April 22, 2015

How to Use Marketing Automation as Lead Generation Software (Infographic)

Note: See the end of this post for a marketing automation infographic summarizing the main benefits of using this software for lead generation.

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As businesses gain access to more customer information, and consumers themselves have multiple options for services or products, marketing strategies have become more complex.

These strategies all service the bottom line: producing more revenue for your organization.

The number of specializations within the marketing profession has expanded to include positions like social media, search engine optimization, copy writing and blogging, conversion rate optimization, email marketing, and so on.

Each of these specialties serves multiple purposes (drive more website traffic, improve conversions on the site, interact with our audience on a one-to-one basis) but they all service the bottom line: producing revenue for your organization. 

For many organizations, this means producing a steady stream of leads — consumers who have indicated an interest in your product or service. 

Securing a steady stream of leads is difficult however, which is why consistently measuring ROI still eludes many marketers. Marketing automation software (sometimes referred to as lead generation software) is one of the best solutions to this puzzle. Recent surveys of marketing automation users highlight the ability to accurately measure results and the significant increase in leads as key benefits of the software. 

Preliminary research from Venturebeat’s marketing automation study indicates that the second most challenging aspect of marketing automation for business professionals is working out how this software fits into their organization. The first was differentiating between products.

This article will detail the main tactics enabled by marketing automation for generating leads. If you’re searching for an examination of products, check out our comparison of Hubspot versus Marketo, or use our Product Selection Tool to see which software best matches your business goals.

Because marketing automation platforms (MAPs) can be complicated, we’ve also included several tutorial videos to make each tactic more practical. 

Sales Collaboration

Collaboration between sales and marketing is a common problem born of a disagreement about lead qualification. More often than not, these parties use one another as scapegoats rather than working towards a feasible solution for converting leads into customers. This type of disjointed marketing-sales partnership can get in the way of your organization’s growth.

According to the Aberdeen Group, highly aligned organizations grow their revenue at an average of 32 percent per year, while less coordinated companies fall by seven percent. 

Marketing automation was essentially developed as a foil for the sales professional’s platform of choice, customer relationship management software. In similar fashion to how CRM software centralizes all of the data that sales teams need about incoming prospects and accounts, MAPs centralize customer behavioral data from email campaigns, website activity, and social media interactions.

Given that the longest running dispute between marketing and sales revolves around the quality of leads, this behavior data could be the olive brand that both sides need to form a productive partnership.

How to Send Lead Alerts to Sales in Act-On

Instead of bickering with marketing about sending unqualified leads, the sales team can choose which leads to follow up with based on the data in the marketing automation system. Instead of complaining that sales is missing too many opportunities, marketers can take lead management into their own hands and nurture prospects that sales can’t reach.

In the best scenario, your MAP will sync with your CRM and enable a two way flow of communication between the two systems. This enables sales to mark when a prospect is ready to be nurtured in the marketing automation system and lets marketing indicate when a lead has performed some behavior that indicates purchase intent.

The end result of this collaboration should be to help sales follow up with the right leads at the right time — a critical process enabled by the work of marketing. By encouraging opportunities that would have otherwise been lost or abandoned, you’ll find yourself generating many more leads.

Email Drip Campaigns

When pundits mention “lead nurturing” they nearly always mean email campaigns. These campaigns are referred to as “drip campaigns” because marketing automation software allows marketers to deliver emails in spaced intervals, which resemble a faucet drip. (A clumsy analogy but now you know.)

Drip campaigns are the primary mechanism MAPs use to nurture leads. Most programs will come stock with powerful segmentation capabilities, which enable marketers to divide their database of leads by channel, position in the sales funnel, industry, or other important distinctions.

Segmentation is an important precursor to deploying drip campaigns, because you want to be sure your email campaigns provide relevant content that guides the buyer’s journey. By supplying consistently useful resources, leads will develop an affinity for your company, and be more likely to trust your organization.

Read our article on crafting effective marketing emails for more insight.

Landing Pages

Landing pages are an essential complement to any email strategy, because they invite your prospects to confirm their interest in your product or service. By trading their contact or company information for educational content, consumers send a clear signal that a certain area interests them.

MAPs include capabilities for producing and deploying landing pages as well as attaching information prospects input into forms to confirm their download. Now, instead of having to transfer data from an application designed exclusively for building landing pages, your data syncs directly to each respective prospect’s profile.

On a broad level, landing pages can speak to the segment of the audience you’re targeting, e.g., healthcare marketers looking for social analytics or manufacturers searching for business intelligence.

How to Create a Landing Page Using Hubspot

If you get more specific, your landing pages can correspond to even more granular phases of the buyer journey. For example, Collegis Education created email campaigns that targeted “soft inquiries” or potential students who had downloaded one of the organization’s career path guides.

Collegis first identified the main customer pathways, which helped them identify where students were in the learning process when they downloaded an asset. After students downloaded a guide, Collegis sent an email asking the recipient to self identify where they were in the funnel, i.e., “I know what career I want to pursue” versus “I’m still considering my career options.”

After dividing each area of education into more specific personas and buying phases, Collegis re-purposed existing blog content and created drip campaigns targeted to each audience. Corresponding landing pages were created with creative that reflected the mindset of the target audience.

Collegis increased their conversion rate across all their campaigns by seven percent, while other marketers have used the landing page/email marketing combination to realize up to a 50 percent increase in conversion rates.

Converting on a landing page represents one possible culmination of a lead nurturing campaign. Instead of being lost in the void, these prospects have received targeted, relevant communications and decided to download another piece of content, which often indicates buying intent. This is the point where marketing could flag sales to reach out and initiative a conversation that results in a purchase.

Personalization and A/B Testing

Personalization in marketing has become very important, and very effective.

Personalizing across your campaigns should only come after you’ve properly segmented your market. That’s because if your email or web copy touches on the wrong pain points it won’t connect, regardless of whether you include someone’s first name or the name of their business in the email.

Marketing automation makes the personalization process scalable, which seemed a nearly insurmountable obstacle even a decade ago for most professionals. Using merge tags, MAPs can pull personal information from individuals profiles and display said information when the prospect opens an email or visits a landing page.

The results can be spectacular.

In addition to personalization, A/B testing is another tool included in most MAPs that can help marketers offer more relevant communications on a large scale. The premise of A/B testing is exactly as it sounds: create two versions of the same piece of marketing (landing page, email, display ad, etc.) and test the results with a segment of your audience.

A/B testing can be one of the most technical aspects of marketing automation, but the extent of the complexity depends on the idiosyncrasies of your solution. A/B testing should only be conducted once a baseline is established, so it may be a “phase two” type of project for the budding marketing automation user.

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 infographic on how to use marketing automation to generate leads

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This article is by no means all-encompassing; automation platforms are powerful, and the market is rapidly evolving. However, these systems are some of the most sophisticated tools marketers have at their disposal, particularly when you’re looking to optimize your lead generation and lead nurturing programs.

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