How to Drive Your Marketing Automation Strategy Forward
Marketing ROI

How to Drive Your Marketing Automation Strategy Forward

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You’ve invested a lot of time and money into your marketing automation platform (MAP). You finally feel like you have a good understanding of all its capabilities, be it Marketo, Eloqua, Silverpop, or any of the dozen others out there, and your recurring nightmares of funky token values, misdirected emails, and misaligned segments have, for the most part, subsided.

But do you know how to get the most out of your MAP to generate more leads and use content to make them more sales-ready? According to Skyword’s content marketing trends survey, 68 percent of executives indicated their main content marketing goal is to engage customers and prospects, with 44 percent saying that enhancing brand awareness and loyalty is their objective. Are these objectives on your 2015 road map? If so, read on to learn how you can pair your MAP knowledge with your content marketing strategy to get the most out of your creative assets.

bigstock-e-mail-spam-69898867.jpgLead Nurturing with Emails

Believe it or not, email is the most effective channel for reaching prospects. Sending personalized emails to niche segments will activate leads and cause more of them to convert, compared to mass emails to your entire database. Marketing automation enables you to optimize your email strategy and send the right content to the right audience at the right time.

To elevate your lead nurturing programs, start developing separate tracks for your audience. Well-thought-out programs will put into perspective which new or repurposed article will appeal to which audience. Depending on your audience, it may be a big task to have personalized content for each segment. The possibilities of segmentation are endless, but here are a few to get you started:

  • Stage. Create content for each stage of the buying cycle (TOFU, engaging, converting).
  • Job title/level. Some C-level execs will ignore content that doesn’t capture the big picture, while managers and directors generally like to get down and dirty with the details.
  • Actions. Email leads who downloaded a specific eBook or registered for a webinar a week after their designated activity. Offer them a piece of content that complements the content they engaged with.
  • Industry. Your B2B tech content should look a lot different from your CPG content.
  • Location. Language aside, content personalized to specific countries will be vastly different. Not only that, you should grab your lead’s attention by mentioning an upcoming or past event specific to his or her area.

If there are gaps in your data or if you simply don’t trust what’s in your database, there are plenty of enrichment tools to append or replace your data—NetProspex, ReachForce, and RingLead, to name a few.

As marketers, we’re used to sending emails to leads when new, long-form content assets are created, but we fail to use short-form articles in the same way. Are you currently monitoring published blog content for opportunities to reach a segment of your database? Sometimes the most relevant touchpoint for your leads lives on your blog, not behind a download wall. Your MAP still scores the engagement, so start thinking bigger picture with your nurturing strategy.

Real-time personalization per deviceReal-Time Personalization

When real-time personalization is used strategically, you can convert more anonymous leads by targeting one or more of the segments described previously (or one of your own). The technology can also recommend content by analyzing the path a lead has taken on your website and displaying content based on similar paths leads have taken previously. The best MAPs allow you to personalize pages based on your audience segments.

Here are some content ideas for real-time personalization:

  • Get more subscribers to your weekly emails by displaying a pop-up or widget to repeat users who have not subscribed.
  • Add industry-specific infographics and other images based on your target verticals.
  • Use content that contains lingo that speaks to your various audiences. Put yourself in the lead’s shoes: If you were a first-time visitor to the site and in the manufacturing industry, what content, images, and text would speak to you?
  • Display the company’s name (inferred or not) to grab the lead’s attention. You can even create content to specifically target that company—for both anonymous and known leads.

If you’re having trouble getting traction in a specific industry, the solution might be to create more industry-related content for your site.

Social Content

Creating content for the right user on the right deviceURL parameters can be used to identify where a lead originally came from before she or he filled out your form. You may need to alter your strategy when you discover which channels are driving the most conversions. For example, URL parameters will show you if your recent paid Twitter campaign led to more lead conversions than its organic counterpart. This will tell you to further invest in similar paid programs.

It’s also important to note that if you’re using paid or organic social to convert leads, you should make it simple for users to convert in ways that are native to the platforms they’re using. Consider using social form fill to autofill certain fields and make it easier for your leads to complete forms and capture information that you generally wouldn’t, such as social reach, gender, and profile photos.

MAPs will also allow you to better calculate ROI for your social content. You will be able to tell how many leads were generated per campaign, which campaigns contributed to an opportunity closing, and much more. Once you have tracking tags on your website, you’ll be able to identify exactly which piece of content brought the lead to your site as well as which one caused him or her to become a known lead. The more content the lead interacts with, the higher his or her lead score climbs—and the more sales-ready he or she becomes.

In an interview with SalesFusion, Skyword VP of Marketing Patricia Travaline gives a car analogy: Marketing automation is the engine, and content is the gasoline that makes it run. “Without content, your marketing automation is sort of like having the car up on blocks in someone’s backyard,” she says.

If you’re like me, you struggle with finding the time to create all the targeted content that makes your car run. Consider working with a partner who can connect you with the right creative talent to maximize the use of your MAP solution.

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