Closing: You’ve become a lead magnet, what comes next? Now, you need to seal the deal by triggering marketing messages that inspire users to take action. At this point of your marketing strategy, you need to transform leads into customers (and existing customers into repeat buyers). You should use techniques like lead scoring, lead nurturing, mapping the buying process, and classic sales tactics.
Getting this timing right prevents losing prospects by bombarding them with too much information or giving them the hard sell too early. This is why moving prospects through the funnel is often called “nurturing.” Seventy-eight percent of business buyers seek salespeople who act as trusted advisors with knowledge of their needs and industry. Prospects should ideally only receive the information and sales help they need when they need it.
Understanding that a large database of leads is required for marketing automation to have any effect on their bottom line, many marketers end up buying lists of contacts to nurture with marketing automation. This spammy tactic produces incredibly low ROI. Along with the cost of buying these lists, sending unsolicited emails to people who have never requested any information from you leads to low engagement and hurts your IP address reputation, lowering your email deliverability rates.
But I'm not talking about any kind of link building. I'm talking about organic link building by getting out there and creating insatiable "anchor content" on your website, then linking to that content with equally-great content that's created on authority sites like Medium, Quora, LinkedIn and other publishing platforms. It's not easy by any measure. Google is far more wary of newcomers these days than it once used to be.
When traffic is coming to your website or blog, nearly unfettered, it gives you the opportunity to test out a variety of marketing initiatives. However, without that traffic, you're forced to spend money on costly ads before really determining the effectiveness of your offers and uncovering your cost-per acquisition (CPA), two things which are at the core of scaling out any business online.
In 2008 the state of New York passed a law asserting sales tax jurisdiction over Amazon.com sales to New York residents. New York was aware of Amazon affiliates operating within the state. In Quill Corp. v. North Dakota, the US Supreme Court ruled that the presence of independent sales representatives may allow a state to require sales tax collections. New York determined that affiliates are such independent sales representatives. The New York law became known as "Amazon's law" and was quickly emulated by other states. While that was the first time states successfully addressed the internet tax gap, since 2018 states have been free to assert sales tax jurisdiction over sales to their residents regardless of the presence of retailer affiliates.
Alyssa Rimmer is the Director of Marketing at New Breed Marketing, an inbound marketing agency and HubSpot partner. Alyssa is an inbound enthusiast who lives in New York City and enjoys cooking in her free time. You can read more articles by Alyssa and her team over at the New Breed Blog or download New Breed Marketing's ultimate guide to inbound marketing here.
Now, optimally, you’ll want to add more steps to your sales funnel (more on that later), but let’s say this is your bare-bones funnel. To generate leads and collect customer information, you offer a loyalty program, where people earn points for buying pizzas that they can cash in for discounts on future orders. Then, you email them a special coupon, and a percentage of your leads will open that email. A percentage of those opens will actually buy a pizza.
As an inbound marketer, it is one of my goals to generate high-quality leads for my sales team to successfully close into customers. Marketing automation has helped me streamline my own process and gives me greater visibility into what my visitors and leads are actually doing. I can quickly find what content they’re downloading, how they are responding to my emails, and how they are moving through the sales funnel. Each step of the way, I can monitor and measure how the marketing automation system I have in place is performing, and shows me where I might need to make tweaks to get better results.
The biggest problem that most people have when trying to learn anything to do with driving more traffic to their website or boosting their visibility across a variety of online mediums, is that they try to do the least amount of work for the greatest return. They cut corners and they take shortcuts. Because of that, they fail. Today, if you're serious about marketing anything on the web, you have to gain Google's trust.
In the past, large affiliates were the mainstay, as catch-all coupon and media sites gave traffic to hundreds or thousands of advertisers. This is not so much the case anymore. With consumers using long-tail keywords and searching for very specific products and services, influencers can leverage their hyper-focused niche for affiliate marketing success. Influencers may not send advertisers huge amounts of traffic, but the audience they do send is credible, targeted, and has higher conversion rates.
Beyond terms and process, one of the best ways brands can align both sales and marketing is through shared programs such as account-based marketing (ABM) and lead nurturing. In 2018, Salesforce Research found high-performing marketing organizations to be 1.5x more likely to use ABM methods, and 1.9x more likely to use lead nurturing than underperforming marketing organizations. They are “shared programs” since both marketing and sales should work together to create them. Marketing handles the technology and setup while sales pick the targets and help create the content. Sharing in the creation of the programs allows sales to feel ownership of the programs, increasing their use and overall effectiveness.
These are just some of the amazing features you'll find when using marketing automation software. As a result, it's important for you to determine your most needed features before making a purchase decision. None of the tools we tested are bad. In fact, each of them will provide you with more power than your standard email marketing platform will. However, some are better than others, some are more expensive, and some do a better job letting you customize your workflows to suit your specific needs.
The better you learn and understand SEO and the more strides you take to learn this seemingly confusing and complex discipline, the more likely you'll be to appear organically in search results. And let's face it, organic search is important to marketing online. Considering that most people don't have massive advertising budgets and don't know the first thing about lead magnets, squeeze pages and sales funnels, appearing visible is critical towards long-term success.
Because often, there’s no top-of-the-funnel foundation put in place to support middle-of-the-funnel marketing automation. Marketers won’t have the ingredients they need for effective marketing automation until they have a steady flow of leads. Too many marketers without inbound lead generation strategies spend their time figuring out how to take the tiny fraction of the market they already have in their database, and squeeze more out of them. While they’re doing that, their competition is figuring out how to get more out of the 99.99% of the market that’s still out there.
Marketing Automation platforms allow marketers to automate and simplify client communication by managing complex omni-channel marketing strategies from a single tool. Marketing Automation assists greatly in areas like Lead Generation, Segmentation, Lead nurturing and lead scoring, Relationship marketing, Cross-sell and upsell, Retention, Marketing ROI measurement.
If you’re publishing good content, generating a steady flow of new, organic leads, and you’re ready to scale your efforts, chances are it’s time to focus your efforts on a marketing automation strategy that will nurture those quality leads into paying customers. Here are some good questions to ask yourself when deciding if marketing automation is the right move for your business:
Make sure you consider intent when writing posts. In other words, write posts for people who intend to buy whatever you’re selling. If you’re a hair salon, you might get a ton of social shares if you write about DIY hair color on your blog, but if they’re interested in DIY color, they probably aren’t interested in coming into your salon and paying for service.
Use variety. Mix and match affiliate ads so you don't overwhelm your visitors (content-embedded affiliate links usually have the best click-through rates over image links.) Consider using a lead page and funnel system to market your affiliate business. Lure prospects to your email list with a free offer and include links to your affiliate product pages.
Content Marketing: Writing articles or blog posts related to your business and submitting them to be published on other websites is another great way to reach your target market for free. Although mass distribution of a single article across the web doesn't have the same SEO benefits it once had, submitting exclusive articles to a specific site can still reap many rewards including SEO, boosting your credibility, and reaching a market that might not otherwise know about you. Because writing can be time-consuming, you may want to consider how you can repurpose what you write into other forms of content or with new angles for other audiences.
Individual sellers and companies offering products or services have to deal with their consumers and ensure they are satisfied with what they have purchased. Thanks to the affiliate marketing structure, you’ll never have to be concerned with customer support or customer satisfaction. The entire job of the affiliate marketer is to link the seller with the consumer. The seller deals with any consumer complaints after you receive your commission from the sale.