Jennifer Cantero, Sensiba San Filippo LLP
There has been a great deal of buzz about marketing automation in the accounting marketing world, but what does it really do and how can it help your firm? Is it really all a bunch of hocus pocus? Read on to learn more about the basics of this magic tool.
Overview of Marketing Automation
Marketing automation is magic…yep, magic. Okay, maybe not Harry Potter level magic, but you too will feel like a wizard. It is a software tool designed for marketers to more effectively market on multiple channels online (such as email, social media, websites, etc.) and automate repetitive tasks. There are several different options. You may have heard of the most popular ones: Marketo, Pardot, Act-On, HubSpot, and last year, even email provider MailChimp joined the automation world. They all do the basic automation tasks the same; however, they integrate with different companion software, like a CRM, a bit differently. Some offer more robust add-ons, while others are smaller scale, providing a good fit to smaller firms.
If you are interested in marketing automation, I recommend looking at your options to determine what tool will work best for your firm. But, buyer beware! They all use their own software on their websites and will know exactly when you start poking around. This does, however, provide a fun way to test their lead scoring. When a sales representative would call me, I would always ask what their file has on me – this was highly entertaining and informative.
Functions of Marketing Automation
Marketing automation can provide customer segmentation, customer data integration, and campaign management…and that is just the tip of the magic wand. Many CRMs can integrate with your automation tool so your partners can pull up a contact in the CRM and see where they have been on your website, how long they were there, what they downloaded, what emails they have received and which events they attended. Yes, it can be a bit “big brother,” but it is also very cool.
Benefits of Marketing Automation
- Productivity – Marketing automation will simplify your routine tasks and eliminate repetitive manual processes. An example is a drip marketing campaign that can be used to send out webinar (or any event) invitations. Here you can create your invitation, registration, dial-in instructions, reminder, and thank you emails. To achieve this, you upload or select your invitation list and create the drip campaign flow. For instance, send the invitation every five days until they RSVP. Once they RSVP no, they are removed from further emails in the campaign. Once they RSVP yes, they get the ‘thank you for registering’ email immediately, then one hour before the webinar they get the follow-up email reminding them to dial-in with all the information. Then, after the webinar, they automatically receive the ‘thank you for attending’ email. You set it all up at once, hit go, and then you get to go do something else. It automates the whole sending process. Like I said, magic. At this point, you just need to download your RSVP list and possibly make some name badges. Drooling yet?
- Increased revenue – As marketers, we try to bring value by providing sales leads to our partners and managers. Marketing automations tools are not necessarily cheap, but they pay for themselves if properly utilized. Since my firm has implemented our automation tool, we have doubled our website leads. You read that right – doubled! And now that we are using more of the lead-nurturing programs within the software, we are seeing an even larger uptick. It is not only paying for itself, it is bringing in measureable income. The leads are coming from new business and also from intel we are gathering on current clients to identify ‘plus over normal’ work.
- Client retention – While the prospect of acquiring new clients is an exciting one, it costs a lot less to keep existing clients. A marketing automation tool can help you retain clients with marketing intelligence. You will gain insights into your clients and your prospects, from how they interact with your website and emails, to what kind of topics they are most interested in. With this information, you will be able to predict their needs and decisions, enabling your staff to act like the true consultants they are.
You can personalize your relationships with your clients, prospects, and leads through lead qualification, nurturing, trigger campaigns, digital footprint analysis, lead scoring models, and sales and marketing alignment. For example, you might have a client start reading your articles on succession planning and gifting…this could trigger a discussion to address their exit strategy planning.
Using Marketing Automation
My firm started implementing our automation tool in November of 2017. I know many of you will want to know our “stats,” so here you go…20 partners, 170 staff, 6 offices across Northern California and about $27M in revenue. Now, I am not going to bias you by saying which tool we selected. Every firm needs to go through the process of looking at all the tools and determining which one works for their needs. If you really want to know, find me at the AAM Summit and I will tell you.
Since there are many pieces and parts to an automation tool, we started implementing a piece or two of the tool every couple of weeks. We have a team of two marketers in our firm and that was about the speed we could progress and still feel like we properly learned each function. I highly recommend proceeding in this manner. First, we got our lead scoring set up and imbedded the code on our website. Next, we started to use the platform for social media posts and added gateway forms for all downloads
and emails on our website. Then, we started building emails and campaigns. Lastly, we started to leverage landing pages and automated drip campaigns.
It takes quite a bit of time to learn the system and conceptually grasp how each of the pieces work independently and then together, but once you have it down, you will save loads of time. It has helped our department with reporting on how we have contributed to leads and nurturing various targets. It makes our department look like rock stars when our partners can see all the marketing intel on their clients. At the end of the day, I feel like I have a better pulse on how our marketing efforts are integrated with our sales efforts. See, it really is magic!