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6 Steps to a Robust Marketing Automation Strategy

Having a great marketing automation platform is only half the battle for mortgage industry marketers. The balance is your ability to leverage its full capabilities so that you can realize the intended benefits: efficiently scaling your marketing to provide a better, more personalized experience and achieve higher marketing ROI.
To accomplish this, an automation strategy needs to be your top priority. In fact, According to Ascend2 research, 64% of marketers regard an automation strategy astheir top priority, followed by improving the prospects experience and delivering personalized content.

How can mortgage industry marketers build a marketing automation strategy?

Following are 6 integral steps mortgage lenders, originators and other mortgage industry product or service providers should take to build a successful automation strategy.

1) Get marketing and sales aligned. According to a study by Marketo, sales and marketing alignment extracts 208% more value from marketing. Better alignment means a better experience for your prospects and therefore more positive interactions with your company as they move down the decision pathway.

The direct benefits of marketing and sales alignment include:

    • In developing personas, both sales and marketing have information the other would find valuable.
    • You both need to agree on the definitions of a marketing qualified lead and a sales qualified lead.
    • Sales can help marketing identify content gaps that need to be filled. According to a report by the CMO Council, an average salesperson will spend 40% of their time either looking for content created by marketing or creating their own because they can’t find content that fits their needs.

2) Segment your list data by your target personas. This necessary act is the backbone of your marketing automation strategy.

You must understand the needs, pain points and interests of the individuals you are targeting so that you can make better content recommendations to them as they investigate, interact with your company and move down their individual buyer pathways.

Showing this understanding allows you to build a relationship with them because they are more likely to engage with you and then finally convert.

Some segmentation categories include job role/title, challenges faced, industry sector (example: TPO, retail lending, warehouse, portfolio lender, etc.), geography, age group, real estate investors, veterans and many others depending on your offering and your ideal prospect criteria.

3) Think through and develop the buyer journey. The great thing about marketing automation is that it allows you to thoughtfully move your prospects ever closer to making a final decision to work with you.

The journey includes 1) a trigger event like an email, direct mailer, word of mouth recommendation, online ad or another touchpoint; 2) a review phase where you deliver valuable content through videos, podcasts, infographics, articles, blog posts, emails and more to keep their interest, and 3) the purchase decision, aided by content like white papers, awards, testimonials and case studies that will then lead to an engagement with your company.

Think through each stage of the journey and put yourself in the shoes of your prospect. What would be the contents of the trigger? What are the different formats you should use (email, ad, etc.)? What would the prospect need to do to trigger subsequent email pathways? How many different paths can they take and what is the content involved in each?

Also, consider that the prospect could discover you at any point throughout their investigative journey. They could be just beginning or nearing a decision. As a marketer, you need to think through these phases and determine what triggers what to happen and what content they will receive and what will happen based upon how they interact with that content.

A key consideration as you think through this should be how leads will be scored based upon the actions they take. By assigning scores based on various behaviors, you will know at what point they become marketing qualified and sales qualified leads.

Be sure to assign point values to…

    • Website visits,
    • Various social media interactions, including likes, shares and comments,
    • White paper downloads,
    • E-book downloads,
    • Newsletter sign-ups,
    • Email opens, click-throughs and other actions of value.

Also, assign point values according to how well the lead fits your criteria as a decision-maker or influencer.

As you can see, each marketing activity should move a prospect one step closer to conversion. Accordingly, thorough planning is necessary to make your strategy effective.

4) Map your content by both persona and stage of their journey. This ensures that the right content is served to the right people at the right time.

To be clear, you need to develop content that not only speaks to a specific persona, but also speaks to where that persona exists in the journey. For example, are they in the “review” phase? Then you need to provide them with case studies, white papers, infographics, video content. Are they coming upon a purchase decision? Then you need to provide evidence that you are truly the best fit for them, including testimonials, awards won, deliverables and more that can be shared with them in a variety of content formats.

When you create an overlay of the buyer journey on your buyer personas, you will quickly understand all of the content that ideally needs to be developed for each persona to meet their needs from initial contact to onboarding.

By going through this exercise, it will also help you quickly discover what content could be missing so you can fill those gaps. This is where marketing and sales department alignment is so important.

5) Set goals and decide how you will measure your progress against those goals. Your goals should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound (SMART).

For example, a SMART goal would be “I want to increase my conversions 25% by the end of Q3.”

However, when you’re just starting out, you may need to estimate but having an estimate is better than having nothing at all. Then, once the campaign is running you can collect data and adjust your goal to be more realistic.

This data collection will also start to fuel optimization of your strategy.

According to a study by Ascend2, mapping the customer experience by identifying every touchpoint with your brand and delivering personalized, dynamic content is the most effective ways to optimize marketing automation.

6) Identify how your marketing automation strategy success will be measured. Will it be measured by contact engagement, new business, ROI or all three?

All of these have a role in measuring how successful your overall marketing automation initiative is. However, the quality of the data you’re viewing is a key component. There are many things that can alter data quality, like:

    • Personas not accurately segmented
    • Poor persona development which leads to imprecise messaging
    • Wrong messaging pathways triggered, leading to poor content suggestions which result in fallout
    • Low quality or missing content

Once you are sure that these do not present stumbling blocks for your team, you can feel confident that the data you are gathering and analyzing has meaning and therefore allows you to make good, well-informed decisions to continually optimize what you’re doing.

As I mentioned, there are three levels of metrics. Let’s look at each.

Engagement: Automation of your marketing at scale should help you save time and focus more on developing great content that resonates and drives engagement. Therefore, you should see more traffic driven to your website, more email opens and content consumption.

Look at where you stand in these areas before you launch your strategy so that you can continually monitor the numbers and trends.

As you experience success, you will be able to develop more precise ROI and new revenue projections.

Performance: If your target audience is engaging with you by consuming your content, the more content and the type of content they engage with will impact the lead score. Once that score reaches a threshold pre-determined by the sales and marketing teams, the lead will move from being marketing -qualified to sales-qualified and then become new business.

ROI: If your automation strategy is really working, you will experience a higher return on your marketing investment. Keep an eye on your customer acquisition costs and your conversion rate and set goals around both.

Now is the time to make sure you have a great, robust marketing automation strategy in place. There are too many organizational and monetary benefits to be had to ignore this important trend. Increased engagement with your audience, personalized campaigns that resonate with your target audience, collaboration between sales and marketing along with better tracking are all huge benefits. If you would like help getting started or need someone to lead this charge, contact us for a free consultation.        
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