This week, I’m at the Marketo User Summit in San Francisco, so I thought it might be an appropriate time for me to write about a topic near and dear to me: the integration of marketing automation and search marketing.
Over the past few years, more and more of my clients in the B2B sector have been adopting marketing automation. Software like Marketo, Eloqua, Silverpop and others help B2B companies process and nurture leads more effectively. When people ask me what specific benefits I think marketing automation brings to the table, my answers are these:
1. Marketing automation allows B2B firms to “nurture” leads over time, reaching out and touching prospects over a longer term. In many cases, B2B companies have longer sales cycles. In some cases, my own firm has seen prospects finally commit to an SEO engagement (whether with us or another firm) years after initial conversations.
2. It also provides “lead scoring,” which can greatly help “pre-qualify” leads before they are even sent to the sales department, thus often increasing sales and reducing the length of the sales cycle.
Most of us know that the shorter the form, the more likely a visitor is to complete the form. But when your sales team wants everything but the kitchen sink on that form, you risk losing prospects with a super-long form. What can you do?
Most marketing automation packages offer some form of “progressive profiling.” Essentially, these are “smart” forms that recognize the visitor, and if he/she has filled out a form previously, the “smart” form will present the visitor with different fields to fill out. So, for instance, if the first time a visitor fills out a form, the form asks for:
The next time the visitor fills out a form, it can ask instead for:
Because marketing automation tools also help reduce duplication of leads in the CRM system, you can do your own version of progressive profiling using multiple landing pages or conversion paths as well.
Take for example one of my clients who sells IT software. The software is available for both home users and business users. By segmenting those two groups using a conversion path, we retain that information about that visitor until he/she converts. When the individual converts, we put that information into a marketing automation system. By segmenting the visitor as a home user or a business user, we can then do several things:
1. Continue to market to that individual through lead nurturing techniques, specific to his/her segment (home or business user).
2. Score the visitor a certain way. For instance, if business users are worth more from an ROI perspective than home users, we can indicate this as such for the sales team, allowing them to prioritize which types of leads are followed up first.
Marketing automation systems have application in B2C markets as well, although I’ve mostly seen them integrated in B2B firms to date. Regardless of company type, marketing automation can make a highly positive impact on your landing page conversions and how you continue to market to those leads after the initial capture from search.