While marketing automation is still a relatively new concept to many businesses, it’s been around long enough that savvy marketers are starting to look ahead to the next evolution in the space. The answer: more of the same—but with a twist.
That’s probably not the answer you were expecting. However, the truth is that few businesses really do automated marketing well. They’re impatient to see ROI and hesitant to sink time and effort into a strategy that’s much more of a long-term plan than a quick payoff. But that’s a mistake. It’s not time to look beyond marketing automation to the next big thing in lead generation; it’s time to look deeper to find exciting new opportunities for MA integration and data analysis.
From simple email to complex targeting and reporting, marketing automation software has made incredible strides over the years, offering businesses the tools and data reporting that were once the domain of large organizations with big budgets. Not anymore. Today, even small businesses can take advantage of the myriad automation options now peppering the market. Combined with the right strategy, the possibilities for building relationships and driving new revenue are endless.
Here are some of the top providers in marketing automation:
Create new connections among your marketing efforts.
In particular, your social media and your inbound content marketing efforts are ripe for cross-platform promotion. Imagine incorporating Tweets into a whitepaper or e-book, where the reader can share a piece of content that links to a form on a special landing page. What about integrating those bite-sized pieces of content into a Slideshare presentation that’s also sharable? When you start making those ties, you create new links back and forth across multiple sources, building an entire network of people discovering your content and passing it along to others.
Now take it to an even greater level. If you have an e-commerce setup, an app, unique event registrations, anything where you’re collecting data, look for innovative ways to connect media and platforms with marketing automation. It could open up a new world of cross-selling opportunities or chances to introduce customers to a different experience from your brand.
Integrate now or later? Yes.
Creating new connections sounds great, right? But, it also sounds like a lot of work. I know, but don’t fret too much, as dialing up more integration doesn’t necessarily need a ton of complicated logistics or even new content. You can likely use the same content you have sitting on the shelf, but with a little facelift. As mentioned earlier, try taking an interesting top 10 list from an existing piece of content, making it a simple one-pager and including a Twitter link on the PDF. Not much time investment, but potential cross-channel improvement. This low investment option also allows you to have some trial and error with your content, before committing budget to it.
Once you have some data and analysis under your belt, bring those insights to the strategy and planning process. Plan what your investment in a piece like an e-book is going to look like each time: it’s these pieces for Slideshare, four blog posts, X pieces of content to share on social, or Y content to offer as an exclusive to various audiences (Twitter followers, for example). Stick close to what your previous data tells you, but don’t be afraid to branch out where it makes sense—you might just uncover an exciting untapped resource.
Data is your best friend. You should be inseparable.
Discussions about data should be front and center during your planning and strategy sessions. And I’m not talking about the who – industry, number of employees, etc. – I’m talking about the what – conversions, responders, etc. The most common mistake marketers make is not thinking about the data until they have a plan—they’re left trying to fit data collection into the content plan, rather than building the plan around data. An even bigger mistake is putting in only basic data collection and then trying to dig up more detailed reporting after the fact. If you didn’t incorporate a plan for trackable links, unique impression measures, traffic sources or other measures, you’ll never know the true effectiveness of a campaign.
Marketing automation systems have certainly made it easier to report, but you still have to create building blocks right from the beginning to understand the full scope of what you want it to report. In truth, you might not know at first what to ask or what data you need to collect. But once you’ve launched a few campaigns, you’ll spot the holes soon enough.
Taking marketing automation to the next level is all about finding ways to be smarter about what you’re doing, integrating it all together, and discovering unexpected, yet insightful things about your leads and customers (or even your brand). It’s using data to get creative with your content and how you use it to make connections and build relationships. So what’s the next big thing in lead gen and marketing automation? Well, we think it’s you.
Andrea Becker is the VP of Marketing Service for LeadMD, specialists in marketing automation and CRM consulting services. Previously Andrea brought her unique combination of creativity and hard-hitting marketing know how to positions as the one-woman marketing and sales engine of an art gallery, the database marketing guru for a professional sports team and senior marketing analyst for one of the largest telecommunications companies in America.