Marketing Automation, Part 1: Get Your Marketing People and Processes in Place

by Kacey Larsen

Marketers can use technology to drive leads and improve sales, especially with marketing automation systems. These systems expand the customer channels you can reach and automate some tasks to communicate to those customers. 

Companies that use marketing automation see 53 percent higher conversion rates than nonusers. And 78 percent of successful marketers state that automation tools are most responsible for improving revenue. But while technology can help you acquire and nurture leads, people ultimately buy from people, not software.  

In some ways, marketing hasn’t changed. Marketing is about communicating your real value to people — not websites, not email addresses, etc. Technology can help you acquire and nurture leads, but people ultimately buy from someone they like and trust. If you don’t have the right people process in place when you use technology, that technology will fail you.

Here are some processes you should implement before you use technology in your business: lead response time, method of response, perspective, and interactive communication. 

Are you responding within five minutes? 

One of the most important factors in connecting with potential clients is your lead response time. Don’t waste all that effort you’ve spent getting leads by not responding to them in a timely manner.  

When you receive a lead, how fast do you respond to it? One hour? One day? Two days? According to a research study by, the odds of connecting with a lead are 100 times greater if you can respond within five minutes of receiving it. Five minutes! Do you have the processes in place to respond that quickly? In this case, time truly is money. 

Are you calling them back? 

Next, look at how you respond to leads. Do you respond by phone or email? If you want to optimize efficiency, consider the phone as your first response tool. A phone response is still the most effective way to respond to a lead. 

Are you giving them choices? 

Find out what appeals to your potential customer. While you are communicating a consistent message about your brand, you should also provide choices for your customer. For example, most homeowners already have an idea how they are going to pay for a home improvement project. But they may not know all of their options. Closing the sale may be as simple as educating them on all of the payment options. 

Are you communicating interactively? 

Nothing can replace the positive impact of interactive communication. Automated surveys can help you understand why customers bought or didn’t buy a particular service, but personal communication can enhance the customer experience immeasurably. Consider including a personal thank-you note with an invoice or have the owner call to check on the customer. 

It is also wise to review the processes where people interact with your customers. For example, how did the design team treat your clients? Are your construction workers considerate to the homeowner on the job? If the customer had concerns about something, what was your process to resolve the concern? Make sure to implement checks and balances throughout the operations to ensure that clients are communicating with your team and feeling valued.  

Marketing automation can connect much of what we do, but it’s up to you as a marketer to create connections with people. By prioritizing lead response times, picking up the phone, giving potential clients choices, and creating interactive opportunities for better customer feedback, you are paving the way for a successful marketing automation program.  

John Harris is the executive vice president of sales & marketing for EnerBank USA, a specialized bank providing unsecured home improvement lending through strategic business partners and independent home improvement contractors throughout the U.S.

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