So, your firm is already committed to a marketing approach based largely on thought leadership. You’re regularly producing a fair amount of educational content mapped against the pressing challenges of your ideal clients. You, or someone in your firm, has a working grasp of Google Analytics — as a result, you know which content is performing best in search, which topics lead to conversions, and what percentage of site visitors become known, marketable leads.
Unfortunately, from there you’re sort of stuck. Your analytics account isn’t telling you what you really want to know:
- Which content is more likely to lead to better opportunities for your firm?
- Where did your best clients originate?
- How did they progress through the site during the buying process?
These are just some of the questions that a marketing automation solution can help you answer.
Reasons Firms Tend to Dismiss Marketing Automation
HubSpot. Marketo. ActOn. Maybe you’ve explored one or some of these software platforms already. I’ve talked to a lot of firms about this technology and I’ve heard a lot of reasons that firms hesitate to get serious about them. Some of the most oft-cited:
- Too costly — We simply can’t afford it.
- Too complex — We don’t even know where to begin.
- Too creepy — All that user-tracking just makes me uncomfortable.
- Too fuzzy — We’re just not sure how we’d apply the technology.
While most of these may have some merit, if your firm is really committed to thought leadership, I see 4 big reasons to push beyond them.
Reason #1 – It’s Becoming More Accessible
Just a few years ago, the issue of cost was a large and meaningful barrier for a lot of firms. But, recently, companies like ActOn and Hubspot have made the technology much more accessible for even small firms. It’s very realistic for a firm looking to cultivate relationships with 5,000 contacts to do so for around $1,000 per month. While still not cheap, hardly inaccessible for consulting firms with 50-60 employees.
Reason #2 – The Amazon Effect
Up until recently, the issue of privacy was a very real one. People were turned off by the idea of user tracking. What information are you collecting and who are you sharing it with? However, in the last year there has been a meaningful shift in consumer sentiment on this issue. More and more, it’s just expected that you’re going to track a visitor’s site behavior. The real question is what’s in it for me?
Increasingly web users are more than willing to share a little bit of information in order to get a better, more tailored user experience. I tend to liken it to Amazon. The more information Amazon collects on my interests, the better it becomes at suggesting other products I’m unaware of yet may be valuable to me. Going forward, people are going to expect this of all sites (and, this clearly includes business executives using consulting firm sites).
Reason #3 – Better Insight Into How Clients Become Clients (Especially the Good Ones)
For a lot of firms it seems like this is a really fuzzy subject. Sometimes opportunities just sort of emerge. Often, we don’t have any idea where they came from. An inquiry happens. Principals or business development personnel respond. And, eventually with a lot of conversation, due diligence and hardwork the inquiry becomes a client. But, what actually happened before the inquiry? How did we even get here?
Ultimately, automation can go a long way towards helping firms uncover some of the puzzle of the early stages of the buying process. Automation software lets you see at a user level how a visitor first entered your site, you can see what content was consumed when, and much of the behaviors that transpire leading up to that first inquiry. You can use that information to gain insight into things like — How did our best clients first enter our funnel? What types of content lead to our best opportunities? What marketing investments are most likely to lead us to new client relationships?
Reason #4 – Leadership Will Eventually Take You There
For a lot of firm leaders marketing has always been a fuzzy topic at best. They struggle to conceptually understand how marketing investments tie to business outcomes. Often, the length of time it takes to see yield from an investment in marketing (especially one based on thought leadership) can be frustrating. Ultimately, any good firm leader is constantly seeking better insight into what’s working and what’s not. Technology that enables better measurability of marketing investments will be a welcome relief to many firm leaders.
Simultaneously, CEOs and Principals everywhere are really looking to better understand their clients at an individual level. While this is especially true in larger firms where leadership spends less time leading client programs, even leadership of smaller firms really want to develop better insight into those things that clients are simply reluctant to tell them. Ultimately, chances are good that if firm marketing or technology people don’t make a case for automation in their firms within the next 12-18 months, that leadership may end up doing it for them.