Report From New York: How Agencies are Using Marketing Automation
On June 6, 2014, Act-On held its i♥marketing User Conference in New York City for the first time. We had our first-ever i♥marketing Partners breakout, which focused on our agency partners. Talking with so many members of our agency community, I reveled in the talent that we have in our partner base – and was impressed by their marketing diversity. Our agency partners’ experience is both deep and broad, and our partners have had storied careers in everything from database marketing to event marketing to branding and advertising.
I realized that we all come from different disciplines, and have different backgrounds and specialties. With the advent of new approaches and technologies, those complementary talents are now blending. We all learned a few things about how agencies are using marketing automation. I was struck by the fact that no matter where marketers come from, no matter which marketing lens they are looking through, marketing automation can help the agency build on existing skills to provide even better value to clients. And when agencies add more value to their clients – they can build more sustainable, more dependable, long-term businesses.
Direct Marketing > Digital Database Marketing
Database marketing concentrates on defining your marketing target audience through analysis of data, including demographic and behavioral profiling. For those who can analyze the data and read the patterns that emerge, a story unfolds about who your prospects are and what they really care about. Database marketers connect the dots, fine-tuning segments that enable you to provide the most relevant content and offers possible. The more relevant the message is to the recipient, the more likely they are to be receptive to the message, and take the next step in the buyer’s journey.
Through the many channels they use, including email, websites, PPC ads, catalogs, response-generating advertising, and more, direct marketers generate data that’s specific to individuals. In turn, this data provides a perfect springboard to developing the buyer personas, content maps, and targeted communications required for great content marketing. And content marketing is the foundation of all successful marketing automation campaigns.
Digital marketing is a natural progressive step for a growing agency. As an example, our agency partner To the Point Marketing has made such the transition from traditional database marketing to digital database marketing – growing their agency 300% by doing so.
Event Marketing > adding Demand Generation & Digital Marketing
Marketing agency Starshot began as an event marketing agency in 1999. Event marketing (both on- and offline) is primarily a demand generation tactic, so the transition was a natural one when they expanded their demand generation offering using digital marketing practices. New technologies let them generate more leads and nurture them more effectively over a longer period of time; marketing automation also helps with identifying, prioritizing, and routing sales-ready leads to their clients’ Microsoft Dynamics CRM accounts.
Automation makes event marketing easier
With event marketing, much of the energy is around promoting the event, inviting attendees, confirming their registration, providing reminders, and following up. All of those promotional tasks are handled most efficiently using automated programs. Promotional materials can be scheduled precisely. Registration information can flow into the database, already segmented, and untouched by a human hand. Trigger emails say “thank you” immediately after registration. Follow-up can be tidily segmented into attendees and those who registered but didn’t attend, with different offers for each. And once an event and all the communication that surround it have been set up, the whole automated sequence can be used as a template for the next event.
Automation makes lead nurturing easier
Efficient lead nurturing depends heavily on using automated programs. Whether your sales cycle is fairly quick, or lasts several months (or several years, in the case of one of Starshot’s clients), lead nurturing can keep leads warm and keep your product or service top of mind, all along the way. Setting it up requires input from both sales and marketing; Starshot’s ability to help their clients with sales and marketing alignment, in addition to creating and executing great and efficient campaigns, has been a key to success.
Solid branding and advertising agencies know that developing a consistent brand is about a lot more than just developing a great logo, memorable advertising, and creative campaigns. Companies who have great brands create a brand promise that is both valuable and credible to the customers that they serve, and meets (or even exceeds) customers’ expectations. Good branding is communicated consistently across multiple channels, reinforced through integrated campaigns, and remains top of mind for employees and partners as they fulfill the brand promise. This brand promise, when executed well, touches all parts of the organization, from product development to sales to marketing to customer support … even collections.
Ultimately, creating brand equity is all about creating a great customer experience from the time that a prospect is introduced to your company, throughout the buying process, and during the entire lifetime of that customer relationship. This is why marketing automation is such a natural fit for branding agencies to adopt. Through templates, timing and automation, the same tool makes it easier to carry the brand messages all the way from the initial awareness, through the sales cycle and decision-making, through on-boarding, and for ongoing customer communication and retention.
The typical (though certainly not the only) path for an agency adopting marketing automation is to master it to develop the agency’s own business first, then scale it to serve clients. Read how one agency has done just that: circle-S revved up its business development which provided experience they leverage to deliver more efficiency and effectiveness for their clients.
Ready to get serious about growing your agency with marketing automation? Check out Act-On’s new eBook:
The Marketing Automation Quickstart Guide
A Definitive Guide to Getting the Most Out of Your Marketing Campaigns
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