by Connie Tran | 10-minute read
Imagine that you run your own business. Whatever your passion is, you’ve managed to make a business out of it and make it work. Life’s good. You’re smiling wildly to yourself, soaking up the sun on the beach, iPad in hand, running your business from wherever you darn-well please.
Now imagine how life would be if you had to do all of your business’s numbers by hand.
I’m talking pen to paper. Loose receipts. Checks. There is no Excel. There is no Quickbooks. You have to gather every document, add up every number with that old Sinclair calculator, keep its origins in order, and compute all your taxes, all by hand. You might even have to hire dozens, or even hundreds of finance-type people just to keep your books straight.
Not so fun. Definitely not what you set out to do when you chased your passion (unless your passion is crunching numbers by hand?).
This was what every business had to do before the ‘80s. These were the days before spreadsheets. Businesses were so concerned with keeping up with the past that they couldn’t possibly have time to think about the future, let alone how to optimize user experiences for its customers.
The days before spreadsheets--trying to organize what already happened and desperately hoping they were accurate. Since the invention of spreadsheets, people were able to not just keep accurate numbers of the past, but also start to play with the numbers of the future: for the first time, people were able to test out different strategies and scenarios before committing to anything. Gone are the days you spent all the time number-crunching. Spreadsheets automated all of that, giving businesses the time to be forward thinking.
Marketing automation helps you do just that — Marketing automation is the spreadsheet of the marketing world.
Shape a customer’s journey to the customer, not a marketing funnel
Marketing as we know it is at a cross-roads. Countless pieces of software and strategic frameworks have been built around how to fit the customer into its marketing process, and not the other way around. 92 million Millennials, the largest generation in history, is expecting more. Until about 2040, if you want your brand and business to survive, you’ll need to build your strategy around how “millennials will be the key consumer segment driving the U.S. economy.”
It’s no secret that millennials don’t respond to ads. A hundred individually bulleted customer insights doesn’t mean anything if there is no action, or worse, if the action cost a lot of money and is totally off-base.
Even though traditional marketing strategies suggest that you’ve optimized your process to cater toward specific groups in your industry, and even come up with individual marketing campaigns for each of your personas, people will still fall through the cracks. What percentage of sales are lost through those stragglers? 5%? 10%? How much is that, in dollars?
What percentage of sales fell through the cracks because the generalization of groups in an industry just doesn’t work anymore?
The largest cohort of people who are continuing to enter the prime of their spending years is not easily swayed by catch-all marketing campaigns that worked on previous generations who weren’t used to getting their cup of coffee customized to a T from Starbucks.
As the first fully digital generation, this generation of customers expect information to be on their terms.
But how can you find the time?
Marketing automation manages your entire lead generation, capture, qualification, nurture, and communication cycle all in one organized platform, automatically, with a powerful flair: customized campaigns that you can program to build themselves around the browsing behavior and actions of each specific lead.
This means your marketing team has more time to design other core campaigns, your sales team has more time closing sales instead of chasing leads through emails, and your customers thank you for the brand-aligned, multi-faceted experience they crave.
In today’s digital marketing world, our customers expect an immersive experience that traditional marketing techniques alone cannot deliver. It’s simply not powerful enough.
Get their attention
Your target audience is very distracted. Their attention is a currency every brand is fighting for. If they do happen to give you the time of day, you'd best show them something that inspires action. Information overload is something we deal with everyday as an increasingly digital life-form. It takes an act of brilliance to stand out.
So, how do we get their attention, and keep it? You give them exactly what they came for (even if they don't know it yet).
Marketing automation software allows you to customize the content each person sees based on their browsing behavior. Does Sarah Lynn from New York keep looking at the same purse over the course of two weeks? Maybe Sarah Lynn just needs a little automated coupon to seal the deal. Does Henry Thomas from Nevada seem to always gravitate toward pages about sports? Perhaps the next time he visits the store, sports equipment will show up first.
Tracking the behavior of each individual lead and showing them customized content that you know they already care about is what marketing automation does best. With the right implementation team, everything happens automatically, freeing you up to think of the next best thing for your business.
Customize each customer's experience to a T
Prospective customers are hungry for immersive experiences, tailored to their personal tastes. When combined with the traditional marketing techniques of designing campaigns around broad personas drawn from insights, marketing automation is able to fill in the gaps through behavior tracking and tell an authentically targeted story to each individual.
In other words, if you feed your marketing automation software campaigns built around customer insights, the software will be able to continue learning about each customer, long after you've done your part. In a sense, you can program your marketing automation software to build its own marketing campaigns based on what it has learned about each person's behaviors, without any input from you.
Learn more about your customer's pickiest tastes
Marketing automation helps you become as granular about people as possible, without having to keep up with anyone in particular yourself. The reports that can be automatically generated from this software can help you identify key research opportunities to further pursue, or be insights reports in their own right. You're passively generating new insights about your customer's behaviors, wants, needs, and motivations.
Nurture, nurture, nurture
Many people who eventually end up buying into your product or service don't do it the first time around. When people are ready to buy, the process needs to be as seamless as possible, and it all starts with the customer remembering who sold what interested them.
To stay top of mind, marketing automation helps you nurture your leads through an email cadence stream. These streams can be customized to the specific behavior of a lead--based on their behavior, does this person seem like someone who would appreciate the extra reminder emails, or are they more like someone who prefers fewer emails? Would the language of the email change depending on which type of content they've gravitated towards most? Would the images of the email or website change based on their location? You can do all this and much more with the right software and implementation team.
Say the right thing at the right time
Saying even the right thing at the wrong time might cause your lead to jump ship. Saying the right thing at the right time keeps you relevant and at maximum levels of persuasiveness. Depending on where your lead is in their buyer journey, they'll want to hear and see different things.
In order to capitalize on each moment a customer experiences in their journey, you're going to have to know them as an individual and not just the people you can group them with.
Marketing automation strengthens your brand and builds brand loyalty
92 million millennials form a give-and-take generation that is willing to listen to your story if you listen to theirs. More than any other age group, millennials expressed that if content is free, they’re much more receptive to ads. Branding cannot just be a marketing ploy--when done right, it's a living entity that needs to bolster the identity of the customer, reinforce their positive ideas surrounding a brand, and build branded experiences that connect your story to theirs.
Customized experiences show the customer that you not only understand their wants and needs, but that you're driven to hear their stories. Building empathy is crucial to establishing an authentic connection, and your customers will appreciate you for it.
What you need to be effective
Marketing automation software
Marketo - Top of its class, Marketo offers the most powerful custom campaign builds and analytics. There are no cookie-cutter builds here, and nearly every action you want automated is possible on this platform. As is expected, with great power, comes great need for training. Effective use of Marketo requires an implementation team that really knows what they're doing. After initial set-up, they'll be able to train you to build upon the core foundation set up for your specific needs. At Trig, this is our go-to marketing automation solution.
- Act-On - Act-On offers many of Marketo's capabilities but at a smaller scale. Act-On offers predominantly pre-built campaign types that can then be customized to some degree for your needs, but cannot be customized as precisely as Marketo. Still, Act-On is a great choice for small to mid-sized companies looking for the marketing automation edge without having to pay top dollar.
- Pardot - Created by Salesforce, Pardot is primarily concerned with B2B marketing automation. You can expect seamless connection with your CRM if you're already using Salesforce.
- Hubspot - A very popular inbound marketing platform, Hubspot captures a large share small business users who invest in marketing automation software. Lauded as a piece of marketing software that scales from the smallest businesses to even the largest without missing a beat, Hubspot enjoys favorable reviews of its user-friendly interface.
Solid Customer Research
- Estabalished personas with verbatims from ethnography to seed the most targeted marketing campaigns
- Defined market segments
- Behavioral journey mapping
- Process mapping
- Aspirational target customer experience
Making the most of your face-time with a prospective customer is essential to success. Getting it right is part science and part art, and it's all made easier with powerful information and process automation at your fingertips. Ensure that every moment is delightful and memorable. Ensure that it inspires action.