Marketing Automation

The two-way street for reaching new customers

For Many, Marketing Automation Is An Undiscovered Key To Growth

There is a lot of software out there for businesses, and their makers all seem to claim that they will make your business better.  Some do; some don’t.  So, the more you understand the use cases that you need for the software to do for you, the better purchase decisions you will make – a general rule of thumb.  Most small business owners understand how to do basic email and they know the purpose for a website to help communicate their business to their customers, but when it comes to business applications that are used to run your business there are a number of things you should consider as a small business owner.

This article focuses on the two steps to reaching new customers using marketing automation.

Marketing automation has been traditionally defined as a software solution to automate marketing communications to prospective customers.  The point is to get customers to respond to buy your products or services by sending them information about your products or services, and to answer their questions, using software.  You can do this through automated email, phone calls, text messages, and more, to regularly attempt to get prospective customers to respond and to learn more about your products.  And once they respond you can ask more questions about them to better understand if what they are looking for matches your product or service offerings.

That’s the way it used to work – but there’s more…

Today, marketing automation software goes beyond just pushing your message out to prospective customers.  You now can use marketing automation to listen to what prospective customers are saying about their needs through social channels.  If your automation software “picks up” signals that are related to what you offer, you can respond back, individually, automatically.  Social channels are two-way communications so, yes, you can respond.  In this way you are starting a conversation that the prospective customer actually wants to hear over a trusted medium.  Next thing you know, you have a new customer!

So how does marketing automation do all this?

The answer to this question really begins with your approach.  There are two types of marketing automation approaches:

Outbound Marketing Automation

The outbound marketing automation approach starts with a list.  You have to have a list of contacts in order to send a message to them.  Marketing automation software cannot always help you get lists, but some software solutions have enabled services to help get a list together, such as physical addresses, emails, or phone numbers.  Whichever way you get your list you will likely need to pay for it; even after buying marketing automation software, lists don’t come with it so plan for list acquisition.  Once you have a list of contacts you enter it into the marketing automation software.

Now you’re ready to use the marketing automation software to run campaigns to all or part of the list.  

The following actions are setup in the software for each campaign, in order to run the campaigns automatically:

  • You need create your campaign content and add it to the automation software.  The message is content that should be designed to communicate to everyone on the list.  Do not under estimate the effort required to get a good, strong, and powerful message written.  Get some help if you feel like you need to, as getting the content right is very important.  Keep in mind important attributes of a good message, such to include something to get their attention, as well as to offer an incentive in every message.  Also, include an actionable response so that it is extremely clear what they need to do to receive your offer.
  • You also need to prepare a response mechanism for call-to-action.  Usually this is the creation of a webpage, often referred to in marketing automation tools as a landing page.  This page will have a link that you can include in your message.  Once prospective customers click on your link they come to this page.  Design the page in the automation tool to include a consistent message tied to your campaign message, and always ask for more detail about the customer on the page so that you can begin to assess and to determine if they are someone that needs follow-up.
  • Even if you get some prospective customers to respond you still may not have enough information about them to know if they are a good prospect.  You can then use marketing automation again to set up nurturing campaigns to continue asking for more information, but to do so in a positive and incentive way.

During this entire process you can score activity of your communications with a customer.  Scoring can help objectively determine if a prospect is ready for a more meaningful conversation about what you offer.  This can help eliminate many, many phone calls that end up in either not being answered or in an awkward conversation when they didn’t expect your call.  The point is, the better qualified a prospect is through automation software, the more time will be spent by your sales team to have meaningful conversations; that means more sales deals in the same amount of time.

Inbound Marketing Automation

Today, many prospective customers are using social channels.  As such, they often express their needs, activities, and lives over social mediums.  Some of this information is publically available, and as such, there are marketing automation tools that can listen for keywords or phrases that may relate to your business over these channels.

Often also called, social marketing automation, these tools can capture a connection with individuals that ultimately may result in a new sales lead.  This approach does not require a list, nor does it require a dedicated campaign, but instead it just listens.  When a match in a conversation is made it triggers a response that send a message to the prospect, and if they respond again, they may just provide you with contact details that you can use to have a more formal conversation, as well as to use of outbound marketing tools to continue the conversation.