From my years of experience, I have learnt that on average, there are eight touch points you need to make with your prospective client in order for any business to be concluded. Regardless of your product or service the numbers are the same, eight (8). It may come earlier or take a little longer, but the magic number eight (8) remains.
Your audience all have different retention styles
A senior executive type is not likely to read your 100 page marketing paper, nor will a marketing person be inclined to study detailed financial reports and metrics.
In order for your 'touch point' communications to be effective, you need to tailor the content to each of your specific contact persona's. As a general rule of thumb, I would recommend you look to deliver 'touch point' content at least once a week to your immediate short term prospects, and monthly for your ‘long term nurture’ (keep in touch) contacts.
We are all individuals with different interests and ‘trigger points’
Make sure that you have the most relevant information going to each contact.
The easy way, and the trap most people fall into, is sending the same stock brochure, email or mobile message to everyone that you have in your list. Don't kid yourself. This is lazy and your prospect will see it as that.
You could do this ‘handraulically’ but why would you?
Now then, as I said before in the opening, you could do this ‘handraulically’ for a few prospects, but once you get past a dozen - or into the triple digits - I highly recommend you start looking for marketing automation solutions. There are so many CRM and Marketing Automation solutions like Salesforce, Pipedrive, Marketo, MailChimp, Infusionsoft, Ontraport, MOBIT, and others that it would take pages to list them all.
Set and forget it is NOT!
Don’t be fooled. The phrase ‘marketing automation’ is rather misleading.
It really does save countless hours of time and generates leads while you sleep but, there is no ‘hands off’ or ‘set and forget’ about it.
I can’t tell you how bloody angry I get when I see consultants and even companies in our industry ‘bleating’ on virtuously about the ‘set and forget’ nature of marketing automation. There is a small element of this I admit, but in the main, it is ‘hands on’ and totally reliant on the content you write, or have
written, for you.
Would you BUY a 747 and figure it out for yourself?
You could, but it might take you a while to figure out how to fly it and…oh, then to fill it with passengers.
A ridiculous notion of course, but hear me out. There are parallels to this absurd thought when buying marketing automation software.
For a start, the software can be expensive, although not 747 expensive! Then comes the ‘figure it out bit’. Sure, many companies offer ‘quick start’ DIY training packages, but if you really want to get flying and have passengers join your new venture, then it pays to team up with a consultant or company that is closely aligned with the software you have selected.
Most marketing automation vendors either have a consulting service themselves, use partners, or have a mixture of both options. Sure, it costs a little more, but you wouldn’t buy a 747 and then figure out how to fly it now would you? Well of course you wouldn’t.
Now for the passengers
Marketing automation solutions can be hungry beasts. In themselves, and left to their own devices, marketing automation systems are fairly useless creations of technology without content, not to mention the strategy behind that which has planned a path for the content to take once the ‘go button’ is pushed. Email, mobile, social, it's the same thing. Content is required to fuel their engines. Without content, all you have is fancy software.
Having a 747 in your backyard would be fun I reckon, not to mention expensive, but to fill it with passengers, week after week and fly from point A to B, organize crew, food, drinks etc.., well that’s a whole different ball game.
Unless you have content being constantly poured into the fuel tank along with ever changing varieties of subject matter (food and drinks), then you will not attract your audience and they will not buy your tickets to fly your business (your products and services). Without fuel (content), you will be left with an expensive piece of software doing very little.
This blog article and others you may have read on our MOBIT Blog is a great example of what I am referring to above, content. It can be served up across different mediums, but the essence is the same. Content drives engagement, new inquiries, and yes, new business.
The Bit's They Don't tell You
Marketing automation software solutions are a great leap forward in technology. There is no question that they add enormous value to sales and marketing teams, and automate many of the time consuming tasks that only a few years ago took hours, days and weeks.
Not only that, these ‘little beauties of technology' generate new leads that translate (hopefully) into business revenue. Email, mobile messaging, or both, they make sure your existing clients are ‘touched’ at relevant times, with informative content, so you remain top of mind with them before they make their purchase decision. Show me a marketing platform that can do all of that for you and I’ll eat my undies. Software is simply useless without the content fuel and marketing plan that drives them. MOBIT is no exception.
Marketing automation projects can fail
There were a number of reasons why marketing automation projects fail. Firstly, here are two words ‘right off the bat’ that cause many of the problems.
The meaning of the word is obvious. Coupled with marketing then, this assumes that your marketing is reasonably hands off, requiring very little attention. Not that we ever said it, but marketing automation software might suggest that sales inquiries’ and leads will flow in automatically with very little effort.
As my team always points out to our clients, this technology requires work, a buy-in to the methodology, sound process, and above all, requires great content to ‘feed the machine’.
If you assume that marketing automation is ‘set and forget’ then please, think again. It certainly is not. You must work at it daily, weekly and constantly think of content that will attract and engage your audience. This eBook here is a case in point.
This one singular word has the potential to be the ‘mother of all f*%k Ups. - aka Muck ups’. When did you last pop along to a restaurant with great expectation only to be bitterly disappointed?
Have you ever been on holiday after months of planning, only to be completely let down by the accommodation, tired venue etc..? Of course you have. The same is true for marketing automation platforms. Unless the expectation is set clearly upfront as to what it will do for you, and when it may do it, the project and your client relationship will end in tears.
Understanding your customer life cycle
Before you even attempt to implement marketing automation in your business, I highly recommend that you engage the services of a specialist consultant and map your sales and marketing processes. if the marketing automation or CRM company has those services then even better. Use those services, invest your time and money. It will pay dividends in the long run and save you time and money believe it or not.
Essentially, the ‘ Customer Life-cycle' ensures you have every stage of your client journey (from initial attraction and discovery to referring other customers back to you) mapped from 'end-to-end'. Only then, once you have this plan, should you proceed with selecting a marketing automation solution.
Marketing automation solutions like MOBIT can do many things for you. Before you jump in though, write yourself a simple checklist of the things you a) need and b) would like, and start from there. If price is high on your priority list (and it should be) then create a column for that and start work. Establishing your baseline objectives for marketing automation is critically important. Without this step, you will start shopping and find that every application out there will do everything you could possibly want, and more. You will achieve nothing other than totally confusing yourself.
Even the passing mention of this word is sometimes enough to bring the IT guys to tears.
Integration can sometimes be as difficult as placing five people of different languages in a room and asking them to play scrabble. Kind of fun to watch but not very effective.
- Make sure you are clear at the start of your marketing automation project which applications you NEED (not would like) to integrate with.
- Ensure that the marketing automation solution you are looking at has an API, or better still, integration to Zapier. If not, run fast in the other direction.
- Enlist the skills of a team that is well experienced with integrations between applications. Beware: You will find lot's (hundreds) of marketing consutants and ' experts' that claim to have this experience, but, they will more then likely be learning on the job on your dime.
If you have an in-house CRM system (cloud or legacy) which has reasonable legs (i.e. life left in it) and good user adoption across the business, then hang on to it. There are many marketing automation systems that plug natively into many of the leading CRM applications such as Salesforce.com, Microsoft Dynamics, SAGE, Netsuite, Sugar CRM, SalesLOGIX and most have integration to Zapier.
Make sure you check your internal sales and marketing requirements first before making a decision here.
They say most companies use only 10% of the capabilities of the CRM system they have at their disposal. Make sure you are not running around looking at every single ‘nice to have’ feature as you will only end up paying far more than you need to for something you will never use.
As I have said previously, marketing automation systems rely on content being fed into the machine. Be warned, they are hungry beasts.
If you do not have the skills internally to create, edit and publish content regularly, then enlist the services of a specialist company that can do this for you on a regular basis.
Content is vital at every step in the'customer lifecycle', but it is at the ‘top of the sales funnel’ that content is most important. The core purpose of your content here is to ‘attract and engage’ your prospective customers. Remember what I said before about window dressing your shop front window? If you do not make the effort to ‘dress your store’ (website, emails, or mobile messaging with MOBIT) with inviting and informative content then you are effectively running your marketing automation system on cooking oil. It will turn over, but only just.
Distribute your content through as many channels as you can
With consideration to your target audience, don’t just rely on email, mobile messaging, or your website to attract people to your content. Push your content out through your social links (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, etc…) and do this regularly.
Ask your favourite clients to refer to your content links on their social network sites or their blog. Back-linking (as this is called) is a very effective way of improving your natural Google ranking and this is important because that is how people will find you on the web.
Re-purpose, reorganize, rewrite and retire your content
Many people think you need to spend every waking moment writing new content for your marketing automation systems. Whilst a good amount of effort is required, it’s not that hard if you plan it out and put aside the time. Again, if you don’t want to do this yourself, then find someone that will.
One eBook can create enough material to populate your blog for many weeks. Don’t worry about repeating yourself. As long as you don’t copy things word for word, cover to cover, then you will be fine.
People are not spending their days looking at your website, blogs, emails and MOBIT messages checking for duplicate content.
Don’t rest on your laurels though. If content is out of date or been on your site for six months or more, then get rid of it. Send it back to the editing team (yourself or someone else) for re-purposing /re-writing. Old content on your website, emails and MOBIT messages speak of laziness. If content is not you, then don’t bother. Hire a professional.
“Version one is better than version none”
Marketing automation systems of any note, enable you to build quite complex automated email and mobile marketing campaigns that can trigger other marketing activities (emails, mobile messages, internal actions for staff etc...) based on the behavior of your audience.
With the power of these applications, there is a tendency to want to build the ‘Taj Mahal’ of all email and mobile marketing campaigns, when in fact, all you really need is something simple to get you started.
Building your lists with permission
Your new found marketing automation system needs contacts, emails addresses and mobile numbers to function, just as it needs content to fuel the machine. Without these essential items running alongside each other, all you have is another application sitting in your browsers bookmark index.