WHAT IS MARKETING AUTOMATION, AND 20 REASONS YOU SHOULD CARE

…20 reasons why you should care

Simply stated, marketing automation is the use of technology to cost-effectively and efficiently drive more leads and sales by automating the delivery of the right messages to the right people at the right time.

The AcquireB2B website gives a more comprehensive definition of marketing automation:

“Marketing automation is the use of technology to generate, nurture, score and qualify leads, and drive sales, using customized, multi-touch marketing communications tailored for each contact’s profile, level of interest, behavior or place in the buying process.”

No matter what definition you use, marketing automation is the way for marketers to accomplish more, get and learn more about prospects faster to deliver sales-ready leads to the sales team, usually at lower cost.

Marketing automation is not Customer Relationship Management (CRM), or one size fits all, or batch and blast email. These are too broad and not very personalized and automated. It’s much, much more. Marketing automation is truly closed-loop marketing. Both Sales and Marketing can access prospect and client information to track activity, tendencies, preferences and more to initiate next steps in a prioritized, automatic manner.

Marketing automation is a software platform that tracks prospect actions or lack of action and initiates new activities based on tracking parameters, the “if, and, or, then” decisions.

  • If a prospect does this, then we send that.
  • If a prospect does this “and” that, then we do this.
  • If a prospect does either this “or” that, then we do this.
  • If a prospect doesn’t do this, “then” we do this.

There are many more combinations, but the important thing is that the software automatically performs decisions and triggers the next step(s) in the lead-nurturing and qualification process. The next email goes out, the next letter is in the mail, or the next call moves into the telemarketing queue. The process continues until the prospect becomes sales-ready based on lead scoring or a “please call me” response.

Even after prospects become sales-ready, marketing automation assures that proper nurturing continues along with the sales effort.

The lead tracking process

Closing sales requires a delicate balance between Marketing and Sales. Just because Marketing thinks a lead is qualified, the lead isn’t until Sales accepts it and forecasts it. With marketing automation, you can measure and follow this process. If Sales agrees that a Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) is good, then the team accepts and follows it as a Sales Accepted Lead (SAL). Marketing automation tracks these leads, and sales follows up, from original inquiry to closed sale.

If Sales doesn’t agree on a lead being sales-ready, they can “hand” it back to Marketing for further nurturing. Reducing the wasted effort of calling on “not-ready-yet” prospects means more time available for calls on the sales-ready prospects. The sales team becomes more efficient and the close-rate skyrockets.

Why care about marketing automation?

No matter which position you hold, the following 20 reasons should give you more insight into marketing automation.

If you’re a Marketing VP, you should care about marketing automation because:

  • You can get more done with less.
  • You learn more about prospects and customers because of better reporting, tracking, analysis and overall intelligence.
  • You can leverage all your marketing efforts.
  • Fewer prospects opt out because they receive pertinent content in an optimum time frame that’s comfortable for them and you.
  • If you don’t have marketing automation, you may be at a competitive disadvantage.

Rather than your messages and efforts being like talented musicians playing their music all at the same time or before others are quite finished or in the wrong genre causing an annoying cacophony for the prospect, marketing automation enables you to completely orchestrate the marketing and nurturing into a harmonious symphonic movement toward the finale — sales.

If you’re a Sales VP, you should care because:

  • You want more sales-ready leads.
  • You want your people selling rather than “farming” and qualifying all the time.
  • You want a way to separate the “wheat from the chaff.”

You shouldn’t have to spend all your time directing your staff on which sales opportunities to pursue. Marketing automation gives you a tool that automatically makes your job easier.

If you’re a CFO, you should care because:

  • Marketing automation leads to a higher return on investment.
  • Cost of sales goes down; sales efficiency and closes go up.
  • You can track and measure the ROI from marketing and lead generation activities, so marketing efficiency goes up and cost per lead goes down.

It you’re a CEO, you should care because:

Past studies indicate the cost of an average sales call is about $330, and many of our clients report much higher numbers. That same research shows that it takes, on average, about five sales calls to close for typical B2B products and services. At $330 a sales call, that’s about $1,650 per sale. By replacing the earlier nurturing and qualifying steps with lower-cost marketing contacts (but still one-to-one contacts), marketing automation can save up to 40 percent of the time and expense, touch more people more often and allow the sales force to concentrate on only the best, qualified-to-purchase prospects.

  • Marketing automation gives you a competitive edge.
  • You get more done with less money and staff.
  • With marketing automation, you can grow your company faster and more economically.
  • Marketing automation can become a lead generation machine for your company.
  • You can leverage communication tactics to more prospects to bring results and positive branding.

What if you’re a prospect? Should you care if a marketer uses marketing automation? Yes, because:

  • You get relevant, useful content.
  • The content arrives in an appropriate manner.
  • You get what you need in a comfortable time frame.
  • And, marketing automation can schedule content based on your preferences, as indicated by your past actions, choices and selections.

The facts

There are a number of sources for more information on marketing automation. Searching the Web brings over 4,000,000 results. Read articles with strategies for marketing automation. Ask your peers to learn from their experiences. Talk to your consultants and agency (AcquireB2B: we’d enjoy speaking with you). Ask your business social network about marketing automation.

Some of what you’ll learn is that marketing automation comprises hosted software, a database of prospects and/or customers, outgoing messages and content, landing pages, drip campaigns, lead nurturing, lead qualification, lead scoring, lead tracking, lead distribution to your CRM system, dashboards and other components that help you be much more effective and targeted in your marketing and sales effort.

Typical cost and start-up

There are about 24 main marketing automation software platforms, and they vary in cost based on capabilities and client needs: from as little as $800/month and up depending on the features you need, the size of your database, or the number of transactions or users.

You can purchase a platform and run it yourself, or retain a consultant or agency (like AcquireB2B) to help you run it or to use its system and expertise without the initial cost of buying it yourself.

To get started, walk before you run.

Begin small with one campaign, pilot, vertical market or territory.

Consider outsourcing until you are comfortable with marketing automation’s value, implementation, usage, analysis and strategy. Once you’re knowledgeable and experienced, purchase the software platform and “take the keys back.”

No matter how you define marketing automation, it is the cost-effective way to reach more prospects and customers, more often with pertinent content that will nurture, qualify and bring them sales-ready to your sales force. Only about 10 percent of B2B marketers currently use marketing automation. This percentage will grow rapidly as the need to be better, faster, more targeted and more cost-effective increases. Now is a great time to use marketing automation to get a jump on the competition.

One-to-one communication based on prospect actions is a wonderful thing — that’s marketing automation.

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