Using Marketing Automation to Reach the Right Audience

August 19, 2016 •

Using Marketing Automation to Reach the Right Audience

Content marketers spend a lot of time conceptualizing and creating remarkable content as part of their content marketing strategies. But if that content never reaches the right audience, it’s not going to make a difference.

Marketing automation is a powerful tool that helps you deliver the right content to the right audience very efficiently and effectively. Businesses that use marketing automation to nurture prospects experience a 451% increase in qualified leads, according to research firm Sirius Decisions. Who wouldn’t want that result?

Unfortunately, reaching the right audience doesn’t happen without some thought and isn’t instantaneous.

Who are you trying to reach?

Before you can reach the right audience with marketing automation, you need a little bit of information about exactly who that “right” audience is. You should have an idea of who your best buyers are and what they care about. The software doesn’t magically tell you that. But it can help you better refine the suspects visiting your website, reading your content, and attending your webinars.

One of the challenges many organizations face is that sometimes they’re not really sure who their best customers are. Marketers may have a vague idea, but many haven’t really taken the time to talk to sales or conduct any analysis to understand what the company’s best buyers look like or what they care about.

Some marketers have skipped creating buyer personas, thinking the general sketch of who they are trying to reach is enough. But developing buyer personas is an important part of your messaging and automation efforts. While some might think it can be scary, awkward, and time-consuming to interview current and even former customers, this approach can be the best way to learn more about them.

Data Reveals Prospect Patterns

So what should you do if you don’t have the luxury of speaking with these folks? Or if you did, but the information was lacking and you want a more refined idea of your best audience or your best personas? You can use your fancy marketing tools to better understand who you are trying to reach. For example, you can create different messages and types of content, distribute them to the current suspects in your database, and then segment them based on their engagement/behavior.

Historically, marketers built prospect lists based on a limited amount of information, including job title, industry, revenue, employee size, and budget. Short of cold calling the list, there was no way to determine who might be a prospect, a visitor, a researcher, a job seeker, or shareholder. These days, 90 percent of decision makers say they won’t respond to cold calls, according to an article in Harvard Business Review.

Marketing automation allows you to see what prospects are interacting with, watch their behavior, and then translate that into data you can continue to use to segment and target the right content to the right person at their particular stage in the purchasing journey.

Marketing automation also helps you see who opens emails, makes a purchase, registers for a podcast or webinar, or skims your site, plus how many times they come back and how long they stay, providing data that most marketers haven’t had access to before. Looking at the data marketing automation provides helps you better target and nurture prospects with the right content.

The Right Prospect May Actually Be Many People

The data may reveal that the “right” prospect is actually multiple people. Your sales cycle might be long and involve many decision makers, so you’ll need to take that into account. If you are selling marketing software, for example, you likely have at least three key decision makers in the process: the marketer, IT, and (most likely) finance will all have a say in the purchase. The average B2B decision-making group includes 5.4 buyers, says CEB, and 75 percent of the stakeholders involved come from different roles, teams, and locations. So it’s even more important that the content you develop and distribute addresses each of these personas; generic information will most likely miss the mark.

And offering generic content doesn’t take advantage of the best parts of marketing automation. It helps you send your information to the right person in a highly personalized way, which helps prospects become buyers faster. It doesn’t matter whether you have seven decision makers in a sea of 10,000 leads. Marketing automation helps you address each one according to his or her needs just like you would if you handwrote a note to each prospect and decision maker.

Buyers Expect Personalized Content

As you no doubt already know, customers do a lot of research before they knock on your door. Since they are armed with so much knowledge, you can’t afford to send them a generic welcome message or an email that isn’t relevant to them. Most B2B buyers understand you are tracking their visits and know what they are reading, and they expect that you deliver information relevant to them when they surrender their email address. Companies that can’t identify or segment their prospects and send them the appropriate content risk losing those buyers.

Looking to get started with marketing automation? Download the eBook, “Make the Marketing Automation Decision: a 5-Question Guide.” Already have a marketing automation platform but need help fine tuning it for better results? Get in touch.

About the Author

As Right Source’s chief marketing technology officer, Will Davis oversees the intersection of marketing strategy, consulting, execution and technology for our clients. He focuses first on business objectives and then on helping clients leverage marketing and technology to deliver against those objectives. A recognized leader in content marketing, Will has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Maryland, College Park in government and politics and broad experience developing marketing strategies that help organizations reach milestones and grow. You can find Will on Twitter and Google+, connect with him on LinkedIn, or read his other posts.

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