Marketing automation isn’t for every organization, but it can benefit the vast majority of businesses. Determining if your organization needs marketing automation is no different from evaluating the potential adoption of any software solution.
Here are a couple of discussion points to consider when you begin your evaluation.
What are your current processes?
This isn’t as obvious a discussion point as it might seem. Marketing automation doesn’t magically accomplish results. You’ll need a thorough understanding of your current marketing processes to determine if you can benefit from marketing automation.
On the inbound side; how do you collect leads? What process is in place to collect leads? For example, what web forms are in place, and what is the procedure to capture and act upon these new leads? Marketing automation can be configured to capture these automatically, follow up with them automatically and then track and score the lead over time – without any manual intervention. It can also collect Google AdWords visit data and activity.
On the outbound side, you can automate time consuming tasks like event and webinar invitation campaigns as well as put in place drip and nurturing campaigns s that make sure that every prospect is followed up with.
All of this may be easily integrated with your CRM system to (automatically) close the loop with sales.
Level of difficulty
Contemporary marketing automation systems are designed for ease of use and are built to enable fast deployment. Your staff will still need skills in a couple of areas; content, marketing best-practices and a feel for how to successfully market your organization’s products and services. You’ll likely be operating the system itself, and you’ll be creating the content that will be used for offers, landing pages, emails and the forms and dynamic progressive forms that you’ll use.
Make sure that any system you invest in isn’t too complex to operate, or require hiring new people. You don’t want to trap your existing people into having to spend all of their time “operating” the automation system at the expense of working on the marketing elements and content that attracts leads. And marketers should have the flexibility in any system to experiment and change campaigns and tactics on the fly without having to stop and start all over again each time they want to test a new approach.
Sales and Marketing cooperation
Joint planning, close cooperation and constant communication between sales and marketing are the key to effective demand generation. Generating and following up with leads should be a shared responsibility between sales and marketing.
Building an automated lead flow system provides an opportunity to work together and agree on process prior to launching campaigns, as well as an opportunity for continued teamwork. Lori Wizdo, Forrester’s VP and Principal Analyst has written that, “In our study, we found that companies who have implemented a marketing automation solution reported significantly higher levels of collaboration between sales and marketing, across a number of different dimensions.”
Are you continuously completing too many manual tasks? Many marketing tasks are either too error-prone or waste too much time when done manually. Automation streamlines the task of managing and capturing leads and removes much of the manual work. Keeping track of leads on spread sheets becomes an impossible task at scale.
Trying to effectively communicate to leads and nurturing leads is a constant struggle without automation. And gauging the reaction to outbound marketing, scoring leads, and delivering them to sales at the right time
Multipart inbound and outbound marketing campaigns are rife with possibilities for error. Complex drip and nurture campaigns as well as event campaigns can be easily and effectively automated – and cloned and repeated in the future as needed.
Marketing automation can do a lot. But remember that you can get quick value from your marketing automation investment with just a few simple elements. Automation ensures that each and every prospect gets acted upon and is sent the right information, at the right time. Automation alerts sales when the activity level of a prospect reaches an appropriate level. Weigh these items against how your organization markets today and how many manual processes may be replaced and the value should be obvious.