The Road to Full Scale Marketing Automation

One of the top trends I mentioned in my article at the start of the year was marketing automation.

Marketing automation refers to software platforms and technologies built for marketing departments and organisations to more effectively segment and target multiple channels online (such as email, social media, websites, etc.) and automate repetitive tasks for the purposes of both acquisition and retention.

Normally marketing automation takes the form of a CRM database. Rather than a mass email being distributed to all contacts within a database more targeted emails are created and contacts within the database are segmented into various buying cycles, industries and customer lifecycles. Automation of the scoring of these contacts allows companies to set rules and thresholds based on their digital behaviour or stored data in the Customer Relationship Management tool.

A key activity in marketing automation is the distribution of targeted content on the various channels and through email around these segments. The scoring system element of marketing automation is particularly effective for complicated B2B high risk purchases in building trust and credibility to nurture them through the sales process and education them on aspects of their purchase and surrounding topics.

However marketing automation is expensive and there are many stages that a business must go through before it is ready to commence marketing automation as the suite of tools for integrated marketing automation can be exorbitantly expensive. *These are the list prices for the most popular marketing automation tools (as of 11th February 2015); Pardot; €1,000 per month, Eloqua; $2,000 per month, Hubspot; $1,920 per month.  Marketo; €800 per month.

So marketing automation sounds wonderful, but most businesses are not at that stage yet to justify that expenditure, how do businesses scale and grow their busienss without a marketing automation tool?

Database Development

Making marketing automation cost effective is about building a quality database. It is important for businesses to always be mindful and alert for opportunities to acquire quality relevant contacts into their database LEGALLY! By law people need to have explicitly opted in to receiving promotional messages from you.

Here are a few ways we have worked with our clients to increase their databases:

  • Business card bowl for signing up to email marketing at events.
  • Newsletter widget on every page of the website.
  • On contact us forms include an option to add to email database.
  • Sales team that are focused on lead nurturing and understand that an email opt in is a result even if there is no immediate sale.
  • Create a whitepaper or tool that requires signing up to an email to access the content.
  • Include on the bottom of every blog a call to action to sign to receive regular content.
  • On all sales collateral include a call to action to sign up to ezine.
  • Reward your database with exclusive content that is added value or educational. If there is content in your email that cannot be accessed anywhere else, it is more likely that people will forward the email on to those it thinks will be interested in the content. Example if you are an accountancy firm, having a whitepaper only accessible via your email about the tax implications of the Country’s Budget on your target audience in the ICT sector is juicy valuable content.

Database Cleansing

Building database is one thing but there will be a natural decay of your database. Particularly for businesses, people move organisations and for work related communication they will be likely to have signed up on their organisation email when they are no longer working for the organisation their email is deactivated. Don’t over-estimate the quality of your database if emails are bouncing back/ not delivering  it is important to remove them to keep your database clean and data is skewed.

Database Segmentation

For many organisations there is no segmentation of a database, there could be thousands of contacts but there is nothing that sets them apart. It is vital that a CRM is used. We recommend that you adopt a CRM system as soon as possible if you haven’t already done so. This will ensure that before your database becomes too big that you have already started the segmentation process and that your data is giving you the business intelligence to make informed better decisions on both your marketing and sales efforts.

Conclusion

The destination of marketing automation for many SME businesses may be a long road ahead, but the principles and techniques of marketing automation can be adopted on a smaller scale. We design and implement marketing programmes that directly contribute to the sales process maximising Return on Investment from CRM systems.

If you believe that you would benefit from a bespoke marketing programme or need help with configuring your CRM, why not give me a call or send me an email aoife@imsmarketing.ie and find out how you can adopt the marketing automation approach.

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