Quick, if you could choose two words to describe your business in 2016, which two would they be? Sorry if I’ve opened fresh wounds. Have I? How ’bout we get an early jump on making your business in 2017 the year of the “cash cow.” (I’m making a push to add this one to the Chinese Zodiac.)

I can’t speak for you or your business, but I can honestly say I loved 2016 for its many professional offerings, one of which is that I really grabbed hold of digital marketing and the immense power of marketing automation. So, since 2016 was a learning year for all of us, the first order of business is for you to walk through these few questions and see where you stand.

Your marketing may be long overdue for an automation lift.

As the digital landscape keeps expanding at a feverish pace, companies are utilizing marketing automation to take their businesses to the next level. And to be blunt, if you’re not EFFECTIVELY using some sort of automation, you’ll be left behind and looked upon by your leads as irrelevant. Ugh! That’s a fate worse than going out of business.

Let me explain what I mean by “effectively” using some sort of automation. To be frank, most people have software in place to deliver emails, but we also see so many emails that are still “batch and blast” – not meeting leads where they are, not responding to the interests they’ve expressed. That’s using marketing automation, yes, but not in the way you need to for 2017 to stay relevant. Competition for the inbox is hotter than ever.

Ok. Just so I‘m not labeled as a pusher, consider these things to see how ready you are for marketing automation in 2017:

Do you have marketing content?

Do you have quality content that nurtures, inspires, and aligns with your prospects’ aspirations but you’re pushing it out without a real strategy behind it? [If not, ContentZap can help with that as well.] Marketing automation can feed your content to the precise channels your leads are most likely to follow, at the very moment they desire it. Timing is over half the battle when it comes to engaging leads. Many marketers create great content but fail to deliver it effectively – in step with their buyers’ journey. That lead ship in the night has passed them by – because they’re not engaging, they’re just publishing.

Do you experience longer-than-you’d-like sales cycles?

Typically, how long is your company’s sales cycle? Wait! Most companies want the sales cycle to be a sprint when in fact it’s a marathon. And that feverish mindset is why marketers rush sales-laden content to their audiences when only 6% of them are ready to buy. Marketing automation is ideal for companies with long sales cycles because it creates an on-going conversation without the burden of reminders and tickle cards and scheduled meetings. Think of the 94% of leads who aren’t ready to buy and have no idea when they will be ready. Stay top of mind with that group by keeping them engaged with you – in terms that make sense to them. That’s what marketing automation is really all about.

Do you have more leads than you can contact?

Most marketers would love to have this problem. This could be the #1 argument towards going with a marketing automation provider versus one of the email service providers (think “Constant Chimp” here). Marketing automation can segment, track, and nurture leads in a way that makes them feel they’re getting personalized attention, and you get to deliver it at scale. But don’t for one minute think this is the lazy, impersonal way to go. Supplying content at the right moment and in the right way will only benefit your brand’s relevance and authority. Why? Because you’ll always be there for your leads when they need you most.

Do you know where your leads are at in the buying process?

Being on the other end of the lead engagement stick, I know that many companies do not have a viable strategy to determine when a lead is sales-ready. Remember the 94% who aren’t ready to buy? With automation, you can score leads based on their activities so you know precisely when they become sales-ready. You must never let a lead feel as though they’re only a revenue generator by always bombarding them with sales pitches. Automation allows the relationship to grow and prosper. Don’t panic! If you supply nurturing content throughout their buying journey, they will buy when they’re ready to buy. And – bonus – you can amp up their sense of urgency about making that purchase with valuable content that helps them understand the perils of NOT making a decision – without ever landing a sales pitch in their inbox.

Are you currently using a marketing automation platform but … not really?

Email marketing has the highest ROI of any marketing function. But beware. While some of the email service providers (ESPs) either don’t offer what you need in the form of functionalities or knowledge about your leads, or you have a comprehensive marketing automation platform that is so expansive that you’ll never utilize a third of the capabilities yet you’re paying for all of them. And reputation! Some ESPs – and even some marketing automation providers – will send your emails off servers that will damage your sender reputation. Do your research before placing your business’s online reputation in an ESP or a marketing automation platform. Find the right marketing partner that will deliver on its promises and affords you the ability to perform tasks best suited for your business.

Automation lets you trigger personalized emails based leads’ actions and behaviors; thus, significantly reducing not only your time writing copy but also shortening the sales cycle.

Are you low on marketing funds and time?

The “best bang for your buck” may be a worn out cliché, but the fact is that marketing automation can be the best way to achieve a very low cost per lead by eliminating that oh-so-dreaded wasted reach. Marketing automation frees up time, staff, and money so you can get back to enjoying those wonderful things in life you’ve probably been neglecting due to long hours. It’s time you stop breaking the bank on guesswork and over staffing. Work smarter – not harder!

You’ve heard all about marketing automation but do not know where to begin? 

You’ve heard all the water cooler chatter surrounding marketing automation and its incredible versatility but have no clue where to begin? It’s time to address the elephant in the room. Marketing automation is simpler than you think – especially if you’ve been reading our blogs throughout 2016 ;).

You need the reports, analysis, and strategies you and your clients demand?

As clients become more educated with their expectations, it’s become imperative that you provide the metrics to support those demands. Simply going by intuition or sticking with what has worked in the past is no longer a viable solution. Marketing automation affords you the immense power to go granular with data. Because digital marketing is more competitive than ever, it’s imperative that you deliver data to your clients that will facilitate a clear marketing strategy and expose weak points that they otherwise may’ve missed with generic top-level metrics. This assuredly will position you and your clients for long-term marketing and business success.

So, how many “yes” answers did you end up with? As a marketing automation consultant, I would say that if you answered “yes” to at least 6 of these, your business is more than ready for marketing automation.

Now, here’s where I become the pusher 😉 Check out WPMktgEngine and see why it’s great marriage material for your business.

About Jason Hoelzel

Freud would've diagnosed him as a "walking conundrum." We just call him Jason. He's a blossoming copywriter and marketing automation specialist who enjoys surfing, golfing, sarcastic bantering, and eating boatloads of guacamole. Jason has the ability to turn any frown upside down with his clever one-liners and radiant smile ;)

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