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Five Steps Of Marketing Automation – Practice Builder Publishing – Tools & Resources For Accountants And Tax Practitioners

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Five Steps Of Marketing Automation

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The hot topic of the day is marketing automation.

And, of course I’ve been writing a lot about its pro’s and con’s, but I haven’t written very much about the why’s and how’s. At least that is what the emails from the folks who know more about it than I do are telling me.


Today, it’s a little about the why’s and how’s of Marketing Automation.

I hope you’re ready for a bit more detail, and specific, how to information, to the point where it becomes a granular listing.

The first thing we need to get clear is that all marketing automation systems have one thing in common, they all operate on a system. They follow a pre-planned methodology and avoid the good ol’ boy glad handing and back slapping of network marketing.

Online marketing used to be just about creating content that got prospect’s engaged with us and our practice. Now, the more sophisticated tools of marketing automation systems, along with the analytics they provide, help us address the particular needs of our prospects according to where they are in the buying process.

By using analytics and tracking the prospects interests through the buying process, practitioners are able to give the prospect the information they need to keep them interested throughout the entire buying process.

I’ve written many times about the seminal work by Daniel Kahneman, ‘Thinking Fast, And Slow,’ and how the human brain is ‘hard wired’ to the fight or flight response deep in the Hippocampus, and the need to provide the prospect with enough information over time so that the fight or flight response is abated to a level of comfort and acceptance.

Marketing automation is all about providing this comfort that the human brain requires. Without a level of comfort and knowledge that the product or service will meet their needs, the instinctive human response will be to fight or flee.

[bctt tweet=”Marketing automation is all about providing this comfort that the human brain requires in order to make a decision.” via=”no”]

Giving the prospect the information they need to move them along from one stage to another is the whole basis for stage based marketing of marketing automation.

Knowing the stage in your sales cycle your prospect is in, and having an understanding of what their needs are is the key to moving them forward and closer until they reach the buying stage.

A first time visitor to your website may not be ready to sign an engagement letter or make a tax appointment today, or possibly even tomorrow. But, as someone who has been reading your content, receiving your emails and responding to your surveys, the closer they have become to the point where they are ready to engage your services.

The idea here is that you need to understand the stages in your sales process and where your prospect is along that sales process in order to design your marketing automation program around the prospect.

Depending on the complexity of the services you offer, your sales cycle and the number of stages will vary, but the buying process for most practices goes through five stages. These stages are:

  1. Lead Generation
  2. Information Delivery
  3. Value Proposition Presentation
  4. Followup Data And Information
  5. Setting The Appointment

Lead Generation is usually the main thought for most practitioners who delve into online marketing. Generate leads, get them on an email list and start sending them a newsletter. Easy peasey, or so it’s told.

However, needs identification and list segmentation begins before the prospect is added to a list. What are their need, what industry are they in, where are they located? These and more are questions that need to be addressed as the list is generated. Knowing the answers to these questions will prepare you for the next step and let you help the prospect evaluate his or her options.

Once you have segmented your list, you are able to deliver the appropriate message, and target their specific needs with an offer that is personalized and tailored to them.

Followup messages give you the opportunity to deliver information that will further refine the ‘conversation’ with the prospect and move them along in the process. Responses to the content of your messages allow further list segmentation and tie the prospect tighter as you prepare to deliver your value proposition.

At this point, once you have reached the stage where the prospect has an understanding of your value proposition and how it fills their needs, or emotions, it is time to begin delivering followup data and information.

[bctt tweet=”At this point, once you have reached the stage where the prospect has an understanding of your value proposition and … ” via=”no”]

This followup information is designed to strengthen the relationship by reconnecting with the prospect’s needs and answering the questions that they have developed during the list segmentation and value proposition presentation.

Somewhere along about now is the time you ask for the appointment.

Yes, you have to ask for the appointment, and then go through a full fledged needs assessment, in person. We are not a pure online sales operation here, this is a complex sale and the prospect needs to feel like they are doing more than responding to a simple online order process.

Even folks who are setting an appointment for tax preparation for the first time need to meet you and feel like there is a real person, a knowledgeable expert that they can now turn to in their hour of need.

[bctt tweet=”Yes, you have to ask for the appointment, and then go through a full fledged needs assessment, in person.” via=”no”]

And that is what you want your marketing automation process to deliver, an appointment. Which is where your CRM kicks in, with another stage in the automated marketing process.

Join us here at Practice Builder Publishing and become a part of the community, whether you become a contributing author, a peer recruiter, or merely a raving devotee of the Practice Builder Publishing resources, I'll work with you personally so you can reach the goals you set.

Best to you and yours,




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