Modern marketing campaigns are fragmented with different channels and lots of moving parts.  An interested buyer might see your ad in a trade magazine, see your adwords ad in a Google search, like your social media page, and subscribe to your email newsletter all before deciding to buy from you.

It can get a little complicated.

It’s no surprise, then, that small business owners want the most help when it comes to creating a sales and marketing process. Segmenting contacts, sending catered messages, nurturing, tracking, and converting can take a lot of manual labor and time.

That’s where marketing automation comes in.

Marketing automation is key to saving you time while making sure that every contact is being nurtured for your best chance to turn them into a customer and loyal fan of your business.

Here are three areas where marketing automation saves you time, standardizes your process and helps your business shine when it counts to convert more leads into customers:

Automate Lead Nurturing

Each customer has a path to take before making the decision to buy – whether it’s investing in a new technology, partnering with a business consultant, or choosing the right insurance .

That path – the buyer’s journey – can include blog content, social media, digital ads, emails, and phone calls. You can’t control exactly where buyers go, but you can help guide them in the right direction, shortening their journey.

Once you’ve been introduced to a new lead – maybe from a trade show list, lead magnet or networking event – a lead nurturing process can automate the flow of information to the buyer.  

For instance, say you’re a travel agent who specializes in corporate incentive trips.  You meet several great contacts at a networking event, including the CEO of a midsize business. After such a short introduction, it’s not the right time to proceed with a sales pitch, but you want to stay on her radar.

You put her information into the CRM of your sales and marketing software and start her on an introduction campaign.  The campaign automatically sends her an introduction about your company, then proceeds to send a sequence of your best blog posts regarding employee incentive programs.  

As she clicks blog post links, and goes back to your website, she downloads your Incentive Trip Planning Checklist.  The intro campaign stops, and she’s started down a more sales-focused campaign, sending a case study of businesses that have improved sales performance through your employee incentive trips.  The case study is followed by a call-to-action to reach out to you for a free incentive trip itinerary.  She follows through, and you’re on your way to winning another customer who has been warmed up with relevant, helpful information through the lead nurturing process.

With marketing automation, you can create a hands-off process that sends the right message at the right time in the buyer’s journey, turning cold leads into hot prospects for your business.

Standardize Email Templates

Email marketing campaigns, quarterly newsletters, end-of-the month sales incentives – there are a lot of emails to create. In fact, most lead nurturing campaigns include multiple emails and some can be super short, but some can include 10 or more.  Email has been around forever, but it’s still the most effective digital channel for converting contacts into customers – generating $40 for every $1 invested in email marketing.

Email can pay off, but getting bogged down in design woes can hinder your performance. Instead of reformatting every email you send, marketing automation lets you build and track email templates:

  • Maintain a consistent look and feel for every email you send to prospects and customers, boosting recognition and recall of your brand.
  • Use merge fields to include personalized text in your emails, such as contact name, contact company, the contact’s sales rep and more.
  • Track email open and link click stats for each email template
  • Test one template against another to see which templates perform the best.

Many marketing automation systems provide an email template library of predesigned templates so you can start out with a format that adheres to best practices, giving you an even greater chance of reaching prospects and customers in their inbox.

With marketing automation email templates, you can send personal, well-designed emails that improve engagement with your brand, optimizing email marketing ROI.

Consistently Score Leads

If you pulled a list in a standalone CRM, or even pulled up your contacts in Outlook, you probably wouldn’t be able to tell which contacts where hot prospects, and which were cold leads.

When you hook your CRM into marketing automation, however, you can track contacts’ activity and tally a score.  With contact scores, you know who is ripe for reaching out to, and who could use a little more information about your business or their pain-point before starting a sales conversation.

For instance, you might give every lead 1 point for clicking an email link, 5 points for filling out a form on your website, and -10 points for unsubscribing from your newsletter.

Lead scoring your contacts with marketing automation gives you the information you need to determine what leads are most important to follow up on. You can intelligently prioritize people to contact so that no one will slip through the cracks. It also helps you understand what kind of activities you should perform (emails, calls, etc.) to move colder leads down the funnel.

Digital marketing can seem complex, but with marketing automation you can standardize processes, deliver a consistent customer experience and save a ton of time. Rather than focusing on manual, administrative tasks, your team is freed up to create awesome marketing content, follow-up with hot leads, and build better relationships with customers.