If managing your customer relationships has become a bit unwieldy, consider adding marketing automation to the mix. For the uninitiated, marketing automation is a software system or online service that streamlines and automates marketing processes to improve performance and helps grow revenue.
In addition to more efficiencies, marketing automation is a much more strategic way to give your customers more personalized attention and be taken care of all along the sales funnel journey—and beyond. In fact, according to a MarketingSherpa study on B2B best practices, by using marketing automation software, companies realize a 96 percent higher ROI on lead generation.
Some aspects of the business that marketing automation manages include:
• Email marketing
• Central marketing database
• Landing pages
• Lead management (lead capture, lead scoring, lead nurturing)
• Social marketing
• Web forms
• Website visitor tracking
The shift toward marketing automation did not happen overnight. Three key factors have been identified:
1. Buying behaviors are changing, forcing companies to adapt the way they market and sell their products
2. How companies approached revenue generation and measurement fundamentally shifted after the 2008 recession
3. The delivery model changed making the technology broadly available to more companies
If it sounds like a welcome improvement but the thought of how to choose the best platform overwhelms you, follow these steps when considering a marketing automation platform:
– Determine if you really need one. Perform a comprehensive assessment of your organization’s business goals, capabilities of internal staff, management support and overall cost.
– Find vendors that meet your criteria and are aligned with your goals. Identify your must-haves as well as your pie-in-the-sky wants to see which vendor fits best.
– Set up a demonstration to make comparisons and ask questions. Consider such factors as ease of use, implementation time and training and support offered. Make sure that those who will be using the platform are invited to the table to participate.
– Check references, then negotiate the contract. Talk to other customers, particularly those in a similar industry to see how the software or service performs. Take this opportunity to ask questions not thought of during the demo. Also, ask the vendor about any additional costs and get them in writing.
Finding success with a software automation platform is possible as long as you don’t rush implementation and expect this to serve as a simple, quick fix. Change is not easy for everyone. There will need to be a cultural shift, which means you’ll need to clearly state the benefits and make it as simple as possible for those users who will be in the driver seat. The overall advantages that marketing automation will offer your organization, however, far outweigh the potential bumps in the road on the way to implementation.