By Paul Roetzer published January 9, 2014

15 Ways Marketing Automation Can Maximize Your Content’s ROI

businessman holding laptop-tablet-smartphone-automationIn order to realize your performance potential, and maximize your content marketing return on investment (ROI), you’re going to need the right marketing technology.

Marketing automation has the ability to expand the value and impact of your content, capture lead intelligence, improve lead-to-sale conversion rates, drive repeat purchasing, and enhance the overall customer experience. 

Generally speaking, marketing automation takes traditionally manual tasks and, well, automates them. Activities such as contact management, list segmentation, lead scoring and nurturing, A/B testing of website pages and offers, email marketing, and performance measurement and reporting can all be done more efficiently through automation.

IDC predicts the overall market for automating marketing will grow from $3.2 billion in 2010 to $4.8 billion in 2015. Venture funding, mergers, and acquisitions in the space have fueled innovation and advances in technology, opening up significant opportunities for content marketers.

Some of the leading marketing automation players include Act-On, Eloqua, HubSpot, Infusionsoft, Marketo, and Pardot. There are others, but these solutions are a good starting point when evaluating potential partners that can help improve your content marketing ROI.

Automation at work: Creating a tech-savvy, performance-driven content campaign

Let’s say your organization’s primary goal is to infuse your sales pipeline with new leads, and you have a secondary goal of segmenting and prioritizing an existing lead database to identify opportunities.

Like any campaign, you’ll want to start with a well-defined content strategy, where you determine your target audiences, establish goal values, and create compelling content assets and offers. But for the purposes of this post, let’s focus on the more technical benefits of marketing automation.

Keep in mind, not all features/capabilities outlined below are available with every marketing automation solution. This is meant to give you perspective on what’s possible, and the areas where marketing automation can help support and streamline your essential content processes.

Building the foundational pieces for content marketing

1. Establish a scoring system: Use automation tools to define what a quality lead looks like, and how they behave. Then, apply an automated system to score leads as they enter and move through your funnel. 

For B2B marketers, important scoring criteria may include the obvious factors of job title, industry, revenue, employee size, and budget. But, now that you’re using advanced marketing technology, you can expand lead scoring to include actions taken, such as pages viewed, time spent visiting the site, webinars attended, content downloaded, social media interactions, email opens/clicks, and more.

2. Create a landing page: Every gated content asset needs a landing page on which to live. This is where you host the content and capture contact information through lead forms. The lead form fields can sync with your CRM system, automatically populating and updating contact records.

3. Use smart lead forms to gradually build contact profiles: Rather than having contact forms with 10+ fields, use what HubSpot calls progressive profiling to improve conversion rates and gather additional information about your contacts over time. Each form submission is a chance to learn more about your prospects.

4. Consider A/B testing the landing page: Not sure which image or headline to use on your landing page? Run an A/B test to show half the visitors one version, and half another. You can automate this process, and then monitor results to see which version has a higher conversion rate. 

Promoting your content

5. Develop and send tailored emails promoting your content: Email marketing to your existing contact databases is an ideal way to drive action. While your primary goal may be to generate new leads, you can use the same contact assets to capture additional information about your established leads and customers that will help you customize your content.

6. Schedule social media shares across your networks: Some marketing automation systems have social sharing built in, while others may require a third-party solution. Either way, marketing automation can help you schedule a variety of social updates to promote your content.

Gaining intelligence and driving actions

7. Capture contact information: As downloads and registrations occur on the landing pages, automation tools can directly associate responses with contact records that exist in your CRM system.

8. Segment and prioritize contacts in lists: These tools will help you define rules to automatically build lists based on pre-defined criteria. For example, you may have a “hot leads” list that includes contacts who meet a lead-scoring threshold, a “new leads” list for anyone who’s completed a form for the first time, and a “power user” list for anyone who’s filled out a form and visited more than 10 pages on the site.

9. Activate email workflows: Once you’ve moved contacts into lists, you can initiate automated email marketing. As with social media features, some marketing automation platforms include email-marketing capabilities, while others will require third-party integration.

Automated email workflows are a highly efficient and measurable way to deliver value to contacts, and nurture them through the marketing funnel. Be sure to include additional resources in your emails that relate to the content your contacts have downloaded. For example, if they download an eBook, configure your marketing automation system to follow up by sending them links to blog posts, webinars, and case studies on the same topic.

10. Create additional triggers to monitor engagement: Using automated email workflows, you can continue to monitor contact interactions — which can indicate whether or not they are progressing through the customer journey. These indications may include clicking on links, returning to your website, or downloading other content assets you have available. All of these actions should be evaluated when defining your lead-scoring system.

11. Consider using contextual content on your website: Think about the Amazon.com experience, in which the site recommends content and products based on your past interactions. Some marketing automation solutions are bringing this technology to corporate websites.

By connecting your contact database to your site, these advanced systems can recognize individual visitors and dynamically alter the content and calls to action based on their history on the site. The goal is to personalize the consumer experience, and drive increased engagement and conversion rates.

12. Support your sales team: Marketing automation tools help you set up automated workflows for your internal teams, so you can provide them with resources and recommendations to integrate content into their sales process. You can also set up automated alerts based on the behavior of leads.

For example, when a contact meets the sales-qualified-lead status defined in your lead-scoring system, you can set the system up to trigger an email to be sent to a specific sales rep. Or, you may set up alerts to notify your sales reps when specific contacts return to the website. 

13. Nurture beyond the conversion: Don’t stop at the sale. Think about the full marketing funnel, and what value your content can bring to existing customers as well. With the proper configurations of your system, you can apply the same methodologies of profiling, segmenting, and nurturing to your existing customers that you apply to your prospective customers.

14. Monitor campaign performance: Use your automation tool to set up automated reports to stay informed on how your content campaigns are performing.

15. Connect actions to outcomes: Use marketing automation technology to demonstrate the value of content. Connect content campaigns to marketing metrics that matter, and show how the campaigns directly contribute to achieving business goals.

Marketing automation gives organizations the ability to maximize the content marketing ROI of your campaigns. In order to reach your full performance potential, take actions to:

  • Build a strong foundation with lead scoring, landing pages, lead forms, and A/B testing.
  • Promote content through emails and social sharing.
  • Turn intelligence into action, and action into results, with lists, workflows, monitoring, contextual content, sales team integration, customer programs, and performance reports.

How is your organization using marketing automation to drive business results?

Learn which tactics your peers are turning to for more effective content marketing creation and delivery. Read our eBook, Building the Perfect Content Marketing Mix: Execution Tactics.

Cover image via Bigstock

Author: Paul Roetzer

Paul Roetzer (@paulroetzer) is founder and CEO of PR 20/20, a Cleveland-based inbound marketing agency; author of The Marketing Performance Blueprint (Wiley, 2014) and The Marketing Agency Blueprint (Wiley, 2012); and creator of Marketing Score, a free marketing assessment app. Roetzer frequently speaks on the topics of agency management, content marketing, inbound marketing, marketing measurement and performance, public relations, social media, and strategy.

Other posts by Paul Roetzer

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  • steinm10

    Awesome article! Thanks for sharing

    • http://www.pr2020.com Paul Roetzer

      Thanks!

  • http://www.toddejones.net/ tejones

    We are so quick to use automation that I think we fail to realize there are some very important parts of the equation that are better spent with a personal interaction. I use Buffer because I love what it does for me. Unfortunately, I think many people will auto tweet/post/share and fail to engage the audience. We have to be careful not automate the whole process.

    People will always look for the easy way. We have to remember that online is a place of social interaction. Nevertheless, it is interesting to see where the automation tools will take us. I am looking forward to see how people create a better process for us.

    • http://www.pr2020.com Paul Roetzer

      Excellent points! Automation is only one element of process. We definitely can’t lose sight of the human element. The key is to eliminate waste and improve efficiencies where we can, but continue to focus on taking a personal approach to the overall customer experience.

  • Valerie Heeney

    Great foundation steps! Here’s an infographic that can help give the visual of how not having the foundation in place can effect the outcome: http://www.leadliaison.com/best-practices/the-consequences-of-poor-lead-management/

  • Heidi Lorenzen

    “Great article, and round-up of tips, Paul! Having held numerous global marketing roles (many years based in Asia and Europe), I would add #16 — leverage the full power of your marketing automation platform to take your marketing content to all markets that will bring growth for your organization. It’s critical that all content, the emails, the landing pages, and the call-to-action content itself be in local language. The way to do this without slowing down your team is to integrate a localization automation platform with your marketing automation.”

    • http://www.pr2020.com Paul Roetzer

      Great addition, Heidi! Thanks for providing the global markets angle.

  • Perfect Print Shirts

    Thanks great post

  • Vijayalakshmi J Hiremath

    A very insightful article, Paul!