We are all seeking a way to scale personal attention. The great promise of marketing automation has always been that it enables you to trigger messages based on a visitors actions on your site, ideally sending messages when they are most relevant, rather than spam. The promise of marketing automation has contributed to it having the fastest growth of any CRM-related segment in the last five years (Focus Research). But despite its rapid growth, Marketing Automation has not yet achieved that goal.
In fact, in a 2011 Genius survey, more than 50% of respondents said they had not yet realized the value of their investment in marketing automation. True to its name,it remains a largely robotic function, only reflecting a fraction of the customers interests and preferences. If marketing automation tools are to remain useful they need to place the customers their needs and best interests at the heart of their strategies.
Marketing automation doesnt add to your email lists
Each year there is a natural decay that happens in marketing email lists that reduces the effectiveness of email marketing as an influencer. In B2B marketing on average after 1 year, lists only retain 75% of their members due to turnover at companies and other factors. Marketing lists have a tendency to expire at a rate of 25% a year. Any email tool which relies too heavily on the quality of lists is limited by this overturn.
Marketing automation doesnt take priority inbox or other filters into account
Email recipients have more tools than ever before to filter out unwanted communications. Auto- filters and priority inboxes each sift out marketing emails and push them out of immediate eyesight. As a result, your deliverability statistics may not change, but your emails are indeed getting skipped.
Marketing automation doesnt leverage other channels
Marketing automation to this point has been limited to the email inbox. Yet leads and customers are more and more looking outside of the inbox to research their purchase decisions. In fact, research from iMedia shows that 93% of B2B buyers use search to begin the buying process and 37% post questions on social networking sites when looking for suggestions. As a result, most marketing automation has little influence when people are actively researching products and services. Peer reviews, social media, and search are all major players in prospects decision process.
The one thing that has redefined marketing strategy today more than anything else has been the shift of control to the customer. The proliferation of social media tools and online tools help leads decide on their own schedule and using their own combination resources. In fact, Gartner Research projects that by 2020 customers will manage 85% of their relationship without talking to a human.
The primary need that leads and customers have in their research is for useful and timely information. Our role as marketers should be to help customers get all of the information they need and ease their decision process.
Marketing automation doesnt reflect the complete customer experience
Over the course of a leads interactions with your company, you learn a lot about their interests, challenges and timing. You should be gathering social, website, blog, purchase history and behavioral information on your leads and prospects - so make sure you put it to good use. Marketing automation programs should reflect that data. If you take the time up front to understand what your audience wants, then theyll be more receptive to you.
Marketing automation often ignores your best customers
Too many marketers stop targeting communications after the lead has converted into a customer, missing opportunities to deepen the customer relationship and drive repeat purchases and upgrades. A comprehensive inbound marketing strategy should continue to personalize communications based on customer experiences.
When run well, marketing automation should provide leads and customers with exactly what they need and nothing more. It should be interesting, relevant, and useful. One of the biggest errors with marketing automation tools has to do with the content strategy, not the tool itself. Without smart, tailored, useful content marketing automation is just an intelligent spamming tool. Too many marketing automation programs today have neglected this central tenet.
Marketing automation can result in multiple emails with the same content
In an automated email campaign, each email should offer value. Lead nurturing campaigns should not be an excuse for you to deliver the same content again and again. Make sure every email has distinct content, value and goals. It's fine to have your email campaign build and refer to past emails, but don't reuse.
Marketing automation sends irrelevant content
Make sure that the information provided in your marketing automation campaigns matches the expressed interests of the recipients. If they have converted into a lead because of a particular product or topic area, your content should reflect that. Dont rush your leads or move into another topic area before theyve demonstrated interest in it.
Marketing that doesnt feel like a sin
Too often the pressure of converting leads and driving sales encourages marketing departments to take short-cuts or harass their leads into a conversion. Too often tools like marketing automation lead us to communicate using the very same methods that drive us crazy in our lives as customers. Its time to change that. There are two principles that should guide your marketing automation program. Marketing automation should (1) reflect the changing and evolving customer, and (2) enable you to run they type of marketing programs that wont make you feel slimy. Marketing automation should enhance personal attention, not replace it.
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In the past, most marketing automation platforms worked in the same way. Marketers would sit down in front of an interface and draw out a tree of actions to take based on something a lead did on their website. A lead submitted a form? Draw out a set of steps they should go through. A lead clicked on a link in an email? Draw out a different set of steps.
Building something like this is intuitive for marketers, but what does it really look like from the perspective of the people you marketed to? It means that if I fill out one landing page here, I get one set of emails there. If I click on a link here, Im in a different campaign, getting another set of emails. One action swings the entire campaign, and if I end up in more than one campaign, Im getting a confusing mix of emails.
The truth is that this old style of marketing automation is deeply flawed.
1. Old marketing automation ignores the fact that your leads and contacts arent working their way through your campaigns in isolation. If your marketing is working the way it should be, your leads arent just sitting, waiting for your emails - they are engaging you through social media, and searching for your brand on Google, and finding their way back to all kinds of different pages on your website. Because the old style of marketing automation treats your leads as if they exist in a vacuum, your marketing comes across as tone-deaf, irrelevant, and irritating.
2. Old marketing automation is heavily dependent on email. Sure - personalizing the message your leads see in the emails they receive from you is important - but what about everything else that you are doing? What about your website, mobile, social, and every other way youre engaging your leads? Because the old style of marketing automation relies too heavily on email, you're missing the whole universe of interactions your leads are having outside of their inboxes.
3. Old marketing automation isnt buyer-centric. At all. It ignores the fact that marketing is the process of interacting with real people. When a visitor comes to your website and downloads a whitepaper, that one action shouldnt define them - it should be one of many things that contributes to your understanding of who they are. After all, these are real people we are working with - not numbers. When your marketing isn't buyer-centric, your leads end up feeling like all that matters to you is selling to them -- not solving their problems, earning their trust, or building a relationship that will last after the shopping cart's been cleared.
When HubSpot set out to build our all new nurturing and automation tools, we set out to do something different. We wanted to build marketing tools that work with the way that people actually interact with your company. You know -- the way humans actually behave.
Lets take a look at how your approach to marketing with HubSpots would work.
With HubSpot, youll create marketing thats truly customized to each individual, every step of the way. So marketing automation in HubSpot doesnt begin with a just one triggering action, like a click on a link, or the opening of an email. It starts with two things - a persona (who is this person? who are they really?) and a lifecycle stage (how is this person thinking about me and my products right now?). In short, HubSpot starts off by recognizing the person, not the number.
Lets take a look at an example from a fictional HubSpot customer - a software company that sells a project management software for architects and contractors.
Here, you can see your two personas on the left - architects and contractors. Because these are two different audiences with different uses for the product, different interests and concerns, well want to market to them differently.
At the bottom, you see your lifecycle stages. Those represent where your leads are in the buying process. Some are still researching, while some are ready to buy. Your marketing needs to take that into account too.
Each of the six boxes in the grid represents a segment that youll want to market to differently. Leads will receive more informative, educational content that helps to build trust and respect for your brand, while marketing-qualified leads receive more product specific information, like an offer to download a project management software buyers guide. Customers are marketed to with upselling opportunities, and content thats designed to keep them engaged with your brand.
Making sure that your contacts are assigned to the correct persona and lifecycle stage in HubSpot is easy to do. Your personas and lifecycle stages can be as simple or complex as you want, as can the rules that decide which persona and stage a lead gets assigned to. And once those rules are in place, all of the contacts in the system will always be assigned to the right category, automatically.
Now, lets take a look at how we can actually market to these different segments in different ways.
Weve mapped out six different segments that we should build out automation campaigns for. Well start with the largest and most important segment first, and build the more granular campaigns out over time, refining our campaigns as we learn more about what works. This is another way that HubSpots strategy and tools are designed to grow with you over time.
Architect Aaron leads represent the biggest segment, so well start there. Because all of my contacts are already categorized by persona and lifecycle stage, it only takes a couple of clicks to set up this segment.
Now that we have a list of all the leads who fall into that bucket, well build a workflow that will deliver a mix of email content Ive selected that I know this segment will love. Its easy to add as many steps to the workflow as I want, each with the appropriate delay. Workflows can do other things too - like notifying the leads owner on my sales team when a lead has finished the campaign. Ive made heavy use of the personalization features in HubSpots email tool, so each email feels even more like a one-to-one communication, and less like a canned marketing email. The email mentions the name, the vertical that the lead commonly works in, and the email looks like its coming from a particular sales rep that owns the lead. The landing pages are heavily customized for Architect Aaron too, using language and images that he can relate to.
Lets take things a step further. As we know, Architect Aaron isnt only opening the emails or visiting the landing pages we are sending him - he is making his way to our content and to different parts of our website through social media, organic search, and other channels. Wouldnt it be great if you could personalize that part of his experience too? With HubSpot, its easy to do. In fact, youve already done most of the work!
Using the call-to-action tool in HubSpot, its easy to show Aaron the customized images and calls to action that really speak to the things he cares about most. Since youve already set up your list, its as simple as creating the new call-to-action, dropping the code where we want it on your website, and assigning it to the architect aaron segment we built just a minute ago.
Now, when Architect aaron comes to your homepage, or any other part of your website where youve installed the call to action code, hell see the customized content youve chosen to show him. You can set up as many segments as you want, showing customized content to contractor charlie leads, and other segments. You can also create a fallback CTA that youll display when you dont yet know enough about a visitor to customize the content to their tastes.
Lets take a step back and look at what weve just accomplished. We took everything we know about our leads and prospects from all sorts of different channels - data from forms, information we imported from offline sources, our web analytics data, social media information, and much more - and used all of that information to create a highly personalized experience for our contacts that spans across all of the different channels we use to communicate with them. What kind of an experience does that mean for our contacts?
Rather than receiving arbitrary messages based on one or two actions they took on our website, every email from us is based on who they really are, what they are interested in, and takes where they are in the buying process into consideration.
Instead of seeing a disconnected set of messages - one message in a personalized email, and a generic message on our website, our contacts saw the same message from our brand everywhere they found us. In email, on our website, on landing pages, even in our mobile app.
When all of these pieces come together, you have the opportunity to deliver messages that feel less like generic, action-triggered emails, and more like meaningful one-on-one communications.
With HubSpot, your marketing isnt based on arbitrary decisions - its based on data. ALL OF THE DATA. No more guessing about what the next best step is if someone does or doesnt click on a link in a single email, or if they do or dont fill out just one little landing page.
With HubSpot, its easy to tell what youre saying to a contact at any given time. There isnt a tangled mess of branches - you can easily see what persona and lifecycle stage this contact is in, and how they are being marketed to.
With HubSpot, its easy to understand whats working and what isnt over time. Using HubSpots robust analytics, you can immediately tell if one segment is underperforming, and make the right changes that will allow you to test new messages and strategies.
With HubSpot, updating workflows is a snap. No navigating through deep reports and tangled branches to figure out where the message is that needs to be changed. Its all in one linear campaign thats easy to follow and update.
HubSpots new tools were built for the future of marketing, not the past. Youll be able to apply a holistic approach to marketing automation that actually works with real, living, breathing human beings. An inbound approach that collects rich profiles about each of your contacts, and uses that information to personalize every aspect of your marketing. And the marketing automation tools are just one small part of the complete suite of tools from HubSpot that make it easy to build a healthy, clean, and ever-growing database of contacts to market to. Its an inbound approach that delivers marketing people love.
As much promise as marketing automation has held, the practice of it has fallen short not just for marketers, but also for the end-recipients. It is that latter shortfall that needs to drive our re-examination of marketing automation.
Calling for a set of commandments is admittedly a bit hyperbolic, but if adoption of marketing automation is going to continue to grow at a break-neck speed, we have to address some of the issues inherent to its use. We have to demand better standards from our technology and the marketers who use it.
Many marketing automation systems today have neglected the key principal of good marketing in favor of volume. We think its a sin. The following is a breakdown of our proposal for Ten New Commandments of Marketing Automation.
One of the central concepts behind inbound marketing strategy is that helpful, valuable content will always win out over sales pitches. Pay attention to which types of content resonate the most with your leads, and, if possible, after the lead has converted on a form, try to prevent them from having to fill out any more forms for content.
Gleanster reports that 50% of qualified leads are not ready to purchase immediately. If you push them through a series of hard-sell emails, youll likely lose them. Instead, think of yourself as a consultant. Send them resources and useful tips to help them decide.
For B2B companies, your job is not only to work with your individual lead, but also to provide them with information to help them get internal approval to purchase your product or service. Send them useful tools to help explain the benefit of purchasing your product or service to others.
A comprehensive inbound marketing strategy should closely reflect the customer lifecycle. It should enable prospects to control how and when they navigate the buying process and reframe marketing as a source of information and support rather than a pushy sales pitch. Marketing automation is just one tool in this process and shouldnt replace the full strategy.
Attract Leads: Instead of attacking prospects with a series of ads and direct mail, attract them by creating useful and interesting content that is relevant to their interests. Then optimize that content for search, making it easier for prospects in need to find you.
Nurture leads: Once leads have expressed interest, leverage what you know about their interests and needs to send them tailored communications and help them decide about your service or product. Again, these communications should serve the lead, not interrupt them.
Marketers jobs are not done after the point of purchase. Continue to trigger tailored communications after the point of sale to help the customer get the most out of their purchase, encourage brand advocates, and offer help to those struggling with your product.
No matter how strong an individual piece of technology is, the success or failure of a lead nurturing campaign will still rest on the quality of the content you are delivering. Content, therefore, must be the backbone of any marketing automation strategy. Are you providing value? Are you pushing things further? These questions are inherent to good marketing.
Buyers control how and when they interact with your company, and more and more they are navigating their decision process outside of the confines of your website and your exclusive set of marketing campaigns. To truly be relevant, lead nurturing and email campaigns need to take into account buyers experiences across multiple channels and platforms. For example, if an individual has downloaded a whitepaper, thats one thing, but what about if they tweet about it too? That indicates an additional level of interest.
Additionally, you should be triggering communications based on all the types of content a lead has viewed and not just the forms he or she has submitted. For example, we want to know that a person has signed up for a free trial, but what if they signed up for a free trial and primarily looked at one content type on your site? That information can help you provide an even more personalized experience to your leads, and should also be available to your sales team so that they know in advance what your lead was looking for. You should consider all of the avenues that someone could use to find your content..
Make sure that anyone receiving your communications can view it no matter what browser or application they are using. In order to gain significant traffic, your emails and site need to be compatible with multiple browsers and devices.
Most marketing automated emails have yet to embrace the fact that there is a large percentage of their population checking email on their phones. Did you know that 86% of C-level executives have a Smartphone and it is their primary communication tool? Many of these automated emails, when viewed by mobile devices, are either cut off by the browser, too small to read, or block important contextual images. When you fail to optimize for mobile, you are missing out on a huge opportunity to communicate with a vast number of potential customers.
Marketing Automation is a piece of inbound marketing, to help you simplify your workflow and help you market smarter to an engaged audience. To learn more about marketing automation and how to integrate it into a marketing strategy, download our free ebook, "The 10 Commandments of Marketing Automation".
Examples of Marketing Automation HubSpot: #3 in the 20 Most Popular Marketing Automation Software platforms HubSpot Blog Posts on Marketing Automation "Could this be the death of Marketing Automation?"