How To Use Content To Fuel Marketing Automation and Boost Customer Engagement

The content you create fuels your lead engagement and conversion rates.

Beneath all the twiddling and spinning, there's the delicate machinery comprised of cogs and wheels that make it all happen -- from email marketing to social media shares to PPC ads. The challenge lies in how do you get yourself out of the heady whirl of content promotion and distribution without disrupting your current campaigns and hurting your customer engagement rates.

The solution you're looking for is marketing automation.

For 36 percent of marketers surveyed by Redeye and TFM&A Insights in 2014, marketing automation took repetitive tasks out of their hands, allowing them to focus more on new projects. Another 77 percent of marketing automation users revealed that the process resulted in a significant boost in their conversion rates. Among B2C marketers, incorporating automation such as birthday emails to cart abandonment programs increased their conversion rates to as high as 50 percent.

But isn't automation a big no-no to inbound marketing's goal to be more customer-centric rather than get stuck with the product-driven mindset?

Busting the Marketing Automation Myth

Every time the word automation is introduced, it's not uncommon for everyone to start envisioning a dark, dystopian world where pure breeds like you become slaves to androids, being dragged to scheduled meal times, and commanded to lined up for your twice-a-day Soylent rations.

The truth with marketing automation is far from taking the humanness out of your brand. In contrast, it puts more zest into your lackluster customer engagement campaigns.

Instead of being force-fed with artificial and genetically-altered food rations in a world ruled by heartless automatons, picture yourself entering your favorite fine dining restaurant. The warm, smiling crew recognizes you as one of their lovely patrons, calls you by name, and ushers you to one of the best seats in the house. You indulge in your meal that is perfectly cooked and prepared to your liking (one of the waiters fondly recalled that you're vegetarian!).

Marketing automation treats your prospects and customers the same way. Contrary to what the word automation signifies, marketing automation offers a bevy of benefits that has nothing to do with being cold, calculating, and ruthless.

Seen through the lens of empathy and personalisation, this Quick Sprout guide defines marketing automation as targeting the right users with the right message at the right time in their buying journeys. And the folks at Unbounce can attest: good marketing is all about sending the right message to the right people at the right time.

Simply put, the core purpose of putting marketing automation to work is to nurture prospects, engage customers, and turn customers into fans and evangelists of your brand.

With marketing automation, you skip the bland, generic mass of newsletters and send in warm, personalized e-notes instead. What's do dystopian about that?

Marketing Automation is One Huge Apple Pie

Many marketers equate marketing automation with email marketing. However, email marketing is just a tiny slice of the huge marketing automation pie. Each slice represents the automation tactic you can employ for every stage of the customer's journey -- from a prospect who liked your brand's Facebook page to a trial tester who's still unsure about signing up for a fully-paid plan.

By and large, marketing automation covers a broad arc of components in your toolkit. The slices that make up your automation pie could take in the form of an email capture in one of your landing pages, email list segmentation, data migration, predictive lead scoring, or a content management platform.

Maximizing Customer Engagement Through Marketing Automation

Now, how do you harness marketing automation to turn a Facebook like into a paying customer? Or an existing customer into a loyal, raving fan?

While a significant chunk of marketing automation is ruled by software such as Hubspot, Marketo, Pardot, and Eloqua, let's take a closer look for now on how you can utilize these tools to help your customer engagement soar to greater heights. After all, these tools won't be of no use without a robust strategy to back you up.

Build a lead scoring system.

Not all leads are created equal. You need to categorize your leads to gain a clear-cut understanding of where they are in the marketing funnel. These categories could include job titles, industry, frequency of site visits, content commented or downloaded, and email open rates.

Having a sales rep call a prospect who just visited your site for the first time could spell disaster. Therefore, you have to intelligently sort through your leads, categorize them, and determine your next step based on where they are in the customer journey. Since you've already identified bottom-of-the-funnel leads through automation, you can precisely steer your sales team into their direction for follow-up.

Refine your lead nurturing efforts based on your lead scoring data.

In the old days, lead nurture used to be the sole responsibility of the sales team, not the marketing crew. It's entirely a different scenario today. 

Prospects might be anywhere from two-thirds to 90 percent of the way through the customer journey before they reach out to a salesperson.

What are you doing with this 90 percent?

With marketing automation, you can create lead nurture campaigns based on the demographics and other information you've gained through lead scoring. Picture all those seedlings in a nursery. These are your leads, and you create a favorable environment (sunlight, water, fertilizer, etc.) to make these seedlings into full-blown shrubs or trees!

When you automate, you know exactly how much exposure and what time of the day it is best to expose these seedlings to sunlight. By doing so, a high engagement rate is guaranteed.

Create dynamic content.

This approach also falls into what many refer to as drip marketing. Instead of bombarding everyone in your email list with newsletters, you send out various content over time intervals, depending on customer behavior and where they are in the journey.

You do not want to hang the "sign up for a yearly plan" sign in your newsletter if you are targeting those who are just looking into getting to know your brand more through a blog subscription. An automated welcome email is more suitable at this point. Welcome emails sent right after a prospect signs up increases the open rate to 88.3 percent.

Using a prospect's first name on the salutation of your email, educational content, a simple guide containing FAQs, and tutorials on software licensing renewals are excellent examples of automating dynamic content, minus being pushy!

Outside of emails, you can employ automation with dynamic content by highlighting certain products or store locations on your website based on the prospect's recently viewed pages and physical location.

Focus on progressive profiling.

Think about your first date. 

What was it like? 

Did your date inquire about your social security number? Or your credit card details?

It's the same thing with all those forms you have in your landing pages. You do not ask for too much information from a first-time visitor.

You can make filling out forms a more enjoyable experience if you automate them through progressive profiling. This method allows you to choose which form fields will appear based on the data you already have about the prospect. With this approach, losing the prospect's attention is less likely to happen, and customer engagement is sustained.

Humanize Your Brand with Marketing Automation

The more data you gather through automation, the more you can provide a warm, personalized experience to your prospects and customers. In hindsight, automation helps you drive your brand's value with ease and finesse.

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