There’s an article recently published by David Raab over at his Customer Experience Matrix blog, Three Ways To Dominate The Marketing Automation Industry. I agree with his assessments to simplify the usage of marketing automation systems. The solution for a new vendor to win and drive widespread adoption, as well as what we observe working with clients is well stated:
Rather, a new industry leader would have to remove the critical bottleneck to industry growth: the shortage of marketers with the skills needed to fully use marketing automation capabilities.
The systems themselves are complex and requires thinking around strategy and process. This kind of thinking goes beyond fancy graphics and crafty phrases. Ultimately, marketing automation is a content delivery system that has to provide a natural and desirable experience for an unready buyer to want more.
One of the gaps we see is that the exercise of designing marketing automation campaigns becomes intellectual rather than empirical. Often times, the marketer has never sold anything before to a real customer. Yet, there is typically a group of sales people that have sold customers and hold the keys to what can work to entice and nurture customers.
In addition to having software which can be simpler to drive, here is what a marketer seeking to use marketing automation can do to make their otherwise complex system work to get results:
- Monitor the sales process. Sales people may not have the fancy tools, but their tactics and instincts hold value. They are reading the customer and adjusting to drive towards a sale. This includes follow-up and the give and take of building trust. Observing how they interact has to be a cornerstone to any campaigns produced by an automated approach. The personalization and human side have to be naturally incorporated.
- Measure what is important. There are conversion points in the sales process. Reports and dashboards within a CRM system need to be carefully monitored and reviewed. Answering questions like, “Why does a customer buy?” or “What content works to get interest?” needs to be tested and answered. Have your salespeople work within a sales process framework and siphon the valuable assets which work into an automated approach.
- Be a process fanatic. The marketer that can observe what is working and not working and capture the specific process steps will eventually be able to design marketing automation that works. Work alongside a salesperson for a week and interact around process. Turn the otherwise randomness into a process that has repeatability tested in reality.
- Set up the salesperson. The salesperson is seeking to get attention and a meeting. They are at their best when they can engage on the phone or in person. This is the key event. The content, sequencing and nurturing strategies built into a marketing automation campaign should position the person to get the result. Design your automation to position the salesperson as someone of value and dilute their perception of trying to sell.
Ultimately, marketing automation will succeed not based on the software but on the strategies that are employed to win a customer. The software is merely an enabler. Instead of guessing on this, go where the information is. Shadow a salesperson and see what they do that is connecting at a human level and creating lead conversion through the sales funnel.
What are your thoughts?