Marketing Automation – Get Ahead While You Can

LAST UPDATED:   TOPIC:

John Ring

JOHN RING MANAGING DIRECTOR

RATED:
Rate this article

If you’ve ever tried using MailMerge in MS Word to customise your marketing letters with a ‘Dear {FirstName}’ approach, consider yourself as having some Marketing Automation (MA) experience. The main difference between old-style MailMerge and the growing €1.5 billion MA industry are the complexities that marketers now have to deal with, plus the fact that it all takes place in real time. The Marketos and HubSpots of the world would probably disagree with this over-simplification, but it’s the truth.

Rapid Growth

Does your company have a CRM platform that your sales colleagues use? If so, and you’re not pushing to introduce an MA platform, you’re likely to have some career-threating issues in the near future. Bear in mind that a shocking 80% of CEOs don’t really trust – and are not that impressed by – the work done by their CMOs, according to The Fournaise marketing Group. (By contrast, 90% of them trust their CFOs and CIOs). Market research company, Forrester, reckons that the priority for 83% of marketing heads is the quality and volume of sales leads their campaigns generate for sales colleagues. When you combine this with the fact that 80% of prospects who don’t buy from you now, will buy from a competitor within 24 months (Sirius Decisions), it’s not hard to see why MA is growing rapidly. It allows you to talk to prospects and customers continuously, before and after they buy.

Definition

The Hubspot definition of MA is pretty good: “At its best, marketing automation is software and tactics that allow companies to buy and sell like Amazon – that is, to nurture prospects with highly personalised, useful content that helps convert prospects to customers and turn customers into delighted customers.”

The term Marketing Automation itself is deceptive as it implies that many elements of your job can be automated – which of course the Luddites protested loudly about 200 years ago – but that’s not really how it works. Technology and content are slowly replacing paid media as the tool of choice for reaching prospects, and MA is leading the charge. Even 10 years ago, people might have become aware of a solution to their problems through traditional media but we’re in a self-service world now (thanks Google) where you do your own online research before buying, and that’s where MA excels in bringing prospects along the sales funnel before converting.

At enterprise level, the main vendors are Marketo and Eloqua (from Oracle) – while the SME market is dominated by Hubspot, Act-on, Infusionsoft and Pardot (from Salesforce). Typical monthly prices range from approximately €600 (Infusionsoft) to €3,000+ (Marketo Select). If you want to dip your toe in MA, avoid the basic (approximately €200) package from Hubspot as it’s pretty useless – their costlier packages are far more useful – but take a look at what MailChimp triggered automation provides. As with any marketing software, it’s never about the tool. If your underlying strategy or process is deficient, using a tool will only increase the chaos.

Align Sales and Marketing

The biggest problem in successfully deploying MA is often the mismatch between the functionality you’re paying for and your expectations. My old Christian Brother school principal was obviously a brand marketer at heart due to the number of ‘impressions’ he forced on us of, “what you give is what you get”. The truth of this maxim is borne out yet again by the Ascend2 study, which shows that of the 12% of marketers who said MA was ‘very successful’ for them, 45% used it extensively. Well of course it was successful for them, they invested time and energy into it! Strikingly, less than 22% of enterprise companies using MA say it has helped them generate leads. That’s because it’s hard.

To do it right, an organisation has to align its sales and marketing goals. This means ensuring that lead scoring based on actions (clicking an ad, downloading a brochure or studying the pricing page for two minutes) is used to develop Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs). These leads are nurtured until the prospect is ready to buy, and only then is the lead passed onto Sales. This means, of course, that Sales get fewer leads, later in the process, and of a much higher quality. These prospects are further along the funnel, making an overall increase in sales more efficient and cheaper to achieve.

Agreeing the end goal of MA is pretty easy but getting there is harder. The simplest route is by building your content marketing strategy, mapping it to the buyer’s journey and adding lead scoring.

Benefits

Apart from making marketing managers look good in front of the boss, one of the main benefits of MA is that it increases campaign productivity by providing intelligence on how prospects engage with the brand, and what you can reasonably expect. MA is to marketing what the assembly line is to manufacturing: repeatable, measurable and efficient. It frees up marketing resources to engage with cool ideas that help drive overall business performance.

TinderPoint recently had a look at 60,000 .ie domains (representing about 50% of active .ie sites) to see which MA tools are being used in Ireland and we found Hubspot in the lead (145), followed by Marketo (32) and then Salesforces’ Pardot (31). Interestingly, Motarme, a Donegal-based MA vendor, also appeared as did Mautic, an open-source MA provider. So even a quick piece of local research supports what Act-On’s CEO recently said, which was that MA has less than 3% penetration in non-technology companies. This means an opportunity exists for you to get ahead of your competition, as most companies haven’t a clue how to use MA, but they’ll get there. Maybe you should get there first!

John Ring, TinderPoint

RATE THIS ARTICLE:
Rate this article
John Ring

JOHN RING MANAGING DIRECTOR

Twitter Linkedin

Over the past 15 years, I've helped many international companies like Ebay, Intel, Burberry, The AA, Suzuki, Calor Gas, and Lexis Nexis as well as local Irish companies like SSE, Irish Rail and many others with their digital marketing. My role is to lead the Tinderpoint team to deliver outstanding results continuously for our clients.