I have seen many marketing plans and even more marketing campaigns with varying CRM tools. The one constant I have seen is the lack of an automated process. Marketers spend hours discussing the minuscule details of every campaign and at times lose track of the overall goal. The concepts of marketing have changed significantly over the years. The goal used to be about contacting more customers. Today, the goal is more often about nurturing prospects.

Not all companies are like Amazon, where most customers visit with the sole intention of making a purchase. According to HubSpot, about 50% of qualified leads who visit your website are not ready to purchase immediately and require nurturing. Typically, customers don’t make buying decisions right after visiting your website for the first time. This is my personal shopping experience, and probably yours too. I visit a site and place items in the shopping cart for later – especially if I am aware of their sales cycle. I know I should be getting a coupon soon and the sale cycle is at least once per month. I place items “on hold” to await the coupons.

In another example, I am a member of DSW premier club for shoe lovers. As a shoe lover, I receive both direct mail and emails from DSW as it relates to local store opening/offerings, season, sale, new product/designer. As a shoe lover I also receive membership status email. This is where I know how many points I received from my last transaction and how many reward checks I should expect in the mail. Since there is no rules on combining the checks and since they expire more than six months after they are issued, I save them and apply them to a shoe I would really love to have.

When thousands or tens of thousands of consumers are behaving that way, marketing automation is needed to manage the nurturing process.

In its simplest form, marketing automation refers to an application that automates your marketing for you. Automation does not mean robotic. Automation means saving time and actually pleasing a new customer because they are getting attention right away. The technology is designed to help you prioritize and execute your marketing tasks in a more streamlined and efficient way. Not only does it help improve your overall business processes, marketing automation allows you to establish strategic customer contact scenarios that increase your impact and enrich your relationships with customers.

In the second part of this blog post, I will talk about mistakes marketers make and ways to improve nurturing.

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