The power of lists: marketing automation and the secret to flawless inbound marketing

marketing automation

Hayley Dawson

Senior Account Manager

Posted on September 15, 2015

The word ‘automated’ conjures up connotations of everything marketing is trying to move away from – cold, impersonal, rigid communication. But new tools and software are redefining what automated marketing means and what it can do, increasingly helping us to build relationships with our audiences that are more personal, more responsive and better received.

It all comes down to how you do it.

In our last blog post, we talked about our adoption of HubSpot and how it’s changed the way we think about our marketing. HubSpot is one example of a service that’s helping big business combine inbound marketing strategy with automated processes.

We’re not alone in our use of automation. More than half of the largest B2B companies (59%) have now begun using the technology – 34% more than just two years ago.

But not all things are created equal. Whether you’re a recent adopter or not, it’s worth checking that you’re using automation in a way that’s going to allow your business to grow, and that utilises its potential to enhance your wider inbound or content marketing strategy. Used well, automation could be your ticket to smoother, easier, more focused inbound marketing processes, leading to a better customer experience, more conversions, and a bolstered brand image.

Start with your content

Good marketing automation hinges around personalised content. Remember: personalised content comes first, automation comes later.

Now’s the time to make sure that your content –on your website, in your email broadcasts, within your white papers, etc. – matches what analytics is telling you people want.

It takes time and work at the beginning, but it’s worth it. Here are some good first steps:

  1. Analyse your audience behaviour, build personas and create compelling, useful, personalised content to fit them
  2. Create A/B test pages so you can see what people respond best to
  3. Refine your analytics’ scoring systems to help qualify what a hot lead looks like so they can be more easily identified when they appear
  4. Create personalised landing pages and progressive data-collection gateways to allow you to gather useful data to add to your database
  5. Define clear calls to action so that content achieves something when people access it

Once you know your content is working hard, automation can do the rest.

Capture live data

Automation uses your database to market and target the content you have created. By creating interactive databases of contacts that track their behaviour and interactions with you, marketing tools like HubSpot can create lists of who is interested in what, and where they sit in the buying cycle.

Not everyone is ready to buy straight away or within the same timeframe, and different people will engage with you with different needs in mind. Live, intuitive lists mean that you can automatically respond to each individual’s interest and follow their unique buying journey, adapting what list they appear in accordingly.

Establish workflows

Once you’ve captured data and lists have been populated, workflows of personalised, topic or persona-specific content can be collated and automated. Put simply, the right content can be automatically sent out to relevant people on relevant lists at the right time.

Emails and broadcasts across platforms can be scheduled for set times, while the system continues to monitor activity. Scoring and alert systems can even pick up when hot leads may respond to more immediate contact, so you’ll know when it’s best to interrupt the schedule with a direct approach.

Encourage growth and development

A/B test pages or emails can be tried out with different lists to test ideas and see what works best. Once automation starts working and, hopefully, you begin to capture more and more useful data as people respond, don’t be afraid to personalise further.

By regularly going back to the start of the process, analysing your data again, refining your content and funnelling contacts into more and more specific lists, your marketing can grow.

The reward: smoother, more rewarding inbound marketing

The beauty of this kind of automation is that it complements inbound marketing strategy rather than disrupting or competing with it.

As well as the wider benefits to your business, automation will boost your inbound marketing projects by:

  • Freeing up time
  • Making your contact list more useful and work harder
  • Accommodating unique customer journeys and building trust organically
  • Qualifying your leads, allowing you to focus energies on who is likely to offer the best ROI
  • Keeping audiences warm and informed without overwhelming
  • Creating more touch-points and opportunities for contacts to come to you when they’re ready
  • Providing measurable analytical data and real-time results

As HubSpot certified partners, we use HubSpot to provide automated marketing services to our Financial Services clients but we also offer alternative tools and services to any client wishing to try something different. Want to find out more? Just give us a call. We always love to hear from you.

 

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