By Mike Majestic
The business climate over the past several years has been tough on everyone. Within our industry, there have been many consolidations, with several regional competitors being acquired by national firms. In order to remain competitive, Kaye-Smith, like many companies, needed to change the way it markets itself to businesses in the Northwest region.
Consider this article a case study in how one 25-year-old company dealt with the challenges of the new marketplace, using marketing automation.
Much of our core product—financial-statement processing and other compliance communications—is complex and data-intensive, involving lengthy sales cycles—sometimes as long as three years or more. We needed a way to nurture leads over extended periods of time to ensure that we’re top-of-mind when companies are ready to consider outsourced solutions.
We decided to invest in marketing automation and implement a customer relationship management (CRM) solution. Our initial solution proved to be overly complex. After reviewing a number of options, we identified a solution that was a better fit and integrated seamlessly with our CRM system.
The solution we chose provided an intuitive way to publish landing pages and enter responders into an email campaign, track where they visit on our website and provide those insights to our sales team through our CRM.
Our regional focus limits the number of companies we target in our marketing efforts, and the volume of web search activity on keywords for our core services is relatively low. This meant we had to continue with our traditional marketing efforts, such as trade shows, direct mail, email and some print advertising, while adding nurture programs and triggered email program through marketing automation.
Without an opt-in mail list, our initial campaigns relied heavily on direct mail to bring responders online to accept our offers (typically a white paper or other information), which were fulfilled via email. From there, each responder is entered into an email nurture program. Sales receives an alert when a prospect has taken an action that identifies them as a qualified lead.
This new approach has been successful and helped our sales team close business. A new credit union client is a great example.
Last September, we made a presentation to the Northwest Credit Union Association. The topic was “transpromo” marketing—using statements and other mandated communications to deliver personalized, relevant marketing messages. The credit union CEO was in attendance.
In February, we launched a mail program focusing on the same topic, offering a white paper about transpromo marketing. It was downloaded by contacts at the credit union, which entered them into an email stream with additional information about transpromo marketing and statement-processing services.
Because of our new marketing automation tracking capabilities, we could now follow their behavior on our website—with full details of the pages they were visiting as they performed their due diligence: learning more about our company.
This Summer, the credit union became a new client. A trade show presentation, targeted direct mail, email nurturing, web content and sales follow-up all contributed to closing the sale.
If you’re considering adding marketing automation to your toolkit, here are a few things to consider.
Pick the one that makes sense for you.This may seem obvious, but as you sit through demonstrations, you’ll see lots of features that you’ll be certain you must have. Before you begin researching solution providers, write down what you expect to accomplish and what capabilities you must have. Then measure how each provider stacks up against your “must haves.” And understand how the new elements will integrate with other digital and traditional marketing channels you use.
Have a plan. Identify three or four campaigns you want to automate before your engage. Consider new customer welcome programs, a trigger campaign from a key page on your website or integrating with a current traditional campaign.
Start simple. Be realistic about what you can accomplish quickly. Plan to try simple, straight-forward programs first. Marketing automation is a tool—not a strategy. Allow your team time to learn how it works.
Don’t wait to “have it all set up.”
There’s a certain amount of set up needed to make marketing automation function. Once that’s accomplished, begin launching a few programs and reviewing the results. Test and learn.
There is no reason to wait until you’ve thought through or activated every feature. After all, as you analyze your results you’ll be adjusting programs on an ongoing basis.
Making marketing automation part of your overall marketing approach can deliver results. Barriers to marketing automation implementation for some companies is the cost, the long-term commitment that some providers require and other resources required to implement/manage the solution.
An option is to outsource marketing automation in order to control costs and keep your internal team focused on strategy.
Mike Majestic is the director of marketing for Kaye-Smith. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.