Content Marketing Blog

Creating useful collateral for marketing automation

Marketing automation can be a powerful tool for ramping up your digital marketing activity and turning more website visitors into sales-ready leads. But like any marketing tactic there are right and wrong ways to do it. If you get your strategy wrong, marketing automation will be a huge waste of time and effort.

According to HubSpot, a leading marketing automation provider, a lot of brands fail to get a return from their investment in marketing automation. So why is that? One of the most common reasons is failing to feed the software with enough relevant, high quality content.

Marketing automation is like an expensive sports car. It looks nice sitting in the garage, but doesn’t do much else unless you put the right fuel in it and know what you’re doing when you get behind the wheel. That’s when you see the real value and find the money you spent was on it was worthwhile.

In this post we’re going to focus on collateral for marketing automation. We’ve got 4 essential content assets you need to power-up your marketing automation and help you get real value from it.

1. Top-of-funnel blog and social media content

Starting at the top of the sales funnel, marketing automation loves an active blog. If you regularly update your blog with fresh, relevant content, you can build your site’s search presence and feed your email and social media campaigns.

Let’s start with the blog itself. A mistake a lot of brands make with their blog is to focus solely on themselves or their own products. This limits both the amount of content they can produce and the potential audience for that content. Not everyone cares about your latest product update or who the new payroll manager is.

A blog is much more powerful higher up the sales funnel. Blogging about the topics your audience cares about or wants to understand better can raise awareness of your brand and start to build relationships long before any deals are done.

Feeding the top of your funnel is crucial for getting a return on your marketing automation spend. It’s clever software, but it can’t do a lot until people are hitting your website or receiving your emails. A blog with lots of well-targeted, top-of-funnel content can tick that first box and get more people on to your site.

Social media can play a role here too. As well as search, promoted content on social media is a good way to reach out to and attract new users. If you have good collateral on your blog, you can re-use it by pushing it out on your favourite social media channels and paying to get it in front of the right people.

Your social media strategy can also help you start to qualify and segment your audience. A Like on Facebook or a follow on LinkedIn isn’t game changing, but you can use it to run targeted ads and promote more personalised content from your blog. Your social media followers are also more likely to sign-up to email alerts or download a gated asset, which is really when marketing automation punches its weight.   

Takeaways

  • Focus on top-of-funnel topics for your blog
  • Use your blog posts to populate your chosen social media sites
  • Promote your social media posts with ad spend so the right people see them
  • Re-target your social media followers with softer conversion goals, such as email or gated downloads

2. Mid-funnel gated downloads

So gated assets. This could be an ebook, whitepaper, case study or product guide. The important things is that it’s professionally-presented, different to what’s freely available on your site, and promoted next to relevant content. It also needs to be gated, which means behind a lead capture form.

Gated assets are really when marketing automation can make a difference to your bottom line and get you closer to generating those sales-ready leads you’re craving. First up, your marketing automation platform makes the whole process of hosting your asset, putting it behind a form and promoting it around your site with calls-to-action (CTAs) and pop-ups much, much easier.

One of the big benefits of marketing automation, when combined with lots of juicy content, is that it puts the power in the hands of marketers. Rather than waiting for your dev team to get to your ticket for a new page or feature, you should be able to use your marketing automation software to take a nifty shortcut.

Once your gated asset is up and being promoted around your site it will start capturing lead information from people who download it. Marketing automation software identifies users with a combination of a cookie dropped on their browser and their email address. So, a compelling reason to give you their email is gold dust for your marketing automation strategy.

As you start to gather email addresses you can then use your marketing automation software to track the behaviour of users around your site. Which pages do they spend time on? What types of content do they engage with? As you build a profile you can tailor your emails and other content to better suit the needs of your audience, both in terms of what they want from you and where they are in your sales funnel. Your gated asset made all that possible.

Takeaways

  • Gated assets are usually whitepapers, ebooks, case studies or product guides
  • Users will expect them to look great and offer something beyond your ungated content
  • You need to promote them around your site with CTAs and pop-ups, especially on pages with relevant content (blogs on the same subject, for example)
  • Gated assets should also be promoted to partially-qualified users, such as regular website visitors or social media followers
  • Compelling, properly-promoted gated assets can be a really effective tool for capturing email addresses, which are crucial for feeding your marketing automation software

3. Compelling landing pages for bottom-of-funnel conversions

Social media followers and ebook downloads are great but what your sales team wants is leads. People they can get on the phone or go out and see to do deals. With the right collateral, marketing automation can be effective at every stage of the sales cycle, including decision time.

The key virtual real estate you need here – at the bottom of the funnel – is a really compelling landing page for the action you want your audience to take. Let’s say your primary goal is making an appointment for a demo. The landing page supporting that goal needs a simple form that’s visible above the fold on the page. It needs your unique selling points (USPs) in an accessible format. It needs copy, graphics and ideally video to provide more in-depth information for users who need more convincing. And it needs social proof, such as testimonials from happy customers.

The landing pages that support your primary goal can undo all your good work if they fail to hit the mark. Your marketing automation software can help you provide a more tailored, personalised experience for users. That needs to continue right through to them signing up for a sales demo. With this in mind, you should consider AB testing different landing pages. And if you’re running email or social media ads, create dedicated landing pages just for those campaigns, even if the primary goal is the same.

Takeaways

  • Landing pages are essential for closing the deal with users at the end of the sales cycle
  • They need to be simple and focussed on the action you want users to take
  • They should highlight the key information in an accessible format and support it with more in-depth content for users who need more convincing
  • Social proof, such as testimonials, customer ratings or awards, will help improve conversion rates
  • AB testing can help you perfect landing page design and messaging
  • Creating new landing pages for specific campaigns provides a more consistent, personalised experience for users

4. Drip email templates for hands-off lead nurture

Last on our list is one of the coolest features your marketing automation platform has to offer. When a lot of people think about marketing automation, a drip email campaign is what immediately springs to mind. This is exactly the sort of hands-off, time-saving, force multiplier you want when you invest in a marketing automation platform.

But just like everything else marketing automation can do, it needs content. Specifically it needs email templates so you can build drip campaigns for different scenarios. Let’s take a simple one. Your sales team runs a lot of demos, but your product requires some thinking time and the sales cycle is quite long. You can leave it to your sales team to do their own nurturing, or you can help.

If you put together a series of templated emails, you can build a drip campaign. You can set rules for who stays in and who drops out on each send. And you can alert your sales team when recipients interact with the content.

The benefits for your sales team is that they can concentrate on the more engaged prospects in their pipe. This can have a significant impact on teams that run big sales pipes, because however conscientious a salesperson might be, there comes a point when they can’t keep up.

Furthermore, any salesperson will tell you that timing is crucial. If they can reach out when one of their prospects is reading a further info email or back on the site downloading an ebook they have a much better chance of moving things along.

Takeaways

  • Creating a series of emails that your marketing automation platform can send to prospects will ensure prospects get regular attention and help your sales team reach out when the time is right
  • Drip emails should be succinct and push recipients to a single action (reply to this email, read this blog, download this ebook, for example)
  • Use banners, inline images and videos to grab the attention of users
  • Strike a balance between sending too many emails (recipients will get annoyed and unsubscribe) and not enough (recipients forget about you between emails and unsubscribe when they get the next one)
  • Set rules for alerting your sales team when recipients take useful actions (open emails, click on links, spend time on particular website pages, for example)
  • Make it easy for your sales team to opt prospects into your drip emails or do it automatically based on information in your CRM

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Adam Barber
Adam Barber About the author

Adam is one of Castleford's founders and remains actively involved in the day-to-day running of the business. He started out as a writer and still contributes regularly to our blog, covering SEO, CRO, social media and digital strategy.

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