Supercharge Your Marketing with Automation
Any brand looking to break through the marketing noise knows that inbound marketing is a smart strategy. That’s because potential customers — even B2B ones — have become desensitized to in-your-face advertising and marketing speak.
Using a consumer analogy, inbound marketing is a little like ditching that road sign for $5 pizza and instead offering passersby a free slice just for coming in. Why compete with all the other road signs (i.e. ads)? Give away a taste of pizza (i.e. content), and if people like what you have to offer, they’re much more likely to choose you instead of a competitor next time they’re hungry for pizza.
The problem with inbound marketing is that it has limitations. Inbound leads often times aren’t ready to commit. It’s hard — not impossible, but hard — to target a specific segment. And inbound marketing doesn’t give you good metrics on who’s a hot lead and who’s just window shopping.
Enter automation. The concept of marketing automation is not new. But many brands don’t realize that it could be applied together with an inbound marketing strategy. In fact, it’s a perfect union that maximizes the value of inbound marketing and increases your marketing ROI.
Leads vs Qualified Leads
As any sales person will tell you, there’s a big difference between a lead and a qualified lead. If your sales staff chased random leads all day, they’re not going to be very successful at generating sales, are they? Inbound marketing does drive prospects to your website but without automation it can loose many potential leads worth nurturing. Some potential customers, that need a little more nudging to become a hot lead, simply get lost. Automation gives you the tools for nurturing leads and moving them down the funnel until they’re ready to engage in the conversation with your sales staff.
7 Steps to Inbound Marketing with Automation
1. CONTENT: Create awesome content.
If you don’t have high-quality content that’s valuable to potential customers, you are wasting your time and money on your inbound marketing. There’s just no way around this. B2B buyers, just like consumers, are constantly being deluged with content and if yours doesn’t impress, they’ll bounce off as fast as they landed on your website.
2. ATTRACT: Attract potential customers.
You have awesome content, great! Now how will people find your website? SEO is great but you know that’s not going to be nearly enough. This is where you have to get creative with a mix of strategies. Consider all your options, including earned, owned and paid media.
3. CONVERT: Turn visitors into prospects.
At this stage, automation technology begins to close one of the inbound marketing gaps we brought up earlier: You get to uncloak visitors. Instead of inbound marketing only bringing you anonymous, possibly noncommittal would-be customers, you get some real intel. Not just on how people found you and what pages they’re visiting but also how they’re interacting with your content and what actions they’re taking.
4. NURTURE: Turn prospects into qualified leads.
Nurturing prospects into qualified leads is as much science as it is art. You are taking specific steps to get them from opening your email to clicking through and eventually interacting with your content. You’re automatically engaging with your contacts and intelligently delivering personalized content to move them through the funnel. It’s like putting your marketing campaign on an intelligent autopilot.
5. CLOSE: Close the deal.
Now you’re ready to get the sales staff involved. They will take your hot, qualified leads and turn them into customers. They will continue nurturing the relationship and keep your brand on their radar — because even qualified leads may take some time to commit. You must continue engaging these leads on other channels, too, and be a resource.
6. RETAIN: Wow your customers.
Digital technology may have changed the way we do marketing, but it hasn’t changed the fact that word of mouth is still your best advertising. Keep your customers satisfied — and not just because gaining new customers is much more expensive than retaining existing ones. Create brand loyalty and your customers will become your evangelists. No advertising, no matter how clever or creative, can beat that. Remember that loyalty and satisfaction come from many factors, so continue to nurture through various channels.
7. ANALYZE: Crunch the numbers.
One limitation we didn’t mention earlier for inbound marketing is analytics. True, you’ll get some numbers from your inbound campaigns. Automation technology, however, takes that to a whole new level. You are tracking data in multiple ways, turning it into actionable information you can use to measure effectiveness, analyze trends and behaviors, understand your prospects and improve your strategy.
If you’re still asking yourself whether you should use inbound marketing with automation, you’re missing a new world that technology has opened to you. If you want those inbound visitors to translate into sales — and we’re guessing you do — you’ll find an automation platform to be an indispensable tool. The question you should be asking is not which one to use, but how to maximize their combined effectiveness.