Marketing Automation is the topic du jour in the marketing world. Aweber has been the pioneer allowing marketers to segment "types of buyers" and then setup "drip email marketing campaigns" that educate buyers about how to solve xyz problem [usually] using the marketer's abc solution.
There's many more new solutions out there that are much more sophisticated now. More expensive too.
Marketing Automation is smart. Usually, I think it makes the job of salespeople easier if the prospect can communicate their problems, and are confident that your solution solves their problems - going into the sales process. Marketing automation gets your prospects up to speed.
At HubSpot, we have prospective clients with multiple employees that are subcribed to our newsletter, attended several webinars, downloaded our white papers, visited our product and pricing page, left 4 comments on our blog, visited our site a total of 10 times and filled out 6 forms over 3 months. When we call [or rather: they call us], as you could imagine, they're pretty much ready to buy.
And I think there is a rule in sales that says something like, "When the buyer says they're ready to buy, it's time to shut up". Right Rick? Dave? Al?
Regardless.. The topic of Marketing Automation is top of mind for many marketers.
I even had a local realty franchise owner tell me he wanted to do marketing automation. To which I asked:
- How big is your email list?
- How many people sign up for your email list every month?
His answers were low hundreds and a few every month. He's not a candidate for marketing automation. Marketing automation should be done by people who have many more leads than they can handle and can't find any other way to figure out who the sales people should call first.
I also asked the realtor:
- Are your sales cycles long - involving multiple types of decision makers each with different agendas, concerns and challenges?
- Do you sell different products to different types of buyers? Are you selling one thing to engineers and another to the CTO? Are you selling one product to people in the auto industry and another to people in the aerospace industry?
- Do you have to educate your buyers before they're ready to buy?
He answered "No". Again, he's not a candidate for marketing automation. Marketing automation is good if you need to educate your buyers with bite sized chunks of information over time. If your sales cycle is short and only 1 or 2 people are involved in the buying decision, you don't need marketing automation. Marketing automation isn't going to close more deals for you. (Better salespeople might.)
Just to drive the point home, I asked a few more questions:
- What types of things are you doing online that will get a prospect to come back to your website? Are you writing blog posts where they can leave their thoughts? Are you doing regular webinars that they can attend? Are you publishing white papers or articles they can sign up to download? Do you have new promotional offers they can sign up to receive? New Press Releases they can read?
- How often are you doing all of this stuff?
He said, "My website really needs some work. I even have trouble editing what I have now, let alone adding things to it. I know that I'm not getting all the leads I could be getting because I don't have anything to offer them to get them to come back to my site." Again, he's not a candidate for marketing automation.
I stopped there. I recommended he use Constant Contact as that would be a better solution for him for email marketing. Besides that, I recommended that he should just focus on getting more traffic to his website and converting more of his visitors to leads, so that his agents would have more people to call and he'd have more people to send his email newsletter to.
Their lead to deal conversion rate isn't the problem. It's that they don't have enough leads. So, marketing automation is not going to solve their most pressing issue. Improved PPC performance, SEO, blogging and more lead conversion events such as webinars, promotions and downloadable articles (eg "how to lease commercial real estate") are what's needed.
They don't need to do online marketing automation. They just need to start doing more online marketing. And start measuring what works. And what doesn't.
Are YOU ready for Marketing Automation?