The Secret to Marketing Automation and Lead Scoring Success

If you’ve been looking into inbound marketing for any time at all, you’ve probably already come across the term marketing automation. It’s a marketing buzzword worth paying attention to because it has the power to make your email marketing, social media campaign and website content execution easier and more effective.

What is Marketing Automation?

Marketing automation is a type of software that helps automate repetitive marketing actions like scheduling, sending, creating and tracking emails, blog/website content and social media posts.

With the right marketing automation solution in place, your brand or business can be as effective as Amazon at nurturing prospects with targeted, relevant content that turns them into loyal customers; in short, the right solution can help you be an inbound marketing rock star.

At OBI Creative, we use Hubspot as our marketing automation and lead scoring solution internally and for our clients because it’s comprehensive, easy to use and well supported.

What isn’t Marketing Automation?

Marketing automation has become a catchall term for any and every digital marketing tool that helps a brand or business generate leads or grow online marketing efforts.

As Hubspot says in a post on the nature of marketing automation, “this misconception leaves many marketers with sophisticated tools to automate the middle of their funnel, but no solution to generating new leads to nurture in the first place.”

If you buy a long list of email addresses to nurture, call it marketing automation, and press play, your investment will likely fail because list buying is only one small piece of the marketing automation puzzle.

While we’d all like a plug and play solution that lets us run our marketing efforts on autopilot (especially after a week of back-to-back meetings), marketing automation is no such autopilot.

It can, however, be an effective co-pilot — if you know what you’re doing.

Marketing automation software is designed to help you prioritize and execute your marketing tasks in the convert and close stages of your sales funnel more efficiently. If you only use it to organize your email lists and blast them with mass emails, you’re not using it correctly.

Marketing Automation as Part of an Inbound Marketing Strategy

The goal of every online or digital marketing effort is to generate revenue. Inbound marketing is the most profitable way to market online. When used appropriately, marketing automation makes inbound marketing easier, faster and more effective.

Here’s how we use marketing automation as part of our inbound marketing strategy at OBI Creative.

Step 1: Craft customer personas that reflect our ideal audiences (those people most suited to our products and services).

Step 2: Create a content strategy for speaking with those personas. Never forget the importance of good content!

Step 3: Craft content that converts (e.g., emails, blog posts, landing pages, thank you pages).

Step 4: Execute our content strategy.

Execution will look different depending on what content is most interesting to your ideal audiences. Each piece of your strategy can be executed more efficiently with the right marketing automation software program in place.

Choosing the Right Marketing Automation Solution

Once you understand that marketing automation works best as an organizing and tracking platform for the execution of your inbound marketing efforts rather than a lead generation tool, you’re ready for success.

Remember, marketing automation is about nurturing, not selling.

Consider how you could use Hubspot, for example, to execute an effective email marketing campaign.

  • Invite a targeted list of contacts (based on your customer personas) to download an eBook you wrote.
  • Immediately after a contact downloads the eBook, send a thank you email.
  • A few days later, send a follow-up email to all the people who downloaded your eBook. In it, offer a case study relevant to the eBook content.
  • After someone downloads the case study, send a notification to your sales team that you have a qualified lead to engage.

Think of all the time you’d spend, without a marketing automation system in place, to help you execute the above steps. You’d have to build the list, send the email, monitor responses, send follow up emails at every step and remember to notify the sales team, all while fulfilling your other critical marketing responsibilities.

A marketing automation solution organizes all your contacts, customer personas, content, lead flows and lead scoring mechanisms in one place and automates all the sending, notifying, tracking and monitoring for you.

You just need to watch, refine and celebrate.

A Word on Lead Scoring

Lead scoring is a critical component of an effective marketing automation system. While all leads show some level of interest in your products and services, not all leads are created equal. Therefore, it makes sense to focus your time and resources on those leads that are most likely to convert into customers for your brand.

Lead scoring helps you determine which leads you should spend your time nurturing. Not everyone who visits your website is a lead.

A visitor becomes a lead when they fill out a form to receive an offer from your company. Emails, blog posts, ads and social media content can all move people from visitors to leads.

You can score, or qualify, your leads by analyzing the information you collect on them. That information helps you determine how likely they are to become a customer. For example:

  • Job application – when someone fills out a job application, they become a qualified lead for your recruiting team.
  • Downloaded content – when a visitor downloads your latest eBook, they’re showing interest but may not be a qualified lead yet; nurture them with follow up offers promoting other pieces of content, like a case study. When they download that and are willing to give you a bit more of their information, it may be time to move them to the ‘qualified’ bucket.

The exact information and actions that qualify leads varies.

What makes sense for your business may not for another. Still, generally speaking, the following fields are good items to include on your forms:

  • Email address
  • Company name
  • Job role
  • Location (country, state, city)

When you score leads, you assign a numerical value to them. These numbers indicate where a lead falls on a scale of “interested” (1) to “ready to buy” (5). Lead scores can be based on actions they’ve taken, the information they’ve given or how they’ve engaged with your brand.

You might decide to score a lead higher if they download a coupon from your website, or if they engage with you regularly on social media.

The higher a lead’s score, the closer they are to becoming a qualified lead — someone that a member of your sales team should actively engage.

Exactly how you quantify a lead’s value is up to you, but assigning numerical values makes it easy for everyone to see at a glance who you should be investing your time and resources into.

If you’re looking for a good, deep dive on lead generation, scoring and benchmarking, this post from Hubspot is worth a read.

Wrapping it Up — The Purpose of Marketing Automation

If this feels like a lot of information to digest all at once, remember the goal of inbound marketing: to generate qualified leads for your sales team to convert into satisfied customers.

Marketing automation helps you do that by streamlining the sending, monitoring, tracking and notifying aspects of your inbound marketing efforts.

Marketing automation can absolutely make your marketing efforts more profitable, especially when you use it the right way – to nurture your ideal audiences with content that converts.

If You’re Feeling Overwhelmed…

Don’t panic. Keeping up with the new rules of inbound marketing as well as all the latest marketing trends is tough. Especially when your primary job is running your business.

The pros at OBI Creative are here to help.

Trust our talented team of Hubspot Inbound-certified marketers to create, monitor, tweak and amplify content that converts for your brand.

Contact us today to start a discussion about your needs.