You have decided to invest in a marketing automation platform for your company. Congratulations!
If you have read our previous contents about the key mistakes of the sales funnel and the benefits of lead management, you know it's a powerful tool to step up your business game. It will allow you to attract better leads, nurture them, improve your communication with clients and sell more, in the end of the cycle.
That's the ideal scenario, right? But for that, you need the right marketing automation platform.
Why, you ask? A good platform might be the difference between your marketing and sales teams succeeding or failing. When we talk about lead management, it includes all types of actions from the moment a prospect becomes lead to the moment he turns into a client.
A good marketing automation platform might be the difference between your marketing and sales teams succeeding or failing.
For that, it's essential to have a tool that allows you to automate as much of the process as possible, always providing the best experience to customers. That means segment lists and deliver the right content, understand each group of leads' objections and needs, etc.
Choosing the right marketing automation platform allows you to do this and more for your company. As we've talked about the benefits of marketing automation, a good strategy is capable of improving churn and conversion rates, for example. This means that the company is selling more, contacting more appropriate and mature SQL, and that clients are more satisfied, which results in long-term engagement.
So, now let's get down to business: what should you look for in the perfect marketing automation platform for lead management? After all, there are SO many options in the market and they sure all seem do the same things, right?
WRONG! There are huge differences between them, from cost to features, from speed to errors. First, then, we'll tell you what you need to make a high performance strategy possible.
Top 5 features essential to the perfect marketing automation platform
Let's take one thing at a time. Before you have leads and can actually do something with them in a automation platform, you need to attract them. The best way to do that is producing good quality content, of course.
By offering free and valuable content, like blog posts, you will start to lure your lead in, and by providing free downloadable high-quality content, you will capture their contact information.
These last ones are called lead magnets and can be ebooks, videos, webinars, infographics, etc. For that, you will need a landing page, which is a pretty basic feature in most marketing automation platforms. The real work, and tech need, comes after that:
1. Advanced segmentation possibility
Tagging a new lead according to the landing page and content they downloaded is very easy. But what happens when you need to go beyond that? Usually, it doesn't work.
If you need to make a series of segmentations to create lists or specify a certain type of lead you want to aim for in a specific campaign, two thing usually happen:
- you need to make a long road of research through tags that will prove to be both unpractical and inefficient, or
- you'll need to create lists with duplicates of your lead, which results in a lot of occupied space.
When you have a powerful and complete segmentation tool, you'll be able to do this process a lot faster and more efficiently, since you'll have a tool aimed for specialists and with hundreds of possibilities.
This includes creating smart segments of leads according to its contact and company information, origin, behavioral data and interactions in your website or blog.
2. Lead tracking and event tracking
By lead tracking, we don't just mean to know what content they are downloading. It's a deeper understanding of the leads behavior, preferences, what they are seeking, what solution to a problem are they after.
Lead tracking is a great asset to many high-performing companies because it allows both the sales and marketing teams to really understand the lead, and have a relationship with them that reflects that. But what does lead tracking mean and why not all marketing automation softwares have it?
Let's say you have a lead, he is new but his fingerprints are all over your website, specially your Princing and Features pages. This means that, even though he is new to your base, he is a MQL.
When you find them, let's say by a pre-set alert or segmentation, and send them an email offering a trial, and they accept it, you have SQLs ready for your sales team to talk to. That's the potential of lead tracking: finding your most probable selling opportunity fast and easy.
Another example - a second lead has been on your base for the last few months, but he doesn't read a lot of your content and doesn't engage with your emails. In this case, putting him in an automatic email marketing campaign offering a trial will be useless because he is not ready for a sales approach! Much better to try to engage him through live messaging or in-site notifications, offering a different type of content. You see?
3. Automation flows
Automations are a basic part of any marketing strategy, but making them and having them actually working may be a challenge.
It all depends on the platform and its perks:
- What are the options of actions available?
- How accurate is the tracking?
- Can you set conditions?
- Is it possible to automate email after so many days?
- Can you reach inactive contacts automatically?
While many of the marketing tools offer only basic features, and pretty unusable ones, too, there are great options that can give a lot of options and configurable actions and steps. All to guarantee the best experience for you and your lead.
4. Email marketing campaigns
Creating email campaigns is a great way to cultivate a relationship with leads and clients. This can be through newsletter, personalized (segmented) emails, low-dollar offers, promo codes, etc.
There are many ways of engaging leads through email, but the most important thing to remember here is that campaign is a feature that will work hand-in-hand with segmentation.
Also, targeted email campaigns are useful to retain already existing customers, and not only converting leads into clients. Building a great relationship with them helps to keep them buying from your company, thus increasing your chances of turning them into real brand advocates.
5. Customer Relationship Management
The CRM, also known as Customer Relationship Management, is a process that brings together clients and company, allowing them to keep a running conversation.
To many, a CRM is part of the customer success strategy, and it is. And to be useful, it need to be able to be on the cloud, come with evaluation tool, be able to connect to the sales pipeline and be customizable.
Be sure that the marketing automation platform you choose comes with an integrated CRM, and that all of these requirements are met. Depending on the software you choose, it's also possible to trigger automation flows that send emails and performs specific lead management actions automatically, directly from the CRM board.
6. Business Intelligence (BI)
More and more companies are using Business Intelligence in their day-to-day strategy. Why? Having a BI allows you to collect all the relevant informations from your business, organize them, compare, extract reports, review strategies and much, much more.
According to Tomasz Tunguz, venture capitalist at Redpoint e.Ventures, the workflow of the future is event-driven SaaS companies. Instead of teams manually updating databases, SaaS softwares will store data automatically from leads, customers and users.
With that, the software itself prioritizes the team's work and efforts to the best business opportunities and extracts real-time reports for the decision-making process.
The good news is that the best marketing automation softwares in the market have integrated BI modules, where leads, customers and users behavioral data is stored automatically, which generates reliable metrics and actionable reports. Think of that when choosing your marketing automation platform.
You might have gotten away with not using a BI until now, but you won't be able to go without it much longer, if you are truly serious about becoming high performance.
Free x Paid marketing platforms: why you need to be careful
People tend to believe that something free is better. Even if it's not as tasty, as new or as efficient, the "free" sign is still the only thing they see. But when we are talking about technology, freebies can have very dangerous ramifications. I'll explain.
To create a software or tool, someone needs to invest in it. The more they invest, time or money, the better it is. At some point, they won't have anything else to invest and will have to both charge people for the use of the system, or seek investors that will demand some kind of profit, which will bring in revenue to be reinvested in improvements, and hire more people to keep the wheel spinning. If something is free, this search for improvement doesn't work.
The result, a lot of the times, it turns into a tool that crashes a lot, with security issues that won't reach your expectations. And when you depend on it in your work, like to send email campaigns or make automated email nurturing, that's no ideal, right?
Well then, since now you know it's not a good idea to use a free marketing automation tool, we'll teach you how to decide how much to pay.
The secret to succeed here is to know what you are paying for
There is no exact price here for you to look for. It will all depend on various reasons:
- Your budget;
- what you want your platform to do;
- how big is your company;
- how many leads you are planning on having;
- if you want to pay by e-mails sent or by contacts, etc.
There are a lot of items to evaluate and you need to think through them carefully. A good place to start is by the budget you already have. Then, check how much this investment will affect your Customer Acquisition Cost and how much you need to sell to at least break even. Once you reach this value, see what is being offered by the marketing automation companies.
Let's say you have an X value to spend. One company, better known in the market, may give you 100.000 emails a month to send, while another, newer, doesn't count emails, but leads, and will give you a 50.000 contact limit.
The first one may have limitations in the landing page building section, while the second allows you to customize a landing page completely, including with a easier drag-n-drop system. The first one also limits the number of members you have in one account, and the second doesn't. Can you spot the difference?
Another great way to realize if you are making the right decision is to look for reviews. Do clients recommend the company? Do people cancel a lot? What is the normal response time for customer service? Is customer service done in-house or is it outsourced? The answers to these questions can be found in marketing automation tool reviews around the web, and they will give a valuable understanding of companies and may indicate how will your relationship be.
Why should you look for an advanced marketing automation platform?
We know that there are many options of marketing automation platforms available in the market, but we'll tell why you should look for one with the most advanced features that'll help you during the entire customer lifecycle:
Data crossing: collecting and crossing data generated by the web and an automation platform can be quite difficult. When you use, for example, Google Analytics for one thing, a marketing tool for another and a person, or even an excel, to cross them, well, let's just say it's less than ideal.
With an automation platform that does that automatically, and even allows you to build personalized reports and dashboards to analyze, you'll be able to have a much better understanding of your clients, and improve your strategies for lead management.
Optimized lead tracking: following the leads through the sales funnel is basic, but for those who want to achieve a high performance, is not enough anymore to just watch them do it.
There needs to be a more proactive strategy in place, one that will allow you to give what your lead is looking for at the exact time he is looking. Therefore, an advanced marketing automation platform needs to be able to monitor the lead's behavior, as well as automatic events that'll trigger automated actions according to their behavior.
For example: a lead requests a trial via website. An alert will be sent to your sales team to say there is a new SQL. The next day, the system will send an email from customer success team asking if he has any questions or problems with the setup. And after the trial period, your sales team will receive a new alert to contact the lead and proceed with the sales approach.
Focus in one place: instead of having an automation platform, another CRM, a cloud-based process management board, and number of tools for different things, look for a platform that will have everything integrated as one, such as Pipz Automation. This will optimize the work of your teams and allow them to focus on strategy rather than only execution.
In this content, we showed you what features are necessary in a marketing automation platform, such as business intelligence and lead tracking. You also learn the dangers of free automation tools and why you should always invest in a paid SaaS.
The good news is that Pipz has all of these features, and then some. Are you interested in trying it out for free and with no strings attached?