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If you’re considering marketing automation for your company, it’s important to have a good understanding of what to expect, and what the key benefits are before you begin comparing the various tools.
At a fundamental level, marketing automation is about optimisation.
From optimising your staff’s time, to optimising which customers your sales team focuses their effort on, the scope of marketing automation goes way beyond simply automating your marketing department’s repetitive tasks.
We’ll walk through many of the ways that marketing automation can be used throughout this post, but let’s start off with some of the macro-level benefits that marketing automation has on the business as a whole.
How does marketing automation benefit a business overall?
These are, in my opinion, the five key company-wide benefits of implementing a marketing automation solution.
1. Reduce your staffing costs
Using marketing automation software, one employee can compete with a 50-person marketing and sales department. How? By setting up lead nurturing and marketing campaigns that are automatically triggered based on certain criteria.
After a few months of building these automated campaigns, your business might be sending out thousands of personalised emails each day on autopilot.
2. Increased revenue and average deal size
By automating your cross-sells, up-sells, and customer follow-ups you’ll likely notice an increase in your customer lifetime value. When you combine this with better lead management and prioritisation, it’s likely that your sales activity will produce a better ROI.
Virtually all of benefits outlined in this post contribute to increasing revenue and deal-size in some way or another.
3. Improve accountability of marketing & sales teams
Marketing automation makes it very clear where the bottlenecks in your company are, thanks to having clearly defined processes, and birds-eye view reporting of the company’s pipeline.
If marketing is capturing hundreds of leads, but none of them are being nurtured to become ‘sales-qualified leads’, the marketing department will receive instant and impartial feedback that they need to improve their nurturing campaigns.
This feedback system not only reduces tough conversations and company politics, but also improves accountability of staff and departments to ensure that their part of the system is performing effectively.
4. Be more effective
No matter how large or small your team, you have a finite amount of resources to grow your business. Marketing automation enables you to squeeze more juice out of the hours available to you.
5. Less repetition, more creativity
When you replace manual repetitive work with automated rules and campaigns, you naturally free up your staff’s time to focus on more creative tasks.
While this has clear benefits of staff productivity and effectiveness, there’s a softer and less tangible benefit on creativity and overall happiness that comes from focusing your staff on varied creative work instead of mundane repetitive tasks.
How does marketing automation benefit the marketing team?
In this section, I want to focus specifically on how marketing automation enables marketers to be more effective and generate a higher ROI on their activity.
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6. Refine your marketing processes
One of the nice side effects of implementing marketing automation software is that, if you haven’t already, it requires you to visualise your customer journey and marketing strategy to create processes around them.
While this might not sound riveting, creating processes around the customer journey enables you to gradually refine how you target and nurture your leads.
Here’s an example of one of my friend’s lead nurturing sequences in Infusionsoft. While it’s a bit small to see, each box represents a separate campaign or action that is triggered when a lead reaches that stage of the customer journey.
This sequence can be visualised in a funnel, which enables you to see where leads are falling off in your nurturing process, and make refinements in those areas.
7. Target potential customers across multiple channels
One of the powerful benefits that marketing automation offers marketers is the ability to reach customers in a personalised way across different online and offline channels.
When you’re creating a marketing sequence like the one displayed above, you can choose to send customers an email, postcard, text message, tweet, or phone call when they reach certain stages of the customer journey.
Some marketing automation tools have more options around this than others with multi-channel targeting. While most will enable email, social, and phone calls, only a few tools (e.g. Ontraport) enable text message and postcard targeting.
8. Never stop A/B testing your campaigns
Unlike traditional landing page or email A/B testing, where you might split test a campaign once or twice before sending it out to your mailing list, marketing automation tools make it easy to run ongoing A/B tests.
Imagine having an A/B test running on every campaign and at every stage of your marketing process all the time. Over time, the incremental improvements across your marketing activity will generate a significant improvement in your funnel’s efficiency.
9. Boost customer lifetime value through up-sells and cross-sells
How much revenue does your business leave on the table by not remembering or implementing a series of up-sells and cross-sells?
With marketing automation, you take the human aspect out of up-selling and cross-selling by creating a series of automated rules. Let’s say you run an Ecommerce business that sells bicycle gear.
On top of generic up-sells, like reminding customers to order new tires, or inspiring them with popular Christmas gift products, you can also set up highly personalised up-sells.
For example, if a customer buys a bike model that has an optional gear upgrade, you might want to automate an email campaign or text message telling them about this upgrade 30 days before their birthday.
Over time, the impact that this type of marketing can have on your customer lifetime value can be quite dramatic.
10.Take your marketing activity to an ultra-targeted level
The ability to create targeted marketing campaigns at a huge scale is one of the biggest opportunities available to marketers today. Because, as taught in marketing 101, the more relevant an offer or product is to a potential customer, the more likely they are to hand over their money.
Never before have we had the opportunity or privilege to reach 1,000 different leads with 1,000 different messages in a fully-automated way.
I’ll leave the possibilities of this to your imagination.
11. Save time managing your social media campaigns
Most marketing automation tools allow you to manage all of your social media campaigns from within one dashboard, and post to multiple accounts in one go. While this has been easy to do with tools like Tweetdeck and Hootsuite for years, it’s powerful to have it connected to the same system that you use to track leads.
12. Schedule posts and campaigns ahead of time
Marketing automation tools make staying organised easy by enabling you to schedule your campaigns and social media posts ahead of time.
While this functionality has been around since the early days of email marketing and social media marketing, the added benefit of doing this from a marketing automation tool is that you’ can easily schedule different posts to different segments of your audience, based on data from the CRM system.
Instead of scheduling one message to your whole database, you could, for example, schedule five slight variations to five different segments of your audience, all a bit more personalised to their needs and interests.
13. Reduce the time it takes to create campaigns
Most marketing automation tools have a drag and drop interface, enabling you to build email campaigns, landing pages, and social campaigns with no technical or design expertise required.
By not having to schedule time in for your web design or graphic design to create campaigns, you can execute marketing campaigns more efficiently (while saving time for the design team).
14. Repurpose existing content to nurture leads
If your company has a blog, it’s quite likely that once you’ve written a blog post and shared it from your social media profiles, you do nothing.
Through marketing automation, you can give your existing content a second life by setting up automated rules to recommend content that educates your leads and customers over the customer lifecycle.
A few months ago I wrote about a company called Ezanga, who used automation rules to send emails like this:
This is a great way to generate return visitors to your site and ensure that you get the most value out of your investment in content marketing.
15. Better reporting on what’s working and what’s not
By working with the data in your CRM system, your marketing automation software won’t just tell you which campaigns worked, but what type of customer they worked for.
The level of information enables you to create in-depth reports and have a greater understanding of where you should focus your effort.
16. Reward your most loyal customers with a referral program
If you use a marketing automation tool like Infusionsoft or Ontraport that enables you to create and sell products, you’ll be able to setup a referral program that rewards customers and affiliates when they promote your products for you.
How does marketing automation benefit sales?
While you’d be forgiven for thinking that marketing automation is a tool for the marketing team, some of the greatest value comes from combining CRM and marketing data to help your sales team be more efficient.
Let’s look at some of the ways your sales team can benefit from implementing marketing automation.
17. Taking the guesswork out of lead scoring
When you setup your marketing automation software, you’ll need to create a set of rules and criteria that automatically scores incoming leads based on the lead’s actions and information.
In most tools, leads are prioritised on a scale of 1-5, and then categorised as either ‘marketing qualified leads’ or ‘sales qualified leads’ or MQLs and SQLs. If a lead is classed as an MQL, it remains in a nurturing campaign until it becomes an SQL.
This means that your company’s sales team are only ever focused on converting pre-qualified SQLs, and not wasting their time on unqualified leads.
18. Prioritise your leads with lead scoring
On top of knowing whether your leads are sales qualified or not, you’ll also be able to priortise your leads based on how likely they are to convert, or the size of the deal.
If you’ve been using a CRM system over the past few years, this is hardly revolutionary, but still very valuable to ensure that you start the day focused on converting your best leads.
19. Keep your CRM data up to date
Building a CRM database is incredibly valuable, but it can quickly diminish in value if information isn’t kept up to date.
By connecting your CRM system with your marketing automation tool, you can gradually capture more and more information about your leads over time, while confirming that their key information is still the same.
20. Know exactly when to call
Along with lead scoring and prioritisation, you’ll also be able to see when a lead is thinking about your company or solutions, by tracking when they visited your website.
You can even set up alerts to see which pages they’re looking at in real time. This insight enables you to pick up the phone to qualified leads at the exact moment that they’re thinking about your company.
21. Reduce lead conversion time
By making your sales process more efficient and effective, you reduce the time it takes for a potential lead to become a customer.
When Thomson Reuters implemented marketing automation software, they found that their lead conversion time dropped by 72%, contributing to an 175% overall increase in revenue attributed to implementing the software.
22. Automatically follow-up with leads
A few years ago, a study on the Harvard Business Review suggested that you’re 60x more likely to qualify a lead if you follow up within one hour, compared to waiting 24 hours.
With automation, you can ensure that every hot lead is followed up with straight away. Whether it’s at 8pm on a Friday evening, or 6am in the morning, your automation system can be hard at work when you’re not.
When Capterra implemented marketing automation software, they found that their sales qualification rate went up by 400%, largely due to a combination of faster follow-ups and their sales team being more efficient with what they focused on.
23. Never make another cold call
If you’re not a fan of cold calling, marketing automation will make this almost obsolete – providing the marketing department deliver enough sales-qualified leads!
With the amount of data captured by automation tools, you’ll have plenty of information on your leads, from what their challenges are, to what pages on your website they clicked on and when.
The fact that marketing automation software is so comprehensive is a blessing and a curse. While it can cause quite a few headaches in researching whether or not it’s right for you, you’ll be glad of it if you do end up biting the bullet.
Hopefully this post has given you a better understanding of how you might be able to use automation software.
If you’ve decided that it is something that’ll like benefit your business, the next step is to choose which tool is the best fit for you – which I’ve written another in-depth post about here.
If you have any questions, or can think of any benefits that I missed, feel free to post them in the comments below.