Let’s start by defining marketing automation. Marketing automation is an aspect of customer relationship management (CRM) that’s concerned with prospect definitions, segmentation, and marketing campaign execution and tracking throughout the entire customer journey. With marketing automation, teams are able to perform key marketing functions—planning, execution, and reporting of marketing campaigns—in a more efficient and accurate manner at scale and measure performance.
More specifically, marketing automation software streamlines and automates tasks and processes that marketers would otherwise do manually, or not at all. It helps users to save time, produce better results, reduce human error, and use data to target marketing efforts to specific groups. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
A recent Google Trends report shows a spike in the number of weekly searches for the phrase “marketing automation” has almost tripled over the past five years.
Nucleus Research reports that marketing automation increases business productivity by an average of 20%, which is now used as the definitive benchmark for marketing automation success.*
Yet, how can you be sure you will receive a significant return on investment (ROI) from marketing automation? Let’s take a closer look at marketing automation benefits.
Benefits of using marketing automation software
Automation of time-consuming tasks and processes
Marketing automation software eliminates the need for marketers to complete numerous tasks manually. From lead generation to customer retention tactics, a solid marketing automation solution can automate tons of tasks. Plus, automation is typically customizable, allowing you to set up workflows for any number of purposes.
Here are just a few tasks and processes that can be automated using marketing automation software:
- Lead and demand generation campaigns
- Automated email blasts and email marketing campaigns
- Lead scoring that allows you to identify hottest leads based on their interactions with your company, content, and social media presence
- Automated trigger alerts that would notify sales when a new lead becomes marketing qualified
- Tracking of all lead behavior, such as website pages visited, content downloaded, etc.
- Automated reports sent to you and available on your customizable dashboard, giving you at-a-glance access to the metrics you need to see most
When you can rely on certain actions automatically taking place at a specified time, you can confidently focus on other responsibilities, including planning and creative work.
With extra time to spare, you can focus more attention on building a world-class brand and amazing customer experiences. That, in turn, leads to increased customer satisfaction levels, improved brand reputation, elevated levels of customer loyalty, and faster overall business and revenue growth.
Increased revenue and cost savings
Saving time alone results in increased revenue and cost savings because marketers can produce better results, more efficiently, and in less time. With marketing automation you can generate and convert more leads.
Moreover, most marketing automation solutions provide email and landing page templates, eliminating the cost of outsourcing graphic design needs or hiring an in-house graphic designer. Simply put, nearly all of the benefits tie back to increased revenue and cost savings.
Marketing personalization involves getting to know your customers and prospects, and compiling data on their purchase history, challenges, goals, needs, demographics, and interests. Marketing automation system collects that data automatically through lead forms and by tracking purchases back to individual customers, which means you don’t have to do it manually.
With so much customer and prospect data at your fingertips, you can leverage marketing automation software to personalize your messages. For example, if customer X has a history of purchasing product Y, and that product goes on sale, you can automatically send that customer a message about the discount.
You can configure the system to automatically pull data stored in specified fields into the email. This makes the email feel more personal and shows your customers you are paying attention to their needs and preferences.
Armed with that data, you can deliver exactly what customers and prospects want when they want it. This makes your customers feel valued and builds trust and loyalty.
The prevalence and importance of personalization in marketing are undeniable. So much so that 94% of top-level executives say that personalization is critical to reaching customers.**
Deeper insight into results
It is important to any marketer’s success that they engage in a cycle of continuous self-improvement. This means analyzing what has been done, gauging how successful each tactic is, and focusing attention on the tactics that produce the best results. This is incredibly difficult when done manually because it involves loads of manual data collection and analysis.
In fact, in many ways, it is impossible to track certain metrics without marketing automation. For example, without a marketing automation solution, there is no way to know how many people opened or clicked on a particular email.
The reporting and analysis generated by a powerful marketing automation system can provide deep insight into sales results, customer churn, revenue growth, number of leads in each stage of the lead lifecycle, and much more.
This all leads to more informed, insightful, data-driven decision-making, allowing businesses to grow more successfully and at a quicker pace.
Sales and marketing alignment
It’s quite common for sales and marketing teams to work in silos, which hinders collaboration to produce best-in-class results. This negatively impacts a company’s capacity to convert leads into new customers and drive business growth long-term.
Many companies struggle to identify the best ways to align the efforts of their sales and marketing teams. You can facilitate sales and marketing alignment with marketing automation. Here are a few examples of what you can do.
- Implement a customer relationship management solution.
- Integrate your marketing automation software with your CRM solution.
- Collaborate on messaging to involve sales and gain their insight.
- Implement lead scoring and consult with sales while building your lead scoring model.
- Map customer journey, so you can deliver relevant content to prospects.
- Define lead lifecycle stages so marketing and sales can both see which stage a prospect is in.
- Set up a lead disposition process, or the rules that govern how sales moves a sales qualified lead (SQL) to an opportunity, disqualifies it as inappropriate, or returns it to marketing for further nurture.
- Hold monthly meetings with both teams to get sales reps’ insights on trends and content that help them win opportunities.
- Collaborate on content.
- Leverage automated notifications to sales when they need to take action on a certain issue.
The unified CRM
Today, many vendors offer “all-in-one” CRM solutions that include customer relationship management, marketing automation, and project management capabilities in the same system. CRM software that combines various systems into one comprehensive powerhouse solution facilitates faster and more reliable business growth. Learn more about unified CRMs in a case for a unified CRM.
Evaluating marketing automation software
There are a number of ways to evaluate and compare different marketing automation technologies, but in the end it comes down to your marketing goals, priorities, and available resources.
Being strategic about your marketing tech investments will not only help you reap higher ROI, but will also help you to pursue new opportunities as your business scales.
When searching for the right solution for your business, make sure you take the following steps:
- Create a list of business and system requirements.
- Audit your existing technologies and capabilities.
- Check out user reviews in the leading software review sites: Capterra, G2 Crowd, Gartner Peer Insights, and GetApp.
- Ask for demos and make a shortlist.
- Request a free trial so you can test drive the system before purchasing.
Get more detailed tips from the marketing automation evaluation checklist.
Ready to start shopping around?
Take your time and don’t rush into any decision. Don’t be hesitant to reach out to individual vendors with questions. You can also connect with one of our reps to see Insightly’s unified platform at work.
* Marketing Automation Drives Business Success, Nucleus Research, 2017
**Leading with Customer-Focused Content, PWC & Forbes Insights, 2016