By Chuck Leddy
If marketers are like hikers on a journey (to ROI, perhaps), marketing automation offers great navigational tools, providing the binoculars of real-time data visibility and a value-adding combination of detailed map (automated campaign design) and handy compass (data monitoring). In an earlier blog post, we described seven massive benefits of marketing automation (MA). One of the biggest is the ability to generate (and then nurture/manage) more and better leads.
Generating leads is, of course, an essential marketing function (even if a shared one). According to a report from the Content Marketing Institute, generating high quality sales leads is the single most important metric for B2B marketers. Companies that adopt marketing automation are simply more effective in generating, nurturing, managing, and converting leads into revenue. The trail isn’t always easy, as 98% of leads never convert into a single dollar. Marketers and organizations must therefore work smarter to drive higher conversion rates, and that’s where MA comes into play.
Unify and Standardize Lead Management Processes
When it comes to generating and managing leads, marketing and sales, as well as your entire organization, needs to have a single source of truth and be reading from the same playbook. Misalignment leads to those 98% of leads that go nowhere. Using standardized, integrated processes for lead management is the first, fundamental step that marketing automation enables.
MA gives your team a set of shareable digital tools, allowing you to take control of lead generation in an integrated and data-enabled way no matter where the customer journey goes. The trail needs to be clearly mapped out beforehand for everybody within your organization too, from how you’ll convert website visitors into qualified leads, to scoring and assigning follow up on those leads, to automating outreach/communication efforts, to nurturing those leads over time with personalized content, and more. MA helps you at every turn, increasing a lead’s sales qualification until they’re ready to buy. MA plugs the holes in your funnel, so more than a paltry 2% of your leads generate revenue.
Importantly, the fact that the lead generation process is automated allows you to design the lead flow in advance. Marketers using MA can even leverage emerging technologies like AI and machine learning to work in smarter, more personalized ways when generating and nurturing their leads. Technological tools and marketing people blend, both doing what they do best.
3 Simple Tools for Lead Generation
We know that the vast majority of leads are not sales-ready but will need to be nurtured over time. Forrester found that companies that excel at lead nurturing generate 50% more sales-ready leads at 33% lower cost per lead, and automation helps you excel. Mary Wallace, Director, Marketing Technology at UBM, explains that “a multi-touch nurture program will keep the customer’s needs at the forefront of every message and continue to engage them until they are ready for sales.” Here are some basic tools to start down the trail:
- Landing pages and conversion forms. The customer journey has to start somewhere, and it’s usually here, where your customer first finds you and shares information you can then use for reaching out via MA and your CRM. Once you’ve gotten to know your leads better, you can segment them and begin offering the specific type of content that should engage them. You can leverage MA to learn and share more about your leads, leveraging that learning to forge a better, more personalized lead experience. With MA, you can test what works and do more of it, whether on your landing pages or anywhere else during the journey.
- Automated email outreach. The more information you collect about a lead, the more targeted and effective your automated email outreach will be. You can use the data you’re collecting to classify your lead into buyer personas or other methods of segmentation that allow you to effectively target campaigns and messages to the right people at the right time (with the right message). Just design and iterate what you’re doing via your MA platform.
- Leading the lead through the funnel. Marketing automation is a great tool for leading your leads through the various stages along the trail. You can take them from inquiry to various stages of qualification to close, or move them from the top of the funnel to mid-funnel to the bottom of the funnel. No matter the language/terminology your team uses, marketing automation can match the conversion flow with the right content at exactly the right step along the way. And needless to say, MA allows you to learn from the data you’re collecting and make course corrections if leads are leaking out of the funnel or in danger of getting lost.
Lead Scoring and MA
Marketers can leverage MA to score leads according to relevant data/behaviors. You can then set up the outbound activities you believe will move your leads along the journey from lead to customer. For instance, when a lead reaches a certain score, you can trigger an automated activity such as a special offer or perhaps sending the lead over to sales for a more personalized outreach. As Mary Wallace explains: “Outbound techniques allow marketers to scale their demand gen efforts significantly and produce a steady flow of high quality leads into the sales pipeline.”
No matter what the lead does, you can design a lead scoring model and automate/trigger a response, so the lead never gets lost or lonely moving along the trail.
MA Frees Up Marketers to Be More Strategic About Leads
Depending on your company’s product or service offering, the conversion process from lead to customer can be a very complex and time-consuming endeavor. While marketing automation allows you to design great strategies to engage and manage your leads, it’s not the only tool available in the toolbox. There will always be an important place for savvy marketers, especially marketers who’ve been liberated by MA to do higher-level activities, to develop creative, profoundly human solutions that technology can’t quite automate (yet).
Perhaps the biggest indirect value of MA, especially when it comes to lead management, is how it frees up marketers from routine, repeatable tasks that technology can perform better. The trail for marketers is, alas, sometimes hardscrabble and off-the-map, meaning they may need to find their way using old-fashioned, but abundantly sufficient stores of human ingenuity.
So if you want your life as a marketer to be far more focused on the creative activities you dreamed of doing when you originally became a marketer, if you want to hike the trail with better navigation tools and more visibility, reach out to Sojourn Solutions today. We’ll be your guide as you blaze new trails with your marketing.