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How to Prepare for Marketing Automation

Marketing Automation

In the digital world in which we now live, marketing automation is perhaps the most important way to both streamline your operations and increase the effectiveness of your campaigns. According to HubSpot, the types of nurtured leads generated by marketing automation make 47% larger purchases than those who were not. More than that, a full 91% of marketers believe that their use of marketing automation is “very important” to the overall success of ALL of their efforts according to Marketo.

Making the decision to move to marketing automation isn’t as easy as flipping a light switch, however. It will take a great deal of time, effort and preparation to build the foundation necessary for your marketing automation efforts to thrive.

Break Up That Sales Funnel

If marketing automation is one of the best ways to guide your leads from one end of the sales funnel to the other, it stands to reason that the first step towards preparing yourself for this shift involves defining all stages of your sales funnel. What shape does initial contact with your lead take? After how long do you begin to deepen your relationship, investigating suitability? What is your value proposal to continue to nurture your lead over time? What does your follow up look like? These are all important questions that you need to answer as early in the process as possible.

Getting to Know Your Target Audience

If you don’t truly understand the people you’re marketing to, how can you ever expect to give them what they want or even speak their language? Who are these people? What problem do they have in their lives that only you can solve? What specific features of the product or service that you’re offering are going to attract their interest the most? What might get in the way of a sale? What are they worried about? What other products and services do they like to spend money on?

The answers to all of these questions will not only help you craft more compelling marketing materials, they’ll help provide a true focus for your efforts to guarantee the highest level of effectiveness at all times.

Match the Right Content to the Right Stages

Once you’ve made a list of all the various types of content that will appeal to your target audience (including blog posts, reports, how-to manuals, whitepapers, case studies and more), AND you’ve spent time creating the type of high value content you know they’re looking for, the next thing to do is make sure you’re getting the right content into the hands of the right person at that oh-so-perfect moment.

To do this, you’ll need to identify a few key things. Which of the pieces of content you’ve created will be valuable enough to your target audience that they’ll be willing to exchange their content information for it? What content is more practical and actionable in nature and, as a result, will be ideal for helping to guide them farther down the sales funnel? Most importantly, which of this content do you have and which do you have to create from scratch?

Once you answer all of these questions as they relate to not only your product or service but the unique audience you’re trying to attract, you’ll find that you’re more than prepared for the benefits that marketing automation brings to the table.

Looking to make the shift to marketing automation? AgencySquared works alongside your team to answer all of the above, making sure that you’re prepared to optimize your efforts and see results. Get a complimentary consultation.

 

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5 Easy Ways to Drive More Leads with Email Marketing

Email Marketing

Are you not seeing the leads you need from your email marketing campaigns? You could be using email the wrong way. This powerful tool can produce results, but following best practices is key. Here are some of the top proven practices heading into 2016, and how they can help your business grow!

 1. Collect More Email Addresses

It’s time for easy math: The more email addresses you collect, the more leads you can obtain. As a marketer you should be generating fresh, new email contacts regularly. Your contacts’ email addresses may become stale over time as contacts move jobs, opt-out of your email campaigns or abandon old email addresses. As a result, there are many ways for companies to increase their email leads, simply by encouraging more customers to sign up for email messages, promoting a contest or sweepstakes online, creating newsletter-only deals, or offer a birthday club to give something away on their special day.

The most useful tool in accomplishing this is to develop an automatic CTA (call to action) which appears to all website visitors. This simple pop-up form needs to be easy to understand, quick to complete, and rewarding to use.  

2. Offer Value in Exchange for CTAs

We mentioned that a call to action should be “rewarding to use” and its important to understand the value of this tactic for both CTAs and the emails you send to your customer list. People don’t like to give away their email addresses in exchange for nothing, so offer regular rewards for viewing emails and collecting lead opportunities. A classic example is sending an email with a unique link to download a discount code for a product purchase. Without that email, the consumer doesn’t get the discount. This confirms early on the value of signing up and reading emails from your brand. It opens the door for more effective conversions down the road. Also, remember to clearly show the value offered in your email headlines!

 3. Don’t Go Too Hot – or Too Cold

How many emails do you send out to customers each week? Send out too many, and customers will block your emails or leave them to languish in the “promotion” section of the email client that no one ever visits. Send out too few, and consumers will trash your emails because they don’t even recognize them when they do show up. The middle ground is important to find here. Studies indicate that one email per week is around the best rate to avoid the pitfalls.

 4. Format for Mobile and Easy Consumption

If customers can’t read your email, they won’t. If they have to go to extra effort to read your email, they won’t. Due to more and more consumers accessing email via mobile devices, it’s vital that you optimize your messages, make them responsive for mobile devices, and make them very easy to read (avoid that dreaded newsletter format if you possibly can). Ensure that your calls to action appear early in the email, are large, invoke your logo colors, and whisk consumers away to better content.

5. Personalize and Automate

We know that these are both popular buzzwords, but they are also revolutionizing email campaigns. Personalization taps into customer data about recent purchases and viewed products to make customized recommendations and offer unique deals to past customers – results that guarantee a higher number of successful repeat sales. Automation helps save a lot of time and makes sure that customers get emails when they are supposed – right after signing up, after making purchases, when the company has important news, and so on.

Remember, the best email campaigns take advantage of the strengths you already have; When in doubt, consider what already engages your customers and wins their loyalty. With the right timing and format, those things will work through email channels, too! For any additional questions or a look at the latest ways email marketing can help your business, visit AgencySquared.com

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What is Marketing Automation?

What is Marketing Automation?

Keeping your business top-of-mind to current and prospective clients is a very repetitive job, but with marketing automation, much of the repetitive nature of the business can be replaced by software.

While it is true that marketing automation is extremely helpful and makes the job easier, it isn’t going to replace the need for human outreach, nor will it miraculously take the place of marketing specialists.  People will still need to generate leads and maintain prospecting lists.  Purchasing lists of contacts might seem like a great idea at the time, but simply purchasing cold lists and sending them one-size-fits-all mailings or emails, is likely not going to produce much revenue, let alone long-term revenue.  Automation will not and cannot take the place of cultivating relationships with potential clients.

Becoming too dependent on marketing automation can actually kill your business in the long run, so the key to being successful with marketing automation is to understand its purpose fully and utilize its tools in an intelligent, efficient way.  

Marketing automation was designed to streamline lead generation, lead scoring and lead nurturing across a customer’s lifecycle. It is a huge part of being able to create a repeatable process that keeps business development efforts running regardless of what’s going on within the agency.

So, how does this automation ensure that activity is constant within your business development process? Here’s a look at what you can expect from a successful marketing automation program:

  • Capturing relevant data completed from online forms while compiling them into its own list
  • Creating a variety of lists based upon your specified demographics and prospective profiles
  • Nurturing your leads that have been to your website and have shown interest in your services or products
  • Extending customer relationships and engagement throughout the cycle

Marketing automation can be highly successful if you use it properly.  Whether you are already generating quality leads and have a solid procedure in place to follow up with them, or your pipeline is currently dry, marketing automation could be helpful for you.  

It is essential to remember that automation marketing, just like any other tool you’d use for your business, is not a cure-all solution.  Additionally, you can’t implement it and forget it.  In order for the automation to be effective it needs to be maintained, monitored, and evaluated periodically to determine it’s effectiveness and if your business is getting an acceptable return on the investment.

Ready to start driving more qualified leads for your business? Contact us for a free demonstration or call us at 404-564-2429.

 

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How to Build Email Marketing Campaigns That Drive New Business Growth

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With the rise of social media, it’s easy to assume that email marketing is going the way of the dodo. However, nothing could be further from the truth. The fact is that people still use and rely on email for many things, so it continues to be a valuable and effective way to reach out to them. Email campaigns are inexpensive, so the ROI is often considerable. The trick, however, is handling them properly and having specific objectives in mind. Pick up a few helpful tips to build email campaigns that help your business grow.

Know How to Write Effective Emails

Before considering anything else, make sure you know how to create effective emails. First, the headline must be attention-grabbing, or it will get lost in the shuffle. Use A/B testing to see which subject headlines work well and which fall flat. Include plenty of graphics and links in your email to keep readers engaged, and send them at the right time of day. Finally, always include at least one strong call-to-action in your emails so readers know how to proceed.

Remind People of Your Brand

In today’s fast-paced digital world, it’s easier than ever for brands to get lost in the shuffle. Email marketing is an effective way to keep a brand top of mind. As long as the messages are low-key, they can remind consumers about a brand and prompt them to turn to the brand when they need a product or service. Birthday messages, holiday greetings and company newsletters are great examples of gentle reminders that you can send.

Build Lasting Relationships

Through effective email marketing, you can take a single purchase and turn it into a lasting relationship. Reaching out regularly through email shows consumers that they matter. After a customer establishes an account–even if they don’t buy anything–a welcome email is a great way to forge a bond. Later, reorder emails and “we miss you” emails can help sustain the relationship, increasing the odds of additional conversions.

Establish Authority

Email marketing also allows brands to establish and demonstrate their authority. Occasionally sending useful, informative messages is an excellent way to reach out without being abrasive or intrusive. Things like product showcases that include special tips or instructions and industry news help to spark conversation. When they’re well-written, they may even be shared, expanding the reach of your marketing even further.

Learn More About Your Prospects

Finally, email marketing gives brands an opportunity to learn more about their prospects, existing customers and leads. Through special technology, it’s possible to see how people react to emails and to track how they proceed from there. This provides valuable insight into how a consumer’s mind works and can enhance the marketing process in a big way.

Ditching email marketing for a purely online or social media approach is a mistake. It may not be hip or trendy, but email marketing is still one of the best ways to grow a business–as long as it’s performed correctly.

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How to Write Effective Marketing Emails for Lead Gen Campaigns

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Despite the proliferation of channels available these days, email marketing campaigns remain a consistently reliable method to secure leads and gain new customer data (particular in the B2B world). The key is sculpting emails with clear goals in mind that get results from customers with very little attention to give: Try out these methods for sending out lead-friendly emails even in trying circumstances.

Include Your Branding Colors and Designs

A plan text email, no matter how professional your fonts are, won’t attract much interest. You need an email template that makes the email look attractive – like a page straight from your site. Make sure that you use your logo and brand colors somewhere inside the email. They don’t have to overpower your message, but they should be visible. This reminds customers (even subconsciously) where the email is from, and when creating new leads it helps link the email to the rest of the sales funnel.

Calls to Action

An email sent without a call to action is essentially a wasted effort. It may help with brand engagement, but how will you know? A CTA turns the email from a shot in the dark to content with a purpose – and with an excellent way to measures its efficacy. The CTA doesn’t need to be complicated and certainly doesn’t need to result in a sale: Many effective CTAs in emails simply ask viewers to download a report, fill out survey, or visit a product page. Remember, to create a lead you need to take the reader to the next step.

Targeting and Personalization

Targeting is more difficult when focusing purely on lead generation. After all, customer data on leads tends to be thin, which makes targeting with specific products or services challenging. However, more general targeting is possible and advisable: Good lead management provides a number of details about the type of person you are trying to reach. Use your customer personas and demographics information to personalize emails as much as possible by identifying unique needs and offering specific solutions.

Centered Idea

Don’t try to say too much in lead generation emails. If necessary, use newsletters for that kind of thing. Keep the email focused on a single idea or value offering. If you look at the more impressive email marketing campaigns, you’ll notice that (in addition to following some of our previous advice) they all limit themselves to very simple ideas – a new tool to try, a new deal, a press release, etc. Emulate this method.

Something New

Try to give leads something they haven’t heard before. Remember, they will be getting marketing emails every day, filled with promises and deals and “Do you have a problem with this?” messages. Avoid getting lost in the clutter by crafting more innovative subject lines and introductions that show clearly what sets your company apart. If this is problematic, then you need to do some competitor analysis first.

Sales Reward

Promise something to really win a lead’s interest. Use a special code or link to provide a discount that only the email recipient can access: This is a great way to get people involved in the email and lead them straight to your call to action.

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How to Leverage Marketing Automation for Agency New Business

Why your agency needs to utilize Marketing Automation in your biz dev process

Let me guess, during your agency’s annual planning meeting the decision was made to increase your business development efforts? You all decided that this is the year that you grow 15 percent and win four new AOR clients.

Now, you are all going to chip in a certain percentage of your time every day to reach out to new prospects and begin working those networks. And for the first month there’s momentum. Conversations are had and then Jim from Account Management has a breakthrough with a college buddy who runs marketing for a big brand and they want you to pitch.

Awesome! All of your team’s focus switches to pitch-mode 100 percent of the time. You stop that new business momentum that you were beginning to build because you don’t have time to pitch, manage clients and try to win new business. Clients take precedent.

Two months later, that momentum for new business still hasn’t caught back up because all your time as has been focused on current clients. But it doesn’t have to be like that.

Marketing automation is a huge part of being able to create a repeatable process that keeps business development efforts running regardless of what’s going on within the agency.

Our goal with agencies we work with is to change the business development process from hills of high activity and valleys of low activity to a constant rising line of proactive business development.

So how does marketing automation ensure that constant activity in your business development process?

1. Automates time intensive processes

When you sit down to begin creating a process, immediately look for areas in your agency’s current process that are impersonal and take a large amount of time.

With a good automation system, things like introduction emails to large groups, social media posts and web visitor follow-up are items that you can still give a personal feel to, while doing mass outreach at the same time.

2. Creates a standard process

Having a true process that essentially runs itself allows multiple people to work on new business development at any given time. This means that even when the Biz Dev Director is out, the system can keep running and driving profitable conversations to your agency principals.

No matter who is posting or emailing, you can be sure that the agency’s preferred voice and message is consistently being delivered to your prospects.

3. Gives a clearer picture of a prospect’s total activity

When you are evaluating a prospect’s activity, marketing automation programs allow you to go beyond the typical “Did they open and click on an email?”

Instead, you can really dig in and start tracking all of their activity across multiple campaigns and on your website. This allows your program to intelligently customize what messaging prospects should be receiving, while saving you time throughout the process.

4. Allows you to broaden your reach to more prospects, while staying hyper-targeted

We often see agencies fall into the trap of trying to work off of ultra-targeted lists. This really reduces the pool of total prospects. It also reduces their ability to reach more prospects while increasing awareness for the agency.

Marketing automation allows you to retain these very targeted prospect lists and serve custom messaging, while still reaching out to a broader audience.

At the end of the day, your agency’s goal is to win more business. Marketing automation can help make your new business process more effective and efficient when it comes to reaching larger audiences.

This means that you can have more intelligent conversations with more prospects in order to win more!

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The 7 Mistakes Your New Business Team is Making with Email Marketing

The 7 biggest mistakes your new business team is making with email campaigns

After producing thousands of email campaigns for various agencies, we have seen the good, the bad and the ugly. Today we will explore those bad email campaigns and what mistakes we see most often.

 1. All you talk about is your agency

This is probably the mistake we see most often. Someone writes an email and spends four paragraphs explaining why they are the greatest social media agency ever.

The problem is, never once in those four paragraphs did they talk about prospect or a problem the prospect is looking to solve. So basically, the prospect just immediately tuned them out.

Solution: Open your emails with a startling stat or acknowledgement of a pain point that prospect is struggling with.

2. Your email is too good looking

We get it, you’re a creative shop with amazing design people. You want to create an email that looks amazing and really jumps off the page with fantastic images.

However, the problem is that all those images immediately tell a reader that this a marketing email and they are prone to delete it without ever even opening it up. Or, even worse, those images may not immediately download due to certain email settings and you just sent a blank email that they have to approve.

FACT: No brand has ever chosen to work with an agency because your email really really ridiculously good looking.

Solution: Keep it text only and simple. Your emails will feel more personal and less likely to get immediately deleted.

3. Your target list huge

It’s tough to narrow down and focus your prospect list when there are so many awesome companies out there to work with.

The last thing you want to do is overlook someone that could use your services, so you add everyone to one big list and send to them. The problem with this? It’s way too general, which makes it tough to really speak to any one prospect’s specific pain points.

4. Your target list is tiny

You don’t want to spam random people, so you make a list with one specific target per company, and then the list becomes really, really small. The problem here is that you don’t give yourself much room for error if a person has left the company or if the organization has multiple decision makers.

Solution: Channel your inner Goldilocks. We have our agency clients use a process called hyper targeting. This is basically where we can grab multiple people in similar roles within companies that we want to go after, while keeping lists separated by industry or company size.

For instance, List #1 is your primary target list of companies within Retail and Apparel with a very specific title. And List #2 is a secondary group where you target companies in other industries that you have less experience with and then expand job titles to anyone in marketing.

5. There’s no Call To Action

I’ve seen so many emails that spend so much time talking about how great the agency is, and then finish with something like “We would love to hear from you if you’re interested.” Ugh.

With every email there has to be a purpose to what you are doing; so make sure that every email lives up to that purpose with a CTA that asks them to do something.

Solution: Be aggressive. Not like crazy aggressive, but if you’re going to reach out to these folks, actually ask for something. You can ask for them to click a link to a case study, visit your website, or even just ask for the meeting outright, but be specific and clear. An email with no call to action will almost always ensure that no action is taken.

6. Your subject line is terrible

Subject lines are tricky and can immediately affect the open rates of the emails you send.

A lot of time we see agencies creating subject lines that are long and detailed so the reader knows exactly what is in the email. The trouble with this? The subject line becomes way too long and doesn’t feel natural.

Solution: Short and simple. Be straightforward and concise. You want this to grab a prospect’s attention. Think of it as a headline, and perhaps even throw in a dash of mystery with a word like “Opportunity” or “Idea.”

A/B test your subject lines and see what your particular audience responds to best. This isn’t a perfect science so do not be afraid to try new things.

7. Trying too hard to be witty or cheeky

There is nothing worse than reading an email that includes a mildly politically incorrect comment, and then 30 minutes later receiving an email from a CEO apologizing for their Marketing Director’s “innocent mistake.”

It’s never fun to read these emails – much less write them. Plus, it sends a bad message to your prospects about your organization.

Solution: Leave the social satire to Jon Stewart and John Oliver. You can always show your wit later in more one-to-one communications when you know the person, but for now, let’s attract them the old fashioned way…by talking about them and their problems.

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Keeping Score: Going beyond Clicks & Opens for Email Campaigns

Keeping Score:  Going beyond Clicks and Opens for Email Campaigns

Everyone who has ever done email marketing has found themselves “click watching.”

I define click watching as logging into your email system every five minutes to see how your most recent marketing email is doing in real time.

Watching the open percentage and click through rate (CTR) move up can be both rewarding and incredibly frustrating at the same time. But, at the end of the day, have you ever really thought about just how useful these two metrics are?

When I am evaluating an email program, my goal is to look beyond the individual email performance metrics and actually evaluate the overall effectiveness based on contact scoring.

The agencies we work with use a marketing automation program that allows them to track prospects’ website activity beyond email, which provides more actionable intelligence on who they should contact and when.

An intelligent scoring system gives points to a contact when they:

  • Open an email
  • Click a call-to-action (CTA)
  • Fill out a form
  • Visit the website
  • Go to a landing page tied to larger goal measurements
  • Have certain characteristics (ie, CMO)

Your system should also include a lead decay mechanism so that everything leads do is time sensitive. If someone visits your site 10 times in January, they should not still have that same score in June if they haven’t come back again. High scores mean they are high-activity users right now!

When evaluating a campaign, rather than simply looking at what the total open and click rates were for emails, take the time to evaluate how many prospects have increased their scores over a predetermined number.

We work with agencies to define a number (in this example 50), and then we set a specific goal – for instance, to have over 25 prospects scored over 50 points in a given month. This allows us to focus on driving web activity and increasing users’ exposure to our different content areas.

Obviously clicks and opens play a big part in a prospect’s score, but they just don’t tell the whole story. Using an intelligent scoring system allows you to prioritize which prospects truly deserve your attention.

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