You have probably heard the hype surrounding marketing automation and the benefits it can bring to your business. Adoption has grown by 30% in the last year and among those who implemented it, 85% report top quarterly performance in key metrics like revenue growth, click-through engagement and lead-to-sales conversions.
The numbers are impressive. Companies that use marketing automation see:
- 107% better lead conversion rate
- 40% greater average deal size
- 20% higher team attainment of quota
- 17% better forecast accuracy*
Buyers expect relevant communications. They will engage sales when it’s appropriate and when they are educated about your product or service. If used correctly, marketing automation helps make buyers sales-ready. It is also a huge time saver, allowing you to reach the most unique customers, optimize your talent resources and deliver and nurture invaluable leads.
Before your B2B business is ready for marketing automation, critical questions need to be answered:
1. How does marketing automation fit within your sales process?
It is essential to have a good grasp of your existing customer life cycle and your core values. Why are your customers buying from you and not the competition? How do you define a qualified marketing lead (QML) and how does it fit within your sales process? It helps to have an "ideal customer profile" in mind and an outline of how you score your leads or opportunities. It is also beneficial to understand at what point marketing hands the baton over to sales during the customer journey.
Marketing automation allows you to grade and score your leads based on customer profile and their behavior on your website. This ensures your sales team focuses on only the most important opportunities, cutting out time-consuming or redundant tasks. One good example of this would be a sales resource which is only assigned when an ideal client visits your pricing page.
2. Do you have a content strategy in place?
Thought-provoking content is the backbone of your B2B marketing strategy. Great content will help your brand grow in the eyes of current and potential customers. Marketing automation is a helpful tool, but it is useless without great content to support it. Do you have the time and resources to regularly develop high quality whitepapers, case studies, blog posts, articles etc? Do you have a grasp of how content impacts your buyer’s journey?
Your company will need to budget new resources or allocate time with existing resources to create that awesome content marketing automation craves.
You also need to consider how the new content fits into your lead nurturing program. New leads may require customized content to learn about your company, your industry or your expertise. Existing clients will instead need content that is designed to maintain and grow that existing relationship.
3. Do you have a list of prospects, clients and leads?
You need a list of at least a thousand customers, leads and opportunities to start with. Small numbers will not bear the same level of results, and you would be better served developing a more direct dialogue with a small audience.
Have your contacts given you permission to communicate with them? Have they opted in? Many nations have strict rules related to email communications. In Canada, CASL is coming into effect in July 2014 and the penalties for non-compliance could be huge. If you have a list of contacts who didn’t give you explicit consent to contact them, now is the time to get that permission.
4. Do you have the budget and resources required to install and run a marketing automation system?
Marketing automation can be an amazing tool which pays for itself quickly, but the outlay in the beginning can be large. Depending on the platform, you can pay anything from $250 to $4000 per month. Before you start, a simple ROI calculation is recommended. If you have 1000 monthly visitors to your website and 1% convert (i.e. they will fill out a form to download your whitepaper), and it costs you $1000 to run a marketing automation system that same month, you can expect 10 new leads for $1000 or $100 per lead. If you close 10% of all leads, this suggests a cost per sale of $1000. If you sell products or services for which the profit margin is higher than $1000, then you can see how this would benefit you greatly.
Another cost factor is the labour required to install and maintain the system. Many vendors suggest a 30-60 day implementation period, assuming you have a dedicated resource who can ensure a smooth implementation. Time required can vary depending on the number of campaigns you aim to launch on an ongoing basis.
5. Your technological infrastructure
As with many companies, you may be working with several technological platforms. Marketing automation can help coordinate the interaction of these systems. Most platforms can integrate with CRM so your employees can better track sales data, but it's important to check compatibility before selecting new software.
Being prepared helps your organization maximize your investment in marketing automation and helps ensure that you are using these tools effectively. Implementation of a new system may yield amazing results but may also force you to evaluate your internal processes and change the way you operate. The good news is that once you have engaged the right people and designed the process that works best, the value of the system will be invaluable in driving your business growth.
*Source: Aberdeen Group, “Marketing Automation 101: Ensuring Early Success with the Basics; Maturing Your Deployment for long-term ROI”, June 2010