Want Customer Acquisition? Make Marketing Automation Part of Your Game Plan
Marketing automation is undoubtedly something that is on most marketers’ radar screen for the coming year—and that’s a good thing. Marketers’ roles have undergone significant transformation and, in most companies, the marketing team is charged with attracting, nurturing, and filling the sales pipeline with leads.
The way to do that in a cost-effective, efficient manner: Marketing automation (MA). As a result, MA software has quickly become table stakes for today’s companies and blossomed into an industry worth an estimated $1.8 billion, with annual growth at the rate of 50% per year for the past three years.
Let’s explore why marketing automation is so important and how you can use it to grow both your lead pipeline and percentage of closed deals.
Understanding marketing automation
At its core, MA is the use of technology to streamline processes and efficiently develop and manage campaigns through a variety of channels. For example, a marketing automation platform integrated with customer relationship management (CRM) will allow you to segment an audience, develop messaging for targeted email campaigns, nurture leads, and track and evaluate the effectiveness of your efforts. When you move your lead management process to a CRM and marketing automation platform, it allows your marketing team to evaluate, score, and qualify leads before delivering them to the sales team. This approach can free up time and resources, and focus the sales team on converting prospects to customers.
Adopting marketing automation for your business
To those in the early stages, the adoption of marketing automation can seem daunting. But doesn’t have to be. There are many solutions to choose from and quite a few that don’t require a huge capital investment. Things to ask before buying any CRM or MA software (or a combination of the two) is not only the initial cost, but what resources and training will be required internally to manage the program. Look for success stories and testimonials from other customers and, as you are involved in the selection process, don’t be shy about asking the vendors to provide customer references. Then call those references and discuss their experiences with the platform. Don’t stop there. Ask your marketing peers for their thoughts and opinions, and for feedback on their experience with platforms you are considering. The more you know going into this decision, the happier you’re likely to be with the outcome.
Managing cross-channel campaigns
Today’s marketing campaigns are like an intricate dance of moving parts, and it’s our job as marketers to skillfully manage all these parts and keep increasing the tempo as we go along. Today’s customers are savvy, impatient, and demanding. Effectively managing your campaigns across all channels—giving them what they need, when they need it, where they want it—is key. That’s where automation comes in. Marketing automation can help streamline and integrate all your processes, and make managing them a breeze. Here are some things to consider on that front:
- MA and CRM software make beautiful music together. Nearly 90% of respondents to ResearchCorp’s Demand Generation Adoption Survey said they deployed their MA systems in conjunction with CRM tools.
- B2B marketers say the #1 benefit of marketing automation is their ability to generate more and better leads (Pepper Global 2014).
- 90% of the marketers surveyed in Signal’s Cross-Channel Marketing and Technology Survey said integrating their marketing could boost their key capabilities.
- Marketers using MA software generate TWICE the number of leads than those using email blast tactics. (Autopilot 2015)
- More than half of midsize businesses incorporate CRM with their marketing automation system, according to information from the Beagle Research Group.
- Nurturing leads shortens sales cycles. A Software Advice survey indicated that businesses that use marketing automation to nurture leads reported a 451% increase in qualified leads. This is largely due to the ability to target campaigns based on user behavior both on your Web site and with your emails.
Want to take a deeper dive into channels and learn the differences between multichannel and omnichannel and how CRM software can help you maximize all channels? Read this post I wrote a few weeks back: Multichannel vs. Omnichannel and the Role a CRM Plays in Your Business. I’ll bet it will help.
Driving lead acquisition, nurturing and retention with marketing automation
There’s perhaps no better way to acquire and nurture existing leads than through the use of marketing automation technology. It saves time, integrates well, and seamlessly moves prospects and existing leads through the sales funnel by leveraging data.
Frequent lead nurturing is cited as the most important factor in implementing a marketing automation strategy, with data and analytics a close second. My friend (and email marketing genius) Jordie van Rijn did a ton of research on marketing automation and wrote a post called The Ultimate Marketing Automation Statistics Overview. It’ll give you a lot of information about why top-performing companies—businesses that want to attract more leads and close more sales—are using marketing automation. Here’s a chart featured in that post from research from ACT-ON and Gleanster Research “Rethinking the Role of Marketing” (2015) showing the importance of both marketing automation technology AND its partner, CRM technology.
Note that of the top performers, 69% use marketing automation for customer acquisition, and an equally impressive number use MA for customer retention.
Most important, when it comes to lead nurturing and acquisition, MA works! According to DemandGen’s 2014 Lead Nurturing Benchmark Study, 67% of marketers surveyed reported seeing a 10% increase in sales opportunities through lead nurturing, while 15% reported seeing opportunities jump by at least 30%. MA is extremely beneficial for your marketing team, and it can make your sales team the happiest, most productive people on the planet.
Targeting prospects with predictive analytics
Predictive analytics is perhaps one of the biggest reasons to adopt MA within your organization. Predictive analytics can help power targeted ads and emails, enabling you to reaching your prospective buyer in the right place at the right time with exactly the right message. Gone are the days when we marketers had to come up with campaigns, launch them, then cross our fingers that they would work, often waiting a long time for results. Today, predictive analytics and the ability to watch consumer behavior and target messages and campaigns accordingly, on the fly and adapting as the data indicates, is a tremendous benefit to marketers. To my way of thinking, it makes our jobs much more interesting, and our ability to more rapidly deliver results exponentially better.
What powers marketing automation?
Marketing automation and CRM tools are powerful additions to your business toolkit, but they won’t do all the hard work for you. MA and a CRM platform can spur a move of your marketing efforts from an Excel spreadsheet to a more sophisticated, more efficient system, which in most organizations is sorely needed. But technology alone cannot and will not replace the brainpower that your human team brings to the table. When you combine the three—marketing automation, CRM tools, and smart people—there’s no limit to what you can accomplish as part of your lead generation and customer acquisition efforts.
Where are you on the adoption of CRM and/or marketing automation tools (or a platform that does both)? We hosted a Webinar recently covering these topics in more depth and providing checklists and other information that might help you as you put together your marketing strategy for 2017 and beyond. In a poll taken during that Webinar, 60% of respondents indicated they hadn’t yet embraced the use of a CRM platform (and marketing automation). So you’re definitely not alone if you’re not there yet. But I hope these things are in your future, as they really will change everything about how your business manages lead generation.
If you’d like to access the Webinar on demand, you can do that here: Webinar: Supercharge Your Marketing