Like most sales organizations, you probably keep a database of contacts, most likely within your CRM solution. Having an extensive list of contacts is great, but only if you do something productive with them. Farming through them manually and responding to them individually is an option, but only if you have unlimited time and no sales goals to meet.
Using marketing automation in the right way, you can put your contact list to work for you to increase sales engagement and boost customer loyalty. According to research by Forrester, business-to-business marketers who implement marketing automation increase their sales pipeline contribution by an average of 10 percent.
Getting to the Core of Sales Engagement
Since email is still one of the most effective channels through which to interact with customers and prospects, a dynamic way to build better sales engagement is through email automation. It can help you convert more leads into customers and maintain a solid relationship with your existing customers, who are a market treasure trove themselves when you turn them into loyal evangelists for your products or services. “Influence marketing” is becoming a more compelling solution today than even keyword marketing, since it builds in an extra dimension to marketing: not just the right message in the right place, but also at the right time.
Email automation is a component of many marketing automation solutions today. The feature allows sales organizations to quickly and easily create personalized, automated email workflows that are triggered to happen automatically in conjunction with other events: when a contact views a white paper on your web site, for example, adds himself or herself to a list, clicks on an ad word, views your blog or makes a purchase. Emails can also be triggered by special events (a birthday, for example) or events in a company’s marketplace. Successful email marketers have a variety of events and thresholds set in advance and ready to go.
Create Content “Buckets”
To get the right messages to the right customers, some marketers use email automation in conjunction with content “buckets,” or collections of related content such as white papers, blog posts, videos and even special offers. A good marketing automation solution will feature broad and deep customization tools in its email automation module so you can tailor personalized content to contacts to boost sales engagement.
If a prospect downloads a white paper about your Widget Model D, you’ll want to email him content specific to that product, not hit him with Models A through Z. While you may think all your products are wonderful, overwhelming leads and prospects with unnecessary information with a “more is better attitude” is a fast way to get them to flee.
Automate by Events
The material you’ll want to share with a new customer that has just converted from a lead will be very different than what you want to share with a reliable long-term customer. Experts recommend that you also stratify your email marketing automation by customer life cycle, or the location of the customer in the sales funnel. This way, you can hand newly converted leads the “welcome customer” message and relevant introductory content, while keeping old customers engaged with “we value your loyalty” or “tips to get more out of your product” themes.
It’s also important to know when “conversion events” happen among leads and prospects. A person who reads a single blog post and departs might be encouraged to read similar blog posts in the future. A web site surfer who requests pricing information or nitty-gritty spec sheets is engaging in high-value activities and is presenting a golden opportunity for conversion, so be prepared to supply him with content relevant to new purchases. Choosing a solution that integrates with Google apps is a good idea: this way, you can import offline conversions and measure what happens in the offline world after your ad results in a click or a call to your business.
Know Who Your Frequent Flyers Are
One of the most important goals of sales engagement is in the creation of influencers: these are the people who are so engaged with your products and services that they’ve voluntarily become your unpaid brand evangelists. Identify these people by high numbers of page views, comments on your blogs, social media posts or repeat purchases. Alternatively, they can be identified from engagement with your organization plus a high number of Twitter followers, for example. (Brand evangelists with no followers are, sadly, simply “fans.”)
Some marketing automation solutions such as Agile CRM allow users to build a custom lead scoring scale and then score contacts by activity or value. It’s a way to identify hot leads worthy of email marketing follow-up. From here, you can create an email workflow to share your top content with them in the hopes that they will pass it along via social media, recommendations or word of mouth.
Likewise, you can also stratify your email automation to address inactive customers in an effort to bring them back into the fold. Identify some “reengagement” content (new features added to existing products, for example, or a coupon or discount to encourage new spending) that can be emailed to dormant customer accounts.
Upselling and Cross-Selling to Greater Spending
Customers who are already spending with you are one of your best sources of potential new revenue. New customers need service contracts, add-on features, in-house training and more, so don’t forget to build email automation workflows to identify these customers that already have their wallets open with content that will encourage them to make additional purchases.
You may also wish to create automated events for existing customers who are in the right place for post-purchase maintenance or evaluation. The right content to share at this point is “getting the most out of your widget” or “examples of how industry leaders use their solutions.”
The difference between spam and true sales engagement lies not only in the content, but the timing. While you may have the best sales enablement material and content in the world, it’s not going to work very hard for you if you’re missing ideal opportunities to build loyalty and add value for customers.