Marketing automation is a key player in the modern business ecosystem. In fact, 79% of top-performing companies have been using automation for over two years. And it’s no wonder why: a good marketing automation tool can drive more leads, increase deal size, reduce sales cycles, and boost revenue. However, an automation tool is only as powerful as the strategy backing it.
In order to effectively utilize an automation tool like Marketing Cloud or Pardot, you must first build a marketing strategy to understand which features to implement and how to be successful. Creating a comprehensive strategy can be a daunting task, so I have boiled the process down to 4 steps.
- Know your Product
Before you can sell anything, you need to understand what you’re selling. Become an expert in your product/service. Be able to answer some key questions:
- What do you sell? (product, subscription, content, service, etc.)
- What makes it different or better than your competition?
- Why would someone purchase/subscribe?
You should also spend some time doing internal research. Meet with your sales team to understand their process and needs. Figure out what your automation tool needs to produce.
- What does a great lead look like?
- What is the current sales cycle?
- Are there tripping points or slow areas?
- Define your Audience
Knowing your audience is necessary to market effectively. Many companies build personas to understand their target audience. A marketing persona is like a composite sketch of a key segment of your audience. While you may not need to go as far as personas, you do need to define your target audience.
- Who is your target audience?
- What is their job title/age/gender/etc.?
- Do they alone make purchasing decisions, or are there other people involved?
You should also look into their habits:
- Where does your target audience spend time?
- Where can you reach them? (social media, events, website, blog, etc.)
- How do they interact with your brand?
- Where do they go for information/questions/resolutions?
- Create your Messaging
Now that you know what you’re selling, and to whom you are selling, you can build messaging specific to your audience. Aim your content directly at your defined audience. Knowing how someone’s specific needs are met by your product or service is key.
- What specific pain points does your product/service solve?
- How does your audience benefit from your product/service?
- What content does your audience need to influence purchasing behavior?
- Would they benefit from long-term lead nurturing?
- Where can/should they be reached in the sales cycle?
- Define Success
The final step in our plan is defining success. Every effective strategy includes measurement. You should define your goals around short- and long-term goals. Typically the first 3 months should measure things over which you have immediate control.
- Open and click through rates
- Social media impressions
- Number of blog posts published
- Website traffic increase
Longer term, 6-9 months, you should see the more substantial gains from the marketing efforts.
- Increased revenue
- Increased deal size
- Number of marketing qualified leads (MQLs)
- Shorter sales cycle
Defining your target metrics early allows you to build the reports and monitor the success of your marketing efforts. The earlier you are tracking, the more quickly you can respond and adapt in order to achieve your goals.
Following these four steps will help you build a more effective marketing strategy. Once you have documented these steps, you can more easily implement an automation tool. A defined audience helps you set lead scoring and grading rules. Knowing your audience’s behavior helps you focus your efforts on areas with the highest ROI (social, events, website, etc.). And ultimately, successfully reaching your audience with a refined marketing strategy makes both your business and the customer more satisfied.