Marketing automation is there to leverage and scale your business, but it doesn’t build relationships for you. It’s up to you to build relationships with your customers. Let’s not forget that technology is just an enabler and to build relationships with people, we need to talk to them. We need to earn their trust.
When you interact with your customers and prospects, you can gain valuable information about them, which you can use upon automating your marketing communications. This is particularly important because, when you communicate with your audience, they can see how much you know about them.
If you don’t know much about them, you’ll be ignored. Because it’s not only about you, it’s about them too – and no-one wants to be ignored, especially marketers and salespeople. You only benefit from marketing automation if you employ it systematically.
Know your audience
In order to know your audience, you first need to know who your audience is and what they do. Clearly not everyone is your target audience. Knowing your audience begins by defining your business objectives and brand personality.
Knowing your audience is a make or break factor which begins with your first handshake at a networking event or an email inquiry you received, because someone saw your ad on Google or heard about you somewhere.
Whatever you do, remember that you’re not the only one who says “we’re different” and “we put our customers first”… When making your morning coffee, ask yourself, how different are you in terms of your marketing and customer service compared to your competitors? Or are you one of those businesses that buys a list of “potential customers” and expect ROI?
It’s not marketing automation, is it?
Cut the shortcut
Although email is still one of the best marketing communications methods, in terms of ROI, even better than retargeting ad campaigns, it still has to be targeted and personalized. However, that doesn’t mean you should just start your email with “Hi Mark” or “Dear Lucy”, it means knowing the needs and expectations of Mark and Lucy.
How do you know Mark and Lucy? Have you ever spoken to them? Have they ever contacted you directly to tell you about their needs? Or has anyone who properly knows Mark and Lucy put you in touch with them to respond to their needs?
It’s not that easy, is it? As the old saying goes, it’s never wrong to do the right thing, even if others believe in total marketing automation and mass communications AKA spray and pray. Saying ‘business is a numbers game’ is a myth, and you know it.
Who are you talking to?
Although the ultimate goal is to sell more products and services, you won’t be able to sell unless you speak to the right person, the decision maker and the buyer. So you may need to spend some time on researching who actually needs your products and services and why, then be honest whether you can respond to their needs. No-one wants to talk to people who consider themselves better than anyone else and ‘create a need’ for something that no-one really needs.
Responding to needs is easier and it makes better business sense than creating needs. Please don’t try to solve a problem that doesn’t exist.
As you know B2B decision makers and buyers don’t buy things because they want to, they buy because they know they need them. The latest research conducted by the Harvard Business Review suggests 95% B2B CMOs put “better tailoring of content” as a top priority in gaining their attention. So, plan your marketing automation program accordingly.
The most important things we need in business to make meaningful decisions are common sense and relevant data. We’ve all seen research that suggests the best time to tweet, post a photo on Instagram, publish an article or send an email. Now a question, how much do we know about our own audience?
Analyze and evaluate your activities
Every business is different, don’t be carried away with too much research out there. Measure what matters to you and to your business. For example, the best time to tweet or send an email is often different from one business to another. Always start with your audience and their level of interaction with your brand. Such approach keeps you visible and enhances your credibility.
Analytics always help to understand how engaged people are and how they express themselves. For the sake of argument, let’s assume you want to identify the best form of content that people created during one of your events and were engaged with the most on social media. What would you do? Obviously you’d use analytics to create a pie chart like this:
Having established the form of content, you may want to find out more about the most used platforms during your event.
Such level of intelligence allows you to get to know your audience’s habits and communicate with them via the medium they’re most likely to use. This in turn leads to more interaction and ultimately building mutually beneficial relationships. Because you know where your audience hangs out the most. You may create another chart like this:
Now, you may want to create your own benchmark in terms of the best time to tweet and post photos on Instagram based on your own audience behavior.
You can do exactly the same thing with the emails you send to your customers and prospects, to establish the best time to send emails and what types of email convert better.
Combine common sense and data
Common sense and data combined enable you to understand your audience behavior better. This calls for investing in the right platforms as well as the ability to design the entire process seamlessly. If you invest in marketing automation and you just use it to send automated emails; you’re probably underutilizing the power of the technology.
You need to use the technology to save time and make your marketing processes more efficient; but you also need to engage with your customers and prospects in real time. It’s critical to get the basics right. It’s not good enough to have a marketing automation platform in place if you’re not willing to engage and interact with your audience. Put people above technology!
There’s no magic formula or a secret sauce when it comes to running a successful marketing automation program. You just need to be relevant and know your audience; whether you want to sell event tickets or you think you have the best solution to a problem that your prospects would probably need. You may actually find “7 Email Segmentation Lists You Should Create Today”a great source for creating successful and profitable Marketing Automation program.
Think about this
Marketing automation can benefit everyone, only if they put people above and beyond the technology. Focus on creating and adding value. Have a human voice, no-one buys from a corporate voice. Be meaningful and relevant; that starts with knowing what you want to do and why. Selecting communication channels comes after evaluating your audience behavior and the channels they use. Now you have a solid strategy for your marketing automation program. Good luck!
By the way, please let me know what you think. Use the comment section below to share your thoughts and ideas. Thank you!