Marketing Automation and the Art of Patience

marketing automation and the art of patience

The Power and Patience of Lead Nurturing

Did you know that most marketing leads never turn into sales? Did you know that most marriage proposals are rejected on the first date? Perhaps we should have gotten to know each other just a little bit better first.

Although we mostly develop marketing strategies for schools, we’ve worked with many other industries over the years. I can tell you with a high degree of confidence, that the more important the decision is, the less likely a consumer will make a decision during the first few touches.They need some love, they need some “nurturing”.

  • On average, 50% of the leads in any system are not yet ready to buy (Marketo).
  • Almost 80% of new leads never become sales (MarketingSherpa).
  • Companies that excel at lead nurturing generate 50% more sales ready leads at a 33% lower cost (Marketo).
  • Businesses that use marketing automation to nurture prospects experience a 451% increase in qualified leads (The Annuitas Group).
  • Lack of lead nurturing is the common cause of this poor performance. (Source: MarketingSherpa)

Your marketing might be perfectly targeted, but what YOU might call a “Lead”, might just be the first step in THEIR buyers journey.

Risk avoidance is human nature, and not taking action is often our default reaction. Reassuring the consumer over time in an informative, non-salesy way can fill your pipeline with legitimate prospects who ultimately make the decision to commit to you.

Scaling with Marketing Automation

The process of systematizing and automatically sending the right email message, to the right person, at the right time, goes by different names; Inbound Marketing, Lead Nurturing, Marketing Automation and a few others. It’s best used for what we would call a “Considered Purchase”, something that your customer has to really think about before committing.

My go-to example is education.Choosing a school for a child is a life altering decision, one that parents don’t take lightly. They often don’t make decisions of this magnitude spontaneously, and require encouragement over time.

The strategy is to focus on communication with parents by providing valuable information to build confidence and rapport with the school. Here’s an example of a typical strategy that we use with the schools that we provide marketing services for:

  • Target parents of school aged children (various strategies)
  • Offer something of legitimate value (not salesy). For example, a downloadable eBook such as “A Parent’s Guide to School Bullying” or “10 Things You Need to Know about Your Gifted Child”.
  • The guide or eBook should be free, but they will need to give you their contact informationfor you to send it to them.
  • Once they submit the form, they are simultaneously sent a link to download your guide.
  • At the same instant, their contact information is added to your database, and the lead nurturing process begins.
  • At pre-determined intervals (every week for example), the parent will automatically receive a series of pre-strategized emails. These emails are informative (not salesy). Their first name will automatically be inserted into the email to keep it personal.
  • After several helpful emails, you’ve “earned” the right to escalate your message to a “Call-to-Action” such as inviting them to an Open House (or even a “Virtual” open house for Cyber Schools).
  • This entire sequence of events is automated, so you need only do it once (if you do it right)

Sound simple? Well, conceptually it is. Pulling all the pieces together takes a high degree of planning, and some technical know-how. Here are some of the raw elements that go into a strategy like this:

Marketing Automation Platform: Drip, Hubspot, Marketo or SharpSpring. There are many others at different price points and levels of complexity. We use HubSpot and SharpSpring.

Strategy: I’m afraid you’ll actually have to think this part through from beginning to end. From the initial “offer” (the piece of premium content that is irresistible to your target audience), to how you can get in front of your target audience, to the “theme” and progression of the email sequence, to the ultimate goal, or Call-to-Action. Warning, this requires a lot of thinking and may cause brain damage.

Creativity: There are a lot of things to consider here; the visual appeal of the offer, the writing of the emails, and particularly, the overall strategy.

Technical Aptitude: The marketing automation platforms simplify the process, but they aren’t simple to master. However, they are learnable, and most of the top platforms have some great tutorials.

When all is said and done, you need to treat each lead as your next customer…because that’s exactly who they are.

About the Author:

Chuck Bankoff is the Director of Web Services, and Senior Digital Strategist for Kreative Webworks, a full-service Digital Agency, specializing in Education Marketing.

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