Marketing Automation is a broad subject, but essentially involves the process of utilizing software and technology to automate processes associated with marketing efforts. The landscape of competitors can be daunting to sort through with so many startups and small business solutions now vying to obtain their fair market share from the industry giants. It can be a great problem to have, however, if aligned with overall business objectives and goals.
I recently wrote an article on The Growing Imperative of Marketing Automation, outlining the shift in consumers’ digital demands in the mortgage industry, which is quite a stubborn, slow-to-adopt sector, generally. There are several reasons for the slow adoption of technology and especially marketing-related tech in this industry, one of the major areas being compliance and regulatory scrutiny. Hurdles aside, it is a great time to align marketing and technology (“mar/tech”) with business goals to meet consumer expectations and drive production. In fact, I would argue that companies that do not prioritize automation and focus on meeting the digital demands of consumers will find it very difficult to maintain – much less grow – market share moving forward..
"For starters, scalability was a must-have for the amount of national and regional campaigns and branding we engage in across numerous channels"
I am fortunate to work for a top-rated mortgage company that places a high value and focus on marketing and technology, and truly understands consumer expectations and the impact on the overall customer journey. The customer – whether an employee, a business referral partner or a borrower – is accustomed to and certainly expects a quick, seamless and user-friendly experience. Doing this well, of course, drives happy internal and external customers, which ultimately drives production lift as they make their way through the marketing funnel. Marketing automation can provide such a result, if leveraged appropriately.
For our particular model, we needed solutions that would allow our production team members to meet the digital demands of our referral partners and borrowers. From a purely marketing standpoint, we focused on several areas of key functionality. For starters, scalability was a must-have for the amount of national and regional campaigns and branding we engage in across numerous channels. Thus, dynamic workflows that tie into multiple marketing channels played a major role in our vetting process for solutions. Other elements considered for front-end marketing efforts included robust functionality in CRM, lead management, marketing channel automation, tracking and reporting; all of which allowing us to effectively measure ROI.
Critically important is the ability to focus on the entire marketing funnel, regardless of customer type. Where many companies fall short in their selection and implementation of marketing automation platforms is only focusing on solutions that account for middle of the funnel activity. This mid-level nurturing or milestone notification focus may be an ideal set up for businesses that only operate with existing data. For example, a mortgage servicer targeting customers for refinance opportunities. However, companies concentrating on business growth and market share via new customer acquisition need to focus on a solution that takes into account the entire customer journey – from the top of the funnel all the way through a final transaction or disposition.
Let’s walk through an example. A first time homebuyer engaged with us after seeing a social media post, an organic or paid search engine result, reviewing our outstanding reviews online, replying to an email, or simply being directed to us from a referral partner or friend. Regardless of the incoming channel, our automation platform flags the inbound lead, captures the contact information from a dynamic landing page, then triggers several subsequent activities. Notifications are sent to our sales teams, new contact info is added into the CRM, the lead is loaded into the appropriate nurture campaign or story, pixels are used for retargeting efforts, the data warehouse is pinged for any relevant data sharing or milestone triggers that may be needed, and the customer is immediately notified by email, phone, web or text with next steps. Thus, the alignment of marketing automation with overall customer acquisition strategy should be heavily weighted in the selection process.
I would be remiss if I didn’t briefly mention the openness (or lack thereof) of marketing automation solutions, which should not be overlooked. The right platform can actually bridge significant gaps in the usual disconnect associated with disparate systems. A key driver of efficiencies and scalability is the ability to play nicely with other systems, such as loan origination systems, data warehouses and other 3rd party platforms. The more integrated the systems, the more automation and productivity that will result.
Integrated with the right systems and digital tools, marketing automation gives us the ability to target and market to the right people at the right moments, then add them into funnels depending on subsequent actions or requirements as mentioned earlier, such as retargeting, nurturing or simply resoliciting. It’s no great secret that we live in a highly mobile age, so it’s also important to consider an option that allows for delivery to any device, any time. The good news is that most new open solutions are exceptionally mobile/device-friendly.
I have been fortunate in my career and especially in my current role to have had the opportunity to team up with some of the best digital and technology partners in the business. Mar/tech is quickly evolving, as is digital marketing and how we produce meaningful engagements with consumers. Selecting and aligning strong marketing automation solutions with business objectives and goals is an ongoing process, but can provide substantial returns when leveraged correctly.