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Can marketing automation get better ROI?

Marketing automation is a great resource, but it’s only as good as your business smarts.

An effective marketing campaign now requires the use of multiple communication platforms. This is where marketing automation technologies can provide great value. Marketing automation can customise and automate the timing of your marketing communications, analyse the buying habits of your target consumers and help you to measure the return on your marketing investment.

But while automation software can make modern marketing a lot easier, Rick Speciale, Chief Digital Officer and founder of online marketing and strategy company MyCMO, says you shouldn’t expect the software to do all the work for you. “You can choose to abdicate your responsibility for understanding your customer to the software, but you can’t buy business smarts off the shelf,” he says.

So, how can you get the most out of marketing automation?

Put your customers before content

Sending targeted content to your customers is nothing new. However, the range of channels has increased to include social media platforms such as Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook, and this requires a strategic approach to content delivery.

Speciale says you must consider your client before you create your content. “We all used to focus on the content and just push it out,” he says. “New content management systems are no longer built around content they now put the customer in the centre. Content is just one piece of the puzzle. You need to know how your customers want to receive the content, then you create it accordingly.”

Integrate your CRM

Customer relationship management (CRM) software is a valuable marketing tool, because it helps you to organise and track your customer information and activities. By integrating it with your website and marketing automation software, the information about when your customer visits your site and the pages they look at can be fed directly into your CRM. “Integration means you’re aware of where all your customers are and what they might be interested in,” says Speciale.

Combine your analytics

Analytics tools can help you track the number of visitors to your site, their demographics, the average number of pages viewed per visit and the kind of technology they used to access your site, such as mobile devices and internet browsers. Combining a tool such as Google Analytics with a marketing automation program can give you a broader picture of your marketing campaign success, as it analyses each individual who visits your site.

“Analytics means you can follow your customers everywhere they go so you can better understand them,” says Speciale. “It’s nice that you have content to send them and it’s good that you can interact with them on their terms, but the analytics allow you to work out what goes to who and when.”

Make your database a marketing manual

A database allows you to store all your customer information. Speciale recommends going a step further with your database to assist in marketing automation. “You’ve worked hard to create content and to interact with your customers. Now you need to transform this into a forward-thinking manual a database that shows how you need to interact next time,” he says. “Put your own spin on it to make the database work specifically for your needs, and constantly refine it. This kind of information is not going to be sitting in a software package.”

Nurture your leads

A marketing campaign can help generate leads, but converting leads into revenue takes work. Lead nurturing requires the combination of content, CRM integration, analytics and database management.

“Lead nurturing prevents you from losing that initial sale by viewing it as a longer life cycle,” explains Speciale. “It means you keep in touch with a customer. You can deliver white papers or articles while they’re not buying something from you and you ensure you maintain that contact. You’ll find their buying signals later.â€

4 marketing automation tools to try

1. Marketo is an advanced automation tool that can help marketers manage email and social media campaigns and also provides tools for sales teams.

2. Hootsuite can help you manage social media networks, schedule messages and measure ROI.

3. Pardot is designed for B2B businesses. It allows you to segment your audience based on demographic and behavioural information.

4. HubSpot can help attract visitors to your website and provides tools and tips to convert more visitors into leads.

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