Marketing automation is a term that many are familiar with, but few can explain in any great detail. The concept is one that appeals for obvious reasons - the modern business owner and marketer (often one and the same person) has enough to do in the daily grind of business, so the promise of anything being automated is very attractive. It's a concept, too, that is met with a great deal of scepticism - How, after all, can you automated something that works best when the brand values and personal touch are so important to its success? I'm hoping to shed some light on the subject, and open a few eyes to the possibility of marketing automation for the business masses...
Can you automate ALL your marketing?
The short answer is ... No. The many facets of marketing that rely on human intervention cannot be ignored, such as profiling and undestanding the target market, buyer personas and behaviours, for example. The creative elements, too, that beat at the heart of any successful campaign, online or offline. What can be automated, though, is the process of lead nurturing, which in the context of content marketing is done with the ongoing provision of valuable thought leadership pieces, helpful guidance and strategies. By providing ever-more intricate and helpful content, we can guide the prospect further down the funnel, from top to middle, and middle to bottom, at which point we present the opportunity to exit the automated part of the journey, and once again impose on our personal time and expertise. This is a good thing, though, as the prospect has now been effectively "pre-sold" and identified as a "sales qualified lead".
The Desired Outcome
What does sales qualified look like? It will be different for each business - it depends what information you wish to elicit, and the connection you need to make, in order to maximise the chance of a successful conversion at the point of sale. If you need to know the prospect's budget and timescales for their project, for example, be sure to request that information as part of the lead nurturing sequence, so you can assess their suitability BEFORE meeting with them. You may even deem that they're not suitable for one product or service, and guide them elsewhere inside or outside your business, as a result.
What does happen, when you sit down in front of a pre-sold, sales qualified lead, is that conversions sky-rocket. If you've had the fore-thought to ask good questions through the journey, you'll know the pain points and triggers that person needs to hear, in order to be comfortable transacting with you. Not to mentions the many touch points and time they have spent with your content and branding before the meeting - there's no competition in the running.
Marketing Automation Options
Are small businesses priced out of the market when it comes to marketing automation tools? Not necessarily. Amongst the many options on the market, the likes of Infusionsoft and JumpLead price themselves low enough for pretty much any business to enter the fray. For those seeking the "Rolls Royce" of marketing automation, look no further than Hubspot, which is an "all-in-one" solution for Inbound Marketing Automation.