Confessions of a marketing automation addict
Marketing automation is the future for digital marketers. But Mary Wallace, a columnist and marketing automation junkie, explains why in-person events and direct mail still have their place in the marketing mix.
Let me get this out of the way: I’m a technology geek and a marketing aficionado. I adore working with marketing automation to drive business. The bright thrill of success bubbles over when various marketing technologies are stacked together to improve the user experience and boost engagement that results in sales.
Nothing is better than building the digital pathway. For example, consider a lead who visits a well-designed Drupal web page and submits a form. Data runs directly to a marketing automation tool like Eloqua. Eloqua then engages with the lead through a variety of processes and sends pertinent information to Salesforce. Using Salesforce, the sales team can see who they should contact to close the sale.
My affinity for marketing automation is validated. It’s the wave of the future. In fact, it continues to be one of the fastest-growing technologies in the marketing stack, according to Aberdeen Group.
And it works. A June 2016 survey highlighted that email — one of the core uses for marketing automation — had a median ROI of 122 percent, more than four times higher than other marketing formats examined.
But alas, marketing automation is not the only component of a marketing mix that effectively generates and converts leads to buyers. There are other non-digital options that, to a marketing automation disciple, are frightening.
Two shining stars that are on the rise for marketing effectiveness are direct mail and in-person events. Both techniques have greater longevity than marketing automation, and they have both evolved in order to remain valuable.
But how can these “analog” tactics be effective in a world where digital usage is on the rise? Without technology to pave the way, how can lead engagements be managed?
Below is a brief description of these tactics — the how and why they produce successful results is included as a guidepost for digital junkies like me who want to begin taking advantage of these more tangible options in the marketing mix.
In-person event marketing
Known for high ROI results, in-person events deliver the opportunity for non-directive, face-to-face interaction and experience-sharing, helping to generate net-new leads. They are also key to escorting existing buyers through multiple stages of the funnel, recycling old buyers and delivering qualified, sales-ready leads.
These four tips from industry experts will ensure event participation produces results:
- Focus on a problem your leads are likely to be experiencing — and that your business is good at solving.
- Use subject matter experts to educate attendees and promote your products and services.
- Give your participants plenty of opportunities to contribute to the discussion. Ask questions, and give them a chance to pose their own.
- Provide quality content at your booth. Content such as demos or other “how to” materials, industry-specific and business case information, white papers, case studies and peer perspectives help maintain the connection after the conversation ends.
Direct mail marketing
Direct mail is actually on the upswing. In 2016, customer response rates increased 43 percent year over year, and prospect response rates rose 190 percent.
Direct mail, which provides a tangible medium through which leads can engage, helps shift the brain into a deeper level of engagement while building knowledge. Strong engagement and conversion rates are the results.
Even better, direct mail avoids many of the challenges of the digital world like (email) sender reputation, spam traps, bounce rates or IP-blocking.
While it evolved from spraying a batch of postcards to everyone, direct mail is now highly customized for the intended target (thanks to the digital world!). Forbes’ Summer Gould provides these four tips for customizing and engaging leads:
- Create a video mailer with a built-in audiovisual player that plays after the mailer opens or by pushing a button.
- Include personalized QR codes or personalized URLs (PURLs) to landing pages that have content that can be changed and updated as needed.
- Leverage augmented reality like Pokémon Go. Mail that comes to life and is manipulatable by leads and customers is very powerful.
- Use non-typical packaging like bulky items, boxes or tubes to grab a lead’s attention.
Yes, neither direct mail nor in-person events are digital-based. And maybe that’s the point.
However, all is not lost for this marketing automation junkie. After all, marketing automation and other digital tools escalate the impact of direct mail and in-person events.
Marketing automation powers the invitations that drive attendees to in-person events. And it powers the follow-up communication that is a must to maintain the conversations started on the showroom floor.
Data from digital engagements provides the basis for direct mail campaigns to help you focus on a specific target. Not only does the data help with segmentation, but marketing automation enables you to personalize it in the online realm.
Though the trend for digital usage remains on the rise, we still live in a world of 360-degree interactions. And not all engagements can be managed by a marketing automation platform.