The marketing automation software industry is estimated to reach $7.63 billion by 2025 and grow at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 13.3%, according to a study by Grandview Research. With this kind of growth, it’s safe to say that marketing automation is no longer a tool for brand-name companies with million-naira budgets.
However, it is important to keep in mind that automation results in a high Return On Investment (ROI) only when it is properly implemented. Whether you’ve already adopted marketing automation or are contemplating the benefits of doing so, you need to be aware of the key challenges that can arise when working with this technology to address them.
Some of these challenges have a rather general nature, so some of these tips will be equally useful for those who haven’t adopted marketing automation.
What is marketing automation?
Broadly speaking, any software system that allows you to automate your sales and marketing in order to increase lead generation and measure the effectiveness of your brand’s reach qualifies as marketing automation. Though the set of available features may vary, some of the most common include campaign creation, visitor tracking, lead management, and sales alerts. Like any other kind of automation, it takes on the most routine tasks and leaves sales reps and marketers more time for jobs that demand their creativity. For example, it can allow you to segment your audience automatically and then create automated email campaigns targeted at particular segments and scheduled for specific periods.
Tips for successful marketing and sales automation
Timing is key.
The explosive growth of marketing automation may make it seem like a sure thing that’s capable of transforming nearly any business into a high ROI growth machine, but the reality could prove to be quite different depending on where your company is in its lifecycle.
In addition, implementing marketing automation requires a significant amount of time and money and is not typically the kind of investment that yields a high return with minimal effort.
To determine if the time is right, ask: what does your site traffic look like? To get the most out of any marketing automation solution, you need to have a certain amount of data with which the system can work. If the number of visitors to your site is more like a stream than a river, you’re unlikely to get the results that you want out of your automated marketing platform.
However, that doesn’t mean that your business won’t be able to utilize marketing automation in the future. It just means that, for now, you can focus on inbound marketing strategies like SEO, content marketing and social media marketing instead — all of which can help increase site traffic.
Don’t compare apples and oranges.
You may be surprised to learn that the mechanics of marketing automation could present a challenge when it comes to lead management. For most companies, I’ve found that the majority of leads fall into the low- to the mid-level range, and only a minority are high-end clients.
While it may seem like a good idea to nurture all leads equally, and this is in fact what a marketing automation system will do by default, doing so could cost you the revenue that you could have earned from better nurturing your high-end leads.
Recognizing that your high-end leads require a different approach is a key to optimizing your marketing automation.
Segmenting your leads before they are passed on to a sales team will allow you to create lead-nurturing protocols specific to each group, which can increase the likelihood of conversion for the most profitable segment.
Speed is another key factor here. In my experience, the faster a sales rep reaches out to a lead, the higher the chance of a closed deal. By sorting your leads based on their estimated profitability, you can ensure that the high-end leads are taken care of first.
Sales reps may never contact some leads, so the role of the right prioritization is evident.
Solutions vary widely.
To get the most benefit, I believe that marketing automation software should be seamlessly integrated with other systems already used in your company. This is a factor to keep in mind when choosing the solution.
Some marketing automation systems are released as part of a customer relationship management (CRM) system, which might be convenient if you already use the same CRM system. Accordingly, if you are choosing a CRM, it’s reasonable to check if marketing automation is part of the pack.
A stand-alone solution may have advantages over a bundled one — for example, because it is solely dedicated to marketing automation, it may have extra features that are absent from bundled solutions.
But you should keep in mind possible integration challenges that will need to be resolved — such as the possibility of data duplication and leakage.
According to a 2014 Gartner report (paywall), 81% of companies surveyed had the “equivalent of a chief marketing technologist” in 2014, an 11% increase from the year before. This hints at the growing importance of technology in today’s marketing.
As marketing automation becomes an increasingly integral part of sales and marketing processes, more businesses are sure to encounter some challenges along the way.
However, having an awareness of these potential obstacles can help companies successfully navigate marketing automation and get the ROI results that they want.