Feb 12

Written by: Laurie Wakefield
Friday, February 12, 2016  RssIcon

Don't you hate it when you answer the phone and hear this friendly voice say,
"Hey, it's Rob calling. How are you?"

It's especially irritating when you answer, "I'm fine", as you wonder, who's Rob?

Then Rob responds with another question and you realize that he is an automated recording, not a real person. I’ve often asked, “are you human?” and I’ve been appalled when the answer was, “well, yes but I’m using a computer to help me”. More than once, I’ve found myself almost arguing with the automated marketer on the other end of the line before I angrily hung up the phone.

I’m dreading the upcoming months because political calls are among the worst offenders. Remember this one? “Hi, it’s Sarah Palin calling.”

Our telephones have become annoying marketing vehicles that bring too many unwelcomed interruptions. My husband and I, like so many are getting ready to drop our landlines and take more call filtering measures.

We certainly aren’t alone in our preferences to access, media and information online so we can be more selective about how and to whom we give our personal and professional attention.

We’re fed up and serious about finding ways to reduce the overload. Email at numerous addresses stacks up and sometimes, important information gets lost. Most of the snail mail that we receive goes directly into the recycle bin.

For a while, texting was a reliable way for insiders to reach one another quickly but even now, retailers and social media sites are asking for and offering incentives for us to share our mobile numbers.

Powerful new technologies, tools and tactics continue to emerge that help marketers reach their target audiences. Many of these tools enable us to collect data and measure response and interest in our content.

Unfortunately, many marketers fall in love with the technology and employ tactics without considering the human beings on the receiving end. Marketers who aren’t using the tools to build, nurture and strengthen relationships with their leads, prospects and customers will soon be filtered out.

Don’t Be a Tease

Among inbound marketing circles, I’ve heard so many marketers talk about the importance of eBooks to drive subscriptions and build lead lists. Driven by the tactics, they develop campaigns around the eBook instead of a strategy that addresses the real interests of their prospects and the relevance of their story. If these marketers develop email, social and web-based campaigns to promote and attract qualified leads to the eBook, the content deliverable must be worth their time attention or they may not come back.

I frequently subscribe and download eBook offers and I’ve been surprised at how many are a poor quality, lack depth and aren’t even in sync with the company and product core messages. Deliverables such as these are just bait. Marketing data may show some initial traffic but prospects may go away with a bad taste in their mouth. The marketer may actually be using marketing automation to promote negative impressions that damage credibility. When technology and tools are used responsibly to support, inform and nurture, more productive and lasting relationships can be forged.


Meaningful Relationships Aren’t Automated and Require Attention

Marketers who make short-term investments to establish inbound marketing platforms and automation but don’t maintain the effort, run the risk of wasting money and confusing their target audiences.

Many companies launch marketing automation programs without a long-term plan and dedicated support. Often, employees with other significant jobs and responsibilities are assigned to manage the platform part-time. Sometimes outside resources and inbound marketing agencies are engaged. Unfortunately, without clear core messaging and strategic direction, very smart and technically qualified resources can implement marketing automation, improve SEO (Search Optimization), attract leads and promote content that may actually confuse, damage credibility and even annoy prospects.


Is Marketing Automation Right for Your Business?

There are many e-mail, social media and marketing automation tools available. Don’t be wooed by the power of technology and purchase too soon. Marketing automation requires ongoing attention and investment to be effective. Marketers who purchase without a communication plan in place may be surprised by costs associated with ongoing content development, tempted to let the technology and tactics drive their communication strategy, become less effective and appear to be disconnected from the people they are trying to reach. Take steps to get core messaging and a strategic communication plans in place before you start paying monthly subscription fees for automation software and services. Marketers who use automation tools and technology wisely are able to focus more attention on relevant content that builds and nurtures relationships with more interested human beings.

When marketers approach technology strategically and remain audience focused, they can prepare messaging and content in advance, prioritize tactics and avoid paying monthly fees on marketing automation and software that they aren’t ready to use. Often when marketing automation platforms are established without a strategic communication plan in place, motivation to use the new technology distracts and tactics drive communication before customer needs and interests are considered.


Before You Purchase Marketing Automation Software

  • Evaluate your objectives and consider the audiences that you need to reach

  • Evaluate and update core company and product messaging

    • If you are launching a new product(s) develop the key communication points and basic supporting elements

  • Develop a Strategic Communication Plan

    • Identify audiences, key messages, a rough content plan, tactical plans and ideal timing and budget

  • Organize your contacts

    • If you currently use a CRM system evaluate it. Some Marketing Automation platforms have their own CRM or integrate with certain systems

    • Organize your contact database. Divide contacts into segmented lists. All of your contacts won't need to receive all of your communication on every subject all of the time. Email and Marketing Automation systems allow you to communicate more efficiently and demonstrate that you care about your interests by sending them the right information. You’ll save money by organizing the information before you begin to pay for the new service.

      • Your number of contacts will effect pricing and may effect your automation selection

  • Update Content on Your Current Website

    • Even if you plan to launch a new website, the content must be accurate and current. Don’t start paying for marketing automation if your positioning and messaging isn’t consistent and audience relevant

    • Remember your audience, don't let web templates and standard tactics drive your communication strategy

  • Identify internal or trusted external resources to help you keep your program running

    • A marketing automation program doesn’t run itself. Measurement, reporting, evaluation, modification and new content development will be ongoing

Once you establish your marketing automation platform, content evaluation and updates will be ongoing as you learn from the data that you will collect. If you aren’t ready to dedicate some time and resources to use all of the tools, you can save some money and focus more of your resources on content development by choosing a platform with fewer features.

If you'd like some help defining and refining core messaging, developing a strategic communications plan, and choosing a marketing automation platform
contact me here

Copyright ©2016 Laurie Wakefield

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Laurie Wakefield, a communications professional with more than 30 years of experience, blogs about Public Relations and Marketing Communications, highlighting programs and techniques that attract and engage, leaving lasting impressions and inspiring action.
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