Marketing Automation: Is It Worth It?
Marketing automation tactics are some of the most useful tools marketers have at their disposal. However, they always come up as a subject of debate in many offices. A “should we, shouldn’t we?” type of debate that usually involves someone mentioning budgets at least 31 times, someone citing potential changes in company processes and training, and everyone posing as the obligatory skeptic questioning whether marketing automation is really necessary or not.
What these conversations usually miss is that the market has created the need for automation. Research shows that in the era of self-directed buyers in both the consumer market and the B2B market, the buyer controls the buying process more than the seller controls the selling process1. In this environment, 91% of marketing automation software users claim it’s crucial to executing online marketing efforts, the vast majority of high-performing companies have been using marketing automation for at least three years, and more than two-thirds of marketing leaders use a marketing automation platform 2.
The benefits that are realized by the automation and operationalization of marketing activities, and the ability to manage general marketing tasks, cannot be overstated. Marketers know this, but the skeptics in the organization still need proof that it’s a worthwhile investment.
So, what exactly are the benefits you can reap by leveraging a marketing automation solution — what is the bang for your buck?
The answer? Quite a lot, actually.
The most obvious benefit of marketing automation is its contribution to productivity. It streamlines and automates much of the day-to-day marketing tasks and improves the efficiency of the organization.
Targeted email campaigns, lead filtering workflows, publishing and monitoring posts on social media, individual campaign coordination and monitoring, and just about everything you can think of can be scheduled and facilitated.
This ability to streamline general marketing tasks frees up your marketing team to focus on more creative and strategic projects, as well as do their main job better and more efficiently.
In addition to the basics of automating and streamlining marketing operations, many marketing automation products offer additional, more advanced tools. Many of these tools aren’t available outside of marketing automation solutions, or they are more difficult to do manually.
Useful options like landing page creation and management, A/B testing on email campaigns, programmatic workflows, smart forms and contact lists, and all in-depth operational tools enable more efficient and effective execution of inbound and outbound marketing tactics.
Of course, for any business, capturing leads and nurturing them is (or should be!) a major priority. After all, attracting, converting, and closing leads means revenue, right?
Well that’s where marketing automation tools offer a significant advantage — by providing marketers the opportunity to set up all kinds of lead capture mechanisms, including pop-ups, gated content with smart forms, subscription programs, and many others. These tools deliver a constant stream of information about the target audience leads that enter your marketing funnel, which you can then engage with and nurture further as you move them through the customer journey.
With these tools, at any given time, your marketing team should be able to correlate all of their activities with their impact on the bottom line.
CRM and Sales Integration
As for customer relationship management — or CRM to us cool, sunglass-toting digital marketers — marketing automation is one of your best friends here too.
Before automation tools existed, marketers had to use a more manual process to qualify and nurture leads and eventually pass them to sales. Typically, the process happened in a tense exchange that took place in a neutral, demilitarized zone with ambassadors from both parties reluctantly swapping information, before tactically retreating to opposite ends of the office.
But with marketing automation software, both teams have greater visibility over the buyer’s journey, as well as greater control over the lead generation and nurturing process that ultimately better informs both marketing and sales processes.
So, marketing automation provides a two-fold benefit to CRM and sales integration. It provides greater control and visibility over a buyer’s journey and nurturing in a centralized database, and it enables the integration of marketing and sales processes through the continuous exchange of intelligence between the two teams.
Greater cooperation means greater efficiency. That means, you guessed it, direct impact on revenue.
Analytics and reporting are a crucial part of just about every marketing automation software, or business process for that matter.
By giving marketers the ability to automatically collect, clean, and analyze rich data, marketing automation software enables them to make informed, strategic decisions about the marketing strategy they are following and the tactics they are using, including how to best nurture leads, optimize campaigns, improve targeting, and enhance content. Whatever the strategy calls for, there’s data that can help your marketing team do it better.
Can this be done manually? Yes, of course. But it takes longer, is less efficient, locks up valuable resources with manual tasks, and distracts your team’s attention from the real job — managing the marketing process to maintain your connection with your market and generate qualified leads that can be passed to sales.
At the end of the day, there are a number of things to consider when contemplating whether or not to integrate a marketing automation software solution, and this might not have convinced you, which is fair. But here’s a final thought.
It’s not a good idea to run a marathon in dress shoes, if your competition is all geared up in the latest and greatest running shoes. To stay ahead of the competition and become a marketing superhero, make sure you’ve got your Bat-belt completely kitted out, otherwise competitors who have theirs all geared up are going to be ten steps ahead of you. And marketing automation software might just be the grappling hook you need to be the best Batman you can be.