Specializing in Marketing Services for the Learning and HR Solutions industries

Archive for February 2016

5 Must-Do Tips to Jumpstart Your Marketing Automation Plan


The term “marketing automation” always sounds great to me – great, as in, hit a button and take the rest of the week off.

It can be a little misleading to newcomers, because even though organizing and automating your marketing efforts will result in improved efficiency, it’s not robotic – nor would you want it to be, from the customer relationship-building perspective.  But it actually is an involved exercise that will require creative thinking, strategizing and adequate time investment, and as with all things, you’ll get out of it what you put into it.

Whether you handle your own marketing automation plan, or are looking to hire a firm to help, know as much about the process as you can.  Why put in the investment if you’re not going to know how to maximize the results?

What exactly is Marketing Automation?

Marketing automation is a technology-driven methodology that allows users to automate, streamline, measure, and improve the entire process in order to boost efficiency and ROI as inherent benefits.

Streamlining your marketing efforts helps you drastically improve your lead generation, lead nurturing, lead conversion rate, and customer retention.

So, is it really worth all the trouble?  Absolutely.

According to VB Insight’s “Marketing Automation: How to Make the Right Buying Decision” (2015), 80 percent of users who employ MA see a significant increase in their number of leads, and 77 percent of them also report seeing their conversion numbers increase notably (Notably, as in 53 percent higher, according to Autopilot.com).  Oddly, as recently as last year, only about 4 percent of US businesses with 20 or more employees are using marketing automation software. Think of it: Here’s your chance to get ahead of the curve!

And not to worry – the more you work at it, the easier and more natural and intuitive it becomes.  Here are some steps to help you get started.

Killer Marketing Automation

  • Why? What exactly are your marketing goals?  Why would you specifically need and use marketing automation?  Lead generation?  Lead nurturing/conversion rate increase?  All of the above?  If you’re a startup, maybe you just want to increase awareness of your brand more than anything.  Once you’ve established WHY, you can move on to HOW.
  • How? Start by building your own list of curated leads.  You want to qualify your marketing campaign, and therefore, it makes the most sense to have a curated list of contacts who you know are already interested in your brand’s goods and/or services.  Patiently nurture and grow your own list of potential customers – this will add “personal touch” value to your customer base, and help with your longer-term branding efforts.
  • Who? Who is your ideal customer?  Who are your fair-weather customers, and what is it that tips the scale for them?  Create your customer “persona” and narrative, so that you learn how to think like they think – what does your ideal customer experience, want and need?  What is his or her pain?  Again, long-term nurturing and branding.
  • What? What is marketing all about?  Certainly, it’s not about the marketer.  As you probably have come to know, it’s about providing your ideal customer with viable solutions to their problems, in a way that opens the door to a long-term relationship.  When it comes to automated and content marketing, make sure you’re giving them not only the products and services they need, but also the content that they want, need and value.
  • Where/When/How? Make sure you’re using the right automated marketing tools to help you meet your customers’ needs, within the right channels.  Depending on your goals, your budget, and how much control you’d like to have over the process, fortunately you have several solid tools and channels to choose from.  If you’re set on spearheading your own automated marketing efforts but would like some additional guidance, contact the marketing experts at Cox eLearning Consultants.

Hopefully these tips can help you get on the right track.  It’s a process, but as Mick Jagger says so eloquently, once you get “started, you’ll never stop.”  Or something like that.

Marketing automation really is meant to make our lives easier, so no overthinking – it’s going to change, and evolve as you go, so adjustments and redirects will be necessary.  And that’s OK.

Have lots of fun, and best of luck!  The most important thing you can remember is that while marketing automation is a great thing, never use it as a substitute for personalized attention to your customer relationship management. 

Are you an automated marketer?  Tell us more about what works best – We’d love to hear from you!

— Jonathan W. Crowell

Five Steps to Boost Customer Loyalty with a Better Content Marketing Plan

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It’s the Golden Age of inbound (content) marketing.

If you don’t believe me, ask LinkedIn’s Technology Marketing Community: 72 percent of marketers have an inbound marketing strategy, and starting this year, as many as 60 percent of companies will have a dedicated executive whose specific objective is to direct his or her organization’s content marketing.

Regarding ROI, for one, content marketing costs 62 percent less per lead than traditional marketing, and secondly, it produces three times more sales leads per dollar spent than the outbound marketing processes that we all know and love.

What Is Content Marketing?

According to the Content Marketing Institute, “Content marketing is a strategic marketing methodology focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience – and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action (emphasis added)”.  It’s a core driving element of the modern sales (a.k.a. conversion) process, turning potential customers into buyers, and subsequently, into loyal, returning customers.

I remember in the early 90s when Pearl Jam’s debut album “Ten” was still on the up and coming list – I grew up a huge fan, but I’d never heard of them until I won a local radio station promotion which included the CD, a T-shirt and poster.  I really liked the band’s music as I listened, but as you can imagine, this win made me a die-hard fan on the spot, not only of the band, but also of the radio station.  Plus it made me an “early adopter,” so I got the bragging rights of “discovering Pearl Jam,” however accurate that self-assessment may or may not have been.

Your actual and potential customers love free stuff: articles, video presentations, infographics, podcasts, downloadable e-books, pdf’s, etc.  It’s a great way to sell yourself as an expert, while building rapport with your audience.

But giving away just any content or coupon doesn’t fly anymore.  According to Forbes, 76 percent of Business to Consumer (B2C) marketers use content marketing, yet only 37 percent report that their strategy is effective.  The market is becoming so oversaturated with mass-produced content, that the demand to produce higher quality content for users is ever on the rise.

With a good, solid content marketing plan, you can have the same effect on your audience as the radio station prize package did on me as a kid – and you can increase traffic, revenue and bolster customer loyalty.

It’s a time investment for sure, so if you can’t spare the time yourself, you might want to consider reviewing your budget to hire a professional firm to work with you on your plan.

Your Content Marketing Plan

1. Map it all out first.  Outline, identify channels, identify appropriate content/message and end goals, as well as action steps.  According to research conducted by the Content Marketing Institute, those that get their strategies down on paper are more likely to consider them effective, and feel less overwhelmed by the process, and more confident in being able to spend more of their budget on it.

  1. Know Your Audience. Exactly who are they, and how do they interact with content? What social media do they use? Do they watch YouTube, or read industry-informative articles and blogs? What are their needs, how can you help them resolve them, and what content would work best?  Are you willing to expand your social media horizons across platforms to build your audience?3.  Consider all Your Channels and Share Your Expertise

There are countless ways to get your brand out there, so make sure you’ve considered all your best options.  What channel is your content best suited for, and where will it have the greatest reach?  Who can you partner with to get it out there? How about writing a downloadable e-book, making it available on your Web site, with social media posts to let your audience know how to get a hold of it?

  1. Be Sure to Consider User Experience

Another important thing not to overlook is what your users are experiencing while attempting to access your awesome free content.  How many click-throughs does it take to get to your content?  How easy is it to download?  Are calls-to-action easy to respond to?


  1. Be Sure to Mobilize

Even with the best content in the world, if it’s not optimized for mobile device access, it may as well be stored in your garage.  Mobile is king: mobile searches are about to replace desktop searches outright, and currently 58 percent of Americans use smartphones, a statistic that is only expected to grow, along with smartphone use worldwide.

Just remember, content marketing is a proven way to increase your traffic, with a better than 200 percent ROI.  Get creative!  You can do this!


What is your content marketing plan looking like? Let us know – we’d love to hear from you!


— Jonathan W. Crowell