Marketing automation is not exactly the new kid on the block. It has been around since the 1980s in one form or another but it’s only really in the last five years that it has come into its own. Both Irish and global businesses of all sizes and sectors are benefiting from it as never before.Marketing automation is not exactly the new kid on the block. It has been around since the 1980s in one form or another but it’s only really in the last five years that it has come into its own. Both Irish and global businesses of all sizes and sectors are benefiting from it as never before.
Digital marketing has of course brought a new dynamic to business promotion. Whereas offline marketing is still a powerful source of lead generation and sales, it’s no match for advertising your business online.
Online promotional techniques allow you to focus on target market segments. Instead of chasing sales, you get prospective buyers to approach you. Marketing campaigns can be analysed in minute detail to maximise results, and enhance brand awareness.
It’s important to keep an eye on new apps and cool tools. Ireland is very much in line with the global trend of businesses taking marketing success to a new level with powerful marketing automation software.
Wait a minute, we hear you say, that’s just CRMs, isn’t it?
No, marketing automation is much more than a CRM. The very best and most advanced software will include a CRM to enhance campaign results, but it is not a given. It is essential to understand what a programme offers before investing in it.
Let’s look at Marketo’s definition: “Marketing automation is the technology that allows companies to streamline, automate, and measure marketing tasks and workflows so they can increase operational efficiency and grow revenue faster.”
It was used primarily in B2B by larger companies in the financial and healthcare industries but is now being adopted across the board by companies of all sizes – and in B2C settings as well. It offers a streamlined process for enhancing lead generation, segmentation, relationship marketing, cross-sell and up-sell, customer retention and, perhaps most importantly, the ability to measure return on investment.
Marketing automation features can include email campaigns, landing page creation, campaign management, lead generation, lead scoring and behaviour prediction, social marketing, resource management and analytics.
It is important to understand that marketing automation is not just about push-button ease and templates. It is about a comprehensive strategy that brings together related processes, markets, content and data to create a robust, insight-focused system that generates leads and ultimately, revenues.
In a way, marketing automation does what the astute and experienced sales person does. It turns the uninterested lead into a sale. It facilitates this by building direct and indirect business relationships, remarketing, creating loyalty, nurturing and analysing those connections and communications to move the visitor closer to a conversion.
In the digital world, we need to understand the ever-changing systems for attracting leads. These include harnessing and filtering the most appropriate visitors for any given campaign and using up-to-date tools to analyse data. Marketing automation is a powerful process if used strategically.
A major benefit of marketing automation is that it allows the marketing executive to determine just how hot that lead is. This is called lead scoring. Once you understand where in the buying cycle your visitor is, you can streamline your approach to meet their needs. Now you have a clearer idea as to the demographic of your target market. On top of that, you can create campaigns that filter leads and adapt that campaign to meet your target group’s needs, triggering conversions in real time.
A robust marketing automation system must also be able to recognise behaviours of prospective buyers as they proceed through the sales funnel. Instead of allowing those who bounce off the site to fall by the wayside, new campaigns can be set up or adapted to convert hot leads. (For example, by remarketing or re-mailing after a client opens an email advert).
Businesses in Ireland are beginning to realise that marketing automation is fundamental to all forms of marketing campaigns. At the heart of a business campaign is a solid database that offers a broad picture of how leads are responding to the website, email campaigns, adverts and other digital properties. The database allows the marketing executive to lead score and facilitate campaigns that offer timely messages to unique, targeted clients.
This allows for ‘drip marketing’ to the customer who is not yet ready to buy. In a sense, it’s all about brand and product awareness: keeping brands and services they have shown an interest in, in front of them until such time as they are ready to buy.
In an email campaign, for example, automation can cut human input hugely. An automated cycle will recognise what the next step should be, depending on behaviour to date. The system determines the level and type of intervention required without slow and costly manual tasks.
The processes can also cut costs on manual or semi-automated systems. Once a fully operational marketing automation process is set up, there is no need to outsource to create unique stages, such as landing pages for adverts. The cost savings here can be considerable.
This is especially true for large, regulated companies where forms have to be filled in, and terms and conditions shown and accepted. Where this would be a highly complex and costly exercise manually, marketing automation simplifies the process.
A year-long study on marketing automation carried out by Marketo found, on average, a business could see the following increases in ROI:
First month: 12%
Two to six months: 32%
Seven to 12 months: 32%
Over a year: 24%
Research carried out by Nucleus in 2012 showed that overheads can be greatly reduced. Marketo has summarised these results as follows:
Sales productivity increased from 1.9% to 6.9%
Administrative overheads reduced to an average of 3.4%
Sales productivity increased by an average of 4%
As marketing technology gets smarter, business managers and sales departments are finding the online buying experience can be streamlined to work almost invisibly in the background, freeing up staff and reducing budgets. At the same time, automated programmes can precisely target those individual prospects with relative promotions – so everyone involved benefits.