Professional Services firms need marketing automation to frame new strategies and win more business, but finding the right tool that meets the specific needs of the industry is difficult.

As Professional Services businesses grow and the organizational processes and structures get difficult to manage, it becomes necessary to automate routine processes. By using technology to create new structures, firms can ensure that the business continues to operate efficiently while growing. Using automation tools also helps reduce costs and human errors, which in turn makes the team more productive and creates more value for the business.

Why Professional Services need marketing automation

The Professional Services industry has specific needs when it comes to marketing. Unlike B2C businesses where there is scope for impulse buys, the role of marketing here would be to build relationships and nurture them through a long purchase cycle that involves multiple stakeholders. After that, marketing will continue to nurture that relationship to retain the client and also explore upsell opportunities to increase share of wallet.

While every business will have specific needs, there are a few common requirements from a marketing automation system, which are elaborated below:

Find and win business

A thriving Professional Services business needs a healthy pipeline of deals that can ensure high utilization rates throughout the year. Common strategies include social media posts, long-form content like blogs, eBooks, and whitepapers that inform the prospective clients about the latest industry trends or about service offerings by the firm, and events, both online and offline to network and build relationships.

There is scope for marketing automation in all the above mentioned areas.

How will marketing automation help? When you have the right system in place, you will be able to drive high quality leads that have better chances of converting into Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs) and a higher chance of conversion into opportunities and revenue.

An automated system with a lead scoring mechanism will tell you at what stage of the buyer journey the prospective client is in, and what kind of content should be shared next to help that person continue the journey and become a lead somewhere down the line.

When the handover to the sales team happens, the visibility of what kind of information the prospect has already consumed will help those initial conversations. The sales teams will not be finding their way in the dark to determine the needs of the prospect. Instead, they will know the kind of services the prospects are interested in, based on the kind of information they have already consumed.

Track what’s working and build on the success

One of the advantages of implementing a marketing automation solution is that you can measure the different tactics and make decisions based on numbers. Most businesses start with a person-led process and tactics are generally not documented. This becomes a problem when you are a mid-sized business with offices spread across different countries, and each country has its own set of marketing tactics and it is difficult to measure success.

When you know which channels and what type of marketing engagement is driving the best ROI, you would be able to invest more in those and eliminate the tactics that are not delivering results.

Automation also helps build efficiencies in the marketing team and make each team member more productive. This is important from a profitability standpoint because for all the value that marketing teams bring to the table, this is still a non-billable function.

What are the components of marketing automation?

Marketing automation can encompass a huge range of features and functionality, and these vary depending on the industry and vertical you are in. However, there are few broad features that you should find in almost all the solutions.

  • Manage a database of contact details of all clients and prospects
  • Segment the database on various parameters that you define based on your business or campaign needs and send customized messages
  • Create landing pages and forms that can capture new data that gets automatically added to your database
  • Run email and social media campaigns to build your brand or capture demand
  • Score the leads based on custom parameters and plan the journey of your prospective clients
  • Ensure continual engagement with prospective clients and existing clients by automating a nurture campaign that sends periodic communication

There are several marketing automation tools available in the market and it is important to choose the one that is reputed, reliable, and suits the needs of your business. One of the solutions you can consider is Microsoft Dynamics 365 Marketing.