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Marketing automation systems allow you to create highly targeted campaigns to reach the right people with the right message at the right time. The majority of new leads are not ready to buy immediately.  A marketing automation platform will allow you to:

  • Score leads to ensure quality leads are being funneled to sales so that sales conversations are as productive as possible
  • Nurture leads who aren’t yet ready to buy
  • Prevent leads from falling through the cracks
  • Measure what is/is not working

All of this combines to drive more sales.

Steps to Creating an Implementation Plan

  1. Selecting a marketing automation platform that best aligns with your goalsMarketing Automation
  2. Integrating the marketing automation platform with your CRM
  3. Building your initial segmentation
  4. Building your initial campaigns
  5. Defining your lead scoring parameters
  6. Optimization and advanced campaign creation

Steps 1 and 2 vary from company to company and require research. According to G2 Crowd, leading marketing automation platforms include Pardot, Eloqua, HubSpot, and Marketo while Infusionsoft and Adobe Campaign are listed as contenders. In my experience, Marketo and Pardot have been the easiest platforms to work with and are capable of supporting extremely interesting and effective campaigns.

Steps 3 and 4 can be thought of as “phase 1” where you go live with a simple set up while you begin collecting data that will be used in later rounds of optimization and advanced campaign creation (step 6).

In this context, campaigns are defined as a discrete set of emails targeted to a specific group.  Sample initial segmentation might look like:

  • Segment 1 – New leads acquired in the last 20 days
  • Segment 2 – Leads older than 20 days who haven’t purchased
  • Segment 3 – Buyers of product X
  • Segment 4 – Buyers of product Y

Each segment would receive its own email stream with specific goals.  You have the ability to customize how the emails look, how they read, and when they show up. You will also have data that tells you how they are performing. The best advice here is to test, test, and then test some more. If you are just getting started, here are some email subject line tips.

Lead Scoring

One of the most powerful components of marketing automation is lead scoring, which helps you take lead management to the next level. Marketing automation platforms offer the means to track how a lead reacts to your emails and where the lead goes on your website. By tracking both email and website behavior, you can determine the lead’s level of interest and flag the most qualified leads for special attention.

Examples of activities that can be used in lead scoring:

  • Articles/blog posts
  • Visits eBooks page
  • Downloads eBook
  • Email clicks
  • Visits videos page
  • Watches videos
  • Visits webinar page
  • Signs up for webinar
  • Attends a webinar

The methodology for lead scoring in most systems is completely customizable and the score can be adjusted up or down with different actions having different scores. Negative scoring reduces scores as buyer intent decreases.  Examples of items that could decrease lead scores are email unsubscribes and being added to a “Do Not Call” list.

Lead scoring can also be used to send real-time alerts to Sales and to trigger campaigns.  For example, if someone went to a product page and drilled down on pricing, that activity could increase the lead score, triggering an alert.

Lead scoring works best when it is a collaboration with Sales to identify the quantified components to a “qualified” lead. Shortly after launch, the lead scoring process should be reviewed to see how it is tracking against expectations. Lead scoring must be optimized using regular input from sales to achieve the most accurate scores. We recommend scheduling check-ups on a quarterly basis.

Get Started – Then Evolve

Marketing automation campaigns should evolve and grow as data is collected and analyzed.  While they can become quite sophisticated, they don’t have to start that way. It is often best to use an iterative process that begins with a simple set of campaigns that can be launched quickly.

Those initial campaigns can then later be replaced with more targeted campaigns that take advantage of the data collected.  This process allows for a quicker initial implementation that starts the nurturing and lead scoring process sooner, and allows you to start making some data-driven decisions.

About the Author Nick Perry is a marketing and digital strategy professional who has worked in both B2B and B2C environments. With deep experience in software, SaaS, and financial publications, he specializes in helping small- and medium-sized businesses build, grow, and optimize their digital marketing. He can be reached at (513) 279-2075 - or emailed directly.