Marketing automation is built on the premise of delivering the right communication to the right person at the right time.
Successfully delivering the right content at the right time hinges on data. Data that is provided explicitly by prospects, and more importantly, data that is provided implicitly through their engagement with your communications and content.
This is the virtuous cycle behind the communications in marketing automation. When any element of the cycle falls short, the entire cycle breaks.
- Without profiling and scoring, you won’t have the right followup communication.
- Without followup communication, continued consumption of your content (or engagement) by your prospects will drop precipitously.
- Without content consumption, you cannot continue to update your audience profiles and scores to deliver the right message at the right time.
I recently explored Why Your Content Will Never Be Good Enough. Central to this is the fact your content is always judged relative to other content that is available. As the general quality of content increases, the bar for good content quality increases as well.
Marketing automation is challenged not just to deliver great content, but to deliver it at the right time. When your competitor’s delivery of content is more timely than yours, you have been trumped. Even great content will not engage your audience if the need has already been met by someone else’s more timely delivery.
When judged against your competitors, continuing to deliver content at the best time requires continuing to push the boundaries in the data you collect and how you use that data. Here are three things you can add today.
1. Score Companies, Not Just Individuals
According to research from TechTarget, prospects consume 20 to 50 pieces of content in just 60 days. Some of the content will be on industry sites or from your competitors. In other words, you are missing one of the basic signals your marketing automation program is built around.
By scoring companies and likely buying teams, you have an opportunity to capture additional signals about how the buying process is progressing and re-assign the likely stage in the buying process. If you don’t, someone else’s content will be more timely, engagement with the content you provide will decrease, and your estimation of where a prospect is in the buying process will continue to fall farther behind.
In addition, scoring a company allows you to make a better estimate of where a new contact at an existing company is in the buying process. As a buyer, I regularly get followup phone calls or emails assuming I’m starting the process when they should be able to see our company is already actively engaged in the buying process.
2. Mine Social Media
Expand your social media listening program to identify opportunities to connect with current prospects. Listening ensures followup is timely and incorporating history improves the relevance of the followup communication.
Information that isn’t enough to follow up on in traditional listening programs can be meaningful when combined with an individual’s history with your content and communications.
To my knowledge, this has not been automated effectively yet. This is a space to watch from vendors over the coming months.
3. Jump on Opportunities
Being timely and relevant sometimes means going off-script. Buyers and influencers are not just in a linear purchase process, they also need to stay on top of the category as a whole. Perspectives on major industry news and events are the kinds of timely information your prospects need.
Great content isn’t enough, you need to strive to deliver the right communication at the right time. Every one of your competitors is doing the same thing. Timing that is good enough today won’t be good enough tomorrow.
This is based on an article I originally wrote for the Marketing Automation Institute and was published here.