The landscape of MarTech systems continues to grow exponentially. With over 7,000 systems now available to marketers, where do you even begin to determine where to start in your business?
If you are looking for that first major investment into MarTech, there is no better place to start than selecting the proper marketing automation system. It will act as the basis for all of your other MarTech and will be the connecting link to your CRM.
In this article, we’ll breakdown what marketing automation is, why it’s valuable, and how to implement it.
What is Marketing Automation?
Who better to explain what marketing automation is than one of the major players in the game? According HubSpot, marketing automation is all about using software to automate marketing activities. Many marketing departments automate repetitive tasks such as email marketing, social media posting, and even ad campaigns - not just for the sake of efficiency, but so they can provide a more personalized experience for their customers. The technology of marketing automation makes these tasks easier.
What’s more is that businesses can target prospects with automated emails across multiple channels. Using pre-determined criteria, targeted massages are sent depending on their position in the sales cycle, intent to buy, and/or industry segment.
Marketing automation relieves marketers of repetitive and time-consuming tasks and that’s only part of what makes it such a valuable tool.
Pros and Cons of Marketing Automation
The list of benefits from marketing automation is quite long, but let’s look at a few of the major advantages.
- Improved productivity and efficiency – Marketing automation allows you to free up your team’s valuable time so they can work on more important and productive projects. Just think about how much time you’d save by using one platform to post on social media, build email nurturing campaigns, and create landing pages.
- Marketing and sales alignment – We’ve talked a lot about this in previous blogs. You want to ensure that the goals of both sales and marketing identically match-up. One of those goals may be that both departments agree to target an agreed upon list of accounts.
Marketing automation should be the prime way that you do that. It allows you to set completely customizable workflows that can alert your sales team that a new lead needs their attention. If your teams are targeting the same accounts, marketing can help sales identify when and how the lead is engaging with your organization.
- Higher conversion rate – Marketing automation can improve your conversion rate in using email automation. You can use email sequences that are sent based on prospect behaviour, buyer persona, industry segment, and/or any number of other criteria. If you do this correctly, your prospects will get the messages you send when they need them with relevant content.
- Accurate reporting – Analytics reporting can be an overwhelming task, but with the help of marketing automation, it doesn’t have to be. A good marketing automation platform will do all the heavy lifting for you by generating reports that are easily digestible and understood. Having a clear picture, you can see what’s working and what’s not and make the necessary adjustments to improve.
- Lead scoring – With the help of marketing automation, lead scoring is made easy. You’re able to track the level of engagement and determine whether a lead is ready to move down the sales funnel. This is important because it allows the sales team to strike while the iron is hot and reach out quickly to the prospect. This goes hand in hand with sales and marketing alignment.
- Lead nurturing – With lead nurturing, you’re looking to reinforce your relationship with the buyer at every stage of the sales journey. According to Marketo, lead nurturing campaigns not only allow you to interact with buyers, but you can also use the data you collect to gauge their interest and monitor behavior to further optimize future campaigns and increase return on investment (ROI).
- Scalable – As important as marketing automation is for smaller start-ups companies, its capabilities don’t end there. As your small start-up blossoms and builds, your marketing automation strategy will grow with it. According to Techopedia, tools that are scalable are advantageous because they are more adaptable to the changing needs or demands of its users or clients.
You’ll notice how ‘con’ is singular. That’s because there’s just one. The only drawback, at least from my perspective, is not related the marketing automation tool itself, it revolves around the time and monetary investment required to setup the system internally.
According to Andrea Lechner-Becker, Chief Marketing Officer of LeadMD, if marketers don’t follow data best practices, they will eventually manage to mess up the whole process and do the opposite of what marketing automation is supposed to achieve.
When not implemented and/or managed properly, marketing automation can deliver more headaches than benefits to your marketing efforts.
Building a Successful Strategy for Marketing Automation
I could probably write an entire blog post on marketing automation strategy alone, but for the purpose of this one, I’ll keep it to the Reader’s Digest version.
Have you ever looked around your home and saw dishes piled up, laundry to fold, vacuuming to be done, and a tub that needs scrubbing? Have you also felt so overwhelmed that you didn’t know where to start and decide that sitting on the couch eating a box of Pop Tarts is easier, so you just do that instead? Me too!
If you don’t break it down into smaller more manageable chucks, deploying a marketing automation system can give you the same overwhelming feeling that an untidy house can give you.
Manageable chunk number one – Define your goals and objectives. There are a great many things that a marketing automation platform can do. It’s best to get organized and decide what’s most important for your company before you launch full steam ahead into using the actual tool.
Manageable chunk number two – Make sure the users are familiar with the platform. Take advantage of any training opportunities your marketing automation supplier provides. Once you have the foundational know-how, start using some of the simpler functions the system can perform. Master the simple things, and then you’ll be ready for manageable chunk number three.
Manageable chunk number three – Build on your processes and capabilities. You’ve defined your objectives. You’ve wet your feet using the platform. Now it’s time to launch into the nitty gritty. You want to make sure you’re testing out different processes before you decide which ones will work best for your company. Feel free to start with a smaller project because it will be easier to manage when you’re building, testing, implementing, and if necessary, adjusting requirements.
With so many advantages and only one real disadvantage, which let’s be honest, isn’t really a disadvantage at all, it's not hard to come to the conclusion that marketing automation is an investment worth making.
From improved productivity, to lead nurturing, to sales and marketing alignment, and beyond it’s easy to see why marketing automation should be included in your overall marketing strategy.
Once you've implemented a successful marketing automation strategy, it might be time to turn your sights to sales enablement. By using sales enablement systems in tandem with marketing automation you can realize massive benefits and much higher ROI on marketing content.