4 Ways to Grow Your Business with Marketing Automation


If you run a business, then no doubt you use tools designed to automate your marketing efforts…whether it’s email autoresponders to nurture leads or analytics to measure your success.

Having automation systems in place allows you to increase your customer size without having to grow your employee base. But are you really getting the most out of it? Or are you leaving money on the table?

If you want to increase your ROI, then implement the following 4 marketing automation ideas:

Tactic #1: Identify and target high profile leads

When you get leads from your website, how do you get them? Usually you’ll get them by email, and you’ll probably add them to a list with all of the other leads you get.

Although it might seem obvious that you should target your best leads, you’ll be shocked to find out how often marketers not only ignore them but ignore segmentation altogether.

For starters, you should segment your list to avoid sending the same message to your entire database. If you want really good engagement from your list, then segmentation is your key. But how should you segment? A pretty common way of segmenting is based upon lead demographics, interests, behaviors and lead source.

For example, if you run a business that provides marketing help to companies, then you could segment based upon where a lead opted into your sequence:

  • Newsletter
  • Webinar
  • Whitepaper
  • Video
  • Blog

Then you could look at a couple of other variables like:

  • Whether he or she is a total stranger, client or former client
  • And what your lead wants help with in his or her marketing
    • Reputation Management
    • Video Marketing
    • Corporate Branding Online
    • Becoming an expert
    • Content marketing
    • Blog marketing
    • SEO

Now, that’s a basic way to segment. If you want to target your high-profile leads, you need to identify them using the following six questions:

  • What is the biggest problem you are trying to solve?
  • What’s it worth to you to solve the problem?
  • What particular questions and concerns do you have about products like ours?
  • What other options do you have?
  • What do you need to believe about products like ours in order to buy?
  • What metrics do you use to measure success?

The questions will help you not only identify the ideal prospect for your product or service, but it will also help turn that prospect into a buyer. In other words, these questions will help you get the information you need to target your best prospects.

If you’re wondering how to ask these questions, one option is to present it as a survey on your website. Survey Monkey or KISSinsights both provide platforms to help you gather this kind of intelligence.

Once you’ve identified those high-profile leads, continue to nurture them with questions, betas and recommendations so that they are helping you craft your product to fit their needs perfectly.

Tactic #2: Improve conversion late in the funnel

One of the best ways to increase conversion is to create a very focused sales funnel. In other words, you limit your prospects’ choices by giving them the exact information they are looking for and guiding them to the action you want them to take.

Your sales funnel does not exist in a vacuum, so it’s easy for your prospect to get distracted and leave the sales funnel. Let’s say your prospect ended up on your landing page, subscribed to your email newsletter, responded to an appeal in one of the emails and is on the order page.

At this point your prospect is primed, so you have to give them exactly what they want. But in order to sweeten the deal, you need to heighten the value in order to get them to convert this late in the game. That could be a free trial or a percentage off.

Your prospect doesn’t need a bunch of options, so your funnel at this point should be restricted to one and only one choice so you can close the deal.

But why do some prospects opt out? They opt out typically for three reasons:

  • They get distracted by outside influences, like seeing something else online.
  • They don’t feel your product is the best value exchange.
  • They don’t understand what they need to do next. In other words, they don’t know how to proceed forward.

Because of this, your sales funnel should be simple. For example, if you look at Seth Godin’s email newsletter subscription page, you see how simple it is:

seth godin subscribe

When it comes to closing a sale while offering multiple options, you’d want to make the decision simple…or at least seem simple by highlighting the best option. Here’s how 37 Signals does it:


From the example above, it’s real clear that whichever option you choose, it is based on a 30-day trial. 37 Signals, I’m sure, tested this and found they get their best conversion by emphasizing one of the more affordable options.

In the end, the key is to simplify the process, not make it more complex by cluttering it with unnecessary information.

Tactic #3: Get rid of poor leads fast

On the other hand, you need to monitor your leads to identify those that are dead or worthless. Sure, you probably love seeing a large list, but digging into your analytics will tell you another story. And it won’t be good.

Lots of people probably subscribed to your email list but don’t engage in any meaningful way. They are probably too lazy to unsubscribe, but they are still on your list. You need to get them out of there because when you purge your list, you actually increase the value of the entire list. You boost your deliverability rate and email reputation.

So, how do you go about purging your poor leads from your marketing system? Here are some ideas:

  • Remove or correct bad domains – sometimes leads share bad domain names. Sometimes this happens by accident, and other times people enter bad domain names on purpose. Regardless, identify them immediately and remove or correct them.
  • Remove distribution accounts – for example, ISPs look for emails sent to distribution lists, or large email groups, and consider them spam. Plus, emailing to such lists is bad business. It’s like sending a letter to the “Resident.”
  • Remove spam email addresses – some leads slip in with the word “spam” in the email address. Pull those as soon as possible as they can make you look bad to your ISP.
  • Remove inactive addresses – for example, if a lead hasn’t opened an email in three or six months, remove that lead.
  • Use data checkers at the point of signing up – these tools check for things like correct domain name, etc.

You can also purge leads based on these three criteria:

  1. Do they have the authority to buy?
  2. Do they have the budget to buy?
  3. When do they plan on buying?

The leads you want your salespeople to avoid are called NINAsThese are the leads that have No Influence, No Authority. These leads will waste your time and money! Let marketing nurture them.

Tactic #4: Reduce losing leads

Leakage is what occurs when good leads leave your sales funnel. With marketing automation you can easily plug the hole in the funnel that causes those leads to leave. But you have to find out where the leaks are occurring.

Your first step is to map out the life of a lead. Take it from cold to close, trying to identify those points in the funnel where the lead is falling off. Do you see a point where leads are pouring out? Or just trickling? Here are five ways to prevent leakage:

  • Lead scoring model – according to a Sirius Decisions report, about 80% of leads are not followed up on by sales, which is probably a result from the two departments not talking to each other. They should talk and figure out what is a qualified lead. When a lead reaches that score, then marketing passes that lead to sales.
  • Sales alerts – a good marketing automation system will also alert sales when a lead reaches a critical score so the right message can be sent.
  • Lead nurturing process for decision-makers – because 78% of business decision-makers aren’t talking to sales reps, you need to develop a process that gets sales to that lead with relevant, personalized and simple information that gives the lead what they want.
  • Monitor changes in leads – optimize your marketing automation to identify when a lead changes score. This means you pay attention to things like budget, the lead’s role in the organization and the need of the lead or their company. If they drop in score, the lead should be passed back to marketing. A good marketing system should automate this process as much as possible.
  • Result tracking and revision – successful marketing involves constant monitoring of results and tweaking of your process. You should spend as much time on metrics as you do on any other process. Where are bottlenecks in the process? Where does the process fizzle? Are you and sales on the same page with lead scoring?

Constant communication between marketing and sales and a highly optimized and automated marketing system should help you plug any holes you have in your sales funnel.


If you’ve ever fought with sales or management about certain advertising campaigns, then you know what a pain it can be to argue your point without correct data. Just implementing a marketing automation program can change the course of your business. But when you get it working in a tip-top shape, then delivering clear results is your best proof for making business decisions. It’s hard to argue with good results!

What tactics have you used to improve your ROI with marketing automation?

P.S. If you need help with marketing automation click here.


  1. Man, an incredible amount of info and lessons in this post. If someone took the first 6 months of 2012 to follow these guidelines, that last 6 months could be explosive. I desperately need to do this.

    • Thanks David,

      Definitely give these tips a try. Growing a profitable business is all about constantly taking small steps to change and improve it.

  2. Hi Patel

    .I use to have a one size fits all approach. To get visitors to sign up for my newsletter. But I have recently changed to Newsletter segmentation. For example.

    I have a newsletter for people who wish to know how to build a list. And I have a separate one for people who wish to learn Affiliate Marketing.

    To date I have 6 different types of news-letters. That cover topics such as. Consultancy, Social Media, and Traffic generation.

    By doing this. I now have a clearer indication of exactly what type of information visitors to my blog want.

    And it helps me to tailor their needs better.

    • Cool idea Paul,

      It is always a good idea to try to do things differently to see what works. Thanks for sharing what you found works best for you. Hopefully others will find it helpful as well.

  3. Thank you, Neil. So much information that comes from experience. I will try to do it your way.

  4. Hi Neil,

    What you say is and mostly true and interesting. However, I must say that Internet Marketing has become a complexity to be packaged and re-packaged. Brian Tracy once said about dieting, “Nobody could sell a diet that says four words, “eat less, exercise more!” So for that reason they try desperately to create their own USP. It’s all about massive action and the guru won’t simplify that when they sell you the $1997 package because it would damage their sales!

    • Hey David,

      You have a good point. Marketing has definitely become more complex. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the matter.

  5. One more reaction ::
    I admire how thorough this is and how helpful for B2B contacts. But gotta say I’m tired of coaches and gurus and lifestyle ‘experts’ who use the same tactics to sell cruddy info-products.

    The whole “sign up for an e-newsletter to get my free report so I can put you on my list” model is YUCK. I don’t think it’s going to be very sustainable as people get decision fatigue and info overload.

    • True, sometimes people do get overwhelmed with information. However if you are providing them with useful information then it should be fine. I appreciate you sharing your thoughts on the matter.

  6. Amazing. ‘Generosity As A Business’. That’s what I call Content Marketing.

  7. Spending time segmenting lists is a great way to get to know your key readers/leads. I’m currently using email outreach, rapportive, and followerwonk to engage with followers and turn leads into sales. What tools do you use to automate the engagement process and turn leads into customers?

  8. This post makes me think about all the tactics I’m not doing:
    “Tactic #3: Get rid of poor leads fast” – definitely worth investigating!

  9. Neil,

    I see that you mentioned Surveymonkey.com, totally different tool from Kissmetrics… old fashioned but powerful surveys that are always needed…


  10. Neil I was wondering if you could say more about getting rid of bad leads? I never really fully understood that.

    Is there any wisdom to retaining those subscribers for social proof purposes and the odd chance that they become re-engaged?



    • You could do that, but in many cases they will take up a lot of time. If you focus your time on qualified company and leads, you will not only make more money, but you will a much better engaged audience. As bad leads tend to not be engaged.

  11. These are really great tips Neil and we should also not spam our customers(The guys do a lot)..Thanks

  12. Hi Neil,
    I didn’t know about removing bad leads. I’m going to look more into that! Thanks for sharing useful content.

    • Yep, removing leads that are not longer active or useful will help you to better focus on leads are useful. As well as making room for new ones.

  13. Hi,

    Nice point for all of them who are not getting too much success in their business often what happens some times we are doing each and every thing for our business but leads can’t convert in to the sales so for that we should see inside ourself why we are not doing this all and beside that we should also run a survey for our customers like that “”Are you happy with our services and products.”” then i think we should know more about our mistakes.

    • Customer feedback is always the best way to improve. A survey could be a good idea. You just want to make sure you don’t overwhelm your readers with to many questions. Keep the questions simple yet important.

  14. Drupal development :

    So much information about marketing business. I am gonna follow your tips and let you know what happens then.

  15. For me Twitter is a best place for Business leads.

    • TheWorldOrBust :

      I am trying to get into twitter more, so many people praise it, but I feel you really have to be on there a lot and really be smart with every tweet to make things happen for real.

      • It is something you have to be able to dedicate a lot of time learning how to utilize. It may just be easier to hire someone to do it for you so that you can get the best use out of it.

    • I agree, all social media sites are helpful in gaining leads and making connections, especially Twitter.

  16. I feel this article is more about segmenting marketing list instead of marketing automation.

    Still a great article though.


  17. Christopher Rees :

    Hi Neil,

    Great information as usual, I really appreciate the effort you put into consistently providing quality content.

    Market segmentation is a great topic and I see the value for sure, we’re still wrestling with initial development of a good sales team.

    One question I have, and perhaps one of your readers could elaborate, is HOW do you develop a sales person or sales team, when you’re a startup on a budget?

    We’re looking for a sales person or sales team that understands selling computer based training (IT Certification Training) that would come on board for commission and/or stock in the company. THAT has been our biggest challenge, I’d love to see a blog post on services that provide sales people to small start-ups, or ways/ methods to acquire talented sales people that perform.

    As we all know, sales is the critical component of any company, it’s not a “build it and they will come” environment, you need talented, motivated sales people to close the deals.

    If anyone has any insight, or is interested in such a position, I’d be very interested in learning more.

    Thanks again!!

    Christopher Rees

    • Hey Christopher,

      Here is a post I wrote on starting up a sales team that might help you: The Startup Guide to Building a Killer Sales Team

  18. Auto pilot cannot work well in a long term.

    • TheWorldOrBust :

      It can if your cognizant and still screening things, just like Neil still answers emails and comments on stuff even though things are pretty robo.

    • It is possible if you keep an eye on it. Nothing works perfectly on its own but it can work if you keep up with everything else that needs to be done manually.

  19. This post has a lot of super relevant stuff. My mind is spinning right now.

    My gut instinct says that most people will see this and be perplexed and wonder how to do it.

    The way I see it…if someone were to improve this stuff 1% a week then your business would explode by a large amount at the end of the year.

    Any recommendations on the tech behind making this happen?



  20. Great article. Really makes me think about how to use aweber (or any other autoresponder) to its full capability.

  21. TheWorldOrBust :

    God I need to automate, it’s just so much damn work in the beginning, but obv worth it.

  22. Thank you so much for another great post. So much information!
    I will try to follow all those step-by-step instructions!

  23. Basically looking at your ROI chart and know how to improve it. The four ways here are very well explain.

  24. Web Design Resource :

    The idea to remove poor leads is the best option for growing business because most of the time we do our best in the business but because of poor leads, business suffers from bad impact in the market. So in my point of lead should be real and effective one.

    • You have got it. With the excess leads removed you have a better chance at increasing your business with valid or new leads.

  25. Hello Neil,

    Your blog is really more precious than a treasure, it contains very useful tips and ideas that should every one take them from a trusted hand as yours, tactics that you have provided are very simplified and examples are very clear and well explained. The marketing automation strategy can help every Businessman to go his extra miles through success. This strategy can really facilitate Business transactions between individuals.

    Thanks a lot for this blog, I really liked it!

    Best Regards,

    • Thank you Yasir,

      I appreciate the kind words. Good to know you liked it. It is always good to hear what my readers think.

  26. Excellent Article… I have one question, how can we found the spam email addresses in our list?

    Thanks in Advance…

    • You have to look through them and check out the names. See if any contain the word “spam” in the email address or any names that look like spam.

  27. Hi Neil,

    In my business am getting an normal lead but am unable to expand it.so what’s the mistake can u guide some tips


  28. Mohideen @ Make Money Blog :

    How to target the right people Neil for eg: if we have an 1000 of email list we can’t send the bulk mail right how many need to be sent per day what source need to followed it up just suggest me an tips

    cheers 🙂

    • You can send them warm up emails and rip them into a lead system. Once they give you their company information you can figure out which leads are good or bad.

  29. Great post neil once again a clear explanation. Thanks

  30. Google Adwords :

    Some marketing companies insist the sales department for more sales in the product, but even the employee of that company knows that the product is not worth than the competitors.

  31. Edwin Arenas @ Multinivel en Internet :

    I suffer when I need to buy something and just don’t find the next step. It’s like they made their job of convincing me to buy, but then just keep putting barriers for me to actually buy.

    The buy now button should be clear and visible.

    • It’s funny how a lot of people don’t make their buy now button clear…

      • You have to optimize your website all the time and to make it as simple as possible. There is no point in having a complicated website with lots of stuff on it. An easier and faster website is much better than a stuffed and slower one.

  32. To date I have 6 different types of news-letters. That cover topics such as. Consultancy, Social Media, and Traffic generation.

  33. I don’t think so that the automated way to marketing is more powerful than the manual way,
    but still there are lots of people who are using this…

  34. What if the business, is nonprofit Lol, then what route should I take?

  35. Interview Questions :

    This helped me an unbelievable amount. I have yet to implement even a mailing list because – to be frank – I’m not sure what I’m doing. This is a great resource for learning your way around email marketing to drive more traffic to your blog. Thanks!

  36. It is a great article – takes a lot of work to make a success online nowadays – good articles like this help us all.

  37. Most of my leads come from referrals, but I am working putting together a email list. Thanks!

    • That works too. I believe once you get a strong email list going you will be able to build even bigger.

      Keep at it!

  38. debt management :

    we were doing automation on our e-mail marketing and it is really a great help. from the time that we search for e-mail leads up to the time that we will generate results from the campaign itself, all are being automated. we did not incur additional costs because our programmer have created a program for all of the processes. surely, automation is a big help.

  39. Funny Pictures :

    Mm.. I am really in the beginning of my marketing “job”. According to this post, I see that I should read a lot of more info before telling somebody “I know anything about marketing…” // Great post 🙂

  40. Top Smartphones :

    Excellent post. Just wanted to comment on your suggestion about using a very focused funnel. I once experienced that the information given on the landing page was too much, so that the visitors didn’t continue in the viewing more pages and clicking ads (which was my goal). Analysis of the keywords used to reach the page as well of the low conversion had me rewrite the content and conversions improved over time.

    • Interesting findings, I could see how to much information could turn people away. It is always best to keep information simple, less is more. I am glad you were able to alter your site and increase your conversions. Thanks for sharing your experience with everyone.

  41. cheese of the month :

    Slightly off topic, but you have a great service you are using and I meant to check who it was but, I recently saw an add on a random site that stated i had not been to your blog in a bit and that I should come back and check it out. I was really impressed with it. Nice tool.

  42. A great article where marketing and technology are beautifully mixed. Few more great lessons here for someone who did the gritty side of marketing — the old fashioned way and putting it alongside the marvels of automation. Way to go, Neil.

    • Thank you Jojo,

      I appreciate your support, glad you liked it. Sometime you have to mix a little bit of the old with the new.

  43. hey neil,
    a very nicely written article. very helpful tactics you have mentioned in this post. really found this post useful.



  44. IN these days, people are getting practical with regards on marketing.
    I am just curious if how or what should I do to my small business could be done without nothing to worry of everything on marketing.?

  45. I will try these tips Neil, Hoping it will work. 🙂

  46. I’m currently using email outreach, rapportive, and followerwonk to engage with followers and turn leads into sales. What tools do you use to automate the engagement process and turn leads into customers?

  47. I like this post. Keep it up..:) Marketing Automation is also good for promote your business.

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  52. Indeed, considering that various industries and markets are experiencing incessant growth of B2B customers, automating complex B2B marketing functions has become a necessity. Job well done, Neil.

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