Marketing automation is software that handles routine marketing tasks without the need for human action. Common marketing automation workflows include email marketing, behavioral targeting, lead prioritization, and personalized advertising. By automating these tasks, teams can work better together, provide more personalized, relevant content to prospects and customers, and save time.
Because often, there’s no top-of-the-funnel foundation put in place to support middle-of-the-funnel marketing automation. Marketers won’t have the ingredients they need for effective marketing automation until they have a steady flow of leads. Too many marketers without inbound lead generation strategies spend their time figuring out how to take the tiny fraction of the market they already have in their database, and squeeze more out of them. While they’re doing that, their competition is figuring out how to get more out of the 99.99% of the market that’s still out there.
Do you have all the existing leads needed to hit your revenue goals in your database already? Are you getting your fair share of the available market?
Even if your database is currently filled with quality leads, how effective will your marketing automation be when you’ve either converted all those leads into customers or when your database begins decaying by ~22.5%/year?
Understanding that a large database of leads is required for marketing automation to have any effect on their bottom line, many marketers end up buying lists of contacts to nurture with marketing automation. This spammy tactic produces incredibly low ROI. Along with the cost of buying these lists, sending unsolicited emails to people who have never requested any information from you leads to low engagement and hurts your IP address reputation, lowering your email deliverability rates.
Don't invest in marketing automation before you have fertile ground for nurturing campaigns to blossom.
Traditional marketing automation often refers to triggering emails based on time delays or actions like email opens and email clicks. But is an email click alone enough data to execute a personalized lead nurturing strategy?
Marketing automation strategies that offer limited data like this to the marketer often result in bad marketing automation. You need context about who leads are and what they’re interested in to give prospects a good experience.
Marketing automation backed by an inbound strategy is centered around the prospect. Inbound marketing automation uses all the information we know about a person to inform the automation strategy, so we deliver the information they need to make a purchase, exactly when they need that information, in the place they’re looking for it.
Good marketing automation takes into account the evolving needs of your leads, and the behaviors and interactions they have with you across all of your marketing channels. Not just email. Using behavioral inputs from multiple channels such as social media, viewing a pricing page, or consuming a particular piece of content gives marketers the context they need to fully understand a lead’s challenges.
The most effective marketing automation also uses those various channels -- beyond email -- to communicate. That means the success of your campaign relies less on email, and fully utilizes the various channels that influence a buyer’s decision.
If you’re publishing good content, generating a steady flow of new, organic leads, and you’re ready to scale your efforts, chances are it’s time to focus your efforts on a marketing automation strategy that will nurture quality leads into paying customers. Here are some good questions to ask yourself when deciding if marketing automation is the right move for your business:
- Are you generating a steady flow of new and qualified leads
- Has Marketing and Sales agreed on what conversations should happen with marketing and which with sales?
- Do you have a content strategy mapped to your buyer’s journey
- Are you tracking your leads’ digital body language across every touchpoint and marketing channel (not just email)?
- Do you have a proven lead nurturing strategy that you want to scale?
These are all good signs that marketing automation could work for your business. The key here is understanding that marketing automation does not do marketing for you, but can help scale your successful efforts.
When considering a marketing automation solution, don't focus on the individual features -- focus on the business results and the long-term partnership.
Here are some resources to help you make your strategic decision.