Marketing automation is undoubtedly something that is on most marketers’ radar screen for the coming year—and that’s a good thing. Marketers’ roles have undergone significant transformation and in most companies the marketing team is charged with attracting, nurturing, and filling the sales pipeline with leads.
The way to do that in a cost-effective, efficient manner: Marketing automation (MA). As a result, MA software has quickly become table stakes for today’s companies and blossomed into an industry worth an estimated $1.8 billion, with an annual growth at the rate of 50 percent per year for the past three years.
Let’s explore why marketing automation is so important and how you can use it to grow both your lead pipeline and percentage of closed deals.
At its core, MA is the use of technology to streamline processes and efficiently develop and manage campaigns through a variety of channels. For example, a marketing automation platform integrated with a CRM will allow you to segment an audience, develop messaging for targeted email campaigns, nurture leads, and track and evaluate the effectiveness of your efforts. When you move your lead management process to a CRM and marketing automation platform, it allows your marketing team to evaluate, score, and qualify leads before delivering them to the sales team, freeing up time and resources and focusing them on the things most important to converting prospects to customers.
To those at the early stages of considering the adoption of marketing automation, it can seem daunting. But doesn’t have to be. There are many solutions to choose from and quite a few that don’t require a huge capital investment. Things you need to ask yourself before buying any CRM or MA software (or a combination of the two) is not only what the initial cost is, but what will be required internally in terms of resources and training to manage the program. In addition, look for success stories and testimonials from other customers and, as you are involved in the selection process, don’t be shy about asking the vendors with whom you are considering working to provide customer references. Then call those references and discuss their experiences with the platform. Don’t stop there. Ask your marketing peers for their thoughts and opinions, and feedback on their experience with platforms you are considering buying. The more you know going into this decision, the happier you’ll be with the outcome.
Today’s marketing campaigns are like an intricate dance of moving parts, and it’s our job as marketers to skillfully manage all these parts and keep increasing the tempo as we go along. Today’s customers are savvy, impatient, and demanding, so effectively managing your campaigns across all channels—giving them what they need, when they need it, where they want it—is key. That’s where automation comes in. Marketing automation can help streamline and integrate all your processes, and make managing them a breeze. Here are some things to consider on that front:
Want to take a deeper dive into channels and learn the differences between multichannel and omnichannel and how a CRM can help you maximize all channels? Read this post I wrote a few weeks back: Multichannel vs. Omnichannel and the Role a CRM Plays in Your Business and I’ll bet it will help.
There’s perhaps no better way to acquire and nurture existing leads than through the use of marketing automation technology. It saves time, integrates well, and seamlessly moves prospects and existing leads through the sales funnel by leveraging data. Frequent lead nurturing is cited as the most important factor in implementing a marketing automation strategy, with data and analytics a close second. My friend (and email marketing genius) Jordie van Rijn did a ton of research on marketing automation and wrote a post called The Ultimate Marketing Automation Statistics Overview that’ll give you a ton of information about why top performing companies—businesses who want to attract more leads and who want to close more sales—are using marketing automation. Here’s a chart featured in that post from research from ACT-ON and Gleanster Rsearch “Rethinking the Role of Marketing (2015) showing the importance of both marketing automation technology AND its partner in crime, CRM technology.
Note that of the top performers, 69% use marketing automation for customer acquisition and an equally impressive number use MA for customer retention.
Most importantly, when it comes to lead nurturing and acquisition, MA works! According to DemandGen’s 2014 Lead Nurturing Benchmark Study, 67 percent of marketers surveyed reported seeing a 10 percent increase in sales opportunities through lead nurturing, while 15 percent reported seeing opportunities jump by at least 30 percent. MA is extremely beneficial for your marketing team, and it can make your sales team the happiest, most productive people on the planet
Predictive analytics is perhaps one of the biggest reasons to adopt MA within your organization. Predictive analytics can help power targeted ads and emails, ensuring that you are reaching your prospective buyer in the right place at the right time with exactly the right message. Gone are the days when we marketers had to come up with campaigns, launch them, then cross our fingers that they would work, often waiting a long time for results. Today, predictive analytics and the ability to watch consumer behavior and target messages and campaigns accordingly, on the fly and adapting as the data indicates, is a tremendous benefit to marketers. To my way of thinking, it makes our jobs much more interesting and our ability to more rapidly deliver results exponentially better.
Marketing automation and CRM tools are powerful additions to your business toolkit, but they won’t do all the hard work for you. MA and a CRM platform can spur a move of your marketing efforts from an Excel spreadsheet to a more sophisticated, more efficient system, which in most organizations is sorely needed. But technology alone cannot—and will not—replace the brainpower that your human team brings to the table. When you combine the three: Marketing automation, CRM tools, and smart people, there’s no limit to what you can accomplish as part of your lead generation and customer acquisition efforts.
Where are you on the adoption of a CRM and/or marketing automation tools (or a platform that does both)? We hosted a webinar recently covering these topics in more depth and providing checklists and other information that might help you as you put together your marketing strategy for 2017 and beyond. In a poll taken during that webinar, 60 percent of respondents indicated they hadn’t yet embraced the use of a CRM platform (and marketing automation), so you’re definitely not alone if you’re not there yet. But hopefully these things are in your future, as they really will change everything about how your business manages lead gen.
If you’d like to access the webinar on demand, you can do that here:
Webinar: Supercharge Your Marketing
This article has been brought to you in part by SAP Digital CRM. Visit the SAP Store to find out how SAP Digital CRM can help you supercharge your marketing and sell more, and register for the free 30-day trial.