Marketing changed forever with the advent of the internet, social media and smart devices.

Marketing automation allows us to consolidate all the isolated data and use it much more effectively to engage with prospects on their terms and in a timely fashion.

To continue to succeed as a business we need to use the new tools to establish a culture of continuous improvement in our marketing and sales activities. This has the added benefit of helping us respond to future changes in customer’s behaviour as they inevitably occur.

 What is the most noticeable change?

 Buyers are now much further through their buying process before they approach a vendor. As marketers it is crucial we find effective techniques to help buyers through their research so that our company is front of mind when they are ready to engage directly.

 The New Digital Buyer

 Buyer behaviour has evolved with the development of the internet. They can now access an abundance of information instantly, viewing detailed specifications, pricing and reviews about goods and services around the clock. Meanwhile social media encourages browsers to share and compare.

As a result buyers can delay engaging with selling representatives until they know as much, or even more, than the salesperson.

 In fact, today’s buyers might be anywhere from two-thirds to 90% of the way through their journey before they approach a vendor, and in many cases, buyers postpone talking with salespeople until they are ready for quotes.

Marketing has now assumed the critical role of engaging and educating prospects using inbound marketing techniques co-ordinated by a marketing automation platform – and continues to have an important role in the final stages of a sale. It is this longer period of buyer exploration and research that allows the savvy marketer to exert more influence on the buyer’s behaviour and thus increase leads and conversions.

 Analysing New Buyer Behaviour

 As potential buyers and existing customers navigate the Internet and social media they leave traces of their behavior. While there is a vast amount of data to analyse from a number of different sources, a group of tools has emerged which allow this data to be collected and shared intelligently. These tools go under the collective name of marketing automation.

By analysing this information against buyer profiles a company can continuously refine their messaging, making it ever more personalised for buyers at every stage of the buying cycle. It is also possible to produce and organise Web content (e.g. the inclusion of forms and surveys) to encourage prospects to share their details and move from anonymous to known.

 Marketing Automation

 What? Marketing automation is a category of software

 How? It automates and measures marketing processes

 Why? So companies can work more efficiently and grow revenue faster

 For any business, aligning staff, processes and technology is a real challenge – but crucial for generating more revenue and achieving faster growth.

Marketing automation is a technology solution that allows companies to track prospects and customers with greater precision, learn from their online behaviour, and nurture them with personalised, useful content. This helps convert prospects to customers and grow existing accounts.

Better yet, it allows marketers to attribute marketing spend to revenue because it can track each prospect’s activity from initial engagement through lead conversion and beyond.

 Marketing automation gives you all the information you need to make the incremental changes to your marketing and sales processes that will have a big effect on your company’s revenue.

 Features of Marketing Automation Software

 Marketing automation software provides broad functionality. The majority of tools are cloud based with many fully integrating with your existing CRM system.

 Key features offered by marketing automation systems: 

  • CRM integration
  • Lead scoring: Both demographic and behavioural activity
  • Activity tracking: Based on email and web activity
  • Lead nurturing: Includes trigger-based emails and multi-step campaigns
  • Email marketing: Allows for unlimited emails optimised for deliverability
  • Landing page builder: Includes a form builder to capture leads
  • Improved lead intelligence for the sales team
  • Comprehensive marketing reporting and analytics

 There are lots of marketing automation platforms to choose from – each with their own strengths and weaknesses. Knowing what you want to achieve from the technology will help eliminate some of your options and allow more time to be focused on a viable shortlist.

 Article contributed by Geof Gibbons, of independent marketing automation specialists, Stampwood 01202 805655