Marketing automation tools for building a pipeline of digital leads

8 mins read

You’ll be surprised at how easy it is to automate just about every step of the digital marketing and pre-sales lead qualification process. The choice of tools is also awesome.

marketing-automation-tools

Scott Brinker, one of the top names in marketing technology, created the famous Martech 5000 list of companies jostling in this space a few years ago. That list has now grown to over 8,000 martech companies.

But you can’t just add a platform into your stack because it automates what you’re doing manually. The goal of technology and digital transformation has to be customer-centric - connecting people with people.

Use technology to move your leads forward through the customer journey and enable your customers to speak with the right person in your sales team, whenever they are ready to buy.

The automation tools and platforms listed below will help you automate the process of learning who is your customer, how to reach them, and get them to inquire about your product.

Once the lead is raised, how do you capture and respond to it instantly? How to qualify leads before handing them over to Sales? How to automate the marketing processes that happen after Sales, including customer feedback to improve CX, getting referrals and testimonials, and engaging existing customers to increase the lifetime value of each customer?

Each category in this list of marketing automation tools will help you automate an essential marketing process before and after the CRM, and a simple way to resolve the rather vexing issue of choosing the right CRM for your business.


1. Market research
2. Content creation & Marketing
3. Email marketing
4. Lead capture & Qualification
5. Lead management
6. Lead response
7. Lead nurture
8. Customer experience
9. Referrals & Testimonials
10. Customer marketing

1. Market research

Market research

Make my Persona - Persona creation tool from Hubspot. Create a buyer persona that your entire company can use to market, sell, and serve better.

Fuel Cycle Ignition - Automated insights for fast and easy market research to help automate persona interviews and surveys. Ignition provides out-of-the-box agile market research solutions to help marketers gain massive efficiencies on testing ad campaigns.

Google Keyword Planner - Research and discover the keywords that your competitors are using, and the ones that you should focus on. Essential first step after you create customer / buyer personas. Create a list of keywords your buyer personas are using, and then keyword titles as part of your content plan.

2. Content creation and marketing

Content creation and marketing

Copymatic - Automate your content creation efforts with AI powered copywriting and content creation options. The app produces everything from blog and website titles and full-page content to social media snippets, article rewrites, video scripts, email newsletters and more.

Wordpress - For the record, we stopped using Wordpress and moved to our own custom-made content management system to improve the page loading speed. Wordpress plug-ins and the scripts that were being loaded was bloating every page load. But Wordpress is an excellent tool to automate content publishing on schedules, and for dynamic updates to your pages.

Smartling - Smartling is a website translation tool. Automate, manage and professionally translate your content across devices and platforms.

Unbounce - Automate creation of landing pages. Ideally, you require to have at least 40 or more of these landing pages (and run campaigns to drive traffic to these pages) before you start seeing significant results in terms of increased conversion rates and rising sales revenue.

Leadfeeder - Only 2-3% of your website visitors will try to raise a lead. What about the remaining 97-98%? Use Leadfeeder to identify the silent majority of your visitors. It shows you the company name, and potential contacts that you can reach out to.

Google Adwords - Complement your content marketing with paid search and display ads on Google Adwords. Get assistance from firms like Wordstream to setup and automate your Adwords campaigns.

Facebook Lead Ads - Help your customers discover your business on Facebook and Instagram, and make it easy for them to reach out to you with an inquiry. Put your social media outreach on auto-pilot with a steady pipeline of leads through form fills generated by Facebook Lead Ads campaigns.

LinkedIn Sales Navigator - For sales professionals who want to individually tap into LinkedIn's network to increase pipeline and find more leads.

VanillaSoft - Cold calling is still the single most effective technique in sales prospecting. Telemarketing and SMS campaigns require a local Telco in your country, but you’ll also need a cloud telephony number provider like Twilio. Automation features in your inside sales dialer should include progressive auto dialing, dynamically branching call scripts, and appointment setting software.

Growsurf - This referral management software automates the processes required for getting new leads through word of mouth and referrals from your existing customers.

ManyChat - Find out how to use ManyChat for Instagram automation to run influencer marketing campaigns.

3. Email marketing

Apollo.io - Mailchimp is everyone’s first choice,but our email marketing activities such as list building and follow-up mails only took off when we switched to Apollo and automated just about the entire process. Automate your time-consuming tapping of LinkedIn’s network using the Apollo extension and by searching within Apollo’s own database to create targeted and segmented email lists within minutes. Coupled with Apollo’s templates, mail scheduling and follow-up sequence features, it fully automates email marketing - the single most required but hard to manage component of digital marketing.

4. Lead capture & qualification

lead-qualification-using-lucep.png

Lucep - Don’t waste your time qualifying digital leads. Lucep’s automated lead qualification system validates numbers, gets leads to confirm their interest, and continues to engage via phone, SMS, email and WhatsApp, delivering only scheduled appointments to your sales team.

VanillaSoft - Cold calling is still the single most effective technique in sales prospecting. Telemarketing and SMS campaigns require a local Telco in your country, but you’ll also need a cloud telephony number provider like Twilio. Automation features in your inside sales dialer should include progressive auto dialing, dynamically branching call scripts, and appointment setting software.

BANT powered by Cloudkettle - BANT+C is a free app for Salesforce, from CloudKettle, that can be installed in minutes to create an easy-to-follow, better way of qualifying leads.

Einstein Automate - Build fully integrated end-to-end automation for the Salesforce Customer 360.

Xperience by Kentico - Set up a logical lead scoring system that will help you better understand your leads and streamline the process of identifying which are relevant and ready to convert to customers.

5. Lead management and customer relationship

lead-management-and-customer-relationship

Which CRM is best for you? This is probably the single most important marketing automation tool that you will be using, so we’ll make it very simple.

Instead of a massive list of all the CRMs in the world, we’re going to list here the best CRM in three categories - free, affordable, and feature-loaded:

a. Hubspot - Undeniably the best free CRM available, and they provide a ton of free resources and tools to complement your use of the Hubspot CRM.

b. Pipedrive - We can personally vouch that it’s highly functional and worth the investment. Easy to setup and integrate with existing third-party tools and any others that you might be planning to get.

c. Salesforce - By far the world’s most popular CRM. Salesforce offers versatile capabilities and scaling for enterprise users.

6. Lead response

Lucep Callback - Instant omnichannel response to all your digital leads. Move your leads to the phone, and speak with your customers when they are looking for you.

Haptik.ai - Build powerful Intelligent Virtual Assistants with Haptik's Enterprise CX platform. Amplify engagement, increase conversions, and deliver delightful support

7. Lead nurture

lead-nurture

The two things you need to properly nurture your leads that are not ready to buy yet is:

a. Engaging content to educate your leads, and

b. Regular engagement via email or other channels to share this engaging content.

We’ll share with you here two tools that are extremely efficient at fulfilling the two aforementioned requirements.

Curata - Discover, curate and share relevant content from around the web. Curata's software enables marketers to scale content marketing to grow leads and revenue.

Marketo Engage - Marketo Engage is the world’s largest marketing automation platform that gets measurable results and keeps customers engaged and coming back. Also, they have a very useful collection of resources around lead nurturing, which you can access here.

8. Customer experience improvement

customer-experience-improvement

Customer-centricity in marketing comes from constantly improving your messaging based on feedback from customers. Make use of the automated customer experience platforms below to finetune your marketing strategy and improve CX.

Retently - Capture, analyze and act on every signal across the customer journey with this powerful CX improvement platform. Features include net promoter score (NPS) survey automation.

Smaply - Free journey mapping software to visualize your customer journey and step into your customers' shoes to understand their needs, pain points and feelings.

9. Referrals and testimonials

referrals-and-testimonials

Getting testimonials and referrals from your existing customers means that you’re doing something right. Automate engagement with your existing customers using these platforms:

Growsurf - This referral management software automates the processes required for getting new leads through word of mouth and referrals from your existing customers.

TrustPulse - Leverage the true power of social proof to instantly increase site conversions by up to 15%.

Referral Rock - Design marketing programs that make your business easy to share with a couple clicks. Track and optimize the word of mouth you’ve been missing out on.

10. Omnichannel customer marketing automation

omnichannel-customer-marketing-automation

Selling to your own customers by engaging them on different platforms is the easiest way to rack up new sales without incurring additional customer acquisition costs.

Omnichannel engagement produces 200% more sales revenue from the same customers - without all the costs associated with the steps listed above.

By Zal Dastur

January 3rd, 2022

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