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Data is the foundation of marketing automation. You cannot build and manage successful campaigns if your data is decentralized and not aligned with other business processes. So it’s crucial to implement the right data management tools with any marketing automation software system.
And what type of customer data do you want? Data that helps you understand customers’ behaviors, preferences, and needs. With access to clean, accurate prospect and customer data, you can provide relevant information at the right time, no matter where the person jumps to in the buying cycle.
But gathering data is not enough. Maintaining and updating data is just as crucial. You should not only be aware of missing or inaccurate data attributes but also data decay—or data quality deterioration. People and entities make changes. Companies buy other companies; they merge. People start new jobs or change names. Email addresses change. New offices open and others shut down. State, local, and national governments make changes as well. Street names change, the boundaries for area codes shift, countries change their postal address conventions. Your own life may seem very static, but in large populations, change happens every second.
Effective customer data management is often the least understood aspect within any company. Yet, it's the most important area to focus on. Without clean data, you waste time and money because you don't know who you are targeting and why.
Marketers have discovered the importance of customer data management capabilities within marketing automation to monitor important KPIs in each marketing campaign, such as open rates, click-through rates, form fills, number of sales qualified leads (SQL), time-on-page, cost per lead. With accurate data, campaign engagement rates increase, and better engagement rates help turn more opportunities into leads, boosting the amount of revenue attributable to any campaign.
With the right marketing automation software, the customer becomes the focal point of everything you do. You can turn on and measure online and offline customer interactions through various channels. Internal, external, campaign, and profile data can be combined within one system, so you can pinpoint buying triggers and instantly respond with appropriate, personalized messaging. You have the tools to analyze trends, make predictions, and provide recommendations. You can build the types of omnichannel experiences your customers want. The result is happy customers, which leads to revenue gains.
Marketing automation software helps you better manage customer data, which in turn, helps you:
Email marketing is still a very effective communication channel and is considered a cornerstone of any marketing campaign. It’s also a great candidate for automation.
Marketers use email to deliver targeted messaging all along the buyer’s journey. These email communications can include single email “blasts,” newsletters, surveys, requests, new product announcements, etc.
While these "one-offs" will always have a place in your email marketing strategy, setting up automated campaigns is a smart and cost-effective way to use the channel.
Why? Emails are triggered by a person's actions and are built based on what you know about them (using all that clean customer data). Emails are timely, personalized, and hyper-relevant to each recipient. As a result, they are opened and clicked on more frequently. And that frequency drives visits and revenue.
Email marketing automation success goes beyond the sending of a single email. With marketing automation, you can create an email marketing campaign composed of many different elements. Think about how productivity would plummet if you were forced to manually create and send a single (one-touch) email to everyone on your list. With the right software, you could set up an automated email workflow that sends a personalized email whenever a person acts in a certain way, such as signing up for a mailing list or newsletter, downloading an ebook or free trial, or clicking through a landing page). With email marketing automation, you can set up the email workflow once. As people meet whatever behavioral trigger(s) you define, relevant emails are sent to them.
You can also use marketing automation software to segment your audience based on events and actions triggered within your workflows. For example, you could tag everyone who joined your email list but didn’t open your welcome email. All you need to do is set up a workflow and add an action that’ll tag your subscribers based on their actions.
Trust matters in email marketing. If you provide relevant and helpful content, your recipients will be more open to receiving more of your emails and other marketing materials. You can use marketing automation software to improve relevancy, email deliverability, and maintain your reputation as a quality sender. You can make improvements through:
The number of email opens and clicks is one way to measure email marketing effectiveness. Another is visual click-through reporting, provided by your marketing automation software, that lets you see which specific links get the best response. By knowing which email offers perform best, you can fine-tune all trigger-based marketing campaigns to serve up suitable messages/offers at the right time.
Sometimes people sign up for an offer, are added to your list, and then stop interacting with you. To bring them back into the fold, you can use marketing automation software to create a re-engagement campaign—a series of emails designed to get people interested in you again. You can use marketing automation to trigger these emails at the exact time when each subscriber reaches a certain level of inactivity. For example, you can build a segment that includes people who've been on your list for more than 180 days and are unengaged (with an engagement score of, say, -3).
There are times when re-engagement campaigns don't succeed. Ideally, after a couple of failed attempts, you'd either suppress these contacts from future mailings or remove them from your list altogether.
Removing a contact from your email marketing list may seem drastic, especially for smaller companies where every lead counts. However, consider just how much poor email deliverability would cost you. It's almost always less expensive to attract new marketing contacts who would be happy to hear from you.
There are two ways to remove a contact—the manual way and the automated way. The manual way requires that you search for every contact in your customer database. In contrast, the automated way requires a workflow. It could be a standalone workflow or an add-on to your re-engagement workflow.
“91% of marketers believe poor email deliverability has a negative financial impact on their business; with 8% saying the effect was severe.”
AI takes email marketing automation to a new level. With AI-enhanced capabilities within your email marketing automation system, you can:
Marketing automation software helps you better manage customer data, which in turn, helps you:
Learn more about AI-enhanced marketing automation
Lead management is the lynchpin of demand and revenue generation strategies and is equally important to marketing and sales. Marketing automation software provides the framework to best handle lead management. Without a proper system to handle all potential customers across all channels (email, web, ecommerce, direct, etc.), it's impossible to monetize their interest.
Close collaboration between sales and marketing is necessary, and it's especially critical during the handoff of leads. Both teams need to be in sync regarding the criteria, attributes, and characteristics of different lead types. Although lead management focuses primarily on the organization of the customer data distributed across the various sales cycle stages, marketing automation software simplifies this otherwise manual and time-consuming task.
92% of users say that their main goal with marketing automation software is to improve their qualified lead pipeline.
The goal of every marketing email campaign is to generate qualified leads, and marketing automation software helps marketers manage the lead qualification process.
Initially, most people are not ready to buy. They need to be nurtured through the process. A marketing automation platform uncomplicates lead management due to its ability to review the criteria for each prospect/ customer and place them, as appropriate, into the next stage of their buying cycle. Marketers can quickly identify who is not ready to progress towards a sale and who may just need more encouragement.
With marketing automation software, marketers have the tools to assess the behavior and fit of each buyer and ultimately determine if they have the attributes of a qualified lead.
Lead routing is a crucial part of the lead management process. Leads need to be routed to the right resources so they can become customers. With the right software solution, you can categorize and prioritize leads based on your selected criteria and get them where they need to go to keep marketing and sales initiatives going.
Marketing automation software helps route marketing-qualified leads (MQLs) based on a score or rank so sales can focus their time and energy on those who are ready to buy. And this, in turn, eliminates the bottlenecks that occur when lead routing is done manually.
With a marketing automation platform in place, you can guarantee that each lead is efficiently and correctly delivered to sales at the appropriate time. No more lost leads and/or opportunities. Aligning lead routing with marketing automation ensures no leads will slip through the system.
By feeding leads into a marketing automation system, lead information is automatically captured and routed to your sales team based on geography, industry, product interest, or other assigned business rules. Whether you have a direct sales force, named account models, partner channels, or a sales organization that requires sophisticated routing capabilities, marketing automation ensures that leads are efficiently and correctly delivered to sales.
Lead nurturing is the process marketers use to develop relationships—through ongoing, relevant communication—with their inactive prospects/customers over time to encourage them to buy.
The more customer data you have, the more success you'll achieve in your lead nurturing efforts. You can create spot-on buyer personas and accurately define need-based objectives. You'll also better understand your targeted buyers' behavioral and consumption patterns, which will help you refine and optimize your ongoing lead nurturing processes.
Effective lead nurture programs should consider both buyer role/persons and where they reside in your sales cycle. Using these two elements, you can have relevant conversations with your prospects and customers because you will know who you are talking to and what's important to them.
A nurture campaign will not be successful if you simply blast out emails no matter the response rate (or lack thereof). Done right, lead nurturing campaigns can go a long way to establish brand affinity and loyalty long before a person contemplates making a purchase. By cultivating this latent demand, you can make it easier to convert unqualified leads to opportunities.
Lead nurturing helps keep channels of communication open with prospective buyers by providing content that supports their research and discovery processes. Marketing automation can send that content when it's needed based on whatever criteria you establish.
Lead nurturing is not just for new customers. Marketing automation helps move current customers towards additional purchases. You can reach out to them with a personalized message as soon as it becomes clear that they may be interested in other products/services.
Marketers use a lead scoring framework to determine when prospects or customers are ready to buy. At that point, your sales team can take over the relationship and follow up with those prospects.
Lead scoring determines a sales-ready lead, and it can act as the trigger to ensure that the sales team follows up to convert those leads to closed revenue.
Lead scoring uses common lead quality definitions, such as BANT (budget, authority, need, and timeline) and qualification data, including lead response, activity, and behavior. By implementing a scoring system, marketers can effectively assess and qualify quality leads. Unqualified or cold leads can be routed back into a lead nurturing program until they become active again.
Lead scoring requires collaboration and input from both sales and marketing. The two teams define and establish an agreed-upon system and processes to identify which prospects might be ready to buy. Then after the lead is passed on, the two teams need to exchange information on the quality of the leads sent to sales.
Marketing automation software score leads quickly, so that, for example, when prospects open their emails, their lead score will rise. If the score reaches the threshold where it will be transferred to sales, the sales rep can quickly reach out to the person while their action is top of mind. But it is not just email opens that impact lead scoring. Scores can rise higher based on other behavioral attributes, such as visiting a pricing page, watching a demo, starting an online chat, etc.
Leads with higher scores will be passed to the sales team much quicker to enhance the odds of closing the deal.