4 Things Marketers Should Do Instead of Creating Top 4 Lists

I recently stumbled across a New Yorker article titled “The Hundred Best Lists of All Time.” A list of great lists. The top five were: the DSM IV, the Ten Commandments, Craigslist, the Bill of Rights, and the Periodic Table of the Elements.

Cute, huh?

Marketers love to publish lists, too. Especially marketers who are trying to work with a complex marketing automation tool and know they need to churn out a ton of content to get the most out of the tool. And while some marketers are busy coming up with kitschy lists, others are heads down, working hard on figuring out how to turn their software investment into gold. This list is for those marketers.

So without further ado, here’s a list of four things you can do to kick your marketing automation program into high gear. And, no, making a Top Four list isn’t one of them.

1. Focus more on buyer personas, less on number of leads

As marketers, we bait our hooks with just the right treats to acquire new leads. Once we have them, we nurture them. Your boss (and your boss’s boss) might be totally focused on lead gen and the number of new names you’ve baited and caught each month. Heck, you might be too. But you need to keep your eyes on the prize. Align your acquisition strategy to you buyer personas and fish intelligently. Casting a wide net will yield too many boots and tin cans, and probably not a single whale.

Marketing automation platforms enable you to zero in on buyer personas and then cast your line at just the right moment. If you’ve not revisited those buyer personas in a while (you know you have them somewhere), take them out and dust then off.  Give the targets an identity, map out their workflow, nail down their pain, anticipate their questions, and answer them with content.

Stay away from constructing personas around old-school segments like job titles and revenue points. Does your job title encapsulate who you are as a person? Do your company’s receivables define how you establish trust? No. Our prospects are people, not job titles. Our personas should reflect this fact.

Once you start aligning your lead acquisition strategy with your buyer personas—and allowing your marketing automation platform to nurture accordingly— your lead acquisition numbers will drop. Accept that and move on, because your conversion rate will skyrocket.

2. Simplify your scoring methodology

Lead score is fluid. It moves up and down. It varies by buying role. It’s influenced by demographics, firmographics, and psychographics. And it moves with behavior.

Scoring doesn’t have to be complex. In fact, it shouldn’t be. It should be simple and scalable. If you’re struggling with your lead scoring process, try this user-friendly scoring methodology: Create naming conventions based on stages of engagement, marketing channels, content types, and movements. Then, when you produce new content, you simply use your naming conventions and observe the content’s impact on lead scores to measure its effectiveness. For example, when you roll out a new video, you simply name it “video” and then the score reacts when a buyer clicks it.

This approach eliminates the confusion of integrating new content into the existing model, and if you’re doing this marketing automation business right, you’ll be adding a lot of new content to your marketing automation machine. Simple, scalable processes can help you stay on top of your growing library without butchering your lead scoring process.

3. Work on your content library

Marketers are also publishers. If content is a secondary concern to you, or if the extent of your content is a cache of Top 5 lists, then it’s time to take a hard look at your marketing strategy. Content powers the conversations that engage buyers and your buyers want different kinds of conversations.

Of course, content creation takes time. And time is money. If you don’t have a huge budget, get creative. Freshen up old content. License preexisting content. Bulk up your blog posts. Your content library requires constant attention and should offer a variety of topics and mediums for every persona.

And here’s a twist: If you have a big budget, act like you don’t. Justify every dollar spent on content with the airplane relevancy test. Would you read it on a plane? If it’s top-of-the-funnel content, would it compel you to download something and move closer to a close? Think about that before blowing the budget on videos and white papers that no one will consume.

4. Evaluate your technology investments

Technology is a tool, not a strategy. For example, buying a social monitoring tool will not give you a thoughtful social media strategy. It’ll just expose the fact that you don’t have one and you’ll end up with a new budget line item magnifying your pain.

First, define your need in the context of your overall strategy. Then, meet the need with a tool. You’ll save yourself grief in the boardroom if you’re calculated about software acquisition. Plan ahead, create a strategy, hire or partner as needed, and only then add technology.

You might also find that your existing tools can do exactly what you need. A little extra training can help you maximize your current investment. Additionally, just about every marketing automation, CRM, and email marketing tool available has a corresponding community of apps, plug-ins, and forums that were designed to help you do more with what you already have. Check them out.

Oh, and if this is your first time buying software, admit it and ask for help. This purchase may mean your job if it flops, so borrow your IT department’s software evaluation matrix. The old saying that “No one was ever fired for buying IBM” is just that: Old. Learn the new rules before you buy.

So how’s that for a list? Clean up your buyer personas, simplify your lead scoring, beef up your content, and get to know your tech. My humble to-do list may not be worthy of “The Hundred Best Lists of All Time.” But, unlike the Bill of Rights or the Periodic Table of the Elements, it might make you a marketing automation rock star.

Justin Gray is CEO of LeadMD

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