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Supporting image for How to Get Started with Marketing Automation – @sharpspring
How to Get Started with Marketing Automation – @sharpspring
The Agents of Change

aocp-pinterest-charles-chadwickIt’s fair to say that the marketing goal of most businesses is to attract, nurture and convert their leads all the way down through the sales funnel. But what’s the most efficient way to do that?

When you send the right messages to the right people you peak their interest, and marketing automation allows organizations to more effectively streamline their marketing efforts on multiple channels  – such as email, websites, social media – and to automate repetitive tasks. If your goal is to increase your organization’s operational efficiency and grow revenue faster, then look no further than marketing automation.

With over 17 years of experience in business development and strategic sales, Charles Chadwick uses his expertise at SharpSpring to develop effective and streamlined marketing solutions that drive business growth and bring immediate value to organizations.


Rich: Charles Chadwick is the Vice President of Partnerships at SharpSpring, a marketing automation platform, and has over 17 years of experience in business development, leadership, and strategic sales and partnerships. He uses his expertise to develop strategic plans and competitive solutions that bring immediate value and drive business growth.

Charles has led multiple newly created divisions with the telesales marketing and lead generation industries and he’s worked with companies like CVS, UnitedHealthcare, FedEx, AT&T and American Express. His passion lies in helping businesses expand their reach and utilize new products and systems to drive optimal results. 

Charles, it sounds like you’re just the guy to talk to today, so thank you for coming by.

Charles: I appreciate you letting me join you today. I’ve listened to a number of your podcasts and appreciate not only always learning about the next and new, but some core fundamentals and the basis we’ve all built our business on. I hope part of our discussion today on marketing automation can help us learn how we can bridge those gaps as well. So I appreciate it.

Rich: Sounds good. You know, marketing automation…actually, for people who are just getting started with this, how do you define “marketing automation”?

Charles: So no matter what tool that you’re using out there, we look specifically at three core fundamentals of what marketing automation is really designed to do for your company. And we look at those as one, being a tool that can help you drive more leads. We always say not just more leads, it’s more relevant leads that you can go out there and convert. We show – through the use of forms – customized ID score and how you can accomplish that. But then, two, it’s about being able to take those leads and convert those leads into sales.

So as opposed to traditional marketing manners out there just shotgunning a bunch of data, hoping some of it sticks, some of it is relevant. Marketing automation really allows you to get out there and close business by sending exactly the right message at exactly the right time. But you’re using powerful behavioral based communications. And then three, it’s designed to help you optimize your spend. So being able to double down on what’s working and really cut what’s not. So taking a look at really comprehensive customized reports to make it easy for you to go out there and really track true, provable end ROI.

Rich: Alright, awesome, so I’m just taking notes over here. So basically marketing automation is going to help us drive more relevant leads, convert those leads into sales, and basically optimize any ad spend that we might be doing.

Charles: That’s exactly right.

Rich: Alright, good stuff. Now I’m sure a lot of people are saying as they’re listening to this, “Yeah, that sounds good but it sounds like it’s probably too complex or too expensive for my small business.” What do you say when you hear things like that?

Charles: It’s definitely something common that comes up every single day. Every business is looking to grow their business needs marketing automation out there. It is not the next and new, it is here. So when we take a look at implementing marketing automation, we look at a walk/run/fly guide to implementing it. And that first stage really is just taking what you’re currently doing in your business today and putting it into a marketing automation platform.

So we want to take a look at taking all those different marketing efforts that’s driving traffic to your individual site, where are these leads and visitors coming from, and being able to tie those individual leads back to it. But then nurturing them all the way through your process, your individual sales funnel, to eventually hopefully closing these things out at an opportunity and being able to circle that individual revenue back to that original marketing effort. Again, talking about that ROI. But it’s really in that first stage that of just taking what you’re doing and putting it into the application. And as you start into that running and flying stage, it’s really getting more granular with your individual workflows and integrations with other softwares, that can really step you up to that next level.

Rich: So it sounds like their could be stages. If I’m frightened by the idea of marketing automation, we can start with very simple solutions. And then as time goes on and I feel more comfortable with the software, then I can start using some ninja tricks and make it a little more technical.

Charles: Very much so. I like the ninja tricks aspect. But yeah, it definitely is. Already today you’re doing individual campaigns and driving traffic, so again it’s just taking them and putting those into the system. You’re already probably using a third party CRM out there to track your individual leads and nurture those individual campaigns. You’re probably using a third party ESP software out there to send out emails, and marketing automation allows you to consolidate these tools down underneath one roof  to be more efficient, track it all underneath one house, and be able to take things to another level which can then open up the door and your time to go out there and focus on some of those areas that you need to.

Rich: Alright Charles, so let me just break it down. The first step it sounds like is we’re going to be generating leads, and I think most of us are already familiar with what that means. We’ve got a website, people are coming to our site and filling out a contact form or they’re signing up for an email newsletter, that’s basically how we’re acquiring a lot of these leads. Correct?

Charles: Yeah, so forms are going to be one of your most popular. Most people do have a contact  us form on there, but they forget about registering for the newsletter, gateway forms to identify themselves to you before they can download a white paper. So enticing them with different types of forms are going to be that first aspect. But then a number of tools out there do have what they call a “visitor ID” which can help you identify some anonymous visitors coming into your site that you don’t know exist today. So you can take those anonymous visitors and turn them into actionable leads that you can then go out there and convert.

Rich: Alright, before we move any further, tell me more about these anonymous visitors. I know from years of working in web design, people always say they know who comes to their website, and I’m like, well not their name. So what exactly information are we able to glean with marketing automation tools that we might not have been able to get otherwise?

Charles: So I look at two types of visitors coming to your site. So just as you said, there’s known visitors and there’s anonymous visitors. Known visitors is somebody that you already have in your contact manager and they’re returning back to your site. So whether it’s a current client or somebody who has already filled to a form or maybe you captured their data at a tradeshow or conference or in an elevator, and you manually put them into your contact manager. These visitors coming back to your site, being able to track individual behaviors and deliver relevant data to them, using that critical intelligence to go out there and help you close the deal is one step. 

On the other side you do have those anonymous visitors that are coming through, and certain softwares out there definitely have abilities to do reverse IP lookups to tie these individuals back to specific businesses that you can then go out there and find relevant contacts within those organizations. So you can scroll through these visitors coming to your site and see who might be a good fit for me, and then be able to go and find those contacts within those organizations, pick up the phone and call them or download them into your contact manager so you can start putting them into a nurturing campaign and deliver off a series of emails introducing yourself and your company, etc.

Rich: Interesting, ok. So when somebody comes to our site – even if they don’t fill out anything – we might be able to gather a little bit of information, and if we’re willing to take a few extra steps we can start to do a little detective work and find out if not who that person is, who they work for, and then find the relevant contact at that company.

Charles: That’s exactly right. So that works great in that B2B world, I always like to go out there and talk about the individual consumers. So myself, I’m searching on your website today, now we’re not able to tie an IP to an individual consumer, it’s against the law and that’s a great thing for our own security and safety. We wouldn’t want everybody knowing everything we can do.

However, you can still track the individual visits and the individual pages that that individual consumer is tracking. So eventually – next week, next month – when they come to your site, fill out a form and identify themselves to you, you can not only track them that moment going forward but also populate all those previous site visits to it. So you can again take that critical intelligence and be able to be the smartest person in the room when you’re picking up and talking to these individuals and put them into a nurturing campaign that begins delivering relevant data based on those previous visits.

Rich: Alright, so before we move into nurturing – which I want to talk about – so if somebody comes to my website, is it that we’re dropping cookies on this anonymous visitor, so then when they finally identify themselves we can kind of find that trail of crumbs?  

Charles: It is not only dropping a cookie on that IP, but again, with certain application out there like ours you can go out and actually tie individual devices to an individual as well.

Rich: Ok, interesting, good stuff. So let’s move into the “nurturing” phase, I’m a nurturing kind of guy. So what do you mean by “nurturing”, what should we be thinking about as we’re trying to warm these leads?

Charles: So there’s a number of different avenues of what you want to look at, and nurturing is definitely on multiple levels. There is taking an individual lead and prospect out there and nurturing them, and by that I mean staying in front of them with relevant data. It’s great that your sales team is going to be picking up the phone and calling them, but again, staying in front of them. It goes back to the old fashioned saying of “persistence breaks down resistance”. But again, instead of just going out there and shotgunning a bunch of data and hoping some of it is relevant, it’s again following these individual leads or prospects journey on your site or interactions that they’re taking. Whether they’re opening up emails, clicking on specific links, downloading white paper, registering for events – and again – delivering relevant data base din those interactions out there so you can continue to stay in front of them throughout whole process to eventually being able to close those deals.

People always forget about that second element, though. And that’s a very important element – which is again – your clients and staying in front of them. So it’s great that somebody goes out there and sends a monthly newsletter or email or blog or whatever it might be to these clients, but again, marketing automation can allow you to determine clients who may be coming back to your website to give you an opportunity to go out and upsell and cross sell them.

So certain notifications that you can deliver when people jump back onto your website so you see and immediately pick up the phone and say, “Hey Rich, had a feeling you might be thinking about me today, let me answer some of those questions.” And again, be that smartest person in the room to be able to see what it is they’re interested in at that moment in time.

Rich: That’s definitely some interesting stuff. The question I have is, you mentioned that to nurture is giving them the right message at the right time when their interest is peaked, to me that sounds a lot lie segmentation. Is that something that a lot of these marketing automation systems allow us to do?

Charles: Absolutely. And list segmentation is going to be critical in this environment because it allows you to – based on an interest or an action – automatically add them to specific lists, so again you can target and market to them smartly as you go down the road. Or again, based on some other elements, be able to manually add them into a list so you can go out there and search your own database and go out there again and find those that have all the key similarities or key custom fields that have been populated into a specified campaign to those particular individuals.

Just as I always talk, marketing automation is really just defined as a series of events over time. And that’s what I looks at. Some call it nurturing, some call it drip campaigns. And then marketing automation is really get thrown out quite loosely I think in the industry today. There’s ESP’s, there’s CRM’s that say they do marketing automation, but again, really robust suites of tools that are out there in the market space have so much more than just sending the same series of seven emails. It’s again, relevant emails based on those interactions that they’re taking.

Rich: It sounds like if they visit certain pages of our website – and I’ll use my business as an example – that we might say that they might be interested in search engine optimization, or they might be interested in social media, or they might be interesting in email marketing. So can some of the marketing automation tools segment them based on the pages they go to, is that part of what it is?

Charles: That’s a big part of what it is there. So list pages, pages they’re viewing in the site, are exactly that. If I’m constantly coming back to your website and looking at SEO – for example – again, you don’t want to shotgun a bunch of data about web development or vice versa. Or if I’m looking at web development on your site, you don’t want to shotgun a bunch of stuff about PPC campaigns, that’s really not my interest I haven’t hit that page. So again, just sending relative data based on that key visit.

Now then, taking a look at those individuals who are more engaged -people who are visiting more pages, taking interactions that you want them to take on your site – you can utilize other tools like lead scoring to go out there and segment your most engaged prospect versus those that maybe visited 2 pages or an “about us” page and then walked away, because you want to treat those individual prospects completely different from one another.

Rich: That’s really interesting, I never thought about that. So just to make sure I understand it, what you’re saying is I can gauge somebody’s interest because obviously somebody’s checking out 10, 15, 20 pages of my website and my blog and shows a lot more interest than somebody who came and read one blog post and then disappeared. So I’m going to probably talk to them differently in the real world, so why not market to them differently as well.

Charles: That’s exactly right. It’s all just maximizing your selling efforts by managing those top, most engaged priorities. Those are the guys that I want my sales team picking up the phone and calling,versus somebody who maybe filled out a form and then is no longer engaged, they’re not returning back to my website, they’re not opening up our emails or responding to our phone calls. Well, I don’t want my sales team to continue to spin their wheels reaching out to someone that is no longer engaged. I want them focusing on working on those top most engaged prospects, because those are the ones I’m going to be able to capitalize and convert quicker.

Rich: Absolutely. So we talked a little bit about how many pages they visit, we talked about which pages they visit and ways to segment them. I’m guessing that I can also go in and add my own tags, or whatever you might call them in the different software. Sometimes I go out and I do a presentation on Pay Per Click, and other times I might go and do a presentation on Email, and I get the lists of the people who either attended my physical conference or they attended a webinar that I did. Can I merge that information in to say that Jane Doe is interested in email marketing because she attended my email marketing webinar?

Charles: Absolutely. You can create custom fields into that, or again, just develop different list tags or segmentations and just tie those back to those individual contacts at that contact level. That’s where everything is really being housed is at that individual contact level, and utilizing that data to again market to those individuals smartly. And again, be able to advance that sale and move them down your sales funnel and your process as it goes down the line. 

Rich: So you mentioned a cool one that I hadn’t thought about in terms of the number of page views could also help segment them or nurture them better. Are there some other typical ones that you find very effective that we haven’t mentioned yet?

Charles: Yeah. So again, pageviews and number of pages are huge. Again, whether somebody is opening the emails or not, When you look at a traditional ESP that you utilize in your business today, it’s great to say you’ve send out 1,000 emails, and it’s great to say here’s the 400 that opened it and these 600 didn’t. But again, it’s maybe taking a look at who’s opened it up multiple times, when they opened that did they click on the link, when they clicked on that link where did that journey take them. So it’s really taking some of those very basic procedures that you’re using and putting it on steroids to put them all the way through that journey and try track that individual journey. And then again, based on those engagements that they’re taking or not taking, be able to go out there and market to them in a smarter fashion.

Rich: It seems like the website and the emails we send out are two obvious places for us to connect with them. Does marketing automation allow us to connect with people or track our connections with people anywhere else, or can that be added manually? How do we manage or nurture the relationship outside of email on our website?

Charles: Well obviously the sales, the built in CRM components that are in there, customizing your individual deal stages as things move down that funnel. As things move down the funnel and move down from maybe set to a demo communication stage triggers off a different series of events or communications to them. So utilizing that CRM and moving them down the funnel is going to be a great fashion to be able to go out there and continue to nurture those particular leads, and again the engagements that they’re taking with your individual sales team.

So again, with marketing automation there’s obviously your built in email components – but it’s not just about sending emails – it’s about what’s going on with the sales team, sending notifications to your internal team, time based workflows. So a number of avenues that can go and be built into this or customized based on how you individually go in there and grow your business or nurture your own individual leads.

Rich: Very cool. You had talked a little about… you know, we’re trying to get the most qualified leads here, is there something in the automation that happens to tip off the sales force? How do we know that actually somebody’s moved from being a prospect to a client, and then how does that alter the relationship we have with them through the software?

Charles: So in the contact manager or the built in CRM component – again, CRM’s can move things down into there – or again, there’s e-commerce sites out there where people are moving down and you’re nurturing them through an automation process, and then they go online and actually purchase a product or a service or a feature. Whatever it is that your commerce site is actually out there selling or promoting.

Automation can then trigger that this person is no longer a prospect, they turned into a client, through the use of shopping cart integrations. It’s a great way to go out there and attract that ROI for those unassisted orders. But again, if those interactions that they’re taking – like purchasing – can move them into a different particular status that can then launch a different series of communications into there through the use of what we call, “workflow branching”. Somebody could be in a workflow delivering and receiving a series of emails, well if after that second email I maybe go and purchase a product or service and move into a client, you obviously don’t want your last three nurturing campaigns going into effect saying, “Rich, come and buy my product”, after you’ve already purchased it. That would be pretty embarrassing. So it can automatically change their individual status to then deliver a series of emails congratulating them and telling them what they can expect next. So again, you can make that seamless transition from a prospect to a client to maybe onboarding or whatever the next process is.

Rich: Ok. And you also mentioned ROI – return on investment – and the ability to be able to track the return on investment that we get from this. Can you give me a little bit of a rundown of how that might work where I can get a better sense of whether my spend and energy has been paying off or not?

Charles: Absolutely. So you’re going to take again all those different marketing channels that you’re utilizing today So I don’t know if it’s PPC, if it’s email, if it’s social, to be able to utilize  whether it’s UTM codes, specific landing pages. Anybody that’s coming in from those links or whatever they’re clicking, phone numbers that they’re calling in, and tying that campaign back to that individual. And then through the use of automation and the CRM and moving them down that sales funnel, it’s taking them which leads are turning into true working opportunities. Which opportunities are actually turning into converted sales and then tying that revenue associated with that sale back to that individual campaign so you can get that ROI and be able to see and determine where you’re spending your money, your time, your effort, with actually turning into those working ops and what’s turning into converted sales. So you can get approval and tracking on that ROI.

Rich: One of the things I hear from people all the time is just that it takes so much time to run digital marketing campaigns, and I think one of the things that I’m hearing is – yes – so let’s measure this to stop doing that’s not working and focus on what is.

Charles: Well I hear two things, it’s kind of the chicken or the egg. Do I spend my money going out there and driving traffic into my site so then I can use marketing automation and be able to track all these leads and finally come through. Or do I implement marketing automation first and then go spend my money out there on what those channels are.

To me it’s an absolute no-brainer of implementing marketing automation first and foremost. You’re doing something today to either drive some traffic or people are finding you organically on your site and you want to know specifically where people are coming from as it sits today. So again, you can determine if you want to continue to spend money where I am, or do you want to go out and try some of these other channels. And it makes no sense to go out there and start spending money in areas that you’re not able to track that right off of the bat, and automation is going to allow you to do that whether you’re spending $100/month or $100,000/month. Where that’s coming from, what’s really driving that traffic, and what’s truly converting into it. So you want to have that tracking in place before you go and spend any more money out there to be able to determine where you should continue to spend that money or where you shouldn’t.

Rich: This has been great, I really appreciate your time coming on today. Where can we check out more about you?

Charles: You can actually just go right to our main site, sharpspring.com, you can give us a call as well at 352-414-4116, and we’ll be happy to coordinate up a demo and show you one on one the power of marketing automation and how it can work for your individual business.

Rich: That’s awesome, and we’ll of course as always have those links in the show notes. So head on over to the show notes and check out the links that Charles shared with us. Charles, thanks again for your time today.

Charles: Rich it was a pleasure, I appreciate the opportunity.

Show notes:

  • Check out their website to learn more about SharpSpring’s marketing automation platform.
  • Want to check out a SharpSpring demo or speak one-on-one to discuss how marketing automation can help your business? Give them a call!
  • Rich Brooks is the owner of flyte new media, a digital marketing and web design firm in Portland, ME. He is the founder of the Agents Of Change Digital Marketing Conference, and in his spare time he blogs, podcasts, and offers expert advice as the “tech guru” on 207, a local NBC affiliate news show.aocp-fb-charles-chadwick