Marketing Automation - Why small businesses need to get onboard
Marketing automation has the fastest growth of any CRM-related segment in the last five (5) years and there is a reason why. Senior management have been desperate for years to have a clear picture of sales pipeline performance, which until marketing and sales automation came along, was unheard of - in a real sense. There were many inferior solutions in the market, but none that really hit the nail on the head quite like marketing automation.
Interestingly, after speaking with a number of marketing automation vendors in the past few weeks, it has become apparent that there is one clear contender for the top marketing automation spot - and that is Marketo.
Eloqua, is hard to understand, not too dissimilar to my experience in trying to get to their spokespeople to talk about their product for a story that is to be published in an Australian business magazine in a few months. They were impossible to speak to and wanted all questions emailed to them before speaking to someone. I laughed, as given the audience of both our half a dozen or so blogs and its readership, along with Marketing Eye's own custom magazine, read by more than 60,000 people, they gave the worst possible impression of their brand.
Looking further, their software isn't quite what its cranked up to be. Go figure.
Marketo on the other hand is interesting. They specialize in small business but also provide marketing automation services for some of the world's largest corporations. I always get concerned when a software attests to being everything to everyone, but in fairness to Marketo, they seem to have equal dominance in small, medium and large sized businesses.
"No matter what CRM you are using, we are going to help build an integrated buyer experience," said a spokeman for Marketo.
What marketing automation does for marketers in organizations, CRM does for sales, ERP does for CFO's and so on - so you can imagine just how much uptake marketing automation is getting with any marketer that has budget.
Powerful Marketing Automation Tool
Marketing Automation is expensive if you look at it from a view point of just costs per month, particularly if you are a small business. It can be hard to justify, however if you are investing in marketing then by utilizing a powerful marketing automation tool, your business will spend its investment much more wisely and be able to understand the customer in a way it has never been able to previously.
At the centre, through marketing automation, the marketing database serves as a record for the marketing department, customers and digital behaviors, somewhat of a superset of data and CRM. It also collects every web page, tweet, link that is shared, email opened and marketing event participated in by your customer. This kind of intelligence is like something we as marketers have never seen before.
The biggest factor that is driving marketing automation is a profound change in the way buyers behave and a change in the way marketers need to market to them.
"We have moved from a world of information scarcity to abundance," said the Marketo spokeman.
"We can now get any purchasing question answered, anytime and buyers are taking advantage of that abundance of information and now they are doing research on their own and delaying actually talking to a person."
According to Forrester, 65 to 90% complete the buyers cycle before they engage with sales people. This is staggering and when a small business says to me that they don't need to invest online because their buyers don't find them there, I am still amazed. It's as if some business owners live under a rock and haven't come out to see what's actually going on.
Advantages of marketing automation
There are many advantages of marketing automation;
- Improved marketing process automation
- Improved visibility across the entire marketing platform
- Improved lead quality and reach through multi channel campaigns
- Deepened and engaged connectivity with customers
- Greater insight and more accurate ROI data
It's still a big call for small businesses to use software that costs $3,000 plus per month to use, but its an important consideration and if used properly will improve targeting, engagement, conversions and analysis by capturing a customer digital body language.
With enhancements to marketing automation, marketers can be assured higher return on investment on any advertising spend, improved sales teams and a more detailed view of prospects. This will enable marketers a more secure and controlled access to marketing resources and data delivering a more clear view.
My take: It's a no brainer for any small business that has a fully functioning marketing department that is able to aptly manage the entire marketing automation process and deliver a scalable solution across multiple platforms, whilst leveraging any marketing spend and creating a database that is at long last meaningful.