The International Data Corporation predicts the marketing automation industry will grow from $3.2 billion in 2010 to $4.8 billion in 2015. Recent analysis by Frost & Sullivan shows that almost half of last year’s market was dominated by three marketing automation tools: Marketo, Eloqua (purchased for $810 million by Oracle), and Silverpop.
The best software can automate activities such as lead management and segmentation, lead scoring, and email marketing and testing. Marketing automation can supplement content marketing in a number of ways, but I will highlight three: prioritizing and nurturing leads, email marketing, and performance measurement.
Marketing automation allows you to attribute points to leads for specific behaviors and demographics. You can determine how many points will be given to leads depending on their characteristics and how they interact with your content. A few examples are included in the table on the right. You can also subtract points from a lead’s score. At Skyword, we subtract 10 points for leads that contain numbers or special characters in either the first or last name, since this is a common characteristic of spam leads.
Aside from scoring leads, the real benefit of this software is to alert your sales representative when a lead from a high-priority account visits a piece of your content or one of your Web pages. With marketing automation, it is possible to alert the owner of the lead when they take a particular action or reach a certain score you deem to be “sales-ready.” Some marketers only push leads that have reached a certain score to their customer relationship management.
Additionally, a marketing automation tool such as Marketo can score and track anonymous leads before they make themselves known. Once the lead makes itself known—by completing a form, for instance—you receive an account of all that lead’s activity.
If you are strategic, you will limit the number of fields on your forms. Because certain fields will inevitably be left blank, you might not be capturing a lead’s full score. For instance, if “job title” is an important measurement of lead quality but is not included on all of your forms, you can keep a report of all blank or incomplete job titles. By keeping track of these data management reports, you can view the quality of your data at a glance. The report will be empty if all information for this field is entered appropriately. Progressive profiling is also a great way to capture additional information if the lead returns to your page to download another asset.
At Skyword, we have reports that populate when data is missing or entered incorrectly. A report will be blank if all leads meet certain field requirements. Sometimes, workflow rules or simply requiring a field isn’t enough. This presents a good coaching opportunity to the offender so it doesn’t happen again. Lead management and list segmentation is a powerful way to use the software.
You spend a lot of time, money, and effort creating your content, so you should promote and support that content through emails and nurturing programs. Marketing automation gives you the ability to plan email outreach weeks ahead of time, supporting your broader content amplification efforts. If a lead downloads an e-book, configure your marketing automation system to follow up with the lead by sending emails with related content, webinars, and case studies to get it more sales-ready.
Many companies use the SiriusDecisions model to organize leads at different stages. Leads with a marketing qualified inquiry (MQI) status might receive one set of emails, while marketing qualified leads (MQLs) might receive an entirely different type of communication. The emails can be scheduled to be sent once a week, but once their status changes to MQL, they transition to another engagement program—another set of emails with other pieces of content at perhaps a different cadence. Segment your leads and send emails to reach the person you want, when you want.
It is crucial to create different kinds of content for leads in various stages of the funnel. Content designed for leads at opposite ends of the funnel will look entirely different. For leads who view a particular Web page, you can schedule to send them emails that link to a piece of timely, related content you would like them to see, or to what you predict the viewer was searching for. By amplifying your great content through email, you’re building a reporting framework that proves your return on investment.
You can also learn more about your audience by testing different email or landing page content. Does one subject line perform better than another subject line? If an email comes from one salesperson, does it get opened more often than if it comes from another salesperson?
Showing a piece of content’s ROI has always been a challenge to some and a nightmare to others. Exactly how many opportunities did this piece of content help create? How many MQLs viewed this piece of content? How many new leads were generated from this piece of content? Marketing automation reports can provide this information and more. Reports show not only conversions but also how many opportunities are associated with leads who viewed or engaged with a certain piece of content.
Using tags, you can attribute campaigns and content to specific creators. If your boss comes to you and asks who your most effective content creators are, you’ll be able to give an intelligent answer supported by data. Assigning high-cost campaigns to your most successful campaign managers could generate more leads.
If you know that a particular piece of content cost $600 to create, you can see how many of your leads interacted with that piece of content to determine an accurate cost per lead. Go even further and place a form on that content so you can see how many new leads originated from that page. Having the ability to report on the total value of opportunities that are tied to leads from a certain piece of content can be very compelling information to present. Such powerful analytics can help you adjust your content strategy to yield the best results. Which types of content have the highest number of opportunities associated with them? Which types garner the most MQLs? Modify your strategy based on the types of content that are performing the best.
To be successful, you need more than just the best marketing automation software and the best content marketing platform in the world: You need a strategy in place. Companies tend to make the mistake of jumping in without aligning the right people and resources for a project. Just because you have a Ferrari doesn’t mean you should gun it to 160 miles per hour in a construction zone.
Before you put the pedal to metal, determine your writers, your targeted audience, buyer personas, content goals, and keywords in order to create high-quality content that you’re proud of. Plan out what content you need for each buyer stage. Ask your team important questions, such as: Who will be creating this content? What keywords should we use in the content? If a lead in the finance industry clicks this link in this email, what content should they receive as a follow-up and when?
Consistent content creation is a huge undertaking and requires a large, constant effort. Contact Skyword to supplement your marketing automation software to help with important tasks such as writer recruitment, editorial, content strategy, content amplification and promotion, and more.