To accomplish this, an automation strategy needs to be your top priority. According to Ascend2 research, 64% of marketers regard an automation strategy as their top priority, followed by improving the prospects experience and delivering personalized content. Magically, they all tie together!
What steps should mortgage and real estate industry marketers take to build a solid marketing 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. Better alignment also leads to better collaboration overall.
Here are some ideas to help you get more from both your sales and marketing teams with better alignment:
- Share your goals with each other: Both teams should share their goals so that everyone has a solid understanding of how what they do contributes to the bigger picture. Typically, both teams are focused only on their goals. For example, Marketing is focused on the bigger picture of doubling revenue, while salespeople or MLO’s are focused on closing an individual account or mortgage loan.
- Collaborate together: It’s important that both the sales and marketing teams come together to share their perspectives on what the market needs and how your solutions will meet those needs. This collaboration should be done in the same physical or digital space.
- Centralize your communications: Poor communication limits transparency, creates friction between teams and leads to unwanted office gossip due to a lack of transparency. Embrace a central communications tool, like Slack or something similar. Also, determine what needs to be communicated and when so that all parties and key stakeholders are kept in the loop on important, actionable events and information that can help both teams.
2) Segment your list data by your target personas. This act will be 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 provide them with the right content as they investigate their needs and interact with your company while moving down their individual buyer pathways.
Showing this understanding of your target audience(s) through great content allows you to build a relationship with them. As a result, they will be more likely to engage with you and convert.
Some segmentation categories you can use depending on whether you’re a lender, real estate agent, or a B2B company could include job role, challenges faced, industry sector (TPO’s, retail lenders, warehouse line providers, portfolio lenders, etc.), geography, age group, investors, veterans, and many others.
3) Think through and develop the buyer journey. The great thing about marketing automation is that it allows you to thoughtfully move your prospects toward 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.
These steps can happen very quickly or over the course of days or weeks.
For example, in the case of a refinance prospect, they may see an online ad that grabs their interest. Then they search and come across an article that provides reinforcing information, and finally they see testimonials on your website that drives them to take the next step and provide their contact information if your site has a great UX. This could all happen in an hour or less. In other cases, like the purchase of a new POS or CRM, the process could take weeks to thoroughly investigate and make the decision.
Think through each stage of the journey and put yourself in the shoes of your prospect. What would trigger content look like? What are the different formats you should use (email, ad, etc.)? What would the prospect need to do to trigger subsequent content pathways (email, mailer, text, voice, targeted posts, etc.)? 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 they could be nearing a decision. As a marketer, you need to think through these phases and determine what triggers what to happen, what content they will receive, and what will happen next 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 to 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.
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 or articles/posts that take a deeper dive. 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. Of particular value would also be ratings and reviews found on social media platforms and Google.
When you create an overlay of the buyer journey on your buyer personas, you will quickly understand all the content that ideally needs to be developed for each persona to meet their needs from initial contact to onboarding.
Going through this exercise, it will also help you 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 way 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 shared, 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 three areas before you launch your strategy so that you have a baseline from which 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.