I remember sometime in the early aughts one of my digital marketing specialists came back from a conference with a book on Weblogging. I rolled my eyes as it sounded like he had indigestion. What’s a blog? I wrote it off as more hype and lumped it with all the other marketing-speak of the day: push, pull, RSS, portals, peer-to-peer, etc. Well, here we are again, and the term de jour is Marketing Automation.
More marketing hype or are we on to something?
Here is my take on Marketing Automation. Marketing Automation is doing all those relationship top-of-mind awareness things that endear you to your clients and prospects while scaling the process so these tasks happen consistently and reliably across your entire sales team. With that said, I’m not rolling my eyes this time. Marketing Automation is here to stay because it works.
The Original Gangster of Marketing Automation
I was enjoying lunch with a client of mine when we started discussing one of his most successful customers. We’ll call him Joe. Joe sold cars and was crazy good at it. This guy was different from the other salespeople in that he kept a box that held a card on each customer he had ever done business with. He kept notes on when his best customers’ kids turned 16 and were ready for their first cars. He knew birthdays, anniversaries, and dogs’ names and made a point to send handwritten notes to his customers celebrating life’s milestones. One man. One box of index cards. One hell of a successful car salesman.
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways
We’ve all heard Joe’s story before. Joe did an amazing job, but his system would never scale organizationally. Discipline, which Joe had, is only part of the battle. Consistency and workload are the other challenges. Imagine trying to touch dozens or hundreds of clients and prospects once a week or more with clock-like accuracy across teams of 3, 5, or even 10 sales and marketing professionals. Whew! It sounds impossible to keep up with. And without Marketing Automation, it is.
Marketing Automation is not easy but it is worth it
If you’re interested in scaling your business, the first thing to do is figure out a lead nurturing campaign where you touch your prospects 1 to 2 times a week for several weeks. Your sales cycle will impact how many weeks you keep tagged prospects on your nurture list so your mileage may vary. I’m a firm believer that a mixture of digital and traditional outreach should be part of any campaign. Here is a spitball list of possible activities:
- FedEx letter with educational info enclosed
- Call to leave a voicemail that letter is coming
- LinkedIn connection request
- Warm call to check that letter arrived
- Thank you email
- Handwritten thank-you note
- An email with a link to relevant content to their business
- Email newsletter delivery
- Print newsletter delivery
- Schwag delivery (coffee cup, pens, candy, notepads, etc)
- Impromptu video featuring a tour of your business and key people
- Relevant third-party article mailed in 9×12 envelope
- Follow up emails: best practices, white papers, self-assessments
- Follow up phone calls and voice mails
These activities can happen over say, 10 weeks. Now, imagine doing that for every prospect in your pipeline. Then, imagine all your salespeople doing this with their pipelines. The only way to scale this is to automate it. You may be thinking, “half of those activities you can’t automate such as the handwritten notes.” True. But we can automate the email that is sent to your marketing coordinator to tell them to do it on the exact day they need to, and we can have several dozen thank you notes pre-written and signed, so they go out immediately.
Countless campaigns can be created for your clients and prospects that can run concurrently for your different verticals. Campaigns for prospects can convert to campaigns for clients where you can really pour gasoline on the fire. Marketing Automation is where creativity and technology meet to increase revenues and retain customers. Will it stick around like blogging? Yes, indeed, it will.