Email marketing platforms enable you to manage lists, create and send beautiful emails, A/B test, and report on important metrics, such as open rate and click-through rate. That’s all you need if you’re a club that needs to send out a monthly newsletter. But if you’re a for-profit business that needs sales to survive or a non-profit that thrives on charitable donations, you need a marketing automation solution — pronto.
Marketing automation allows you to do everything an email marketing platform can do, and much, much more. Large enterprises require a more sophisticated approach to lead generation, customer acquisition, and list management. These are things that a basic email platform can’t provide. Small and medium-sized businesses with aggressive growth strategies can also benefit from implementing a full-scale automation solution.
Lead Tracking and Lead Scoring
What percentage of your website visitors ultimately complete the action that you want them to, like purchasing a product, making a donation, or contacting your sales team to talk about the services you provide? Less than 1%, typically.
Don’t you wonder how the other 99% are interacting with your brand? Surely there are some qualified prospects among them, right?
“But I have Google Analytics for that,” you might be saying to yourself. Google Analytics gives you useful statistical trends on how many people were on your website, what channels they came from (direct, organic search, social, paid advertising, email, etc.), and other insights like top-performing landing pages. These are all good trends to track and make data-backed decisions on, but they don’t help you zero in on hot leads, disqualify spammy users, or directly reach that 99% beyond broad-brushed generalizations.
Tracking Individual Leads
What if I told you there was a way to track a user’s behavior when they click on an email, and then automatically be notified of your most qualified leads?
Marketing automation platforms work by identifying individual users and tracking their behavior. After all, you don’t sell your products and services to statistical trends, you sell them to people.
Reviewing the user behavior chronological timeline will tell a story like:
Johannes Hasenpfeffer is the Director of Digital Strategy at a Fortune 500 company. He first came to our website through our pay-per-click (PPC) Google AdWords ad. Then, he checked out our web design and web development service pages. He also read a few relevant blog posts and case studies and signed up for our mailing list before going to our contact page where he decided to not send us a message.
Without marketing automation, you would have never known about this qualified prospect and have missed the chance to follow up with this lead via email, phone, and/or LinkedIn. He would have just been one of the many prospects driving up your advertising costs by clicking through your PPC ads but never converting. Automation tools empower businesses to identify, target, and nurture otherwise lost leads.
Defining Lead Scoring Categories
Once you’ve linked an email address with the formerly anonymous user’s session behavior data, you’re able to start lead scoring. A good lead scoring matrix will help group all your leads into categories like:
- Job Seekers
- Qualified Prospects – Nurture
- Qualified Prospects – Hot
(NOTE: These example lead scoring categories are for a service-based company)
Scoring Leads by User Behavior
Lead scoring can be based on a combination of user behavior and information gathered about the lead through third-party plugins and good ol’ fashioned research. Here are some examples of how a user’s behavior can be used to gauge lead quality:
- Visited careers page and viewed a job posting – Job seeker
- Email address is from one of your competitors – Competitor
- Company is in Vanuatu and you only work with USA companies – Unqualified
- Visited a service page. Qualified Prospects – Nurture
- Visited several service pages, the pricing page, and the contact page – Qualified Prospects – Hot
Automated Programs aka Drip Campaigns
Once you have scored your leads into the appropriate categories, you can start putting the “automation” into “marketing automation” by setting up drip campaigns, also known as waterfalls. The possibilities on how to utilize this feature are only limited by your imagination.
The huge advantage to drip emails is that you can set up custom rules to automate your workflow. After you set these automated programs up once, they run automatically and are more diligent and relentless than any human sales rep could be.
Here are three automated program examples:
1. Hot Lead Alert Program
The simplest example of an automated program is a hot lead alert program, which focuses on your most promising leads. Marketing automation pays for itself if you set up this type of program.
When a user is scored in the “Qualified Prospects – Hot” category, the program will send an email and a CRM alert to the designated salesperson. That salesperson will then log into the automation platform to review the history of interactions that this user has had with your online presence, enabling the sales rep to effectively nurture the lead.
2. Event Drip Campaign
Say you’re trying to get people in the “Qualified Prospects – Nurture” category to sign up and attend a webinar. An automated program can be set up to invite people three times (or however many you deem necessary) with well-timed, well-crafted emails, and have the capability to stop sending to people who have completed the signup.
Once a user signs up, the automated program will send them reminders to attend the upcoming webinar. After the webinar is over, it will send everyone in this segment a followup message thanking them for attending, providing a link to the on-demand version if they couldn’t make it, and prompting them to interact with your brand further.
3. Shopping Cart Abandon Email
Many users often view a product, add it to their shopping cart, and then not complete the purchase. This is referred to as shopping cart abandonment (SCA), and is a must for any ecommerce website.
With the power of marketing automation, you can “automagically” capture lost revenue from cart abandoners. If a user puts an item in their cart and then leaves (abandons) the website, a customized email is triggered to encourage them to check out.
Roughly three in four users don’t finish their purchase, so it is vital to guide their buying decision by setting up your SCA program with special offers or coupon codes. (Pro Tip: The number one cause of cart abandonment is unexpectedly high shipping costs.)
Ever wonder which marketing programs are bringing in the most return on investment (ROI) for your organization?
It’s never an easy question to answer, but with marketing automation you can get a lot closer to the holy grail you seek. In reality, it’s usually not just one touch point that caused a prospect to become a customer or client, it’s several.
Automation platforms are perfect for organizing, executing, and measuring the attribution weight of each campaign component. If the user came to your website through a Google search and landed on a blog post, you need to give your blog content strategy some credit. If they then ended up watching a recorded webinar before reaching out to you, you should give the webinar some credit as well.
Marketing automation platforms can help with revenue attribution by summarizing this information in regular reporting. In addition, I strongly recommend looking at each new lead’s activity timeline to add color to the picture of what combination of factors led to them becoming a client.
Like with most things, you only get out of marketing automation what you put in. All too often, we see companies that are convinced of the benefits of automation, sign up, and then end up using it the same way basic email marketing platform. Don’t be that guy.