How to Use Marketing Automation Throughout the Sales Funnel?
Did you know that 67% of B2B companies using marketing automation saw at least a 10% increase in sales opportunities (Demand Gen Report, 2014). Too many marketers make the mistake of thinking that marketing automation is merely a time-saving tool. However, marketing automation can be used at all stages of the sales funnel. This includes everything from increasing awareness to building loyalty with your customers. A key reason for companies not adopting marketing automation is down to their lack of knowledge and confusion between marketing automation and email marketing. If you are confused or need clarity on the exact meaning of marketing automation, read our post on what is marketing automation? Today we dig in deeper and learn how to use marketing automation throughout the sales funnel. We have even provided you with a couple of marketing automation strategies that you can implement!
Many people don’t know this, but marketing automation can be used to build awareness and drive traffic to your site. One of the ways you could achieve this is through social media automation. Social media automation might sound like a scary concept, but in theory, most of you may already be implementing some form of automation on your social media channels. The obvious example of social media automation is using tools like Hootsuite, to schedule your social media posts. A handy tip for when you are scheduling posts is knowing what time your followers or fans are online. On Facebook, your analytics will show you this information. And for Twitter, you can use Audiense, which analyses your Twitter profile to find the best post timings. With any other platform, it is best to experiment with different post timings to see what works best.
Another form of social media automation is syncing your blog posts with your social media profiles. Many businesses make the mistake of spending hours writing up blog posts and expecting people to automatically find them. The best way to avoid this mistake is by linking your blog posts to your social media accounts. So, every time a new blog post is published, it’s automatically shared on social media for a larger audience to view it. If your site is on WordPress, a good tool for this is the Jetpack plugin or Revive Old post. But be careful when doing this. It’s important that your content is adapted for each social media platform. For example, you could try using catchy headlines for Twitter and longer text for Linkedin and Facebook. Otherwise, you’ll sound like a robot and no one wants to follow a robot!
Now it’s time to convert your traffic into leads. One of the most common ways to generate leads is by having a newsletter sign up form on your website to collect email addresses from your readers. To encourage site visitors to sign-up, it’s a good idea to offer a lead magnet, such as a free e-book or report. You could even consider having a resources section on your website, where you could offer a collection of ebooks and ask your readers to provide an email address in order to download each one.This could be a great idea for businesses with multiple buyer personas. If you are still failing to capture leads try looking at the design and content of your website or landing page.Your choice of images, colour scheme and copy could significantly impact conversion rates. So, try making sure your content is clear and appealing to your target audience.
When asking your readers to sign up, a good way of capturing data is through using progressive profiling. Progressive profiling, makes collecting large amounts of data from your readers much easier. Instead of asking them to complete a form with 10 questions, you can just ask for their name and email address when they sign-up. After a while, once your lead gets comfortable with your company (in terms of opening and reading your emails), you can send them another freebie. And here comes the catch! In order for them to download this freebie, they will have to complete another form. This time around you could ask another 2 or 3 different questions to get a better picture of who they are. You can continue doing this overtime to build a complete picture of your prospective customers. But remember to spread these emails out, so you don’t scare your leads away.
You now have a list of contacts, but to turn these leads into sales you need to nurture them. Many people forget to nurture their leads and think that by sending them blasts of promotional emails will turn them into customers eventually. This is where marketing automation tools work best. The most obvious and missed opportunity by businesses is a welcome sequence. When you gain a new subscriber to your mailing list, the first email you send to them is the most crucial. Your first email is likely to get the highest open and click rates. A report by GetResponse found that welcome emails get more than 50% open rate and over 10% click-through rates. But don’t stop here, you could create a series of well-crafted, personalised emails to engage your new lead. For example:
- 1st Welcome: Welcome subscriber to mailing list
- 2nd Welcome: Introduce yourself
- 3rd welcome: Send some helpful information
- 4th Welcome: More valued content
- 5th Welcome: Promote your services or provide exclusive deals
Your business doesn’t have to have 5 emails in its welcome sequence, but it’s a good idea to consider more than just one welcome email.
Another great marketing automation technique is making sure your emails are personalised. Many businesses may already personalise their email subject lines by including the recipient’s name. But to go one step further you can even personalise the content you send your subscribers. For example, many automation tools out there can record data on what pages your subscribers visit and what posts they read on your website. Based on this data you can send your subscribers relevant content related to the content they just viewed on your site. This technique can even help you segment your audience into different groups based on their interest. Which works wonders on your clickthrough and conversion rates, as you’re sending content that your subscribers want to see. Instead of the traditional mass emailing of the same message to all subscribers.
Now comes the best part, using marketing automation to drive sales. Similar to nurturing leads, you can drive sales through personalised content. One way you could accomplish this is through sending personalised promotions to your subscribers based on their interests and data you’ve collected in the previous stages. For example, if you’re a sports goods retailer and you know that a customer is interested in football. Then you could send them a promotional email such as 50% off all football clothing. This is a great example of sending the right content at the right time to the right customer. Which is the very definition of marketing automation.
Another great marketing automation strategy is using event-triggered emails. You may already be using triggered emails if you are sending out automatic welcome emails to your new subscribers. Event-triggered emails can also be useful at driving sales. Noticed a subscriber viewing your pricing page? Send them a special offer or a discount for being a subscriber. This is a great way to pull in potential leads. Especially when they are almost ready to make a purchase, but may have one or two obstacles stopping them. Did you know that triggered emails perform 3 times better than other types of emails (batch emails)? Now that’s something to consider if you’re not already doing so.
Wouldn’t it be great if all leads were sales ready? In reality, some leads need more nurturing than others. This is where segmenting your leads can help drive sales. But, how do you know if a lead is sales-ready? Easy! Take a look at the data you’ve been collecting and determine whether this lead fits your business’s buyer persona. If a lead is way off, don’t remove them from your list. Keep nurturing them through inspiring content. They might even share your content with their network and you never know if their connections are! . If you find that your leads are looking at pricing or product information on your site and opening promotional emails. This is a sign that your lead is ready to purchase. In this case, it’s time to hand this information to your sales team to take the final step in securing a sale!
Finally, you got the customers. Do you just leave them in a contact list or continue nurturing them? The answer of course, is continue nurturing them! You want them to become brand advocates, sharing your content and spreading the word of your business everywhere. You could achieve this through sending them personalised content and implementing a referral program (mentioned above). Once you’ve got the customers the best type of content to send them is content that inspires them to share or talk about you. This way you are using your customers to increase awareness of your services to new prospective customers (going back to the first stage of the sales funnel).
You could even use marketing automation tools to score your leads after purchase. This way you can determine which customers are still engaging with your content and might be ready for a cross-sell, up-sell or even a re-sell! You could even use the data collected from this customer to adapt the experience of future customers. For example through understanding their pain points, messages and the approaches you used to attract this customer. You might even consider sending a survey email to customers who have a made a purchase to see if they enjoyed the purchase and if they would recommend it others. Just remember one point, it’s 7x more expensive to get a new customer than to retain an existing one!
Marketing Automation throughout the sales funnel. Any thoughts?
Marketing automation is more than a tool to help you save time on your marketing activity. If fully utilised, marketing automation has the power to increase traffic, leads and sales. Marketing automation is not a maybe, but a must-have in your company’s digital marketing strategy. Are you utilising marketing automation throughout the sales funnel? Have something to say about this article? Share it with us on Facebook, Twitter or our Linkedin.
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