Marketing automation can merge your online communication, sales, and brand journalism efforts into an effective PR strategy. It can also help you save time, reduce labor costs, and give your life back. Here are 7 reasons why.
By Dellvin Roshon Williams, Founder-CEO at DRW®
In an era of rapid technological change, a well-thought-out business strategy includes not only press mentions but builds trust with shareholders, stakeholder groups, media, and corporate activists. What most brands don’t know is what it takes to get the visibility their business needs. What they are missing is the specific framework for getting media attention and creating interest in their industry.
Once upon a time, PR pros would work through “third-party endorsements” to engineer or prime public appetite for a set of messages to be disseminated for an organization’s benefit, on the one hand, while keeping the media informed and inform organizations about the needs of media, on the other. And they still do. But that’s more of an old-school outbound approach. You know, top-down; interruptive; unscaleable
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Today, effective PR is but one part of the larger, more complex communication framework. One that pulls high-value prospects to your brand, using educational content such as blogs, eBooks, whitepapers, or sales pages to consistently build trust.
Winning hearts and minds in today’s media climate, then, means demonstrating reputational value by merging legacy PR with online communication, and branded content so you can:
- Attract with persona development, websites, pillar posts, keyword research, and yes, on-page SEO
- Convert leads into clients through online newsrooms, sales pages, and conversion funnels
- Close deals via thought leadership, marketing automation, events, and exclusive interviews
- Delight audiences with community management, market research PR, and social media engagement
For many businesses, a tight budget determines the type of marketing that the company does. Small and midsize business (SMB) owners tend to run a lean ship and, as a result, they almost always take the conservative approach concerning labor or capital-intensive investment decisions.
This approach leaves the company at a severe disadvantage, particularly if they have not yet started taking advantage of the most impactful element of business growth: marketing automation.
“Technology has allowed people to ask and talk directly to a company or CEO and they should respond. This is why there needs to be an authentic approach to PR and communications. The world is highly transparent and the barrier has been removed.” – Allan Biggar, former Chairman of Burson-Marsteller
What Is Marketing Automation?
According to Demand Metric, “Automation solutions incorporate business strategies, marketing processes, and automation technologies to generate, qualify, and develop leads along the entire sales cycle.”
Different types of marketing automation include digital advertising, email campaigns, lead generation, and much more. Generally, marketing automation uses machine learning or pre-determined attributes to run autonomously. For some marketing campaigns, you may have to establish workflows to run independently or use a system that uses customer data to run. Key automation concepts include:
Leads are acquired when prospects inquire or respond to marketing campaigns such as sales pages, blogging, email marketing, direct mail, search engine marketing, etc.
Leads are scored for quality based on explicit profile criteria (job title, company size, location, etc.) and implicit behaviors (think: website visits, downloads, event registrations, and form submissions.
Leads are incubated until they are ready for follow-up by sales. Typically, nurturing involves a steady flow of communications designed to educate the prospect and align purchasing and sales cycles.
Once leads reach a specified quality score, they are identified as sales-ready and are assigned to sales reps for immediate follow-up.
So, what does marketing automation have to do with relating to the public?
In this post, I do not present a comprehensive overview of marketing automation. Instead, I will discuss the benefits that implementing an automated solution can have for your company’s online reputation management. That said, here are seven things that implementing a marketing automation solution will allow you do.
Build Scale (and Trust) Into Your Business
Without marketing automation, both you and your company will struggle to make it in the era of digital media. The key to growth isn’t always having the most outstanding products or services, competitive pricing, or customer service. The key to growth is having a repeatable, scalable process that works the same in Dubai as it does in Houston, Hong Kong, or Harare.
It’s all about creating rare, unforgettable moments in the customer experience. According to Ascend2, the three most important reasons for improving customer engagement through the use of automation solutions are:
- To streamline marketing and sales
- To improve customer engagement
- To improve customer experiences
It would help if you found ways to connect with potential customers and motivate your leads by offering them the information they require and making them feel that you are speaking to a segment of one. That personalized, lasting sense of connection that the most successful organizations manage to pull off, thanks in part to automation technology, builds consistency in your brand communication, and trust with your prospects and clients.
Without it, your company will be at the mercy of the competition. On the other hand, you stand to gain by automating your online marketing since the technology gives you all the tools you need to sustain and grow your business.
“In a competitive environment, even quality and performance can begin to look like a commodity. But relationship is never a commodity.” – Linda Richardson
Deepen Relationships Through Engagement
In today’s customer-centric world, it is not a flashy video or a promo code that gets a reaction from your audience. It’s all about understanding the passion, motivations, and hobbies of your high-value prospects and clients.
When you use content marketing automation platforms like HubSpot, Get Response or Active Campaign, you not only automate almost every area of your digital marketing, but you’re also able to segment your customers into groups to send and share content that is relevant to your prospect or client’s needs.
What’s more, you can personalize your email messages with specific customer data that includes their name, transaction history, and preferences. In this way, you can give your audience the type of content they are most interested in viewing. Relevant marketing content means they are more likely to react, respond to, or engage with your messaging.
Uncover High-Value Potential From Behavioral Insights
Marketing automation technology almost always contains in-built reporting functionality. Instead of manually updating Google Analytics dashboards or spreadsheets, you can understand the behavioral insights of your prospects and clients in real-time.
Additionally, many types of marketing automation software allow you to carry out A/B testing, where you can run different campaigns simultaneously to test different variables. In the context of email marketing, the testing may involve using different subject lines. The data will then show you the version that gives you the most clicks and is the most successful.
By providing you with easy-to-understand success metrics, automation software allows you to forecast the impact of future campaigns. Through machine learning, the software helps you generate successful headlines and copy.
Identity Points of Meaningful Connection
Setting up a great customer experience involves more than personalization. You have to know what your customers find relevant and the channels to best engage them. Marketing automation software provides them with what they expect from you at every touchpoint of their customer journey.
As any brand marketing expert would tell you, offering a captivating customer experience to buyers is far from easy. You need to – as we have had to do – think about different buyer segments, the various stages of the buyer journey, and current trends in your industry.
A marketing automation solution is not only useful for your gauging customer experience, but also absolutely essential for providing a centralized customer experience command hub. It is the platform where you send out your email marketing targeted email campaigns and personalized follow-up messages.
It’s also where you can track all online interactions with your prospects and clients. You could even launch, monitor, and fine-tune your event marketing and webinars.
Develop Effective Lead Nurturing
Thanks to marketing automation, you can easily nurture your hard-earned leads through content marketing and other types of demand-generation strategies.
The benefit of the marketing automation solution is that it gives you a way to identify the elements of high-performing content by viewing the open, click-through, and conversion figures. When you find out what convinces your leads to convert, those elements can work for other areas of marketing.
Automation gets you leads through effective:
- List Building
- Welcome Series
- Special offers
Additionally, you can quickly spot any bottlenecks that slow down the customer’s journey. By building your lead nurturing strategy around automation software, you can visualize your leads’ stages before making a buying decision. If your leads get stuck at any point, you know what you need to address.
Optimize Your Sales Funnels for Flow and Efficiency
Most solopreneur companies get marketing automation solutions primarily for this benefit – higher efficiency. According to HubSpot, 68 percent of businesses use marketing automation to generate and nurture leads. You can easily streamline your marketing workflows and get more done at a lower cost when you have the right technology in place. See our example webinar sale
Because of the importance of efficiency in the operation of a business, this is an aspect that you should look at closely when choosing a marketing automation solution for your company.
Marketing automation software is also an investment in the future of your business. To avoid overextending your marketing budget, identify what is most important to you and start there. As a smaller business with a tight budget, your solopreneur operation should consider the components and decide what is most valuable.
It would be best if you started with tools that you can apply directly to your business marketing.
Win Business, Not Awards
The way PR agencies have typically measured their effectiveness has been through outcome research – measuring coverage via press clippings. But In the age of new media, traditional PR strategies no longer work.
As I’ve said before, one article, radio interview, or guest blog does not PR make.
That’s what we call media placement. Public relations is a practice and profession that involves the careful, well-thought-out planning and execution of campaigns with specific, measurable objectives, strategies, and tactics, having several key messages sent out to media outlets over a determined period of time.
Marketing automation can not only help prospects and clients engage you directly but can save you the time and energy needed to win new business. Marketing automation positions you to quickly convert your leads to paying customers and retain your existing customers through:
- Lead Management
- Web Analytics + SEO Marketing
- Direct Marketing
- Landing Pages/Forms
As a result, your business grows; your marketing budget gets you more bang for your buck; generates leads, nurtures them, and closes deals. That’s why super-optimized OWNED automated content (websites, social channels, landing pages, and email marketing) must become the most important elements for your public relations content strategy.
At DRW Communications, we serve as a communications hub specializing in media relations, thought leadership, and web design + consulting for the lifestyle, travel, and transport industries.