start building trust and bring value to them. You can do so by sharing highly personalized and useful content.
What’s important to understand about this funnel is that customers may not be ready to buy just yet. Nurturing is all about respecting that, and focusing on engaging rather than selling.
This is of course the last step of your funnel, when you want to convert prospects to customers. Depending on your business model and if you are B2C or B2B, this will be handled directly on your website or by a dedicated sales team.