Automation vs ‘Finger on the Pulse’ Marketing
There is a big movement within marketing towards automation. It originated from the desire to standardise the sales and marketing funnel and make it more efficient by ‘cookie-cuttering’ the process with technology. And it’s genuinely a good and useful tool in the marketing tool-kit of many organisations.
Automation means that you can design a sales funnel that takes contacts from cold to warm to leads to opportunities (and ideally, to converted sales) with less hands-on time from sales people. That makes it cheaper and more scalable – fabulous for mass-market products and services, or even early stage lead nurturing for consulting and other, more relationship-based sales processes.
A well-designed automated lead nurturing process will take into account what a customer is interested in (what they click on) along with other data-points like how long they spend on a page, and where they go after that page, to determine what content to present to them next.
However, a process like this doesn’t just ‘happen’, and badly designed processes can do more harm than good. A company that continues to send material to a contact that is irrelevant, or annoying risks alienating that client for life.
Even with a beautifully designed and executed program, there is a danger with this ‘set and forget’ approach. And that is this: when you set and forget, you genuinely do often forget. You forget what customers are receiving and when; you forget to update materials with new information or features; you forget to update contact details or web-links. But these are not the worst aspects to forget: most importantly, you can forget that customers change. What was right for a customer in winter may not resonate in spring; what was right when the economy was booming won’t engage a customer struggling in a recession.
Non-technology-based lead nurturing (remember those days? When you answered a phone call or an email and selected information from your brain to help solve a customer’s problem?) has drawbacks. It is time consuming and not easily scalable. Good sales people are not cookie-cutterable, and they’re (relatively) expensive. However, this approach has a significant benefit: you keep your finger on the pulse. You’re talking to customers and potential customers every day. You know what resonates, and what problems they’re having.
So what is the answer? Which direction should you choose? Well, obviously this isn’t an either/or situation. The best choice for your business will always be unique to your industry, product and situation. However, be aware of the various pit-falls of each approach, and ensure that you implement strategies to mitigate the issues while maintaining the benefits each brings!
If you’d like help designing a lead nurturing approach for your business, contact us!
Founder and Growth Catalyst