Faced with the radical change in buyer behavior, marketing automation and new methods to attract visitors to your digital device offer a simple answer to generate qualified leads and feed your company’s sales teams.
Inbound marketing, attraction marketing, social selling… marketing automation software publishers and the agencies that are springing up in their wake have made the same promise: leads galore, served at the right temperature to salespeople transformed into decision support champions.
No more board meetings where you had to justify your budgets and strategic choices. You were finally going to be able to make data speak for itself and to make fun of your audience by presenting dashboards made in three clicks of the mouse and demonstrating without a shadow of a doubt the ROI of your decisions.
The methodology was simple and elegant enough to reassure a board afraid of disruption.
All you had to do was produce content, push it on social networks, incite the visitor to take action and go to a nice sales page. Hypnotized by your made-in-California punchlines, they were all going to fill out forms and tell you everything about their buying intentions.
All that was left was to use their browsing data to produce a series of automatic emails to move them through your incredible conversion tunnel (like the infographics that flood the internet) and turn them into SQLs ready to listen to your best salespeople.
For the most motivated, it was even possible to go a step further and turn these customers into ambassadors in love with your products and services (and even your brand) who would never miss an opportunity to sing your praises via their social accounts.
Because passion only lasts 18 months (and budgets 12 months)
They were confident about that. Ninety short days and you would see the first results.
You worked hard and launched the first campaign with the right messages to push on social networks. You worked even harder (or paid a lot of money) for your first white paper, or green paper or blue paper (you have to be disruptive my good man) and you finally saw the first visitors arrive. They started filling out your forms and turned into leads.
You started your first lead nurturing sequences and sent the first SQLs to the sales people…and you got a green light.
>> by the way, a little link to this playlist from our friends at Plezi, special nurturing <<
You redoubled your efforts and invested in more content. This time we were going to see who the boss of the lead gen is. Infographics, video, Snapchat account (you never know), predictive sead scoring (it’s too complicated to do by hand), AI, machine learning.
After a year of effort, your relationship with your favorite publisher or digital marketing agency is no longer very good. It was obvious! But something didn’t work as planned (that’s what the Fukushima power plant officials said a few months after March 11, 2011).
Some of the details that can derail a marketing automation project
Marketing automation tools are powerful and keep their promises and those of the agencies that use them for their clients, provided they do not fall into certain traps.
Among them, we often find the absence of a clear business objective.
Generating qualified leads is often the primary objective of companies whose digital maturity is low.
However, defining marketing-oriented objectives is an approach that may well send you into a corner. How many leads? What is a “qualified lead” according to the sales department? How long does it take for the lead to go through the conversion tunnel?
This is where we find the difficulty in aligning marketing and sales around a common desire to generate value for the company.
The most mature companies have created a revenue department with a “chief revenue officer” at its head.
Inadequacy between human resources and the ambition displayed by the marketing department.
It takes a strong team to run a successful marketing automation project. A team with a variety of skills and a good level. Thinking that a few juniors and a handful of interns will do the trick is thinking about the economy and it doesn’t work.
Marketing automation is not about zero people. On the contrary, it’s qualified human resources to respond to the complexity of the project.
Lack of management support for a strategic project.
Faced with a management that does not sponsor the project 100%, the marketing teams are on the defensive and try to demonstrate the ROI of the chosen solution in record time.
If it is possible to deploy a marketing automation solution and start a sales war machine in 12 months in a small company, it is a fantasy for a larger structure.
Beyond lead generation, marketing automation is a tool that allows you to improve customer knowledge, the relationship with the customer and ultimately offer a high level customer experience. It is a project that contributes to the significant increase of the digital maturity of a company.
The management must be at your side for several months, even years, like any strategic project.
Too many marketing oriented objectives, a lack of resources and a weak support from the management are causes of failure, however what makes the difference between a resounding failure and a dazzling success in this field is the content or rather the contents.
It has to be produced often, in good quantity and with a level of quality that has increased significantly over the last two years.
Content is the fuel of marketing automation.
It’s written everywhere and you’ve read it hundreds of times and yet it’s what will bring you to your knees.
Producing emails to feed a nurturing flow is easy. Producing messages to distribute content via social networks is not complicated. Producing the content that will support it all is another story.
Depending on your audience and your industry, you will have to produce content once or several times a week. And when we talk about content, we need to extend text, images, videos to interactive content like quizzes for example.
Note that this content must be in adequacy with your buyers personas otherwise you will attract a horde of visitors without interest for your business.
Finally, you need relevant and pertinent content in 2017 it’s much more complicated to produce insofar as your audience is besieged with content (Mark Schaefer talks about content shock) and your competitors have also started to produce it to run their marketing automation engine.
And yes, the price of the content barrel is rising and marketing automation is a powerful and fuel hungry engine.
You should know that on average, a quality article requires six hours of work, not including the time it takes to publish it. It is said that it is necessary to invest as much time to produce a content as to distribute it, that is twelve hours of work for an article.
At this stage, delegating to an agency is a solution that should be considered.
Delegating is impossible in your business.
Here is an argument that often comes up: “Someone from outside my organization will not be able to speak as well as I do about my expertise”.
It is possible to delegate the production of your content to an agency as long as you define the tone, the buyers personas and the editorial line beforehand.
Then, you just have to do two simple things:
#1 Set up an editorial committee to refine the quality of the content over time. This committee should meet once a month with the agency.
#2 Set up interview times with experts within your company. There is a lot to be written from a single hour of well conducted interviews. The “know-it-alls” in your organization may not know how to produce “impactful” content, but they sure know how to speak passionately about their craft.
By the way, the advantage of working with an agency is that you can vary the content. The white paper is not the only (and especially the best) way to convert your visitors into quality leads these days.
While content is essential to get a marketing automation solution up and running, it’s not an end in itself. The goal of a marketing manager is to know his customers better in order to provide them with a quality buying experience and to provide business opportunities to sales people.
Our role as a technology partner offers us the chance to evolve at a central position within the digital ecosystem in France.