Marketing automation runs on original content that differentiates you from the competition and targets your buyer to educate them on how your product meets their needs through every stage of the sales process. As an industry, marketing automation is expected to grow 50% by 2015 (SiriusDecisions) and as a result, 77% of CMOs at top performing companies indicate that their most compelling reason for implementing marketing automation is to increase revenue. (Gleanster).
Fueling the Engine
With marketing automation comes investing in the processes for producing, distributing and evaluating content that will connect with the right buyers at the right time through the right channel. Content is the fuel that will keep your marketing automation engine from going idle. Content—from case studies, solutions briefs, whitepapers, PR, videos, etc.—plays a vital role in fulfilling marketing automation tactics.
The following are the fundamental tactics of marketing automation that require the production of relevant content:
- CUSTOMER SEGMENTATION involves dividing your audience into segments by demographics, firmographics, and/or behaviors
- LEAD GENERATION is the process of optimizing your digital channels (e.g. website, social outposts, search, etc.) to easily attract and direct potential buyers to convert
- LEAD NURTURING is the process of building relationships with potential buyers regardless of how ready they are to make a purchase, with the goal of keeping them engaged with the brand, and to establish communication, build trust and potentially earn their business
- LEAD SCORING is a methodology of qualifying a lead and ranking them on their interest in buying, such as website behaviors, social interaction, or attending in-person events- once a prospect interacts with a brand on multiple channels and reaches a certain score, he/she is passed along to inside sales as a marketing qualified lead (MQL)
- CONTENT MANAGEMENT is the process of tracking and managing content so that it’s targeting the right buyer at the proper stage in the sales qualification process
- EDITORIAL CALENDARS help marketers develop and coordinate multiple programs and activities so that content can be assigned and scheduled in one place- typically, calendars are aligned with online and offline marketing campaigns and events so that it remains relevant with PR, product launches, field marketing events, trade shows, etc.
- PROGRAM LIBRARIES are repositories of pre-built templates and programs that have been positioned properly with the brand and been tested for performance with customer segments so that marketers can be more strategic about their campaigns and not bogged down with the tactical implementation
- REPORTING taps the data behind the content programs so that marketers can refine their original bets on aligning the right content to the right buyer through the right channels- ultimately it will map marketing activities throughout the sales process to closed-won deals
Content Development – The Breakdown
- Content + Your Buyers
Identifying what will answer the needs of your audience and creating unique content that addresses these needs formulates the “buyer personas.” There is typically more than one type of buyer and they may have different roles in the buying process from researching to evaluating to purchasing. Developing content for each persona based on their preferences for consumption is key.
- Content + The Buying Stages
Just like mapping content to personas, understanding each stage of the buyer’s journey and researching the content that will guide buyers into the top of the sales pipeline and lead them through to the last stage, helps to speed up the sales cycle. Understanding buyer behavior will allow marketers to create relevant content in an automated way and build trust through thought leadership.
- Content + Channel Diversification
Developing content for distribution also caters to different buyer preferences and behaviors, and experimenting is the best way to determine persona format preferences. It also contributes to increasing overall engagement with your brand.
- Content + Engagement & Conversion Optimization
To get the most out of your marketing automation investment, there’s no better way than to develop content that’s well written, visual and easily consumed. Repurposing content into multiple methods of consumption, leveraging all of the digital channels, is just as critical. Relevant content spurs action and ensures your content is targeted and converts.
- Content + Refinement Through Analytics
Good content alone will not convert without the insight that analytics can bring. Today’s intelligent marketer will identify the quantifiable metrics for both tactical and strategic insight into how content is performing. These key performance indicators (KPIs) within a campaign or multi-channel program effort should be uniquely coded using channel-specific query strings or unique URLs for each content asset to allow data analysts to parse through web traffic at more granular levels. Finally, set benchmarks for success for each type of content (search landing page, blog, whitepaper, infographic, etc.), as well as for overarching campaigns including performance metrics and mapping content scores.
Content is Still King: Overcoming the Hurdle of Creating Compelling Content
Content has always reigned supreme in marketing, but with today’s need for digitally created content that needs to be targeted for multiple audiences in real time, marketers are just realizing the need to invest in the ability to develop engaging content quickly and coordinate the distribution and analysis of content across a range of channels. Establishing a process-driven operation that can support the needs of a marketing automation engine allows marketers to scale their content marketing efforts and deliver substantive results for sales.
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