Embarking on a marketing automation initiative can be a daunting task. If you’re trying to nurture leads, you need something to offer these prospects to move them along the sales cycle. Strong content — white papers, videos and the like — is an obvious choice. But what if you have too much to choose from, or perhaps not enough to get started?
The natural instinct is to feel overwhelmed or to take a shotgun approach, says Justin Gray, CEO of LeadMD. “Marketers need to understand you can babystep this. You might start up with five pieces of content and that will get you three months into a nurturing cycle.”
Have a content plan in place, Gray advises. Learn who your buyers are and what type of content they’re currently consuming online. “Put a lot of effort into defining who your target prospects are, where they are in the cycle, and what (and who) they need to see,” he says. “Then have the content to follow up and stimulate that demand.”
Today’s buyer probably doesn’t want to read a big long white paper most of the time, so consider breaking up your lengthy documents into more “snack size” bites of content, suggests Jon Miller, vice president of marketing for Marketo.
“A good lead-nurturing campaign could be an e-mail that summarizes a longer article with three key bullet points and a link to the full article, or features a good two-minute video,” Miller says. “You want to build a relationship over time and stay in touch. Remember, people read e-mails while they’re in line at Starbucks, so think about your goals.”
But just because someone has downloaded a whitepaper, resist the temptation to immediately pounce, says Dan McDade, CEO and founder of PointClear
“Avoid the urge to jump on the phone right away,” McDade says. “It’s not necessarily a signal they’re ready to act. Not every senior executive wants to be treated like the human equivalent of a pinball, getting attention only when they hit the right bumper.”
A main hurdle for many marketers implementing a marketing automation system is that they need to rethink how they engage with the buyer. Steve Woods, chief technology officer for Eloqua, notes that you need to consider how the buyer discovers information and moves through the buying process — and then orient your communications around that. “Automation is much more than a piece of technology. And you can’t just automate your existing processes. All that means is that you’re doing the same mistakes faster.”
When you’re getting started, don’t try to do too much too fast, says Erez Barak, co-founder and vice president of products, Optify.
“You can’t just go, ‘We see it, we like it, let’s do it, let’s put it in front of the sales team.’ That will blow up in our face,” says Barak. “Make sure sales is on board, make sure the director of sales has bought in and that you’re aligned with the business requirements. Sometimes, when you’re creating the lead scores, differences of opinions crop up. Make sure the sales director is happy, and then go and hit the entire sales team.”