How many of you are using marketing automation? This question was asked of 35-40 consulting firm marketers at an AMCF marketing session in late 2012 — and to my surprise only 3 hands went up (and one of them was mine). About 6 months later, at a similar event in 2013, the session had a whole discussion track on the topic. So, interest in the technology is growing rapidly. Now we sit in 2014. Has interest turned to action yet in your firm? If not, should automation be on your agenda? Should it be at the top?
5 Reasons Automation Should Be On Your 2014 Marketing Agenda
- Thought Leadership is More Crowded — One of the main things I took away from The Bloom Group’s study on the state of online publishing in the consulting industry is that the landscape for consulting firm thought leadership has gotten much more crowded in the last 4-5 years. For me, this raises the question, “Who are we talking to?” Are we talking to the high value clients we really hope to attract? Or, some cobbled mix of competitors and small businesses? Through micro analytics, automation helps you start to answer these questions.
- Make Sure It’s The Right Thought Leadership — Are we publishing the the right topics? Are we delivering it in the right formats? Sure, you can answer these questions with Google Analytics, but it may not be giving you the whole story. Maybe your analytics account tells you that the most consumed topic is “sales force effectiveness”, but is that the highest priority topic for your ideal clients? With behavioral segmentation, automation can tell you what topics within your thought leadership are of most interest to the core clients you really hope to attract. Maybe, CEOs of pharmaceutical and medical device companies are your core client, and they’re more interested in “sales team development.” Automation helps you see these anomalies more clearly and market to people based on their interests.
- Make Business Development More Effective — Talented business development people and the time of partners are usually precious commodities in a consulting firm. Making sure we’re putting these people in the right conversations, with the right prospects and clients, at the right time is critical to a consulting firm’s success. Through lead scoring, automation can help you figure out which potential clients from your sea of web visitors appear to be in the later stages of selecting and hiring a consulting firm — enabling you to prioritize them for proactive business development activities.
- Close The Loop on Marketing — Which topics and campaigns are most likely to generate subscriptions for your email newsletter? Which ones are most likely to generate sales-ready leads? Do certain thought leadership efforts generate more opportunities? Better opportunities? When it’s all said and done, which marketing activities are generating revenue for the firm? Through integration with your CRM, automation helps you answer all these questions and more.
- Stay Out Front — In most corporate marketing departments, we’re witnessing the rise of the marketing technologist. Marketing is increasingly becoming a data-driven discipline. It’s important for both your firm and your career that you stay out in front of this trend. Embrace the opportunity and dive in. The marketers that really understand how to interpret the data, discern key insights and use them to make sound marketing decisions will continue to be in great demand over the next 5 years.
Generally speaking, I think marketing automation is a largely misunderstood technology (see, Why Aren’t Consulting Firms Using Marketing Automation? for some thoughts on this). Ultimately, I believe if your firm has committed to marketing with thought leadership for any meaningful length of time, marketing automation belongs near the top of your marketing agenda for the next 12 months. For more on marketing automation, check out these articles and webinars:
- An Introduction to Marketing Automation (Article)
- An Introduction to Marketing Automation (Webinar)
- Planning for Marketing Automation (Webinar)