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A Reliable Professional Services Marketing Automation Strategy

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Posted by John Beveridge on Mar 4, 2015 8:00:00 PM

AreliableprofessionalservicesmarketingautomationstrategyMany professional services firms are great at what they do, but struggle to produce enough leads to grow their business. What would you say if I told you that there's a way to generate new opportunities for your firm without cold-calling or mass email blasts? The answer is marketing automation.

A well-designed marketing automation process can do all of the things a human managing a sales process should do. It can qualify leads. It can respond to the leads appropriately based on context. It can nurture the leads and determine when it's appropriate to make a sales outreach.

Here's a reliable marketing automation process that is tailor-made for professional services firm.

What do I need to do marketing automation?

Before you start implementing your strategy, there are a few prerequisites that you need for your marketing automation strategy.

  1. A content marketing program that generates leads. Blogging to drive traffic to your website and premium content offers to generate leads fills your sales pipeline. Marketing automation comes into play once you've generated the lead.

  2. Marketing automation software that integrates with your sales technology. There are several marketing automation software platforms available, but we recommend HubSpot. The HubSpot platform includes both inbound marketing software (including marketing automation) and a tightly integrated CRM. Professional services firms typically have a relatively small number of leads and high deal values with long sales cycles. We don't need a CRM platform like Salesforce that helps high-volume sales teams manage large numbers of leads effectively. In any case, this strategy is software-agnostic, you just need marketing automation software.

Now that you have the prerequisites for your marketing automation strategy, let's look at how to implement it.


Start with segmentation

We've written frequently on this blog about how important it is to focus your marketing on niches that you are uniquely situated to serve. Segmentation is the foundation of marketing automation.

Here are some of the ways that professional services firms segment leads:

  • industry

  • company size

  • geography

  • function within company

  • seniority

  • the nature of their interest in the problem you solve

Let me give a quick example to show the value of segmentation. Let's say that you own a company that provides outsourced accounting services. Would you communicate the same way with someone in the accounting department as you would with a business owner? Probably not. 

Your first step in implementing your strategy is to identify the segments that are important to your business. Equally important is to identify the segments that aren't important to your business. For our accounting firm, if an accounting student from a local university downloads their eBook, she's not a potential buyer (she may be a potential hire at some point.) 

Marketing automation can segment your leads and personalize the communications they receive. 

How to segment your leads

In order for someone to access your premium content offer, they need to complete a form on your landing page. You will ask them for their name, email address and the name of their company.

To segment your leads, ask another question or two that gives you context into how the lead fits into the segmentation criteria you've identified as important.

One of my customers is a data analytics consultant. On their landing page form, they ask the question, "What is your interest in data analytics?" They then make it easy for the potential lead to answer the question by giving them 4 choices in a drop-down check button format:

  • I'm building a data science team at my company

  • I want to use it to gain insights and address challenges

  • I'm trying to learn what it's all about and if it's a fit for my needs

  • I have a personal or academic interest

By using marketing automation software to sort leads by their response to this question, this firm:

  • Uses marketing automation to qualify leads (if someone has a personal or academic interest, they're probably not qualified to buy)

  • Uses marketing automation to provide highly relevant content to each lead based on their self-identified interests

Remember, don't get too granular with your questions - make it easy for your leads to answer them. Limit the number of options you give them and use drop-down radio buttons to make answering the question easy. If you make it too difficult, potential buyers won't complete the form. 

Use segmentation to improve your email marketing

Many professional services firms have monthly email newsletters. Regardless of whether you're a CEO or a grad student, you're getting the same content. 

Marketing automation can help you customize content for each of your target segments. Imagine if that email you just sent to the CEO only included information that was relevant to her. Your marketing will be much more effective.

We recommend that our clients have one "default" email that is targeted at a general population. Then you can identify 2-4 segments in your target audience and create content designed specifically for them. Your marketing automation software will identify who will get which email.

Rather than trying to hit all of your targets with a generic email, specifically targeted emails will get higher open and click rates, not to mention that they will resonate with the reader.

 Use marketing automation to add context to lead nurturing

Companies that automate lead management see a 10% or greater increase in revenue in 6-9 months. (Gartner Research) 

There's a reason for this - although many people who come to your website are qualified buyers, most aren't ready to buy at the time. Lead nurturing helps qualified buyers progress through their buying process by providing them with the right content at the right time.

Marketing automation makes your lead nurturing more effective by adding context to the process. HubSpot's workflows module uses if/then branching to add this context.

Here's an example of how this works in HubSpot.

  1. When someone completes a form on a landing page, a lead nurturing email flow is triggered.

  2. If/then branching determines which email flow will be triggered. For example, if a lead identifies as a business owner, then the business owner flow is initiated.

  3. The if/then logic can flow through the process. For example, if the lead opens the first email, then the process flows in a pre-determined direction. If the lead doesn't open the email, then the process flows in another direction.

By putting some thought into the process on the front end, you can create very effective lead nurturing campaigns.

Generating high-quality sales leads is not easy. That's why it's so important to manage your leads effectively using marketing automation. By using marketing automation to segment your leads and to appy the appropriate context to your sales and marketing process, you will maximize the revenue you generate.


Topics: Professional Services

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