Why all the noise about marketing automation?
As a category, industry Act-On Marketing Automation revenues grew 50% to reach the $1.2 billion in 2014, and are expected to grow another 50% in 2015 to $1.8 billion, notes analyst David Raab. That’s stratospheric by anybody’s reckoning. What’s driving that growth?
Ten short years ago, it was rare for a company to have a marketing automation platform in place. Since then, it’s become ever more clear that acquiring marketing automation (and applying the expertise to make it hum) is a huge competitive differentiator. Sirius Decisions research indicates that 80% of the organizations with the highest-performing demand waterfalls (based on the number of won deals per 1,000 inquiries) have implemented marketing automation platforms. This tallies with other research; the 2015 report “Rethinking the Role of Marketing” from Gleanster and Act-On found that Top Performers were 20% more likely than the average organization to use marketing automation technology.
But what does this big-picture research actually mean to the marketer? And why, specifically, would your CEO say Yes to adopting marketing automation? Here are seven considerations.
1. Marketing Automation Lets You Put the Customer in the Center of Your World.
Lead management. Forrester Research calls this the “age of the Customer Centric customer.” That’s because the customer is more proactive than ever before, and the landscape is practically littered with touch-points. From lead generation to lead nurturing to qualification, and from channel to channel, marketing automation lets you gather information that helps you determine what that lead is looking for, and then helps you build a relatively personal relationship based on that information.
Why it matters: Lead management greases the pipeline, so that it culminates in warmer, better-educated leads, shorter sales cycles – and often in bigger deals.
List management. Marketing automation lets makes it easier to segment your lists by field values (explicit data such as title, department, industry, company size) and by implicit, inferred factors (often actions) such as web pages visited, eBooks downloaded, emails clicked on. It also lets you sync chosen data back and forth with a CRM system.
Why it matters: This data helps you see who a lead is, what they are about, and where they are in the buyer’s journey. This in turn informs your communications so that your messaging and timing are right. It also helps you keep your lists clean and up-to-date so you can send emails strategically, leading with the most engaged. This signals to ISPs that your messages are wanted, enhancing deliverability.
Campaign management. Automated programs can save time (which is money, yes) and take a little human error out of your programs. You can set them up to replicate successful lead nurturing or onboarding programs, for example, and they will run exactly as programmed, no matter who misses work on Tuesday. You can add prospects as they enter your world (perhaps through a form) and exit them (perhaps to another program, or to sales) as you learn more about them, or as they become increasingly qualified. You can set up trigger emails (thank-yous, congratulations, expiring trials) and landing pages that make offers or fulfill requests, showing how responsive you are.
Why it matters: You’ll save time, just for starters. You can run more than one campaign at a time; people will be added to ongoing campaigns automatically; your leads and prospects will get more attention from you, and that will feel personal. Plus, you can take the guesswork out of campaigns; A/B testing lets you put your best foot forward, every time. Better campaigns = better results.
2. Marketing Automation Helps You Tune Up Housekeeping
Housecleaning Decommission a few marketing tools. Your marketing automation system will replace your email marketing program. It will also replace the separate tool you may be using to build and host landing pages and forms, and the additional tool you may be using to track website visitors, and perhaps a few more.
Why it matters: You’ll save money when you end those contracts. And if you’re juggling a lot of different tools, you may wind up paying less but getting more with a single solution. Tool management (and thus your life) will be easier. Best of all, the marketing automation platform will compile the data that flows from all its tools (and the ones you integrate with it) into one profile that helps you understand each lead better, and segment them more effectively. No more spread sheet jockeying (or less of it, for sure).
Integrate a few marketing tools. A good marketing automation platform will make it easy to integrate your other irreplaceable tools, such as web event management or web content management systems. You may even be able to manage everything from one single dashboard. The point is, though, that you can consolidate everything possible while still keeping your tools of choice.
Why it matters: You’ll wind up with a system that’s custom-tailored to the way you want to work, that correlates all the data from everything.
3. Marketing Automation Lets You Measure (and Evaluate) What Matters
Depending on whom you ask, this may be marketing automation’s biggest win. Back when all our marketing was mass media, we were just throwing mud on the wall, hoping to see what stuck. Once marketers adopted digital marketing, marketing automation evolved to measure it.
Why it matters: The things that work become visible. If you see how your campaigns perform, if you know which assets drive leads, which tactics drive conversion, and which leads convert the fastest, you can do more of what works and cut the budget from the rest. You get better results and save money. You can also show the CEO how marketing contributes to closed sales, and get the credit you deserve.
4. Marketing Automation Aligns Sales and Marketing
If aligning sales and marketing was easy, it wouldn’t be such an issue. But it is a pervasive, prevalent problem, and for good reasons. Most tellingly, the two teams often have different goals and different metrics, which puts them at some odds to begin with. Marketing automation provides a structure that requires the teams to collaborate, beginning with defining the characteristics of a good customer and building buyer personas, then by defining how leads will be qualified and passed to sales, then by determining how sales will follow up. Finally, marketing automation can track designated mutual goals.
Why it matters: 90% of marketers say the lack of alignment causes problem in reaching marketing objectives. Most important: The result of well-executed alignment is something any company – and any CEO – would welcome: “B2B organizations with tightly aligned sales and marketing operations achieved 24% faster three-year revenue growth, and 27% faster three-year profit growth,” noted SiriusDecisions, as reported by Forbes.
5. Marketing Automation Enables and Empowers Sales
The sales team should have individualized access to marketing automation. The platform is unsurpassed in collating information about a customer. It collects and melds the explicit data a customer self-reports and the implicit data that customer’s actions reveal. When you know that Jane Doe is a senior manager for a shipping logistics company (the sector your products excel in), that’s explicit data. When your marketing automation platform tells you that Jane has signed up for two of your webinars and attended one, that she’s watched your video demo, and that she’s on your pricing page – right now – that’s gold.
Why it matters: It all comes down to sales closing the deal. When sales reps can access the activity history of a lead (from anyplace … such as when working in LinkedIn); when sales knows which eBook a prospect downloaded (and understands that this action is a buying signal); when sales gets a hot prospects list that shows which leads are currently generating high scores; when sales gets an alert that says ”Jane Doe is on the pricing page” – then, with all of that incredibly valuable insight, the sales rep knows who to contact when, and what to say. The deck is stacked to make the exact deal the customer is looking for.
6. Marketing Automation Takes Care of the Established Customer
The platform gives you a structure you can scale in your retention strategy. Start with using a nurturing educational strategy to support onboarding. Move on to keeping your customers in the loop, educating them about new features, showing them new plays with old features, and keeping them abreast of changes in the industry that affect them. Take the same techniques you use to notice when a lead is warming up and apply them to noticing when a customer is looking at an upsell … or needs attention to prevent churn.
Why it matters: In the Rethinking the Role of Marketing report, we find that Top Performers generate revenue equally from established customers and new customers, while Average firms generate 70% of revenue from new acquisitions, and only 30% from the established customer base. This is the predictable result of Top Performers putting more time and resources into existing customers than Average firms do.
In addition: As reported in “Marketers Are the New Stewards of the Customer Relationship,” Top Performers spend the biggest chunk of their budget – 30% – on expansion and upsell, and a full 25% of their time. Average companies spend the smallest percentage of their budget – 20% – here, and just 15% of their time. The marketing automation platform can be leveraged to get all customer-facing teams aligned in order to create a continuum of care and attention throughout the entire customer lifecycle, making it more profitable.
7. Marketing Automation Spurs Revenue and Growth
These benefits are all pieces of a puzzle that every company using marketing automation puts together in its own unique way. The CEO Perspective common denominator is that most companies that apply marketing automation – whether they use every feature or just the basics – will see faster growth and post more top-line revenue.
And that, Virginia, is why CEOs say “Yes!” to marketing automation.