Today we'll discuss what Warren Buffett and marketing automation have in common. From there, we'll introduce a framework that reveals some of the principles that many of the world's fastest growing companies use to grow faster online with automation.
Marketing automation - the Warren Buffett way
What do marketing automation and the legendary investor Warren Buffett have in common?
First, Warren Buffett is often quoted on his top two rules of investing, which are: 1) never lose money, and 2) never forget rule number 1. This principle should also apply to your hard earned leads and customers.
Marketing automation serves as your company’s backstop by making sure leads don’t slip through the cracks or drop from memory. Given the time and cost that goes into generating a lead, simply not losing them (or forgetting about them) puts you at an advantage compared to your competitors. And the best part: done right, your customers will thank you through their loyalty and repeat business.
Secondly, Warren Buffett is famous for his perspective on the value of a single dollar. Buffett sees a dollar’s value as its worth when compounded annually for the next twenty years, which far exceeds one dollar today. Likewise, marketing automation multiplies the value of a lead by nurturing and reactivating it, over and over, until it drops out or becomes a customer.
As a rule of thumb, only 25% of all B2B sales leads are ready to purchase at the time they’re created - but about half of the other 75% will be ready to buy in the coming year. This means that staying in touch and building trust through nurturing offers a direct path to future business.
Marketing automation delivers benefits in a number of ways, including raising your brand or product’s awareness within your customer contact base, standardizing marketing across channels, targeting priority customer segments with personalized messaging, and automating manual repetitive tasks to free up time and resources for revenue-generating activities.
A few interesting proof points:
- DemandGen reported that 83% of companies usingmarketing automation were benefiting from more warm sales-ready leads, and 67% were benefiting from better response to campaigns
- Nurtured leads make 47% larger purchases than non-nurtured leads. (Source: The Annuitas Group)
- In a 2015 survey commissioned by Autopilot, customer communications sent every 2-4 weeks generated twice the leads as those sent every 4-12 weeks or even less frequently.
- And according to Forrester Research, companies that excel at lead nurturing generate 50% more sales leads at a 33% lower cost. (Source: DemandGen Report)
An automation framework for growth
Automation allows you to codify your best sales approaches and marketing touchpoints, making your business more scalable and productive. To be successful with marketing automation, we must first understand the critical junctures in your customers' buying and growing experience.
We do this by breaking customer lifecycle automation into Attract, Acquire, and Grow phases.
1. Attract customers by turning strangers and contacts into leads
Most people starting out with marketing automation focus first on attracting new customers by turning strangers and contacts into leads. To do so, we use a range of online marketing strategies to first drive traffic to your website, where they are cookied and tracked by your marketing software as “anonymous” visitors. This enables you to develop a history of their online activity, and fine-tune your marketing and messaging based on their prior activity.
Next, we turn anonymous strangers into known contacts by capturing their details with online “lead capture” forms. Why would anyone voluntarily surrender their email address and contact details? This is where gated content, or lead magnets, come into play. By offering valuable content in exchange for contact details and permission to market to them, a process known as “opting-in,” you can add them into your lead nurturing journeys.
Lead nurturing allows you to prime new inquiries and leads, and to reactivate cold leads or lost sales opportunities. Your objective is to educate early-stage buyers by offering industry trends, best practices, third party consumer reviews, customer stories, then automatically escalating those who respond favorably by offering them a call to action, like a sales call.
Being great at attracting leads and contacts is much easier if you maintain a well-organized contact database. As your nurturing marketing matures, being able to target key segments with personalized offers or insights becomes a driver of success. Learn how to accomplish all of this in the following Flight Plans: Capture and Grow Leads, 10 Ways to Drive Traffic to Lead Magnets, and Nurture your Contacts.
2. Acquire customers by converting leads into paying customers
Once you are successfully capturing and growing your contacts, the next phase is to convert them into paying customers. How you execute this will vary depending on your business model.
Here we break out the conversion objectives in each of the following business models:
- Inside Sales: goal is to progress a customer from a new (or raw) lead, to a marketing qualified lead, then to a sales qualified lead, to an opportunity, and finally to a won customer.
- Freemium: goal is to sign up new free accounts (or trials), then convert them automatically into paying customers with automated marketing touchpoints
- E-Commerce: goal is to incentivize visitors to add items into a shopping cart, recover customers who have abandoned, and drive purchases, and repeat
- Consulting and Services: goal is to attract new users with rich content, then follow up to schedule consultations and proposals that leads to new client acquisition.
In each of the above, the opportunity with automation and nurturing is to help buyers overcome common hurdles, including learning the product, understanding pricing and value, reviewing security concerns, referring to customer stories or consumer reviews, and planning their purchasing and implementation.
Doing so effectively requires mapping out the buying cycle, and developing the right messaging at the right time. More advanced ways to significantly improve performance include messaging across multiple channels (e.g. emails, text messages, postcards), and personalizing content based on customer's product usage or customer data.
3. Grow your customers into loyal promoters
The same automation principles used to attract and acquire customers can be applied to win them over as loyal and valuable long-term customers. Of the many different types of automated journeys you can take customers on, several to consider include:
- New customer onboarding: the most successful customers are those who start out leveraging your services in the right way. An automated “welcome” journey that takes new customers through a specific onboarding process is an excellent way to set them off on the right path.
- Targeted upsell and cross-sell: target specific high-value segments of your customer base with highly-relevant offerings and personalized messaging. Consider including training or customer check-ins to maximize adoption of a promotion or new product release.
- Major communications: Newsletters, company announcements, and event invitations are a great way to maintain a regular drumbeat and build better relationships with your customers.
- Customer feedback surveys: Conduct regular satisfaction surveys, including the Net Promoter Score (NPS), to identify priority areas for improvement and a quantitative baseline for improving your products and customer experience
Wrapping it all up
Marketing automation is a part-technology, part-process, part storytelling approach that allows you to attract, acquire, and grow loyal customers automatically.