Marketing automation is like icing on the cake

  • Does your marketing program have all the right ingredients? Columnist Mary Wallace explains why marketing automation is key to sweetening your efforts and engaging leads.


    Most of us have baked a cake at one time or another. We’ve put all the ingredients in a large bowl, mixed it up, dumped it in a pan, and then put it in the oven.

    When the cake was baked, we let it cool and added icing to the top.

    Why do we add the icing? Because icing makes a delicious cake even sweeter and provides a smoother, shinier confection to behold.

    Marketing automation does the same for marketers; it enhances how marketers engage leads and drive business. It makes what we do even better.

    Digital body language icing

    Regardless of whether it’s a huge enterprise or a startup, marketing is responsible for the components that uncover prospects, drive engagement and close sales. Marketing’s ingredients include a wide variety of stand-alone pieces like white papers and e-books, websites and landing pages, and special events or large conventions.

    Without marketing automation to sweeten those ingredients — by delivering them at the right time to the right lead — they are ignored. In a world of information deluge, leads and prospects only pay attention to what they care about.

    Through digital body language, a key component of marketing automation, marketers can better understand and act upon the needs of prospects. The trail of activity left by a lead’s digital engagement — like opens, clicks and website visits — can be harnessed to drive better engagement.

    For example, if a lead visits a page on IT security, he or she leaves a digital trail. Using this information in a programmatic systemic fashion, marketing automation can send an email message with content related to solving IT security issues.

    Lead scoring frosting

    Because it’s further down the funnel than ever before, marketing must smoothly interface with sales. Key to success is handing off leads who are ready to buy and have the authority or influence to purchase.

    When the timing is off, sales organizations waste time and effort. At the same time, a future sale may be soured because a prospect who is not ready to buy is pushed too hard.

    Valuing leads based on number of engagements, types of engagements and explicitly entered data points is another layer of frosting within a marketing automation platform. Known as lead scoring, this functionality systemically reviews the profiles and engagement of all leads against a predetermined set of criteria to determine who is right for sales.

    With this added layer of frosting, only those leads that are sales-ready are converted. Accompanying that transfer is activity information from the marketing automation platform that sales can review and use when communicating with the lead.

    Glazing the user experience

    User experience (UX) is about the relationship between leads and customers through a company’s technology. It’s also a key concern of many CMOs.

    Marketing automation, which sits at the hub of a lead’s engagement with the company, empowers UX and marketing teams to improve what was once an arduous experience.

    Through marketing automation, forms can be shorter and more dynamic. These smart forms can remember what a prospect previously filled out and only display fields that have not been answered.

    The good news from a conversion standpoint is that by eliminating redundant fields, the likelihood of a lead filling out a form significantly increases. In a case study by web development firm Imaginary Landscape, the company reduced the number of fields on its forms from 11 to four and saw a drastic 160 percent increase in qualified leads.

    Marketing automation can provide information about a lead or customer to other areas of the business like sales and customer service. This includes data from forms, as well as lists of web pages visited. This information provides a smooth glazing when responding to a prospect’s questions or a customer’s requests.

    Accountability topping

    As more and more CMOs gain a seat at the boardroom table, accountability of marketing is critical. CMOs need quantifiable information to discuss the impact and results of marketing activities.

    Metrics that show email, landing page and form performance provide modern marketers with the information they need to determine KPIs. They also provide insight into which campaigns and segments are producing results and which need to be optimized or removed.

    Topping it off, campaign attribution data and closed-loop reporting maintained within marketing automation platforms show marketing’s revenue impact. Because marketing can clearly show revenue impact, it is no longer considered a cost center. Instead, they are now a central part of an organization’s income generation effort.

    Marketing automation is a broad platform for multichannel marketing programs. It improves campaign velocity and relevance, creates the basis for better accountability of all marketing programs and drives overall improvement in marketing efficiency.

    Today’s marketing automation tools are about driving business with marketing — either in a complex sale or a relatively quick B2C sale. No matter what business you’re in, today’s marketing automation tools will help you effectively uncover new prospects, nurture leads and close deals.

    Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.

    [Article on MarTech Today.]

    Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.


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