You know it. We know it. Selling a high-level service is not easy and it certainly doesn’t happen quickly. For many of our clients, the more specialized and valuable the service is, the higher the price and consequently, the longer the sales cycle. This creates some challenges for marketers of high-level services. As frustrating as that long buying cycle can be, there are effective ways to stay top-of-mind with prospects throughout that cycle.
Enter marketing automation.
Automation may seem like a no-brainer for retail brands that email you when you’ve abandoned your shopping cart, but don’t disregard it for marketing your professional service. With a buying cycle that can last as long as two years (!!!), it’s all about playing the long game.
We see email automation as a win-win for many of our clients because it’s a relatively cost effective way to bolster your marketing efforts all while developing valuable relationships and keeping your brand in front of existing clients, referral sources and prospects. The Online Marketing Institute (OMI) has put together a helpful primer on the fundamentals of a successful marketing automation campaign using email automation. We’re always eager to learn more, so we summarized our insights on how automation can work for professional services brands:
Spend a little to get a lot.
Email is an oldie but goodie and thankfully it’s even easier to automate with the help of budget-friendly platforms like MailChimp, Constant Contact or Drip which offer easy-to-use campaign builders and simple scheduling tools. Plus, you can get more sophisticated with personalization and segmentation of your messages to serve up the most relevant content and stay top-of-mind.
If you’re ready to unleash a robust automation program (and have the budget), software like HubSpot or SharpSpring let you get much more in-depth with personalization. Automation workflows, which send specific messages after a user takes a certain action, and detailed insights on user engagement with content, give you the power to show more love to the prospects who demonstrate a serious interest in your brand.
Integrate automation into a larger branding campaign.
A meaningful automation campaign doesn’t have to be complex or expensive. For example, one of our professional services clients is using super-affordable MailChimp to nurture very specific types of leads while some of our larger clients are using HubSpot. To get that list of qualified leads, we started off with an online advertising campaign utilizing Google AdWords and LinkedIn, and created long-form content for download. Here’s where the automation comes into play: using a workflow, we instructed our automation platform to send anyone who downloaded the guide a follow up series of emails — three blog posts on some of the FAQs surrounding the topic — to be delivered in two week intervals. After the email series concluded, we looked at the data to see who viewed those posts to help identify the most serious prospects. From there, those leads move over to the humans who take action on the business development side (LinkedIn invitations, personal email and eventually a meeting request).
Automation is just one piece to the larger, integrated marketing puzzle. But it is a piece, if placed correctly, that can provide you with the insights necessary to turn mailing lists into real sales opportunities.
For more specifics on email marketing, check out OMI’s email marketing primer. If your organization could use some help with automation, let us know. We’re here to help.