Marketing automation is here to stay.
As the customer experience takes centre stage, lead management grows increasingly complex and involved. Marketing automation software helps companies by automating a wide range of tasks from lead scoring to prospect activity tracking, and can prove highly effective when it comes to improving and streamlining lead nurturing efforts.
Most leads are not ready to make a purchase when they are first generated, making lead nurturing a key part of the sales cycle. With advances in technology and an increased focus on inbound marketing methods, the customer experience has changed significantly in recent years.
To understand the growing customer service demands that sales and marketing teams now face, consider the following findings from Salesforce’s State of the Connected Customer survey findings:
80% of consumers claim that an immediate response to requests for help influences their loyalty.
72% of consumers expect companies to understand their needs and expectations.
69% of consumers claim that personalised customer care influences their loyalty.
It may seem daunting to members of your sales staff to see that they’re now expected to be available at any given time, to understand and anticipate customer needs, and to provide personalised service to each customer.
This is where marketing automation comes in. Using marketing automation software for lead nurturing can help with a wide range of tasks, from lead scoring to tracking customer behaviours and managing email marketing campaigns.
In turn, you’ll find that you have higher quality leads, paired with increased knowledge and understanding of their needs and behaviours.
There is no denying the value of marketing automation throughout the sales cycle, with research showing that 80% of users see an increase in leads and 77% see an increase in conversions.
Still, that success depends largely on how you use your marketing automation software to enhance relationships with prospective customers and nurture leads.
Automate Messaging to Reach Customers When They Need You
One of the main features of marketing automation software is that it can send targeted messages for you precisely when they are needed based on certain criteria. Among experienced users, 74% report that they now send out more relevant messages as a result.
Automated emails are especially useful for upselling and cross selling, since they ensure that targeted messaging reaches customers as soon as it becomes clear that they may have interest in additional products or services.
For example, if a customer previously bought a model of a computer that has since been updated with new hardware, marketing automation software can be set to send out a message once a certain amount of time has elapsed since a customer’s initial purchase, notifying him or her of possible upgrade.
Increase Flexibility and Personalisation
Ideally, every message a lead receives should be highly personalised and based on his or her most recent actions. Nonetheless, Salesforce’s 2017 State of Marketing report shows that only 25% of messages evolve across channels in this way. This number can be improved by using your marketing automation system to track consumer behaviours.
Once you know what they’ve been up to, you can assign them to different nurturing campaigns based on their needs. This strategy works particularly well when used hand-in-hand with customer journey mapping.
Once you have diagrammed your customer touchpoints, you can use your marketing automation software to engage with customers based on their individual actions and where they are on the map. The flexibility gained by being able to customise nurturing campaigns means you can leave customers to choose their own path through the sales cycle.
Link Your CRM and Marketing Automation Systems
According to a 2016 study, companies with tightly aligned sales and marketing experience 36% higher customer retention rates and 38% higher conversion rates (source: “B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends” produced by Content Marketing Institute & MarketingProfs, sponsored by Brightcove). Linking marketing automation to CRM can help your company achieve that alignment, particularly when it comes to lead nurturing.
Linking these systems increases transparency between sales and marketing teams, makes it easier to track leads, and simplifies the process of sending leads back for more nurturing when they are not yet ready to make a purchase.
With these increased insights and smoother processes, you will be able to provide a more consistent, personalised and all-around better customer experience.
In his article “Marketing Automation: Five Things You're Getting Wrong (And What To Do Instead)”, business development expert Jonathan Laberge concludes by saying “keep it simple, personalized and efficient.” While marketing automation is designed to help you do just that, it’s easy to lose sight of how to use it most effectively.
Marketing automation can be a great help in streamlining the process of contacting and nurturing leads. So much so that it’s easy to get carried away. Sending out too many emails or being too aggressive can alienate potential customers. In fact, the top reason why customers unsubscribe from email lists is because they are receiving too many. Instead, strategically contact leads less often and make sure that everything you send them provides value.
Only Using Automation Software
Findings from the State of the Connected Customer survey show that 75% of consumers expect companies to provide a consistent experience across channels. That means it’s important to keep in mind that you can communicate with customers through multiple channels, from notifications and messages to social media and blog posts.
Your automation software offers a variety of features, from lead scoring to managing social media to storing contact information. In addition to email, consider which of those features could help you be more efficient and provide a better customer experience.
Forgetting about Personalisation
It can’t be stressed enough: personalisation is crucial to a successful lead nurturing strategy. Ninety-six percent of organizations believe that email personalisation improves marketing performance.
Still, as a variety of tasks become automated, many marketers seem to let the computer take the wheel. Sending out generic content is an easy way to make leads lose interest. Instead, you should always be tailoring content based on customer behaviours and demographics.
Marketing automation can offer much-needed support for multi-faceted lead nurturing campaigns. It is most effective when used to improve the customer experience, increase personalisation, and streamline marketing processes.
When used properly, it can simplify the task of lead nurturing, giving marketing staff more time to focus on building long-term customer relationships.