How to Use Marketing Automation Throughout the Customer Journey

Today’s Guest Post is by Sarah Burke – Enjoy!

The customer’s journey is often defined in 3 stages: Awareness, consideration and decision. For small business owners and marketers, keeping track of each and every customer, and where they are in this journey, is one of our biggest struggles.

Luckily, this job can be made much more efficient with marketing automation, which – when used intelligently – is vital in helping marketers and business owners do their jobs to the best of their abilities.

According to TFM&A’s 2014 marketing automation report, the top three reasons marketers use automation is:

  • It takes repetitive tasks out of their hands (36%)
  • It helps improve customer targeting (30%)
  • It helps improve customer experience (10%)

So, the question goes, how can we map how we use marketing automation to our buyer’s journey?

Stage 1 of the Customer’s Journey: Awareness

At the awareness stage, your prospective leads aren’t doing research with the intention of purchasing anything from you. Instead, they’re simply looking for answers, entertainment, or information! Approximately 96% of visitors that come to your website are not ready to buy.

And that’s exactly why, at the early stages of the customer’s journey, we create content that is educational and entertaining. We lure them in, with the hopes that when they are ready to buy, they’ll think of our business.

To get this content in front of eyeballs, SEO and social media marketing play a huge part.

Nutdanai Apikhomboonwaroot via freedigitalphotos.com

Nutdanai Apikhomboonwaroot via freedigitalphotos.com

Social is a powerful thing. Searchmetrics’ Correlation 2014 study showed that social signals actually affect your content’s visibility in search results.

To get people clicking, liking, sharing, tweeting content, you need to be sharing that content on social media platforms consistently. Unfortunately, the process can be awfully routine, and unless you have a dedicated social media team, it can be very time-consuming. You’re the perfect candidate for marketing automation!

With just a few clicks (and about 20-30 minutes), you can easily schedule your posts to be published at specific times throughout the day – even when you’re not necessarily there to do so. Buffer and Hootsuite are probably the most well-known and effective social media management tools out there.

Stage 2 of the Customer’s Journey: Consideration

Once your customer has moved from general browsing to specific research, then they’ve moved into the consideration stage of the customer journey. At this point they’ll be looking at free trials, reviews, competitive information and… unbeknownst to themselves, how well you can nurture them.

One of the best ways to nurture leads is by tracking their activity. Once you know what pages they’re visiting, what links they’re clicking and emails they’re opening, you can create triggers that then send relevant messages to them.

For example, if a lead visits your pricing page, you might then send them a coupon code 24 hours afterwards if they haven’t bought anything.

Of course, targeting leads like this would be humanly impossible normally.

But marketing automation isn’t human – it’s technology! It can be hard to choose the right marketing automation software for lead nurturing campaigns because there are a lot out there. Some of the better-known ones include JumpLead, Infusionsoft and Leadsius.

Stage 3 of the Customer’s Journey: Decision

It’s not just about generating leads folks! Retaining them is just as important.

Support Emails are a great way to ensure that your users are happy with their experiences.

For example, if you’re a software company you might receive alerts from a specific account that something isn’t working. Rather than waiting until your customers are fed up with the difficulties, take this as a great opportunity to automate an email response that reaches out to those customers offering assistance.

Being in tune with your customer’s needs is extremely important, and marketing automation helps you reach your customers in a more targeted, meaningful and relevant way.

Conclusion

By using marketing automation throughout the customer journey, you’re improving the customer’s experience while also freeing up your own time so you can provide an even better service/product.

So where’s the downside?

Well… you can’t just “set it and forget it” if you want marketing automation to work. It needs a lot of tweaking, testing and monitoring. But the good news is: the time you save on the automated processes is much more than the time you will spend tweaking and improving the automation.

Sarah BurkeSarah Burke works as a Digital Content Marketer for GetSpokal.com, an Inbound Marketing Automation software that’s designed specifically for small businesses. She creates useful, helpful and engaging content aimed to help small businesses and startups compete with the big behemoth businesses of the world. Before joining the Spokal team, she was an English and History secondary school teacher, and she has an MA in Gender, Sexuality and Culture. Connect with her on Twitter!

A Simple Approach to The Customer Journey

Today’s Guest Post is by Duct Tape Marketing Consultant, David Smith – Enjoy!

customer journey

Photo Credit: OneDollarPhoto, gustavofrazao

If you are a small business owner, you instinctively know it’s a wonderful thing when a customer receives value AND has a very positive experience when they deal with your business.

If the journey is hard and the experience is on par with your peers, or worse, unpleasant, you’ll have no chance of building a lasting relationship (loyalty) with the customer. You’ll miss out on the repeat business and referrals that delighted customers bring.

Plainly speaking: The better the experience with your business, the more opportunity you will have with the customer.

That is why Customer Experience (CX) has become a much talked about element for building a successful business.

The major consultancies (Gartner, Forrester, etc.) define Customer Experience in a common way: customer feelings and perceptions caused by interactions with your business. Large companies are advised to have coordinated and consistent experiences across their multiple channels and business units. Many large organizations have an entire department focused on nothing but Customer Experience.

If you are a small business, the complexities of multiple business units may not exist. Your sales transaction, support, service, training, and other opportunities to craft customer experiences go through a small set of people and systems within your business. With limited resources, effectively designing and managing the Customer Experience can become overwhelming to a small business.

By taking a simple approach, a small business can achieve the same results as a large organization that has a Customer Experience Officer or Department.

Using a small business perspective may be the best way for you to think, plan, and implement interactions that achieve positive feelings about your business.

Instead of thinking Customer Experience (macro) think Customer Journey (micro).

Simply put – break it down.

Practically speaking, the Customer Experience is made up of many Customer Journeys. The Customer Journey is the path customers take to solve a particular problem or need. In some cases, the journey results in a transaction for a good or service, which is why the Customer Journey is sometimes also called the Buyer’s Journey.

Customer Journeys are repeated for every instance where the consumer is purposely engaged and looking to achieve a value outcome. The cumulative effect of these interactions creates the Customer Experience.

By breaking it down, moving from the macro view of Experience to the micro view of Journeys, you can begin to simplify and design the interactions of your customers one at a time. The Journeys are simply the interactions and opportunities you have to deliver value and build positive feelings in your customer.

There are potentially dozens of major points of interaction within a small business. Examples include interactions from:

  • the initial purchase
  • returning customers
  • support or service
  • training or instruction
  • billing or administration

If you use a consistent framework, such as the Duct Tape Marketing Hourglass™, you can define the customer progression toward value and positive feelings. The Hourglass will allow you to map the progress the customer takes from discovering they Know, Like, and Trust your business, into the conversion phase of the Hourglass, Try and Buy.

The Customer Journey doesn’t have to be complicated. Breaking it down into small parts allows you to successfully build systems that deliver value and create positive interaction.

David Smith Valens PointDavid knows first hand the strains of expanding a small business while continually delivering optimal customer and financial results. He comes from a long line of entrepreneurs and understands the ability to gain additional customers and revenue has proven to be the critical element of small business. David helps customers install effective sales and marketing programs via his firm ValensPoint. He earned a degree in Business Administration from Faulkner University (Montgomery, AL). He resides near Anniston, AL.

Building Relationships Through the Customer Loop

Today’s Guest Post is by Sam Balter – Enjoy!

The customer journey is a simplified expression of the complex thought process of a customer looking to purchase something. A quick Google search for ‘customer journey’ brings up a myriad of complex diagrams full of hundreds of metrics. The truth is that every company has a unique customer journey; each marketing channel has a unique customer journey, and every product has a unique customer journey. All customers go through a different journey and engage with a brand in a unique way.

The customer journey model relies on seeing a buying decision as linear and a one-off interaction. Brands that will succeed in cross-channel marketing are building a relationship with their customer in every stage of the journey. When thinking about mobile, specifically mobile messaging, it’s all about creating a frictionless and compelling experience for the customer.

Let’s take the basic model of the customer journey: Awareness -> Consideration -> Purchase -> Retention -> Advocacy. The most successful businesses will foster a relationship each step of the customer journey, and along the way, delight their customer.

waterfall, the customer journeyAwareness:
Using physical signage or online advertising is a great way to create awareness of your brand. Visual advertisements capture customers’ attention and use the present moment to start building a relationship via mobile. Here’s an example of a simple text Call-To-Action (CTA) on a billboard:

Get 20% off your next purchase
Text KRUSTY to 55155

Using a text call-to-action on outdoor signage helps get more from marketing dollars because the billboard creates an impression, and the mobile messaging gives you a way to speak directly to your customer. Mobile messaging adds a CRM component to an awareness campaign.

To take this a step further, a brand might want to ask their customer for their zip code so that location-specific offers can be delivered. If you want to see some great CTAs, check out our site where we’ve compiled examples of successful CTAs, Art of the CTA.

Consideration:
To optimize the efficacy of mobile as a channel, it’s imperative to send the right message at the right time. If Krusty Burger wants to increase lunch traffic, it makes no sense to send a message at 4:15pm. Instead, achieve optimal results by sending a message one to two hours before a customer is encouraged to take action. That way, when their stomach starts to growl, they know they’ve got a Krusty Burger coupon in their pocket.

To take it to another level, consider using a share-with-friend function that will allow more people to get in on the savings while capturing more phone numbers in the process.

Purchase:
This is an incredibly powerful step of the customer journey. I am very cheap, so sometimes purchasing things can make me feel a little guilty. It is important to offset these feelings of guilt with heart warming offers. For example, offer customers the ability to receive a receipt via Multimedia Message, thereby saving paper, or the chance to enter a sweepstakes, to win a prize. If you have connected unique coupon codes with your point of sale system, you can even deliver the customer a coupon just moments after their purchase.

Retention:
An excellent part of mobile messaging campaigns is that in the awareness stage, a customer can opt-in to a loyalty program, and from there, consistently receive coupons and deals. For mobile messaging loyalty programs, we suggest the offers vary; mix SMS and MMS, and collect different pieces of information every few messages. Ask questions like: What is your favorite meal? When is your birthday? What is your email address, etc.? Encourage customers to provide information with incentives, and only ask for information if you will use it to delight your customers.

Advocacy:
It seems like only a few years ago, the only way for people to advocate for a brand or product they believed in was through word of mouth. Now, every customer has access to a digital bullhorn. Capitalize on customers’ social media connects with mobile messaging by embedding ‘click to tweet or post’ within your message copy. At Waterfall, we are big fans of viral sharing campaigns. Dropbox built an enormous user base through a viral sharing campaign in which every referral you signed up added additional storage to your account. This is a great way to provide value to your most helpful customers by leveraging the power of social amplification.

Customer Loop – The future of the customer journey
The customer journey has long reigned as a keystone of modern marketing. As we move into a cross-channel world, where brands are advertising to, providing content for, and engaging in conversations with customers, the journey will be replaced by a loop in which each interaction strengthens the bond between brand and brand advocate.

Sam Balter WaterfallSam Balter is a Marketing Manager at Waterfall, a mobile messaging and CRM provider that helps companies engage their customers on their phones. Sam writes about mobile strategy, industry trends, and how to create successful cross-channel marketing campaigns.

The Power of Gratitude in Marketing

It’s guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing, and today’s guest post is from Nicole Kohler – Enjoy!

photo credit: pixabay

photo credit: pixabay

As a business owner, you probably say the phrase “thank you” multiple times a day without thinking about it. You thank your employees for their hard work, your customers or clients for working with you, or potential leads for getting in touch with you.

Saying “thank you” is probably automatic for you at this point. But what if expressing your gratitude could grow your social media following, boost your website conversions, or even attract new customers and leads?

A few months ago, I noticed that when I thanked people for sharing the content I’d written on Twitter, they seemed more likely to follow me than if I’d simply favorited their tweet. After doing an in-depth study of this trend, based on my last 50 tweets of gratitude, I discovered that around 26% of the people that I thanked for sharing my content followed me, just because I said “thank you.”

NCK-thank-you-diagramGratitude can be a very powerful tactic for growing your customer base and increasing conversions on your website. When you express genuine emotion (including gratitude) to others online, you’re humanizing your brand – and making it easier for others to connect with you.

Here are three ways you can harness the incredible power of gratitude in your marketing.

Create Actionable “Thank You” Pages

A customer’s journey on your website doesn’t end when they click the “place order” or “submit form” button – or at least it shouldn’t. By creating a more actionable “thank you” page at the end of a transaction or form submission, you can strengthen your relationship with that visitor and have them take additional desirable actions.

Along with a genuine note of thanks with a photo or other personal touch, you should consider adding any of the following to your page:

  • An explanation of what happens next (ex. when will they get their order? When will they hear from you? How can they contact you with questions?
  • Links to your social media pages
  • A call to action for a survey or questionnaire
  • Something fun, humorous, or touching that will make your customer smile!

Say “Thank You” When You Hit Important Milestones

Did your Facebook page reach 15,000 Likes? Is your Instagram account up to 1,000 followers? Now isn’t the time to be patting yourself on the back (well, okay, maybe just a little). Don’t forget: without your fans, none of this would be possible!

When you reach important business milestones, try to find a way to thank your fans, followers, and customers. It could be as simple as posting a message of thanks, or sending a personalized “we appreciate your support” email. Or, if you operate an ecommerce store, you could celebrate by sending out a coupon or special discount code.

As a small business, it’s important not to let the dedication of your fans go unnoticed, even as you continue to grow. Your customers will expect your acknowledgement and gratitude if you celebrate your early victories, so don’t forget about them as your wins get bigger!

Go Above and Beyond

Sometimes writing an email or tweet to a customer just isn’t enough to express your thanks. If a customer does something really incredible for you – like writes a glowing blog post about you – you should respond in kind.

In cases where your customers have been especially kind, you should have a plan to go above and beyond for them. This may involve something like:

  • Sending a handwritten note or card
  • Shipping them a free T-shirt, sticker, or piece of merchandise
  • Surprising them with a free shipping upgrade or addition to their latest order
  • Meeting them in person to treat them to lunch
  • Giving them your time – listening to their suggestions and acting on them where appropriate

Customers don’t always expect these “above and beyond” reactions – so by surprising them, you may delight them enough to strengthen your relationship with them, or convert them into a paying customer (if they aren’t one already).

Get Ahead With Gratitude

The next time you’re looking for a way to improve your marketing, think about using gratitude in one of the ways I’ve listed above. Saying “thank you” can have some unexpectedly powerful results!

NCK-150-headshotNicole Kohler is the Web Content Strategist for WebpageFX, a full-service Internet marketing agency. When she’s not blogging, tweeting, or writing about marketing, she can be found playing video games, hanging out with her husband and pets, or enjoying a good piece of classic literature. Follow her on Twitter @nicoleckohler.

 

4 Steps to Leveraging Your Network to Build Your Business

It’s guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest post is from Jonathan Greechan– Enjoy!

Networking doesn’t have to be about luck, but most people I work with treat it that way. Like any marketing endeavor, some simple planning can greatly increase your chances of success. As Sun Tzu famously said, “Most battles are won before they are fought.”

Unlock the potential of your network to grow your business by following the simple, step-by-step plan below;

1. Define your Goals

Networking takes time, so any business goal that needs to be met within 3 months through networking is usually unrealistic. Therefore, list out two primary goals for the next 3 – 6 months, and then two secondary goals that you foresee being a priority in the 6 – 12 month range.

2. Identify your Targets

photo credit: Bogdan Suditu via photopin cc

photo credit: Bogdan Suditu via photopin cc

You don’t target a company – you target a person. Go narrow and deep (versus wide and broad), and find out who makes the purchasing or partnership decisions at the companies you are targeting. You can usually find this information by checking the speaker roster (and topics) from industry events, corporate press releases, and LinkedIn.

3. Identify Your “Strategic Contacts”

With the prevalence of social media, there is almost no excuse for a cold-call or cold-email anymore. As Mark Suster, a prominent venture capitalist, put it very aptly at my Founder Showcase event, “in the era of social networks, if you can’t figure out how to get access to a venture capitalist, hang up your cleats now. You don’t pass the IQ test.”

“Strategic Contacts” are contacts who can provide introductions to your targets, and creating a list of them is easy with LinkedIn’s “Advanced Search Tools”. Here are some things to keep in mind;

  • Scroll through the contacts of the people who come up in your searches – you’ll often discover positions and companies you didn’t know existed.
  • Once you’ve found a search that works best, be sure to “Save This Search” so you can use it in the future.
  • Use LinkedIn for research, but not for contacting. “InMail” and LinkedIn referral requests have become so bogged down by recruiters that most well connected people I know find them un-usable.

4. Email your Strategic Contacts

Now that you have your list of strategic contacts, it’s time to start your outreach via email, which should come in two parts.

Email 1: Create Value

One of my favorite rules of marketing is to always provide value before asking for it in return. This is doubly true for networking, and it does not even have to require a lot of effort – just a small “out of the blue” gesture to a strategic contact can pay large dividends.

For example:

  • Provide an unsolicited intro to somebody in the same industry (“… you two seem like you would have a lot to talk about.”)
  • Send a link to an interesting article about their industry (“… thought this article was interesting. You’ve been in the industry for a while – do you agree with the author?”)
  • A simple check-in (“… Yesterday I randomly thought about that event we both attended in ‘09, and how funny that emcee was. How are things going with you?  Everything well?”)

Whatever you do, just provide value, respond quickly, and keep the conversation going.

Email 2: The Ask

After you have provided value and some time has passed, it is time to ask your contact for an introduction to your target.

Keep the communication within the previous email stream, and send a simple two-sentence email;

  1. One sentence on your company, and what you are looking for.
  2. One sentence on the intro, which includes a mechanism to make the intro feel natural.

For example:

“[MY COMPANY NAME] is an app that connects parents and family-friendly events, and we’re looking for angel investors interested in mobile B2C apps to close out our seed round. I was hoping you could provide a quick intro to [YOUR TARGET] – she has invested in both parent-focused and event-focused apps, so I think we may fit nicely into her strategy.”

Closing Note

Networking is not a “one-off activity”, but if you follow the steps above, you can start leveraging your contacts to help build your business NOW.

Jonathan_Greechan_headshotJonathan Greechan is a Partner and the Head of Marketing at the Founder Institute – an entrepreneur training and startup launch program that has helped launch over 1250 tech companies across 6 continents. In addition, he is a Partner at TheFunded.com, and the Executive Producer of the Founder Showcase, a leading startup event in Silicon Valley. Jonathan has been heavily involved in startups and online marketing since 2004, and has advised hundreds of technology companies. Follow him on Twitter at @jonnystartup.

 

In Sales & Marketing, Zero Dark Thirty is 30 Minutes Too Late

… or why the biggest sales problem businesses think they have isn’t the one they actually have!

It’s guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest post is from a member of the Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Network – Kurian M. Tharakan– Enjoy!
Zero Dark Thirty

Photo Credit: Zero Dark Thirty – IMDb

In the movie Zero Dark Thirty, the US Navy Seal team raid on Al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden’s house was conducted at 00:30, or thirty minutes past midnight. If that raid were a sales and marketing operation, zero dark thirty* would be thirty minutes too late!

Before I explain what I mean, let me provide some background. In the past few months I have consulted with numerous companies who believe they have a sales problem. However, in almost every situation the primary issue was identified as a marketing problem and not a sales problem. How did I determine this? By examining close ratios, or how many leads were converted into a sale. Although average close ratios vary by industry and market, if you are in a competitive environment and closing more than 15 – 25% of your QUALIFIED leads you are on the right track!

All of these clients were closing their fair share of the leads they were generating. They just weren’t generating enough QUALIFIED leads to pursue.

Lead Generation is a Marketing Function

In each situation above the sales team were expert closers but spent most of their non-sales time waiting for the phone to ring or following up on previous leads. Now some might say that these guys should be using their “spare” time prospecting for new leads, but, by definition, prospecting (lead generation) is a marketing function. Besides, these sales teams’ skills and expertise are best used to close sales, but their company’s marketing efforts were not producing enough qualified leads for them to pursue.

Now, Here’s the Big Problem

It’s estimated that up to 70% of the buying decision is made PRIOR to anyone even talking to a sales person. Today’s customer has numerous resources available to them, usually just a few mouse clicks away. By the time that they arrive at your sales desk the majority already have a preferred direction to go and are now seeking confirming or dis-confirming evidence to support their decision. If you have not positively biased their decision PRIOR to this contact point, YOU ARE AT A SEVERE DISADVANTAGE!

This is Time Point Zero Dark Zero

A properly functioning company will have a marketing process which creates qualified leads to HAND OFF to sales. Let’s name this crucial timeline juncture as zero dark zero. This is the point of truth where marketing delivers a “primed” prospect for sales to close. Primed is the key word. These are the prospects that have a preference to choose you from all of your competitors! If a company only STARTS their selling process AFTER zero dark zero WITHOUT HAVING PRIMED THEIR PROSPECT to choose them, they are at a severe disadvantage!

You Don’t Have a Sales Problem, You Have a Lead Generation Problem!

So, these clients don’t have a sales problem, they have a lead generation problem. All of their future revenue depends on their sales abilities with UNQUALIFIED, UNPRIMED prospects. But sales abilities can only go so far with prospects whose minds have already been 70% made up to travel in other directions!

If we were to put this into the context of Zero Dark Thirty the movie, the vast majority of the plot dealt with the CIA unearthing, tracking down, and qualifying leads on Bin Laden’s exact location. The seal team’s actual on the ground time was less than 38 minutes from entry to exit, but it took over 10 years of research to pinpoint the location to attack.

The First Step to Improving Sales is to Improve Lead Generation!

So, if the primary sales problem is actually a lead generation problem (marketing), what are some things you can try? Here’s a VERY BASIC list. Although not all of them will apply to your specific business, you should be using at least six on a consistent basis, with full measurement and tracking of the results. How many are you doing?

Website

  • Pay per click (e.g. Google Adwords)
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

 

Social Media

  • E-Mail marketing
  • Facebook
  • Industry specific social sites
  • Linkedin
  • Twitter
  • Etc.

 

Content Marketing

  • Blogging
  • eBooks
  • How to guides
  • Newsletters
  • Special reports
  • Video
Advertising

  • Billboards
  • Catalogs
  • Classified ads
  • Direct mail
  • Fax advertising
  • Flyers
  • Magazine
  • Radio
  • TV

 

Other

  • Joint Ventures
  • Press Releases
  • Pro bono work
  • Publicity
  • Seminars
  • Speaking
  • Sponsorships
  • Trade shows
  • Webinars
  • Workshops

*technically, in military terms zero dark thirty does not reference a specific time of day, but is slang for the very early morning.
StrategyPeak Sales & Marketing Advisors

 

 

Kurian M. TharakanAbout the Author – Kurian M. Tharakan
Kurian Mathew Tharakan is a Sales & Marketing Consultant, Speaker & Facilitator, and founder of the marketing strategy firm StrategyPeak Sales & Marketing Advisors. Prior to StrategyPeak, Mr. Tharakan was vice-president sales & marketing for an Alberta based software firm where his team achieved notable wins with several members of the US Fortune 500. Previous to his software experience, Mr. Tharakan directed the sales and marketing programs for the Alberta practice of an international professional services firm.

Marketing Automation: What is it and Why Should I Care?

It’s guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest post is from Scott Thomas– Enjoy! 

 

Marketing AutomationMarketers, meet your secret weapon: marketing automation. Only recently, has this underutilized method of demand generation been brought to the forefront of public attention. Marketing automation has slowly become a go-to buzzword in the marketing world but what does it really mean and more importantly, how can it help your business?

For starters, marketing automation refers to technology that allows marketing departments and organizations to more effectively market on multiple online channels (such as email, social media, websites, etc.) and automate repetitive tasks. In its most ideal state, marketing automation provides you with a platform to efficiently deliver engaging content that turns prospects into customers and then follow up with personalized messaging that keeps those customers coming back.

What Marketing Automation Means to Marketers

Marketing automation means two huge things for marketers: conversion and attribution. First we’ll look at its success converting leads. According to a study by The Aberdeen Group, companies that use marketing automation see 53% higher conversion rates than non-users, and an annualized revenue growth rate 3.1% higher than non-users of marketing automation platforms.

Marketing AutomationSounds good, right? It gets better. Marketing automation solves the marketers age-old problem of attributing marketing spend to earned revenue. Because these platforms typically feature CRM integration, lead activity within marketing efforts can be directly tracked from campaign inception to lead conversion. In fact, companies that use marketing automation are 3 times more likely than companies without automation to track and attribute their content-marketing efforts to multiple touchpoints.*

The ‘Automation’ in Marketing Automation

Despite marketing automation’s capacity to generate increased revenue and attribute that revenue to your marketing team’s efforts, many people seem to overlook one key fact: in order for marketing automation to be successful, you have to have something to automate. Think of marketing automation as the hyper-efficient delivery vehicle between the programs you already have in place and your audience. It won’t create the content for you but with it, you can build the most effective route by which to push your content. The following are examples of programs that can be integrated into your marketing automation strategy:

  • Content Marketing: Today’s consumers don’t respond to conventional “Mad Men” style marketing and advertising tactics; instead, they respond to engaging, informative content that speaks to them and not at them. By distributing content that engages your audience, you’re not only satiating their appetite for information, but you’re also working towards the end result of creating a connection with these potential buyers and ideally, driving them closer to a sale.
  • Email Marketing: Does your organization already employ use of email marketing? Although it might not seem like much, even something as simple as a monthly newsletter can be engineered to drive optimal engagement. With marketing automation you can create any number of follow up actions based on how a lead interacts with an original email. This brings us to…
  • Lead Nurturing: This process of educating and staying fresh on the minds of prospects who aren’t yet ready to buy allows you to turn otherwise cold leads into added revenue. Lead nurturing can take many forms, from personalized, Happy Birthday emails to reengagement campaigns.

The possibilities for customizing your marketing automation pipeline are limited only by your organization’s capacity to do so and while it may take some heavy legwork to initially set up, don’t be intimidated. Marketing automation can save you time and money while converting more leads by simply utilizing the programs you already have in place.

*(The Lenskold and Pedowitz Groups, 2013 Lead Generation Marketing Effectiveness Study, Nov 2013)

Scott ThomasScott Thomas is the founder and president of the Intelechy Group, an Austin-based revenue growth agency. Scott has spent more than two decades driving highly profitable revenue for industry leaders such as AT&T, Dell, AMD and SAP. Intelechy Group specializes in Go-to-Market (GTM) Strategy & Development, Brand & Market Positioning, Demand Generation and an array of marketing services that propel organizations to become revenue and profit leaders in their marketplaces.

 

 

6 Ways to Uncover Highly Targeted Referral Prospects

Thursday is guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest is from Matt Anderson – Enjoy!

PresentationOne of the most important elements of getting more highly targeted referrals is to make it EASY for others to open the right doors by being crystal clear about what you want.

Stop saying “if you can think of anyone else who might benefit from my services, please have them give me a call”  because it hardly ever works and, if it does, the referrals will likely be unfocused at best.

Since no strategy can work every time, here are six ways to excel in uncovering the best referral prospects:

  1. Pre-planning

Before you meet, do some homework on who your client is connected to:

Google them, search LinkedIn contacts and think through what other people, groups or interests they have already mentioned in their life.

Before every meeting, ask yourself: what would I love to ask this person for? This is the one of the best referral habits you can have.

  1. Listen differently

Make it a goal in every meeting to identify 1-3 names of people who fit your ideal target prospect.

When you do, you will find that you pay more attention to conversation that in the past may have seemed frivolous or unrelated to your agenda for the meeting.

You already know that there are times when you don’t listen closely to everything someone says. When you make a point to listen closely for names, you’ll start to notice that sometimes they do mention specific people.

  1. Ask different questions

If you don’t know yet what people are in their personal and professional world, ask different questions! Remember the goal is to identify specific people or opportunities for you.

“What do you love to do?”

“What are you working on right now?”

Let them tell you. If something comes up that you believe you could help with: “How do you think it would be best for me to help you with this situation?”

“Who’s your ideal client?” This ought to then give you a chance to respond too.

“If you were me and building a business in this area, who would be the important people for me to know?”

Ask your clients:

“I’m curious: What do you tell other people about the work we do?”

  1. Use generic specifics

If have yet to identify anyone: instead of 30 family members say ‘siblings’ or ‘parents’; ‘best friend’ beats ‘friends’; and ‘favorite colleague at work’ beats potentially dozens of anonymous ‘co-workers’; “who do you most like to (e.g.) golf with that you discuss this kind of thing of with?”

For business owners ask about favorite clients, favorite vendors that they outsource to, and referral sources.

  1. Memory jogging stories

Educate people about the different types of work you do by sharing stories so they know all that you’re capable of. During general conversation, start weaving in more stories of how you have helped other people in different situations. The goal is to hear: “I didn’t know you did that. You know, you might want to talk to…” Look for flickers of recognition.

You could even legitimately ask: “Do you ever run into people in that situation?”

  1. Ideal client list

A few people have success presenting a list of prospects to others in their network. If you’ve got water in the well with someone, it is perfectly appropriate to say: “I’m curious to ask you about a list of area businesses that I put together the other day. (Show list) Do you have any decent contacts at any of these places? I’d love to talk to them about their (fill in the blank) because I’ve worked with a lot of similar organizations and they’ve turned into excellent relationships.”

Create an ideal client list of specific names, companies, locations or professions and life situations.

The results come when you make it very easy for others such that they do not have to think about it. So be very clear about what you want by knowing whom you want to meet.

Matt AndersonMatt Anderson, founder of The Referral Authority, is the author of Fearless Referrals. He leads seminars and coaching groups around the globe for business development professionals on how to develop the lifetime skill of getting referrals. Contact him at [email protected] or 312-622-3121.