Not more than a decade or so ago, marketing automation was something that only the largest organizations engaged in – with outstanding results. Today, it’s ubiquitous, with much of the growth having come from small- and mid-sized businesses, in both B2C and B2B contexts.
As common as it is, marketing automation is often poorly understood, and this means that its power is often under utilized. Marketing automation is much more than managing how often an email message goes out and to whom – although scheduling and segmenting email messages is a part of marketing automation. Marketing automation is a powerful tool that any marketing team – large or small – can use to more efficiently move interested prospects to qualified leads to loyal customers. Marketers attempting to reach the education market can leverage automation to:
1. Break down the silo between sales and marketing
2. Create a nurtured pipeline of qualified leads
3. More easily segment their audience to craft more consistent and targeted messaging and value propositions
4. More effectively retain customers
Most importantly, automation helps marketers greatly streamline their efforts and realize greater efficiency and return on investment.
In any marketing campaign, personalization is expected, not optional. Be sure that your messaging is personalized with the recipient’s name, title, institution, and any other relevant information. It is crucial that you ensure you have clean and accurate data, especially the further your personalization goes from basic elements such as name.
For messaging, it’s best to start broad, with brand-relevant content that is designed to pique your audience’s professional interest. Do not start out of the gate with sales messaging or product-specific information. Instead, through each additional touchpoint, present more specific, granular content, including your sales messaging and product-specific information.
Be careful not to “sell” too much in your content or your informational copy: craft the content to be interesting and useful, which is a much better way to improve the chances that the prospect will take the call to action (e.g. register for a webinar, download a white paper, take a survey), indicating that he or she is more than likely interested.
Once the prospects show sufficient interest, they can be considered qualified leads, and you can convert your marketing efforts from nurture marketing and lead generation to a sales-focused drip campaign, where you can showcase product reviews and comparisons, case studies, reviews, and other relevant information.
Marketing automation is invaluable for staying in touch with customers and for generating both return engagements and long-term brand goodwill. Once a prospect becomes a customer, the communication effort isn’t over; it’s just begun. Send new customers a welcome email thanking them, and follow that up with a series of “tips and tricks” emails that demonstrate how to best use the product or service they’ve purchased, so that the customer gets the most out of his or her investment. Aside from generating goodwill and building customer relationships, regular, well-timed messages create upselling, renewal, and referral opportunities.
For more information about maximizing the power of your marketing automation system, and connecting with educators with just the right information at just the right time, watch the on-demand webinar From Prospects to Customers: Getting More Value from Your Marketing Automation Technology.