A successful online marketing campaign has its workflow down pat. It's crafted the path that the customer will take to reach the buy stage, and its individual facets work harmoniously to get the customer there. This process involves a rather complicated backend, and because of that, marketing automation software is extremely useful.

Marketing automation software is meant to be a one-stop shop for all a company's online marketing needs. From emails to landing pages, forms, and social media, every aspect of online marketing can be set up and handled in one portal. It's the place for your campaigns to come into existence and take flight. It's also the place for results to be measured, adjusted, and retested.

Start with the Database

Online Marketing Workflow with Marketing AutomationWhen someone signs up for a webinar, where does their contact information go? Presumably into a database containing the information of others who have signed up for the same webinar. But would you know if the potential customer had had previous interactions with your company? And how would you move forward with this person in your efforts to sell them on your product?

These questions all serve to underscore the importance of the database. While a marketer could create databases on an ad-hoc basis, this practice would be both inefficient and outmoded. Most of us don't, of course, but are we at the same time fully harnessing the power of our database? It's important that all contacts and their information, along with all their interactions with your company, be culled together into one repository. This is the data that enables a marketing automation tool to power an effective campaign. Leads coming from an email campaign are not separate from leads coming from a web form.

Similarly, marketing leads are not separate from sales leads. Your CRM and marketing automation systems should be connected. 

Nurture and Measure

Obviously you wouldn't ask a sales rep to contact a lead if all that person had done was click a link in one of your emails. But you might if someone had requested a brochure. Different actions count differently. The trick is understanding how this virtual body language stacks together to demonstrate genuine interest, at which point the sales team would then step in and take the lead across the finish line. Unfortunately, in reality only about 25% of leads passed onto sales are qualified. Why would you want to get your sales team involved when the customer isn't ready to buy?

In understanding buyer behavior, it's becoming obvious that lead nurturing is extremely important. You can't usually win a lead right off the bat; it takes time and a bit of strategic maneuvering to convince them that they need your product. This is where your drip campaign and lead scoring system come in. Drip campaigns provide the opportunity to engage with potential customers in an extremely targeted and tailored way, so that marketers can touch base frequently but not in an unwanted manner. And they work. Drip campaign triggered emails get a higher response rate than standalone emails sent in blasts. Also, companies that excel at lead nurturing have seen 9% more sales reps making quota.

And with a good lead scoring system in place, marketers can identify the point when the nurturing is enough. It gives them to ability to identify their best leads to send to sales. Companies that get lead scoring right have a 192% higher average lead qualification rate. This is a pretty compelling statistic, and yet, not all B2B marketers have established a lead scoring system of some kind. This represents an opportunity many companies have yet to take.

Putting a Campaign Into Action

The heavy lifters in the typical marketing mix are below. Together, they account for most of a company's web activity, and when used in conjunction with marketing automation software, can offer all kinds of insightful analytics.

Email: Email is the primary way to reach out to your leads, and it should be integrated into your campaign. But for it to be successful, your email must contain compelling content and reach the right audience. A clothing boutique wouldn't want to send an email about its new women's line to its male recipients.  Luckily, emails are extremely measurable, as responses can be measured by open rates and click-through-rates. So test, test, test. A few areas to test, by popularity: subject line length and phrasing, the opening and body of the message, layout and images, the call-to-action, day of week and time of day sent.

Landing pages: The webpage that opens when a specific link, such as an ad or a link in an email, has been clicked. Landing pages consist of very targeted, usually promotional, messages, and can include some kind of call-to-action or form. By building landing pages within your marketing automation system, any links or fields included within can be tracked. Let no actions go unnoted.

Forms: When someone willingly submits their contact information in exchange for a webinar sign-up or free trial, this action can be worth a lot in lead scoring terms. Consider adding additional fields, such as budget, to find out how suitable the lead is for your company. Also, consider assigning more points to leads who fill in more information than you require.

Social Media: As people spend more and more time on social media (3.2 hours daily, to be precise), social media marketing has increasingly been included in the mix. Leads can come from as diverse sources as Facebook likes, Twitter retweets, and LinkedIn articles. Therefore, it's important to track and interact. Have a social media schedule that can post across channels, and monitor the analytics on click and referral traffic. Social media also opens up a whole new set of campaign possibilities, some of which can be really innovative.

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Now that you know the basics of an automated workflow, what online marketing campaigns will you implement? 

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