Chapter 4 - Marketing Automation Mistakes eBook - Marketing Funnel and the Buyers’ Journey

Here's the latest chapter from our eBook, catch up with chapter 1, chapter 2 and chapter 3 now.

To create effective marketing automation campaigns it’s important to understand the various stages that potential customers go through, from the very first interaction with your brand to the most important goal, conversion, and all the way to loyalty and becoming a brand evangelist. This process is normally modelled using a marketing funnel, or describing and documenting a buyer’s journey for each of your key personae.

Understanding the Buyer's Journey

A simple four-stage model created by HubSpot is something we frequently use with our clients. This model explains that there are four stages in the journey to be considered: awareness, consideration, conversion and delight. The first step to take is to raise awareness of an issue that your target audience has, one that your company is an expert in this field. The prospect then needs additional information to help him consider which approach to take to overcome their challenge. Only once they have moved through these two initial stages should you try to convert them to a customer by selling your product or service. Finally, once they are a customer, you should focus on retention by continuing to delight them with your marketing content.

Modelling your marketing funnel or buyer’s journey helps you create more conversions from your leads, but mistakes in this process cost time, profit and energy. By identifying or even avoiding these mistakes early on you can start to build better marketing campaigns. Here are some of the most common mistakes made in each funnel stage:


The Awareness Stage

  1. Trying too hard to sell - In this stage don’t sell or give away too much information about your products, as your focus should be getting subscribers. Prospects don’t yet know the value of your product and won’t be interested in specific content or sales material, in this case giving out educational content is more beneficial. This stage should be focused on establishing yourself as a leader within your industry, and it starts with building trust with your prospects.
  1. Poor website credibility - Does the visitor trust your site enough to give their details and personal information? Trust is built up by having backlinks from other trust worthy sites, it may be difficult for customers to want to purchase from you or give up their information before they see you as an authoritative source in the market.
  1. Poor website usability - It’s important for website visitors to have a hassle-free experience. The easier the website is to use, the more likely they stay on your site longer. A website that is not easy to use will only decrease the amount of returning visitor. There are some features that decrease website usability, such as: no search bar, pagination in the wrong places, content that is difficult to scan, tiny clickable areas, old permalinks that lead nowhere, too much functionality that requires registration, lack of mobile friendliness and duplicate page titles. Improve on these to make using your website an easier overall experience for users. They will be more likely to buy or download your products.


The Consideration stage

  1. Forgetting to nurture - Aim to build a more in depth relationship with your subscribers, by nurturing them with targeted content. Don’t waste time sending irrelevant content as the goal here is to be helpful. Don’t forget to focus on what stage the leads is at, hot leads are leads that are good enough to be passed onto your sales team, this is because they are highly interested in buying your services. Cold leads are leads that don’t currently show an interest in what you are offering, this means they are not ready to be passed to your sales team. To turn your cold leads into warm leads you should monitor their behavior on your site to learn as much about them as you so that can, this way you can successfully target and re-target leads with content.
  1. Lack of segmentation - Segmentation separates the people in your database into different categories that you can define. Without this you have no strategy or logic as to which content offers you are sending out to which contacts. Unsegmented lists mean that you risk sending your contacts irrelevant offers that they don’t want and this can lead to potential customers unsubscribing or reporting you as spam. If you successfully use segmentation you can effectively engage with your database, by delivering relevant offers to the right contacts at the right time. These are a few different categories you can use to segment your list: Specific interests, prospects/buyers, those which are actively interested in your site, cold/warm lead, and demographics such as age/income/gender, industry etc.
  1. Not setting clear expectations - Call to action buttons need to clearly state what the next step will be. A simple ‘Download Now’ will probably not make anyone want to click as they are not informed what they will be downloading. All CTA’s will work differently with different audiences, but they should be clear and concise. The main mistake with CTA’s is not experimenting to see what works and what doesn’t. You can try changing the colour, position, size, or text. To test different variations of your CTA, consider trialing different versions with A/B testing.


The Conversion stage

  1. Exhausting your prospects with pushy sales calls - This is the stage where prospects realised they have a problem and you have a solution for it and this is a good stage to start introducing your products. Bombarding your prospects with sales calls is not going to help. Alternatively use an integrated approach including a couple of calls along with email campaigns or targeted ads to talk about the benefits of your products/service and show rather than tell why your product is better than your competitors. Through providing a bigger picture to your prospect and serving them relevant info about you and your offering, your conversion rate will soar.
  1. Not increasing your knowledge and understanding of the prospect - as you further engage with your prospects, it’s important to determine their needs so that you can reach your prospects successfully, and help move them along the buyer’s journey. This data can be collected through capturing information through forms on your landing pages and website or through activities such as customer competitions.


Delight your customers

  1. Don't forget about retention - At this point in the funnel you don’t want to lose contact with your customers because repeat customers are too valuable to ignore. Rather than stopping interaction with them, send useful content such as educational content; Delighting will help to retain your customers and encourage loyalty and enhance the likelihood of recommendation or endorsement by sharing content.
  1. Not taking advantage of “Word-of-mouth” referrals - Again it is important to keep in contact with your customers and encourage them to become promoters of your products/services. Asking your customers to feature in a case study or offering special existing customer promotion are great ways to keep customers feeling appreciated.

From these carefully planned steps it is clear to see that ignoring your buyers journey is a sure fire way to miss out on plenty of opportunities. Whatever the length of your sales cycle, documenting your buyers journey is a great source of inspiration for your campaigns that will help them to be more effective.

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Chapter 3 - Marketing Automation Mistakes eBook - Lack of personalisation

Here's the third chapter from our  new Marketing Automation mistakes eBook. if you missed them, catch up with Chapter 1 and Chapter 2 now.

Many people wrongly believe that marketing automation makes communication sound robotic, this indicates that the people who believe this don’t fully understand what marketing automation does. On the contrary, marketing automation enables marketers to engage with their prospects, leads and customers better than ever with tailored content and progressive profiling. When using marketing automation, it is important not to overlook personalisation of content – adding someone’s first name at the top of an email is not enough. Personalisation is one of the subtle tactics that marketers can use to foster loyalty in their customers and win favour, helping them to stand out from the competition.  With many companies having more complex buyer’s journeys and longer sales cycles, personalisation is beneficial for both the company and the customer. To maximise success, companies need to know their customers likes and dislikes. Each buyer’s journey is different because every buyer will have their own unique wants, needs and concerns, their own motivations and goals; which are constantly changing.

How does marketing automation help with personalisation?

Personalisation is needed on your website and marketing automation platforms can help here through the use of content optimisation systems to deliver the right content to visitors; content is generated based on different factors such as where their IP address is registered (geographically), whether they have visited the website before, or typically what their browsing behaviour reveals. Marketers can set rules in place to determine what content is served and when these rules are matched the visitor receives a unique display on the website that will be different to every other visitor. Overlooking optimising your website could result in potentially prolonging the buyers journey. For example, if you have a multilingual website, a good personalisation effort would start with serving your visitors the right language or the relevant page by tracking their IP address. This will shorten the buyers journey by not leaving them to find the information relevant to their geographical area such as currency (if you have an e-commerce site) or the closest distributors for your products. Personalisation grows more beneficial the longer you’ve been collecting data and is more influential when you have a better understanding of the prospects needs but it is important to be respectful with how much personalisation you use and how often.

Get personal - but not too early on

Let’s take re-targeting for example; it’s a form of programmatic marketing that uses cookie-based technology to follow visitors as they move to different websites. Cookies store information about the user’s behaviour, including which pages they viewed and how long they have stayed on that page for. When they leave to visit another website, the cookie triggers programmatic software, and the consumer is re-targeted with an ad relevant to the content they interacted with on your site. These ads will follow you from website to website so it’s important to use re-targeting respectfully. To achieve respectful retargeting is important to know all that you can about your buyer. A study on targeted marketing reported that “after consumers had visited a review site to seek out information about product details – and were closer to a purchase – then personalised ads became more effective than generic ads intended for a mass audience.”

Re-targeting tips

Re-targeting Ads should reflect the content that the visitor viewed, so don’t make the mistake of sending the same re-targeting ads to everyone who visits the site. A good example of effective use of re-targeting ads is from page abandonment. If a visitor has previously been on your site, and has tried to complete a landing page but abandoned it, you can attract them again with re-targeting. The next web site that individual enters can then be re-targeted with the offer and re-engage them. personalised content is a great tactic to employ further down the buyer’s journey and, using it closer to the decision stage in the buyer’s journey will be more effective.

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Chapter 2 – Marketing Automation Mistakes eBook – Lack of integration with CRM systems

In this post we give you the second chapter of our Marketing Automation Mistakes eBook. Missed the first chapter? Read Chapter 1.  here.

Marketing automation and customer relationship management systems (CRM) are complimentary tools and help to keep sales and marketing teams connected, so it’s crucial they work well together. Without integrating your marketing automation software and your CRM, your data can only be kept up to date through manual input, which let’s face it, no-one has the time for., An up to date CRM system that is updated automatically with activity both from your company or by the lead will help sales teams to prioritise hot or warm leads that are more likely to result in a sale, which keeps everyone happy.

Marketing automation helps you to follow up when prospects and leads complete top-of-the-funnel activities, such as website visits, opening emails, filling out a form, or reading your blog. Marketers can use automation software to schedule and track marketing campaigns of all shapes and sizes, from targeted email campaigns, through to social or even database wide mass communications. These stats are packed full of insight, helping your marketing efforts to go much further.

How are CRM systems and Marketing Automation different from each other?

Customer relationship management is a strategy for managing all your company’s relationships and interactions with customers as well as potential customers. A common assumption is that Marketing Automation software and CRM software are the same thing; but they’re not. The main difference between the two types of software is that CRM is sales-focused, whilst Marketing automation is marketing-focused. Naturally there is some overlap, both teams and types of software are complimentary to help each other reach the same end goal.

The importance of integrating your CRM with Marketing Automation

When it comes to integrating Marketing Automation platforms and CRM systems, a common mistake is not having a bi-directional link between the two., This means your CRM system can’t talk to your marketing automation platform and your marketing automation platform can’t talk to your CRM system. How does the integration actually work? Most CRM and marketing automation software provides an integration and external access to the database using an Application Programming Interface (API). An API will allow an external system to access and use services of the connected system, such as allowing a marketing automation platform to access a specific lead’s data from the CRM system and add it to a campaign.

Having bi-directional communication is vital, this way valuable information will be replicated in each system, logging, when a visitor fills out a landing page form etc. Likewise, if contact details are amended in your CRM, these details should be updated in your marketing automation software – if they are linked this will happen automatically. It goes without saying that inaccurate contact information will do nothing for your prospecting or sales pipeline. The sharing of information between these two systems is crucial to understanding your lead and customer behaviour, which will in turn influence and refine your marketing strategy. Your sales team will benefit from knowing which content has been downloaded, which webpages have been viewed before making sales calls. This information can be used by marketing teams to create more relevant content and trigger marketing automation activities such as follow up emails to support the sales efforts.

8 common CRM mistakes:

    1. Trying to use one system for the two different purposes – CRM and marketing automation software are completely different technologies but when paired together, they offer a powerful, closed-loop customer and prospect engagement process.
    2. Not having a clear set of rules to define the lead qualifying process- A common problem between sales and marketing is poor lead quality, using the data gathered via a marketing automation system, marketers can score and grade leads so that only the most qualified leads are passed onto to sales. Once the leads reach a threshold score and grade they are moved into the CRM and will be automatically assigned to sales reps, a good integration between the systems cuts down the manual processes and ensures that lead assignment it fair, effective and efficient.
    3. Not agreeing with what defines a qualified lead – If your marketing team delivers leads that they think are qualified but really shouldn’t be classed as leads (i.e. leads that meet your targeting criteria, but don’t have to intent to make a purchase), the sales team will waste a lot of time reaching out to people who aren’t interests and wont convert; The next time you send them leads, they won’t. A shared definition is important, it means that your marketing team can better align their efforts with the needs of the sales team, and subsequently with revenue goals.
    4. Synchronising the whole marketing database with the CRM – Don’t make the mistake of synchronising every contact in your automation system into your CRM, this will only clutter up your CRM. Leads should stay in your automation system up until they have reached the threshold score and are qualified.
    5. Not agreeing targets – Sales and marketing need to be on the same page as one another, set goals to create agreements between the two traditionally disputing teams. Harmonious sales and marketing alignment can be achieved by creating a Service level agreement (SLA), that each team commits to in order to support the other. The tools that are used make performance very visible, so it is critical to set expectations. The sales side of the SLA defines the speed and depth of the follow-up for marketing-generates leads, and generates a numerical target. Your marketing department should also have a concrete goal in order to drive strategy and reporting, a numerical marketing goal that aligns with the sales team mentality; by signing up for a similar goal it shows that marketing is being held accountable just like sales, and feels the same pressure to hit that target.
    6. Not modelling the customer journey – The sales process needs to reflect the sales organisation’s business strategy, but also be aligned with the customers buying journey; The CRM should line up with both of these. We shouldn’t make the mistake of letting sales reps make their own assumptions on how close a deal is to closing, this process should be automated on a pre-defined and agreed upon process, without knowing where your prospects are in the buying journey, how can you offer them the help and support they need?
    7. Not using marketing automation to support sales – Automation helps sales to contribute to strategy significantly. It will be consistently updating prospect’s behaviour; and alerting your sales when it’s the right time to contact a lead, these behavioural-based alerts help to decrease lead response time (the time taken to follow up with inbound leads after they convert on your site). Triggered based emails will also familiarise the lead with receiving emails from a sales representative, which will then position the sales rep as an educational resource.
    8. Not passing leads back to marketing if the contact doesn’t become a customer – A huge missed opportunity is not sending ‘dead’ leads back to marketing, don’t let the relationship between the lead and your company go to waste, just because the lead wasn’t ready for the sales team. The information about why the lead didn’t’ close along with the ‘dead’ lead should be passed back to the marketing team, to then decide whether it is worth recycling the name back into the nurturing funnel, or allocating it as a target for future re-engagement campaigns. Consider directing a lead re-engagement campaign to target the leads that have been untouched by the sales team for a certain period of time, or marked as ‘closed-lost’ by the sales team.

To learn more about the common Marketing Automation Misconceptions, why not download our tip sheet below:

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Chapter 1 - Marketing Automation Mistakes eBook - Wasting Marketing Automation Software Potential

Many marketers are interested in Marketing Automation and out of the questions we're asked most often, the topic of Marketing Automation is always high on the list. From our discussions, its obvious that many people still don't fully understand Marketing Automation (or have misconceptions) and are therefore not utilising it to it's full potential and not seeing the results they were hoping for. To help, we have written an eBook to highlight the top marketing automation mistakes to avoid and dispel some of the most common myths. If you're using automation software or are considering implementing an automation strategy, make sure you read our eBook which will be available later in the spring. For now, here's the first chapter to get you started...

Marketing automation is designed to save time, help you automate previously manual tasks and improve your marketing efforts, but too many B2B companies are buying marketing automation software and not using it to its full potential. Marketing automation is not a lead generating machine, the results you get out of your software will only be as good as the time and content you put into it. Platforms such as Hubspot, Pardot, or Marketo can make your life easier by improving content delivery and personalisation, providing campaign reporting, qualifying leads for sales teams and much more.

Not understanding what you've bought

One reason for businesses not using marketing automation to the best of its abilities is that users do not fully understand the technology they have bought. Having bought the platform, they continue to use it in exactly the same way as they used their previous email marketing platform. Email marketing is a component of the platform, but marketing automation extends beyond basic email sending. Businesses that don’t plan to adapt their marketing strategy and utilise the full benefits of marketing automation, will not see the returns they had hoped for and subsequently may potentially feel disappointed and feel that the platform is to blame.

Not keeping your skills up

Many buyers of marketing automation software overlook the fact that it requires ongoing investment, it requires constant monitoring, fresh content, and optimisation through A/B testing. Just like visiting the gym you wouldn’t use the same two machines every visit and see the results of a full body workout, the same is true of your marketing automation platform -, you should explore every tool it has to offer for best results. With marketing automation, Email campaigns for example can be A/B tested in several ways such as, subject line, the time the email was sent (effecting people in different time zones), or what CTAs worked best, A/B testing can show you what is working (and what isn’t)- most standard email platforms can’t offer this which is one of many benefits that Marketing Automation offers.

Before buying any product you should do your research and find out which solution is going to work best for your company. Marketing automation software will always be improving by adding new features and functionality, so it’s important to learn how to use these tools to their full potential and maximise your investment. It’s easy to be overwhelmed with new software, so you should spend time familiarising yourself with what is new by asking your account manager questions and consistently training yourself by watching videos/tutorials, or reading educational blog content. Whilst new features are important, you can’t afford to forget the bigger picture by focussing on too many minor adjustments. It’s important to find a balance and spend time on the new features that will benefit you by helping to tailor your content specifically to your audience, equally well, not adapting regularly will be a waste of an opportunity.

Thinking that automation makes communication robotic

A common misconception about marketing automation, is that it makes your communication sound robotic and computerised, or that it creates the content for you. What marketing automation does do is deliver your content automatically, based on various triggers or criteria that you can set. Your database will then receive personalised and relevant content based on the individual contacts behaviour including website page visits and, form submissions. Marketing automation allows much more effective database segmentation where leads can be categorised by common behaviours, demographic details, specific interests and more.

Look out for our next the meantime, why not download our guide to the most common Marketing Automation Misconceptions.

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B2B Social Media

B2B Social media, it’s more than just a selfie

For me social media was just another way of communicating with my friends, but for businesses it’s a lot more than tweeting what you had for breakfast. Social media today has 2 billion users worldwide and is projected to grow at a rate of 25% year on year. I’m young and like most people my age I am active on all the social media apps, and assumed I knew everything about them, but newly starting at Napier I have learnt effective social media strategies for B2B Tech companies, and how much these platforms can make a difference to their business growth.

Popular social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube are great ways to build a strong foundation to share content to a specific audience. There are lots of social media platforms but it’s important to look at which ones your company should be active on.

Although social media is a key part of marketing there is no need to be on every social media platform, you only need to be on the ones relevant to your business. Once you have recognised your audience think about personas and which platforms each persona might use, this will help you to identify which platforms you should be using to grow your business.

For your content to be successful you need to identify and outline your persona’s needs, wants and goals to make the content relevant; Your persona might want to learn from your content, so you will need to create educational content to meet this goal. Educational content doesn’t have to mean boring as you can also take into consideration the style in which you present the content you want to write.

To keep your audience engaged you can choose between a variety of different styles to make your content entertaining and interesting, including ‘How-to’, bulleted lists, ‘top X reasons why’, research polls and videos. These different content styles all perform differently to each other depending on your industry and the platform you choose to promote or publish with.

When your audience enjoy the content you’ve published they will engage with it by liking, sharing and retweeting. This engagement means that your content is then shared with all of their contacts, spreading your name and your message to a wider audience. With social channels this can happen quickly and this means that social media is a great tool for amplification.

When creating content, including visuals to grab attention is a must. The use of coloured visuals increases people’s willingness to read your piece of content by 80% and helps to bring traffic to your content-Hubspot. Although using your own imagery is recommended, it’s easy to get stock photos. The platform Pablo allows you create your own custom image with templates, stock photos, and text, specific to your campaign; or can use stock photos from sites such as ingimage or iStock.

Monitoring and analysing your content are the next steps to improving your social media presence; When it comes to analysing your channels you can look at metrics such as post reach, engagement and audience growth. Reach measures the size of your potential audience, engagement is used to measure the number of interactions with your brand such as, clicks, likes and shares and, audience growth is the number of new audience members you’ve attracted.

And you thought you wanted to go to uni…

Digital Marketing ApprenticeThroughout my years at secondary school, I was lead to believe university was the only way to get a job in today’s society; apprenticeships weren’t really considered as beneficial as a university degree. I had never considered doing an apprenticeship as an alternative to university up until a few months ago, but apprenticeships are becoming more and more popular as people realise that there can’t be a one-size-fits-all approach to education.

I first found out about Napier’s apprenticeship scheme through Chichester college, and once I had an initial meeting with them they were confident I would be suitable for Napier. The interview with Napier was a difficult one, Mike asked me questions he knew I wouldn’t know the answer to, a series of questions about airport conveyor belts and chocolates bars would not determine my existing knowledge of the subjects, but how good I am at problem solving.

After a challenging interview with Mike, I was delighted to start a new adventure into the world of Marketing and PR. Coming straight from Sixth form after completing A-Levels in English Language, Art, and Photography, to an apprenticeship in Digital Marketing was an exciting venture I was ready to take on.

Since joining the Napier team, everyone has been so supportive and welcoming, that I hardly feel new at all! People are teaching me new things every day, I have learnt how to monitor the different Social media platforms on Hubspot, along with getting the Press kits ready for the trade show electronica in Germany. I look forward to learning about coding, getting more involved, and working with the team for clients in the new year.

My ultimate goal was to be working at the leading edge of digital marketing and media, and representing an organization I can be really proud of. I am confident that this apprenticeship will provide me with an excellent foundation to start my career.