It’s no secret that I view marketing automation platforms as crucial to any marketing or sales organization, and that in today’s ultra-competitive market, they are quickly becoming a must-have, rather than a “nice to have” tool.
Having said that, there’s one big issue that interferes with the full adoption of marketing automation solutions by smaller and midsize companies: many companies simply can’t afford it.
Currently available marketing automation platforms have complex user interfaces and require a trained, technical administrator to operate and maintain them. But many midsize and small companies are still struggling to recover from the Great Recession and can’t possibly stretch their resources even more and hire technical staff.
The result: Even if these companies have invested in a marketing automation platform, they don’t derive real value from the solution. In a business environment that demands immediate results from marketing and sales, these companies are quickly setting up the system, and hoping for the best. But in many cases, because of lack of time and expertise, they are not fully using their existing CRM system’s functionality.
The way I see it, organizations need a marketing automation platform that virtually ANY staff member can use to build, monitor and refine successful demand generation programs, no matter their training level. Very few companies can afford to implement an elaborate, difficult to use marketing automation system that requires time and expertise if one is to derive the full benefits it offers.
If the goal is to improve demand generation campaigns, increase sales effectiveness and encourage marketing-sales alignment, then the marketing automation platform implemented must be simple to use. Unfortunately, many marketing and sales staff view marketing automation tools as another piece of software they aren’t going to use. The only way to prevent this is to improve usability.
The CONCEPT of marketing automation is wonderful, and it works – in theory. But what we now need is a marketing automation platform that works in real life, when marketing and sales people use it – not a platform that requires advanced technical skills. We need a marketing automation platform with simplified, intuitive core components that enable low-level staff to easily segment, build and analyze marketing campaigns, while also making it simple for executives to monitor and tweak campaign performance instantly and on an ongoing basis.