In B2B sales, leads rarely introduce themselves to you with cash in hand and ready to buy. They need to know more about your product line, your customer service, your commitment to them. Companies that focus solely on acquisition and not retention lack follow-through; they have the first easy pieces of the puzzle laid down, but they’re not sure how to handle its complex center.
Here’s how marketing automation improves your follow-through, giving you a clear picture of what you’re working toward when interacting with your leads.
Long before they’re ready for solutions, leads need to become aware that they have a problem. Maybe they take a self-test or get a promotional email. Sometimes they run across SEO content or social media interactions. These are your top-of-funnel leads, those who are still anonymous to you and your MARKETING AI®. They’re just beginning to research the “who” and “what” information they need to address the problem they’ve recently discovered.
Serving the needs of the prospect at this stage includes an appetizer of simple bite-sized content served up in blog posts, infographics, and newsletters. Marketing automation technology coordinates omni-channel information streams so leads see relevant targeted ads and are guided to content that fits where they are in the buying journey.
Once prospects confirm they have a problem, they’re ready to look for ways to solve it. They’re after all the details – the “where,” “when” and “how” of their solution. Here at the middle of the funnel, your marketing automation software might serve them some gated content while collecting more in-depth data about them for your centralized database. Your goal at this stage is to answer questions such as “Where can your product help me?” “When do I start to see results?” and “How does this work?”
Database services that consolidate and organize the quickly growing volume of data you’re gathering on your prospects play an essential role in making sense of it all. You’ll also gather important insights into your leads’ decision-making processes – insights that can then inform everything from your lead scoring system to your customer service.
As your prospect reaches the bottom of the sales funnel, your content should promote the “why” of your message. Why is your solution the best fit for them, and why should they choose you in particular? Here’s where pricing structure, in-depth white papers, case studies, and written testimonials should indelibly establish your value.
You’re also preparing leads for the all-important transition to sales. Make a mistake at this point, and you could lose a considerable investment of time and effort. Marketing automation excels at integrating sales and marketing into a seamless whole. Both sides have access to the same prospect data and can review records to get all the salient facts about a potential buyer. When sales and marketing teams are working toward a common goal, they become unstoppable.
The end of the buying journey is just the beginning of a long-term relationship with your customer. Marketers often think of automation just in terms of lead acquisition, but with its centralized database and sales integration options, it’s just as effective at continuing customer care. Use it to establish a loyalty program, improve the responsiveness of your service, gather referrals – your MARKETING AI does it all.
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