It’s guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest post is from Wendy Coombes– Enjoy!
If you are a small business marketer, you know that the number of channels across which to deliver your key messages has increased considerably. While it is great that we have so many opportunities to attract and engage our ideal client, managing multiple channels effectively can seem like a full time job.
This explains why the biggest group of marketing automation buyers are small and midsize businesses. So let’s take a look at this trend and marketing automation’s effectiveness for small business.
What is Marketing Automation?
As businesses realize they need get on board with web marketing strategies, they typically “bolt on” solutions. They open up a Twitter or Facebook account, dabble in LinkedIn groups or do an email shot using a free cloud-based email marketing solution.
Managing communication programs across multiple applications is a logistical nightmare; it lacks overview and the ability to measure its effectiveness.
Marketing automation enables businesses to execute campaigns, automate processes, and measure their impact.
How can you benefit from workflow-based lead management?
The most frequently requested feature of marketing automation solutions is lead management. Leads are the lifeblood of business, so it is easy to see why marketers consider lead generation their biggest challenge and most important goal. Marketing automation assists in a number of ways.
First, to attract on the web you need valuable and optimized content. The best marketing automation platforms let you create:
- optimize site pages
- calls to action and landing pages
- (smart) forms
Other capabilities that play a role in lead management let you:
- view which content your leads engage in and present leads with further content they will find relevant
- score leads
- do progressive profiling
- set up event triggered email workflows
Besides these lead management capabilities, it should offer closed-loop analysis, search engine optimization tools, email marketing, and other tools to manage online multi-channel campaigns.
There’s no substitute for marketing planning
Whilst marketing automation can increase the effectiveness of lead generation and result in increased revenue, it is not a substitute for a customer-centric marketing strategy. Effective marketing plans start with a thorough understanding of your buyer personas and the buyer’s journey as they research and evaluate your products or services.
A look at the business case
Traditionally used by large e-commerce organizations, marketing automation has become more widely adopted and therefore more available, affordable, and practical for small business. Marketing automation combined with inbound strategies offers measurable benefits for small business:
- lower cost per lead
- improved customer lifetime value
- increased revenue
- improved sales effectiveness
- better ROI on your marketing investment
What is important to recognize is that it is not a quick fix solution. If you start with a low-traffic base and want grow traffic organically, do not expect to see significant increases in traffic for 9 months (maybe somewhat shorter if you have ample resources to pump out good quality content).
On the other hand, if your site is already getting good traffic but you are not converting sufficient leads, you may see results much sooner by utilizing best practice conversion methods.
What to look for in a marketing automation platform
If you plan to research marketing automation solutions, look for things like:
- What is included in the minimum license fee? Many providers will charge you based on the size of your contact database. Check how many contacts are included in the base rate. You really want a solution that is scalable but you might want to know whether charges are capped once you reach a certain number of contacts.
- What is the minimum license period? Many require an initial12 months. Ask if the entire license fee is payable up front or whether they accept monthly installments.
- Read real case studies of businesses like yours who have adopted marketing automation and see if you can get in touch directly with current users to hear their experiences first hand.
- Is user training included? It is not unusual for training to be charged additionally. Check what training is included.
As mentioned before, there is no substitute for good marketing planning and strategy, but once you have your goals and roadmap set out, marketing automation can do some of the heavy lifting and provide you with the analytics to achieve sustainable lead campaign success.
Wendy Coombes is an inbound marketing consultant with a background in Technology and B2B marketing as well as e-Commerce. Her inbound marketing agency, Brite Kite, is based in Sydney Australia. Wendy is passionate about helping traditional professional service providers such as lawyers and accountants, transition to online lead generation and realizing a better ROI on their marketing investment. Connect with Wendy on twitter via @wendycoombes.