3 Keys to Fulfilling Automated Marketing
Although the concept of marketing automation is generating a lot of buzz these days, only about 5 percent of marketers are using full-featured marketing automation solutions, according to Jeff Ernst, a principal analyst at Forrester Research. Further, he says, "Many who do move forward with some form of marketing automation are not ready for it. They're lacking an integrated lead management process, and they don't have the right content to fuel the automated marketing process."
Before you apportion a hefty percentage of your budget to purchasing and implementing a marketing automation solution, be sure to consider the following fulfillment-related issues:
1. Make sure the marketing automation solution is compatible with both your fulfillment partner's systems and your company's CRM and back-office systems.
If it isn't, is the fulfillment company willing and able to do what it takes to make them all communicate seamlessly? If the systems can't talk to each other, you won't be able to automate as fully, or benefit as much from your investment.
2. Map out your communication strategy. Determine what you will send, provide or say in response to different types of inquiries and leads, and have a variety of relevant marketing materials readily available in different formats (e.g., print, web downloads/podcasts, email templates, phone scripts, etc.), so your fulfillment partner can respond to both inquiries and leads quickly.
Response rates can fall by half if fulfillment takes just 48 hours—and as much as 90% after a week. Delays in response times correlate with lower lead qualification and close ratios, as shown by a study of web-generated leads done by the Kellogg School of Management and MIT (pdf). Time really is money when it comes to lead fulfillment and nurturing. Additionally, if your company sells complex or big-ticket products, your sales cycle may be quite lengthy. Set up a schedule that advances the conversation at key points along the way from initial inquiry to ultimate purchase, while making your response mechanisms flexible enough to vary from a rigid schedule if communications take a detour from your anticipated sales path.