Picture it: You just finished setting up your marketing automation (or ‘M.A.’) and it’s running smoothly. Ah, what a relaxing time in the life of a marketer! You can now hop on a plane to Hawaii, kick back on the beach and sip Piña Coladas while your automation program does all the hard work. All that’s needed on your end is to occasionally check your email and read messages like “WOW, so many leads - GREAT JOB!!!” from your boss.
I hate to break it to you, but this has never happened. Ever. If it has, it most certainly did not work out well for whoever left the M.A. on autopilot. Yes, marketing automation will automate many tasks, but this is not in order to create less work for you. Rather, automating your processes enables you to perform more intricate and advanced marketing. In other words, it doesn’t mean less work - it means different work.
A Holistic Approach
If you just pressed the ON button and are wondering “why don’t I see a ton of leads?” then you’ve forgotten perhaps the most important part of the process. There are a lot of things that M.A. can do with contacts who have entered its system; however, you mustn’t overlook this aspect. Adding leads is an art in itself and will largely determine the success of your M.A. efforts. You need to make sure that you’re attracting the right people, nurturing them the right way, and selling them the right products. Think about it: If you’ve set up campaigns and workflows trying to sell basketball season tickets (go Raptors go!), what good will they be if the only people being added to your lists are interested in Fisher Price basketball nets?
This is not to say there isn’t a ton to learn when operating your marketing automation. All I’m saying is that you need to continually reevaluate what you’re doing outside your M.A. and how everything relates to one another. A more holistic approach will make sure that all of your marketing is working together towards the greater goal of adding more leads to your sales funnel. It’s like The Buddha teaches us: “All things appear and disappear because of the concurrence of causes and conditions. Nothing ever exists entirely alone; everything is in relation to everything else.”
And so, let’s take a look at different ways you can better leverage your content to give your M.A. the success it deserves.
Create Your Buyer Personas
If you haven’t created your buyer personas yet, drop everything and get to it. While you may think you have a good understanding of who you’re selling to, you’ll be surprised at how many blanks there are once you start to map this all out. Plus, if you’re not the only person on your marketing team, how can you guarantee that others have the same understanding?
Take the time to really get to know your buyers. Develop full profiles for them as though you were getting ready to write their biography. Figure out important info such as:
- Job title
- Authority within company
- Buying power (if can’t make the purchase then who can?)
- Company size
Once your buyer personas are created you will have a well-rounded understanding of exactly who you are targeting. Rather than a vague idea of who they are, you will be able to actually visualize these people and refer to them by name. You’d be surprised how many times I think of what seems like a great content idea and realize it’s not once I ask myself, “but is it right for Jimmy?”
This understanding will ultimately make it easier to create highly targeted content that attracts the right people. In turn, the visitors on your site will then be much more qualified when entering your M.A. and therefore be more relevant for your campaigns.
Be a Great Tour Guide
Relevant content isn’t just about appealing to a person’s interests; it’s also about being there wherever they might be along your sales funnel. This is extra important because it can make or break your relationship with a person if you’re being too forward (or not forward enough).
Let’s say you produce a ton of content about your industry and you’ve attracted a lot of potential leads to your site who are now engaged with your brand (top of the funnel content). You’ve done such a great job that a good chunk of those leads have become customers. These people are now lower in the funnel and so they now need different types of content. Don’t keep sending them content that’s making a case for your product - they’re already sold! You’ll now need to send blog posts, videos, guides and more that will ensure that they will be successful with your product and become advocates.
Similarly, if someone is just casually reading up on your content, continue to send items that appeal to this level of engagement. If all you send their way are messages like “UPGRADE NOW” and “USE PROMO CODE X8J27S AND SIGN UP TODAY” it will be too much too soon. Yes, that might be the end goal of your content, but you’ll need to work gradually towards that point. After all, the beauty of marketing automation is that even if it takes 4 months to go from discovering your brand to becoming a customer, you can create campaigns that will automatically lead people through this process.
Have Multiple Entry Points
Think about the last time you visited a big store like Walmart. Could you imagine just one line for all customer inquiries? What gets you to the help you need quicker (well, at least tries to) is that there are different areas for different needs. There’s a desk for returns/exchanges, another for photography, another for electronics, another for checking out and so on. This is a logical way to organize a large store: Have multiple sections where customers can go in order to get the help they need.
Think of your website like it’s Walmart. Many people with different needs will be coming to your site, and so you’ll need to cater to these differences as well. Your content might vary based on buyer persona and stage in the funnel, but what about when a visitor is ready to make contact with you? If you only have one generic call-to-action (CTA) for people to fill out their information, they’ll all be sent to the same spot within your marketing automation. When you’re spending so much effort trying to personalize the experience, this approach doesn’t really make much sense, does it?
You’ll need to have multiple CTAs that ensure you’re setting up a great foundation with new contacts when they come into your M.A. flow. For top of the funnel visitors, encourage them to subscribe to your blog. Have another CTA for those lower in the funnel encouraging them to speak to an account manager. Or, have neither of these if they don’t match your objectives and processes. The point is, be strategic with how leads come into your M.A. in order to properly nurture them throughout the sales cycle. If you truly understand where and why a person gave you an email address, it will be easier to determine which touchpoints they will need along the way in order to sign on the dotted line.
Now Get To Work!
As great as technology is getting, we’re not quite at the point where it can intelligently understand humans (and, if you’ve seen the Terminator series, let’s hope it stays that way). I like to think that we are able to know when a person or a machine is speaking to us. We can use M.A. to improve our marketing but let’s not forget that it helps our marketing; it doesn’t replace it.