Good Things Take Time: The Marketing Automation Journey Isn’t About Instant Gratification
As a society, we’re learning to expect instant gratification at almost every turn. Technology and digital innovation have allowed us to access more things faster.
Have a question? Just Google it. Want the latest news? Just hop on Twitter. Want to buy something in your pajamas at 3am? Go right ahead and fill that online shopping cart using your mobile in bed.
We have become so accustomed to getting what we want, whenever we want it, that it can get frustrating when things take longer to accomplish than we’d like. It a factor we often find ourselves (gently) explaining to clients when it comes to their strategy and marketing automation programs.
The fact remains that there are still some things in life that take time. And the old adage that ‘good things come to those who wait’ still rings true.
We like to talk about The Marketing Automation Journey. You can’t simply install the platform, send out an email to a few contacts and instantly have dozens of SQLs. OK, maybe you might get lucky and hit a homerun in your first at-bat. But even Aaron Judge wasn’t born slugging for new records in a Yankees uniform. And even Aaron Judge strikes out. A lot. There is a lot of hard work, repetition and tweaking of mechanics that goes into making a big league star. And the same goes for all-star marketing automation programs.
So what does the journey involve?
In the very early days, it’s all about infrastructure. Picking a platform, getting it implemented, creating your assets like email templates and landing pages. Then you have to get your database of contacts in there.
Of course, you have to segment the database by all the factors that are pertinent to your marketing automation strategy. Will you have one set of messages for customers and another for prospects? Does company type or industry have an impact? Do different job roles have different pain points you need to address?
How will you measure your key performance indicators? What metrics will you gather? What should your reporting dashboards look like?
Lead Generation Marketing
This is where most brands spend the bulk of their time. Inbound tactics to drive new visitors to the website, where they convert via content marketing and enter the funnel. This where you see the smart forms, landing pages, automated drip campaigns, segmentation, lead scoring and progressive profiling come into play.
And this is where testing, tweaking and experimenting are integral to incremental success. Just like the best hitters in baseball only get a hit in three out of every 10 at-bats, smart marketers know that not everything they try will cash in a run in the form of a sale. Of course we all want to hit that walk-off grand slam! But there needs to be runners on base for that to happen.
We need to fill the funnel with prospects, then move them along to MQL, then SQL, and finally onto sales. In B2B, where sales cycles are long and committees make decisions, this is simply not going to happen over night. Unfortunately, it’s also the area where we feel the most pressure to deliver instant gratification. Pressure from our colleagues in sales. Pressure from our bosses. Pressure from our own desire to be successful. It can be tough to manage those expectations.
Demand Generation Marketing
People often mistake lead gen for demand gen. They are not the same. Lead gen is filling the top of the funnel with interested leads. Demand gen is building a relationship with those leads and creating within them a desire, or a demand, for your product or service.
Again, this is not an overnight sensation.
It’s deeper segmentation and personalization. The distribution of increasingly valuable, increasingly relevant content. Lead/account nurturing and lead scoring, and quite often, account-based marketing.
In a world seeking instant gratification, it’s surprising how often we ignore the potentially low-hanging-fruit revenue we can attain from staying top-of-mind with our existing customer base.
There they sit in our databases, using our products and largely being ignored because we already sold to them.
But why not continue to speak with them and add value? Marketing automation can help us do that, whether it’s a simple monthly e-newsletter or invitations to customer-only events. We can use it to run satisfaction surveys. We can automate renewal notifications. We can prime our customers to be repeat customers. We can upsell and cross-sell.
And even if our product is so good it should be perfectly fine as-is for many years, we should take the opportunity to turn our customers into advocates with referral programs and NPS processes.
Digital transformation is more than a buzz phrase. It’s a necessity. For the modern marketing department, that means using technology to improve the customer experience.
The more we use marketing automation, the more we want to push its limits with things like third-party integrations, 360 reporting, advanced personalization and adaptive automation.
The tools we use, and how we apply them, are a direct result of long-term strategic thinking surrounding the customer experience. There is no instant gratification here.
Where Are You?
Where has your marketing automation journey taken you? Whether you’re just starting out, or you’re ready to take things to the next level, contact us to find out how we can help.