*Updated on January 20, 2022

Do you know that 92% of top-performing companies invest more time, budget, and resources into marketing automation (MA) integration? If the word “automation” makes you cringe, we don’t blame you. After all, it sounds cold and robotic, as if it’s going to suck the living soul—and our jobs—out of us. Thankfully, in the marketing world, the potential for such tragedy doesn’t exist. 

Though the content and messaging are automated, marketing automation is still guided by human connection. It’s centered on two things: 

  1. Understanding your audience 
  2. Tailoring messages to create a personalized experience

The results? Higher demand and repeat customers. 

Big Leap is proud to offer marketing automation services as a Hubspot Gold Partner. This title illustrates our reputation for delivering high-quality inbound marketing services to our clients. Better yet, with our gold-level certification, we have access to great resources to help our clients stay ahead of the competition.

So, why are you waiting? In this definitive guide, we’ll get you caught up with everything you need to know about marketing automation to establish a lead-generating business. 

Table of Contents

What Is Marketing Automation?

Marketing automation involves using software to automate, prioritize, and streamline:

  • All marketing efforts of your business to turn promising leads into customers
  • Repetitive marketing activities to save you time for things that matter the most

Though efficiency is a driving force behind this strategy, marketing automation’s intention is to nurture leads and increase engagement and conversions. It’s about understanding your customers’ buying journey, so you can authentically connect with them as individuals—not faceless numbers floating in online space. 

How Does Marketing Automation Work?

Now, not all marketing automation strategies are created equal. At Big Leap, we take three vital approaches to build marketing automation campaigns that earn results—results that center on winning the leads your competitors are trying to gain. 

1. Segmentation

Marketing automation utilizes a segmentation strategy that allows you to personalize campaigns cost-effectively. It involves streamlining and grouping your potential customers based on specific characteristics so you can send unique messages to each group. 

ecomm marketing automation segmentation

2. Email Marketing

Sending out email marketing campaigns to segmented audiences is one of the most effective ways to drive leads and conversions. It entails crafting customized and valuable messages backed by data. And when these emails are automated, you can reach out to an even bigger audience while still providing hyper-relevant content. 

For every $1 spent on email marketing, you can expect a $42 return.

ecomm email marketing segments example

3. Sales Enablement

This involves providing the sales team with the resources to help them sell more effectively. To identify these resources, a CRM system combined with marketing automation will not only place all your sales and marketing activities in one place, but you can foster customer relationships that will ultimately drive revenue.

  1. marketing automation sales enablement

6 Benefits of Marketing Automation

Customers interact with your company across different platforms and channels, so you must keep your fingers and toes dipped in all critical advantages. But we know it’s pretty tricky getting your work done when your extremities are occupied! 

This is where marketing automation comes in handy. With a strong automation strategy, you can reap the full advantages of your software’s database capabilities for marketing and sales enablement. What do these benefits look like? 

1. Saves Time & Money

Time is money, so you want to utilize your cash where it matters the most. Seventy-four percent of marketers have expressed that the biggest benefit of automation is saving time. And let’s be real, manually tracking each contact and sending catered messages to each is impossible. 

With MA, you can: 

  • Turn your contacts into loyal customers without having to spend long hours tracking them.
  • Automate tasks, so you’ll have more time to brainstorm and prioritize compelling content projects that your contacts/leads need.
  • Minimize human error.

2. Nurtures Leads

Want to reach out to the people you haven’t heard from in a while? Or communicate with those who have shown consistent engagement and can become sales-qualified leads?

Marketing automation takes this stress off via segmentation. The software looks at your prospective customers’ contact information and engagement history to segment your lead list for you. 

This allows you to nurture leads down the funnel by:  

  • Automating the flow of personalized messages via email, website content, and campaigns.
  • Analyzing prospects’ responses and behaviors toward your messages and tweaking your approach accordingly in the next round of content.

For example, with email automation, you can: 

  • Send out automated emails based on specific actions, like a customer signing up for a loyalty program or making a purchase. This has proven to have a “70.5% higher open rate and a staggering 152% higher click-through rate.” 
  • Track and collect data, like open rates, responses, and how well a particular subject line or layout worked. Not only does this provide you with real-time tracking, but it also offers valuable insights to make data-driven decisions. It’s no wonder MA generates 451% more qualified leads. 

3. Boosts Customer Engagement

Seventy-seven percent of buyers want unique and targeted content while progressing through the sales funnel. By using a stage-based marketing approach, your marketing automation software can deliver specific content to people at the right time. 

For instance, you can send incentive and rewards programs to visitors who have signed up for your newsletter or to your loyal customers who have hit their second-anniversary mark. 

Creating micro strategies for each stage builds consistency with your audience; and with consistency, you’ll have more awareness to predict and allocate future marketing spend. 

4. Increases Conversions and Revenue

Making your sales process more data-driven and personalized reduces the time it takes for a potential lead to become a customer. 

Just take a look at these results: 

  • When Canadian multinational media conglomerate Thomson Reuters started using marketing automation software, “their lead conversion time dropped by 72% to bring a 175% overall increase in revenue.” 
  • When Big Leap established a segmentation strategy for CBD company Hemplucid, we were able to create customized email campaigns that won our client a 144% increase in revenue.  

5. Improves Customer Retention

Customer relationships are key to retention, and it’s easier and cheaper (about five times less) to retain customers than to find new ones. Through automating leadnurturing activities, you can consistently fuel your existing relationships and maximize your ROI without increasing your output—and keep more customers. 

6. Robust Sales and Marketing Partnership

Aligning sales and marketing yields up to three times the revenue growth. Sales and marketing are two peas in a pod, and, unfortunately, many companies fail to acknowledge this. Especially as technology continues to evolve and mold the buying cycle, sales and marketing must grow together amid these shifting tides. 

Marketing automation lays out a robust strategy that seamlessly integrates the roles of both teams. When strategies and tools are aligned, they’ll boost visibility, conversions, and revenue.

6 Signs Your Business Needs Marketing Automation

So how do you know if your business even needs marketing automation? Take a moment to assess your inbound marketing efforts. Are they on track, or are they in need of an upgrade? 

Here are six signs your business needs marketing automation. 

1. You’re Pulling Your Hair over Manual Processes

How much time are you spending nurturing your leads versus copying and pasting email messages? If you’re finding that you’re investing most of your business hours on the latter along with other manual/administrative tasks, you’ve got to get automating. 

2. You’re Experiencing Slow Sales Response Times

A survey conducted by Drift found that 90% of businesses didn’t respond to their leads within five minutes. Manual processes, along with a lack of cooperation between marketing and sales teams, can build major delays in your lead response times. 

Overlooking the need for speed with your sales enablement can bring you costly results. 

For example, your chances of qualifying a lead are 21 times lower if you connect with them within the first 30 minutes of initial contact versus the first five minutes. 

3. You Aren’t Generating Enough Leads

Struggling to meet your quarterly revenue goals? Take a look at your leads. Are you generating enough? More importantly, are you generating enough quality leads? 

If your numbers are looking slim, review the following questions with your team. These can help identify exactly where your pain points are coming from: 

  • Are you sending out personal messages relevant to your audience? Do they connect with them in an authentic way? Nearly 70% of companies expressed that the greatest benefit of automation is “improved targeting of messages,” while almost 46% said the greatest benefit was “improved customer experience.” 
  • Have you and your sales team agreed on a target persona? 
  • How often are you sending out messages to your target audience? 

4. You Aren’t Tracking Data

Don’t know what your call-to-action (CTA) conversion rate is? Or how many clicks and leads you’re generating with a specific email? Sounds like you’re not tracking data. 

Without having direct access to and actively monitoring your marketing KPIs, your team can’t make data-driven decisions—one of the most important marketing objectives for 51% of marketers. You’re simply relying on a hit-and-miss strategy.

5. Your Data Is a Mess

Okay, our bad, maybe you are tracking data. But how’s the quality looking? Check up on it, and if they mirror what’s listed below, it’s time to look into some marketing automation software. 

  • The quality of your data is poor. How can you tell? You’re producing inconsistent and/or erroneous data. Thirty-two percent of U.S. companies believe their data is inaccurate, which leads to a drop of 23% in their revenue. 
  • The wrong leads are handed off to your sales team. Is your sales team noticing that they’re given folks who have unsubscribed? Or are they being given those who don’t fall into a specific category (e.g., people in the awareness stage versus those in the conversion stage of the sales funnel) they’re responsible for nurturing? 

6. Your Email Lists Aren’t Segmented

Say you’re managing a clothing company. Do you know the geographic areas where your leads are based? Do you know what kinds of clothing they’ve been purchasing lately (pants, shorts, blouses, etc.)? Do you know their gender and/or age? 

If you’re scratching your head, then it’s likely that your email lists aren’t segmented. The more you track lead data, the more effective interactions you can foster. 

5 Proactive Ways to Start Using Marketing Automation

Here are five ways to tackle those pain points with the help of marketing automation. Review these with your team—what can you get started on this quarter and year? 

1. Collaborate with Your Sales Team

Relationships flourish with communication and collaboration. Reach out to your sales team and find ways to refine the buying journey. 

Some vital questions to discuss together are:

  • Why aren’t our leads converting?
  • Where in the funnel are the leads getting stuck?
  • When is the appropriate time to hand off the nurtured lead to the sales team? 
  • Which group of leads are converting the most?
  • Which CTAs are generating the most clicks? 
  • How can we produce accurate and consistent data to identify efforts that are actually working/driving leads? 
  • How should we follow up with cold leads?
  • What is the potential customer lifetime value of a specific lead?
  • What types of content should we create to support leads in the mid-to-late stages of the buying process? 

2. Optimize Your Database to Enhance Communication

U.S. firms believe “32% of their data is inaccurate,” leading to a 23% decrease in revenue. Data quality plays a huge role in making decisions regarding conversion strategy. Therefore, it should be kept in top shape. Not to mention, you want to make sure you’re handing off the right leads to your sales team. 

So be sure to: 

  • Clean Your Lead List: Email addresses are the usual identifier for each of your contacts, so this is a good place to start. Identify any unsubscribers or bogus email addresses that have bounced back. Check your engagement metrics—do these contacts deserve to stay in your database? It’s also good to check for and delete any duplicate email addresses. No one likes getting multiple messages about the same offer.

how to clean up lead list checklist

  • Conduct Consistent Segmentation: Start by clearly defining your target market to appropriately personalize and craft quality content. Showing different content to different segments will encourage people to take the right step in the buyers’ journey.
  • Personalize Your Messages: Thanks to segmentation, you can:
    • Use your criteria to create lead-nurturing emails. Your team can send a series of targeted and personalized emails to the right people at the right time. Not only will you establish rapport, but you’ll also garner four to 10 times more responses than you would with standalone emails.
    • Send prospective customers to specific pages of your site. Are your leads in the decision-making process? Maybe you can include a link to your case studies or product page. And if you’re sending an email out to your leads in the awareness stage, you can provide a link to your blog page. Mapping out clear routes like this in their buying journey can make conversions faster and easier. 
    • Craft clear, compelling, and specific calls-to-action (CTAs). By understanding exactly which stage your audience is at, you can create specific CTAs that encourage them to jump over to the next stage. Take digital sales and marketing company iMPACT, for example. Personalizing the copy on their CTA button brought them a 78.5 percent boost in conversions. 

3. Implement Lead Scoring

Marketing automation software like Hubspot allows you to create a lead-scoring model that assigns values to each lead. We know, no one likes to be graded! But rest assured, this process involves thought and analysis. 

With lead scoring, your team can prioritize leads and take appropriate action. Roof Maxx established a lead-scoring model, which helped them earn a 200% increase in scheduled lead meetings, 38% average email open rate, and 14% average email click rate. 

There are several different scoring models, such as: 

  • Demographic information – Analyze the demographics of your audience. If you only sell your product in a certain city, you might want to assign a lower score to those based outside of your city. 
  • Company information – Are you a B2B or B2C organization? Depending on what types of businesses you’re trying to target, you can allocate lead scores accordingly. 
  • Email engagement – Look at peoples’ click-through rates (CTR) to see how engaged your followers are with your promotional emails. You might want to give a higher score to those who explore your high-value emails like demo offers. 
  • Social engagement – How many times did they retweet or share your social posts? If your lead is an avid participant of your social platforms, you can assign them a positive score. 
  • Spam detection – Are the forms filled out in a way that indicates an alien submitted them? Maybe the name or company isn’t capitalized, or there’s a series of random letters. You might want to consider flagging these “leads” as spam and assigning them a negative score.

marketing automation lead scoring examples

4. Measure, Tweak, and Measure Some More

By tracking the activities of your leads and your team through your marketing automation platform, you can collect valuable data to help determine: 

  • Whether or not your messages need fine-tuning. Maybe you need to incorporate a different tone or language. Or heck, maybe your messages are spot on and generating a lot of conversions! Either way, it’s good to know this to take proper action.
  • Which group of leads is converting the most. Is it your leads from XX source or who’ve purchased XX products in the past? Whichever group it is, take note of the strategies involved that you can expand on and use for your other leads.
  • Where exactly are your leads dropping off/abandoning the journey? Is it on your landing page? Maybe your team needs to make adjustments on the page to better meet visitors’ needs, or maybe the CTA in your email that links to the page needs some more massaging.
  • Which CTAs/action buttons are generating the most clicks. You’ll get a better idea of what your audience is seeking and the tone/voice you should go for in future campaigns. 

5. Keep Your Eye on the Prize—Human Relationships

We understand how marketing automation and human connection might seem like an oxymoron. The best way to think about this is that marketing automation extends the human touch. It’s about being conscientious about the needs of your audience to provide the right information at the right time. 

So as you’re collaborating with your sales team and fleshing out strategies, stay rooted in human connection by focusing on the journey. Map out all the possible decisions someone could make and the ideal responses to any queries. How would you help a friend through the purchase process? 

Beware of Siloing Your MA Efforts

There are always challenges that can minimize the effectiveness of a marketing automation campaign. BUT, there’s one big reason companies may not get the great results they expect: They silo their marketing automation efforts from key data and strategy efforts. 

Siloing can take two forms: 

  1. Your data sources aren’t connected to your MA strategy. Just put yourself in your customer’s inbox to see what a disaster that can be. No one thinks highly of a company that sends them the same email multiple times. But if you don’t realize the same leads have contacted you through multiple channels, you might make that faux pas.
  2. Your marketing automation efforts have nothing to do with your other marketing tactics. Don’t make the mistake of assuming that the “automation” in marketing automation means you can set it and forget it. The opposite is true—you need to take a holistic approach.

What to Do Instead: Tip #1 – Take a Holistic Approach

When MA is part of an overall digital strategy, that’s where it can really flex its muscle and bring results worth much more than the little effort required to get it going. You’ll know it’s working when the results of the following metrics are in your favor:

  • Email open rates
  • Click-through rates
  • Site traffic
  • MQLs generated through lead nurturing
  • Activity for each segment 
  • Sales-accepted leads
  • Generated revenue
  • Number of elbow bumps you get at the office

What to Do Instead: Tip #2 – Hire a Marketing Automation Specialist

Another way to ensure you’ve got all your MA bases covered? Partner with a marketing automation specialist. Having a marketing automation specialist can help: 

  • Clean your data: Your automation specialist can look at your company’s needs and priorities and use them to customize your dashboards and reports. 
  • Streamline your leads: Marketing automation specialists help you integrate valuable lead-nurturing tools like segmentation, lead scoring, email marketing.
  • Boost conversions and revenue: Your specialist can consult on how your marketing and sales teams can better work together to boost sales enablement. 
  • Save time: It takes hours to learn the ins and outs of these marketing automation tools on your own. By relying on an MA expert, you’ll be less likely to overlook critical strategies and more likely to enjoy lasting success.  

3 Qualities to Look for in an MA Specialist

During your marketing specialist hunt, there are three non-negotiables when it comes to finding the right one. 

1. Trust

Not only should you look for trustworthy qualities in the person, but also in their attitude and approach to their job. This involves:  

  • Being open and communicative from beginning to end
  • Always showing up and producing consistent work
  • Making data-driven decisions
  • Being motivated by long-term success
  • Taking no shortcuts

2. Transparency

Is something not working in the campaign? Even when you’re hit with hard times, you want your marketing automation specialist to be candid with you. This means:  

  • Providing honest and valuable feedback
  • Owning up to any mistakes that were made on their end
  • Presenting possible strategies to resolve issues
  • Staying up-to-date with industry trends to find areas for improvement

3. Proven Track Record

What have they accomplished in the past? Does their marketing automation agency have a proven track record of reeling in returns and fueling long-lasting relationships? Are they a Hubspot Gold Partner? 

These are good starting points to determine just how good they are and what kind of value they can provide to your team. After all, your business deserves the best of the best. 

Get Personal & Start Automating Today—Contact Us

With the many components involved in marketing automation, it’s essential to find people who’ll have your back throughout the entire process. And this is where Big Leap comes in. 

As a Hubspot Gold Partner and influential force in the dynamic digital landscape, Big Leap is ready to understand what success means to you and wants to help you launch personalized lead and nurture campaigns. 

Contact us today to learn more about what we can do for you. 

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