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Marketing automation in support of sales: lead generation and nurturing

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Marketing automation in support of sales: lead generation and nurturing Marketing automation offers new kinds of possibilities to be a part of the early stages of the customer's buying process.

The act of buying has changed. Nowadays a purchase decision is made for the most part before the customer even contacts the service provider or store. The customer makes the decision to buy based on what can be found on the web. At the same time, the buying process is fragmented and only a few customers advance neatly in the sales funnel.

This has resulted in the need to put more and more emphasis on the quality of web services and content marketing. The line between selling and marketing has blurred furthermore - which is only a good thing. These days it's clear that marketing aims to sell and selling is also marketing. 

No matter how good a web service and its content are, can we risk leaving the customer alone and hope for the best?

Marketing automation offers companies a new set of tools and ways to be present in the customer's buying process. In this article we explain how using automation features to support sales, especially from the lead generation and nurturing point of view. Throughout this spring we will cover automation features at different stages of customership and offer many ideas how to fully take advantage of automation.

Lead generation – understand, attract, identify

Lead generation starts from the basics: recognize who the potential customers are and what are their buying habits. Understand what interests them. Create content that is useful to them, and share it so they can find it. Once the lead has been attracted, usually to a website, make them stay: be informative, entertaining and engaging.

Marketing automation offers new kinds of possibilities to be a part of the early stages of the customer's buying process. For automation to work, the lead must first be identified. This puts some extra demands on the content. In most cases the customer has to give his or her information to the company. It's a lot  – but not too much – to ask from today's demanding, busy customer.

The customer gladly identifies if he or she finds the trade profitable. The simplest trade is subscribing to a newsletter. High-quality whitepapers, guides and videos or registration to an event, for instance, work very well. The rule of thumb is that the content has to be at a level where the customer is (almost) ready to pay for it.

Nurturing leads – turning the interested into customers

Once the customer has been identified, all the signals and traces of this particular customer are recorded. The big picture of the customer and his or her needs begin to form.

The more systems are attached to the automation features, the clearer the picture is. Clicks to a newsletter, movements on a website and the sales team's information in a CRM system all link together. Great benefit can, however, be achieved with small actions as well and using automation should be started one step at a time instead of massive IT projects.

Small automated actions take the lead towards customership. For example, after the customer has subscribed the newsletter, an automated welcoming message with a brief description about the company can be sent – possibly with a business offer. Another offer could be sent a few weeks later. This could be followed by a newsletter which suggests to download a new whitepaper.

Downloading the whitepaper can be yet another trigger stage that sends and automated invitation to an event. Depending on the customer's previous actions, different views of the site can be shown, for instance, various call-to-action models: suggesting newsletter subscription or is it already time to guide the customer towards buying?

Unless the website has a webstore, marketing automation doens't close the deal for the seller. At some point the customer and the seller must meet.

It doesn't pay off to just wait for an inbound or contact request. Marketing and sales teams should instead mutually agree on which specific point the lead moves onto personal sales. Is it a certain number of activities or visiting a product information page?

All the same: once a customer, who is automatically nurtured towards customership, is called for the first time, it is everything but a "cold" call.

Did you get interested in marketing automation supporting sales?

Contact our team and ask us to visit with a demo of our LianaCEM automation tool.

You can also further investigate the subject by downloading our whitepaper: 8 steps to Agile Marketing Automation.

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