I just completed an evaluation of nine marketing automation platforms for a client.
Having been involved in marketing automation for the past five years, it's very interesting to see the evolution in the industry and the solutions.
You need to understand your business and marketing objectives to help determine which marketing automation platform is best for your business.
A company committed to increasing traffic, leads and sales via inbound marketing will need a very different platform than a sales-driven firm who wants to score leads and get them to sales reps for immediate pursuit.
Marketing automation is a subset of customer relationship management (CRM) that focuses on scheduling, segmentation and tracking of marketing campaigns.
It's important that your marketing automation platform is tightly integrated with your CRM since there will be an ongoing exchange of invaluable information between your CRM and your marketing automation platform.
The use of marketing automation makes processes that would otherwise have been perfromed manually much more efficient and makes new processes possible.
Ultimately, marketing automation enables marketers to align their marketing process with the customer's buying process by providing relevant information of value to the customer when and where they want it.
Marketing automation reduces repetitive tasks assosciated with the marketing process (e.g., automated thank you emails, confirmations and drip marketing campaigns).
There are two key tasks the software handles: customer segmentation and campaign management. This enhances relationship building, enables the customization of content, smarter engagement and provides predictive analytics.
Marketers use explicit data such as sex, age, geography, and product/service needs to divide and classify customers and segment them so they can deliver relevant, information of value.
Relevance improves trust and responsiveness.
Marketing automation software has become the best solution for developing and delivering relevant email marketing and sales campaigns that drive revenue.
A typical closed-loop marketing campaign powered by automation will include:
- Building targeted lists
- Creating information of value
- Executing marketing campaigns
- Measuring email and website behavior and activity
- Segmentation based on activity and lead scores.
- Entering qualified leads into the CRM
- Nurturing Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) until they become Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs)
- Analyzing marketing and sales performance and refining the process
The benefits of marketing automation are significant as determined by Aberdeen Group:
- Improves lead conversion by 107%
- 40% greater average deal size
- 20% higher team attainment of quota
- 17% better forecast accuracy
There are additional benefits which will improve the productivity, efficiency and effectiveness of your marketing efforts:
- You will know more about your prospects and customers enabling you to deliver more relevant information in a more timely way.
- You'll be able to know who is downloading information of value from your site and how they are interacting with your site.
- You will be able to see how a visitor that clicked on a link in an email or newsletter progressed through you site to buy something completely different than what your communication was discussing, thereby providing greater insight into the buyer's journey.
- You will have the opportunity to more fully engage customers and prospects by asking them about their experience and then using their feedback to improve their future experience.
- Create buyer personas -- think about who you are talking to as people rather than demographics. Look at everything you do and communicate from the perspective of the customer or prospect. Consult internal stakeholders. Review CRM, survey, web and social media data. Interview real buyers.
- Map the buyer's journey -- know how customers come to find and buy your product or service. Talk to your customers to verify that you know their buying journey -- don't assume you already know it.
- Map, and track lead flow -- know how many leads you need to convert to a marketing qualified lead, to a sales qualified lead, to a closed sale to achieve your goals.
- Create a process map/workflow of your marketing process. This needs to align with the buyer's journey and consider serving the customer after the sale as well.
- Inform rather than sell -- educate, provide information of value, answer questions before they are asked, simplify lives. As Guy Kawasaki says, "The internet rewards those who share information and penalizes those who hoard it."