While marketing automation and public relations (PR) are two very important components of the sales and marketing funnel, they often work separately to achieve different goals. What marketers often do not realize is that they can work together to increase the impact of a marketing campaign.
Public Relations is about creating awareness and credibility for a brand. PR teams are storytellers tasked with creating content that will appeal to and engage potential customers. Often these stories get told through the news media, but the same content can be utilized and shared in marketing automation campaigns to ultimately nurture leads. In turn, marketing automation can be used to inform PR campaigns and content by targeting customers with automated messaging such as email nurture campaigns, text message campaigns, etc.
In this article, we’ll address how these two disciplines can work together to strengthen marketing campaigns with consistent and cohesive brand messaging across the customer journey.
Nurturing Leads and Building Trust
Sharing useful and informative content in an email campaign, for example, can create additional interest among consumers. Snippets of content sent via email encourage potential customers to seek more information on the company’s website. This interest in content is one more step in nurturing leads to conversion. For example, let’s say a company caters to the older adult community and they send out an email with a few details about how older adults can stay active as they age. A lead may think this is useful content and want to read more so they click the link in the email and head over to the website to download the full article. Now the company has positioned itself as a thought leader and is strengthening that relationship which will hopefully lead to conversion. According to Salesforce, those who use marketing automation can see conversion rates increase by 30% or more.
Sharing earned media content, or positive news stories about your brand, can also improve brand perception, build credibility and increase trust, all of which are critical to nurturing leads. According to Gleanster Research, 50% of leads are qualified but not yet ready to buy. Marketing automation campaigns can nurture a lead to convert using quality content driven by PR.
Driving Public Relations Content
Marketing automation also nurtures leads by maintaining regular contact with your sales pipeline while public relations drives awareness through storytelling or customized content. The marketing automation process can be a means to determine what resonates with your audience by tracking how audiences interact with different content. Using these events as an indicator can help brands understand customer interests and trends, which can then be turned into relevant newsworthy pitches to the news media, press releases, whitepapers, blogs, thought leadership articles and more.
Marketing automation is also useful to track and analyze data. These tools provide information about the performance and effectiveness of marketing campaigns driven by tactics such as email nurture campaigns. Marketers can see open and click-through rates, conversion rates, lead generation as well as customer behavior and return on investment (ROI).
PR on the other hand is often hard to measure because it generally doesn’t have a direct correlation to sales. Rather, the job of PR is to drive awareness, credibility and trust through continuous positive news stories about a brand. Marketing automation offers a means to measure interest in content more accurately through the mentioned key performance indicators (KPIs). This can be very useful to PR professionals when creating customized content. Marketers can ask themselves, which message drove the most open or click-thru rates? Then, they can use that data to conclude what content resonates most with leads.
Each tactic has access to different tools, metrics, and perspectives. Marketing automation can create more strategic campaigns knowing what content is of interest to potential customers and PR can pitch story ideas more strategically knowing what content drives engagement and nurtures leads.
A well-rounded marketing campaign consists of a variety of tactics that ultimately drive customers to take action with a brand. The ‘Rule of Seven’ is an old marketing adage that states that a potential customer needs to be exposed to a message at least seven times before they will take action. While this may have been true years ago, today, we are exposed to so much more stimuli. In a world where there are a lot of choices, it’s important to stay top of mind with consumers, so the collaboration of marketing automation and public relations creates additional touchpoints for potential customers.
When a prospect reads an article about a brand and gets an email from them, it reinforces the message and helps the brand to stay top of mind. PR content reaches a broader audience while marketing automation provides more personalized and targeted messages to subscribers.
These are just two touchpoints in a complex customer journey. For example, when a customer thinks about purchasing a company’s product or service, they are likely going to do some research first. An email may have prompted them to consider making a purchase but now they want to know more. They may read a blog, check customer reviews, see ads or even talk to friends or family. When they move on to the purchase phase, the touchpoints may be the website, a conversation with a sales rep over the phone or an in-person interaction. Earned media also plays a role in the customer journey impacting the decision buying process in both the pre-purchase and post-purchase phases. According to a study published by Authority Website, 56% of marketers state that posting compelling content at every stage in the purchasing process is critical to email marketing success.
Marketing automation and public relations are two tactics in a greater marketing strategy that can work together to nurture leads and drive storytelling and PR content. Purposeful content can demonstrate thought leadership, build trust and credibility, strengthen relationships and provide measurement tools to further assess the interests of customers. Both tactics are equally important, and if used together can amplify your message and provide useful insights to help optimize campaigns over time.