As the internet continues to evolve, online marketing practices are along for the ride. We’ve made big advances since the internet’s first banner ad, all the way back in 1994:
Banner ads still have a place in modern marketing, but they’re much more than static images. They’re trackable, targeted by audience interest, and more dynamic than we ever could have imagined back in the days of Boys II Men.
Among all the bells and whistles of online marketing, automation has risen as a popular trend.
If you’re not familiar with marketing automation, it’s simply the process of building out marketing assets and campaigns ahead of time, and letting them execute themselves as prospects and leads enter your sales funnel.
Here’s how it works:
If you’re interested in incorporating marketing automation into your site, you’ll need these 6 essential components:
No, not the kind of content you already have!
Inbound marketing, which is sort of like the parent of marketing automation, is based around the creation and promotion of premium content.
This premium content can be an eBook, a Whitepaper, a Webinar, or even a Tutorial.
Whatever it may be, the content is what users will get in exchange for providing you with their basic contact information. The format is less important than the quality and relevancy of the information you’re presenting.
Your premium content should be created based on your audiences informational wants, not just subjects that seem interesting to you.
You can find these topics by looking at the highest trafficked pages on your site, browsing popular blogs in your industry, and even looking at the terms being used in your internal site search.
Check out the content library on KISSmetrics – not too shabby!
Calls to Action
Once you’ve created a great piece of content and put it on your site, it’s time to direct your traffic to it.
Calls to action work best when they’re concise, free of jargon, and focused on the user’s goals.
In the screenshot below, Moz does a great job calling attention to their Beginner’s Guide to SEO:
Now that your visitor has clicked the call to action, where will you take them?
If you said landing page, you’re on the right track!
Landing pages need to accomplish several things:
• Capture and hold user attention
• Inform the user of the offer
• Make the offer relevant to the user
• Collect user information with a form
Landing pages are quite a science in themselves, so check out this article from Unbounceto learn more about best practices for creating them.
Here’s an example from Savvy Panda fulfilling the above criteria:
See that form on the landing page above, asking users to provide a little information about themselves?
If you’re not integrating forms on your landing pages, you’re missing out on major potential to capture user information and market to them with targeted content down the road.
To do the simplest marketing automation, you need to capture your visitor’s name and email.
To do really smart marketing automation, ask your visitors qualifying questions which help you better understand the goals and informational needs your business can solve for them.
To do this, you’ll need a CMS plug in or marketing software provider that allows for custom form fields.
In the example below, HubSpot does a great job collecting actionable information from their prospects. But note the length of the form – depending on what their internal testing uncovers, they might be better suited to trim down the questions.
The more questions you ask, the less leads you’ll get. But, they will certainly be qualified!
Thank You Pages
Many marketers and site owners assume that once a visitors has completed the form on their landing page, their experience has come to a close.
These individuals are missing out on a second dimension of landing pages, which is equally as important as the first: the Thank You page!
Thank You pages serve a few purposes:
1. Deliver the content the reader has requested
2. Acknowledge and thank the visitor to build a deeper connection
3. Move the reader further down the funnel with additional action opportunities
Unbounce sets up their Thank You page as a lightbox on the landing page, which displays after completing the form.
Notice how they’re delivering the content, thanking the reader, and providing potential next steps (share the guide on social media or convert on their second offer):
Now that you’ve collected user information, it’s time to put it to work!
Based on the content they downloaded and the information they provided, your email system should be triggered to send out a series of automated, pre composed emails to nurture the lead into a customer.
The key distinction between generic email marketing and successful lead nurturing is personalization: wherever possible, customize the experience for the unique recipient. This could be as simple as a name token or as in depth as dynamic email content based on their activity on your site.
Generally, your lead nurturing process will follow a model like this:
1. Email 1 (0 Days After Download) – Thank You for downloading
2. Email 2 (3 Days After Download) – Additional resources related to download
3. Email 3 (7 Days After Download) – Additional resources related to download and previous email
4. Email 4 (2 Weeks After Download) – Invite to convert on second offer (like a second content download or a free consultation)
5. Email 5 (3 Weeks After Download) – Final additional resources
6. Email 6 (4 Weeks After Download) – Final thank you for engaging with your site, invitation to connect on social media or by subscribing to your blog
In order to automate emails, you’ll need an email provider or marketing automation software that is built to handle the process. jInbound is a great solution that offers premade templates and intuitive campaign planning.
When all the working pieces come together, the marketing automation process forms a natural path from site visitors to happy customers:
If your content is relevant and your lead nurturing is optimized and personalized, you’ll see a massive spike in qualified leads converting into sales interactions via your site. Because the entire process is set up beforehand, you’ll invest less time while seeing greater ROI.
This serves to minimize unnecessary marketing resource allocation, shorten the sales cycle, and (as an added perk) boost your authority within your industry.
Just remember – marketing automation is not a “set and forget” method.
Truly great automation is constantly being tested, tweaked and optimized. You can learn more about the testing process here.
Good luck, and happy automating!
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About the author:
Shannon Good is an Inbound Marketing Consultant at jInbound, a premium Joomla! extension offering comprehensive marketing automation solutions for Joomla! sites. When she’s not brushing up on the latest digital news, you can find Shannon trying out Pinterest recipes and walking her dog, Penny.