Tag Archives: Sales funnel

The Director’s Guide To Marketing Automation

Marketing Automation Inbound Leads

If you’re not taking marketing automation seriously and incorporating it into your overall strategy, the chances are that you’re selling your company short. Last year:

  • 51% of companies used some form of marketing automation, with 58% of B2B companies having implementation plans in place.
  • 63% of professionals planned to raise their marketing budgets for automation.
  • 4 out of 5 marketers saw automation as a critical part of their overall success.

With this said, the term automation invokes a lot of fear and anxiety in the uninitiated, from people not looking forward to learning new platforms to worrying about their job security. 

In reality, though, marketing automation is less about supplanting professionals, and more about removing tedium and busywork from their daily operations. Here’s a top-down look on how to understand and utilize marketing automation in your business.

What Is Marketing Automation?
In essence, marketing automation is an umbrella term for using different software platforms to automate aspects of marketing activities. The marketing team puts together an overall strategy, or workflow, for the software, which it then executes to provide automated communications across a variety of different channels.

On paper, it seems easy, but don’t make the mistake of thinking that marketing automation is a replacement for a well-planned strategy. Marketing automation lives or dies off of the nature of the workflows that you create. As a result, you need to know your audience, and what they respond to or your investment in the process won’t pay off. 

Along with this, you need a solid CRM with prospects in your database to increase ROI with marketing automation. If you have a small existing list of leads, you’re going to see diminishing returns. At the same time, if you buy a cheap list of potential leads and use marketing automation to spam them, you’re just going to hurt your brand’s reputation. So, before implementing marketing automation, have a plan in place to handle database/lead decay.

Replacing Common Platforms
One of the major benefits of using marketing automation is that it allows you to replace a multitude of software platforms. A change like this also means more capacity for your marketing team to dedicate on additional tactics. Here are a few examples worth looking at:

Lead Forms: These used to be the gold standard when it came to lead collection. They consisted of attaching a lead form to something like an e-book or another type of enticing content. The lead’s information would then go into an accompanying database, which compiled warm leads to mine. In the past, this process would be quite time-consuming, from setting up the form to filtering for people who may have filled things out incorrectly. Skipping these steps with automation means you spend less time combing through the database and more time figuring out how to grow it.

Landing Pages: Marketing automation generally serves as the middle of a marketing funnel, helping convert prospects from the lead lists you create to the moment of conversion. For many businesses, landing pages are that point of conversion. Where marketing automation helps is cutting out a lot of the work of data collection (using heatmaps, checking KPIs) to see how your landing pages are performing. Automatically forward people to your landing pages, and see if your marketing is creating an effective bridge from lead generation to conversion.

Email: Replacing email outright isn’t necessarily what marketing automation is about, but more about ending the back and forth process that comes with an email campaign. For example, if someone doesn’t respond to your marketing email at first, it’s generally good practice to send a followup. However, drafting the email and remembering to send it can be a vexing task. Marketing automation allows you to set this all up in advance. Not only does it mean less tasking work, but it also ensures you’re not sending extra emails to prospects that don’t need them.

As a final note, statistically speaking, custom/dynamic automated marketing performs the best out of all automated marketing. And it’s pretty easy to understand why: it helps differentiate you from conventional sales/marketing copy, while also allowing you to target individual customer needs. Marketing automation is also a major timesaver when it comes to dynamic content. For example, you can:

  • Set when your marketing emails/communications will be sent based on past prospect actions.
  • Set different fields in your communications to account for names, companies, and other information. 
  • Add unique imagery/product suggestions based on past behavior.

Marketing Automation And Your Sales Funnel
So let’s say that you’re confident about using marMarketing Funnel Growthketing automation, and are ready to start implementing it. How exactly do you integrate this workflow into your existing sales funnel? Remember, as we mentioned earlier, marketing automation does a lot of work in the middle of the sales funnel. But, you also need to integrate multiple touch points at the top and bottom of the funnel to see the full impact.

How many touch points do you need? It will vary based on the clients, but here are some of the most common examples.

Phone calls: Whether this is a cold call or a followup to an in-person meeting, these are generally the starting point for a lot of sales funnels, especially for big-ticket purchases or services.

Emails: Often, these are the most effective ways to regularly contact a prospect with followup for answering questions and reinforcing services to help convert a sale. You can also use this as a reminder or to let them know about other opportunities.

Social media: Social media as a touch point may seem a bit odd but think of it as the touch point before the touch point. If you reach out to a prospect cold, they may not be interested in your service at that moment and turn you away. Doing things like providing them content on social media and engaging with them in a personal manner will warm them up to your offerings.

So, how does marketing automation come into play here? You can create a workflow based on a prospect liking a series of posts. Then, automatically, send a followup email right after the database triggers the actions of liking the posts. This approach hits multiple touch points for a fraction of the work, meaning it’s easier to personalize the marketing and connect with more prospects.

Marketing automation has gone from a novelty for many businesses to an essential tool. The ability to simplify a multitude of tasks not only helps streamline the workflow of your marketing team but also saves time. However, there are still two main touch points that you’ll need to overcome to transition into automation:

  • Finding a seamless way to transfer from legacy systems.
  • Implementing if you don’t have a marketing team or agency partner.

In both cases, working with a veteran marketing agency like Glint Advertising is your ideal solution. We can help provide consultation and resources for you to move your marketing strategy toward automation.

Narrow Vs. Broad Marketing

Broad_Narrow_Marketing_HeaderOne of the fundamental things that every marketing professional learns early on is the importance of targeting an audience with your content. In addition, trying to be everything to all people rarely leads to results due to competition increases and individual expectations. After all, it’s hard to justify a brand if it doesn’t connect with you. 

However, something that doesn’t get talked about nearly as much is when the opposite situation happens, and you get too specific. For example, if you target a very distinct niche of customers, you may grab their attention, but you also may be building your company on a flimsy foundation. If something happens to lower that pool of customers or competition appears, suddenly, you may not have enough conversions to sustain your business.

Figuring out how to manage this is a tough balancing act for many marketers, but it’s also time well spent. Here are some of the elements you need to consider when deciding on a narrow or broad marketing focus.

Narrow Marketing: Pros and Cons
Narrow marketing primarily uses the idea of “being the best to a certain audience” and takes it to the next level. Essentially, all of your marketing content is going to be tailored to a particular niche. For example, if you are an educational software provider, you’re going to try and choose a subset of education to try and reach out. Do you expect your target audience to be mainly teachers? Administrators? Students? Parents? A narrow marketing focus would generally take 1 or 2 of these options and focus on those. If people from other niches get on board, that’s great, but more of a bonus.

The main pro of a narrow marketing focus is that you’re much more likely to get qualified leads and results this way. By putting out more specific content/marketing material, the people who end up reacting to it likely already have either deeper ties or a greater understanding of the niche you want to service. Following up on our previous example, if you were trying to market educational software to teachers and focus a lot of your messaging on teaching-related issues, that audience knows you understand their needs. A focus like this builds authority for your company and increases your opportunity for conversions.

An additional benefit of going narrow that may not be widely known is that, in some ways, it can be easier to put together materials. By comparison, working on broad marketing requires you to draw on information for a variety of different customer segments, which can be difficult if you don’t have the experience. 

With narrow marketing, you can focus all of your data collection and research on one particular customer niche. Know them inside-and-out, and you’ll be able to put together the marketing materials that interest them.

The major drawback of using narrow marketing, though, is that you’re going to see fewer results overall. Fewer results make sense, considering that your targeted marketing, by nature, isn’t going to be addressing some of these other niches and customer segments. The major issue here, though, is that if your marketing misses the mark with that segment, you have nothing to fall back on. The margin for error is far smaller with narrow marketing. 

Broad Marketing: Pros and Cons
Alternatively, broad marketing casts a wide net when it comes to putting together materials. As mentioned before, you can’t be all things to all people. However, you can market a product or service on traits that have as broad an appeal as possible. Good examples of this include competitive pricing and ease of use. 

Let’s revisit that educational software example. The niches of administrators, teachers, students, and parents may all want different things out of their software. Therefore, a broad marketing approach might focus on things like pricing or the number of options within the software suite. These are traits all four categories will find appealing.

The major benefit of using a broad marketing focus is its ability to provide an abundance of results. Giving something for multiple customer segments to latch on to means that even if you don’t reach everyone in that segment, you’re likely to have more interest and impressions overall. Multiple impressions are important for companies in the starting stage that need to build a large customer base at first. In time, that base will likely whittle down to a few major customers, but you’ll want to have as large a pool as possible to start your foundation for selling.

Another advantage of the broad strategy is that it may provide insight into new marketing demographics for your business that you don’t currently know. This approach is often common for pieces of hardware, where you may be targeting one customer segment, but an entirely unrelated one finds it useful for a purpose. The ability to unintentionally stumble on a new audience is an appealing draw for any marketer.

The major issue with broad marketing, though, is that no matter how powerful your message is, you’re only going to get a fraction of those interested customers to convert. As they go through the sales funnel, customers might be interested in your competition or realize that your product/service isn’t exactly what they need. With a narrower campaign, customers that enter the funnel are more likely to convert.

Focus On Viability And Need
So, with all of this said, how should you approach deciding whether to go narrow or broad? In some cases, it may be a case of using both. Many marketing strategies for new campaigns will intentionally go broader at first. An approach like this Marketing_Focus_Sideview_Mirroris often used when launching a new product because it can provide pivotal information to gauge interest in your campaign. In some cases, going broad and then very narrow may be able to provide interest from customers outside of your primary audience. For example, an initial email blast can be a great way to apply this approach. 

If you need to get customer attention and continue to work on persuasion, a more detailed and tailored message to drive that persuasion will be required. For example, if you plan on using content marketing to drive conversions, you want to focus on material that’s tailored to a more specific niche. Trying to go broader here will lead to weaker results because your topics have likely already been covered.

It’s important to make sure that you don’t fall into the trap of “winner vs. loser” when it comes to making a decision on a narrow or broad marketing focus. Also, based on your budget and resources, one may be more viable than the other. The best way to decide on your focus is to have a well-thought-out plan when it comes to your desired objectives and how to reach them.

If you find that your marketing plan, broad or narrow, isn’t giving the results you want, you may want to consider outside help with a skilled marketing agency, like Glint Advertising. By taking a look at your current goals and marketing plans, we can help you determine if a narrow or broad focus is best for your needs. Email us at agency@glintadv.com or, better yet, give us a call at 817-616-0320 to get some additional insights.