Marketing automation is still a relatively untapped resource in the world of CRM solutions. Even as it has become more prolific, many companies still leave the marketing department at the bottom of the list when it comes to software upgrades. But the days of putting marketing automation behind areas like HR and customer service may soon be a thing of the past, as more and more CEOs realize how marketing-automation solutions can directly benefit sales.
According to a 2007 report by market-research provider Aberdeen Group Inc., 58 percent of best-in-class companies now use marketing-automation software, and 32 percent of those businesses have used it for three or more years. The report indicated that companies using marketing-automation solutions are seven times more likely to see a greater than 100 percent return on their marketing campaigns. When the report was released, Ian Michiels, an Aberdeen Group senior research analyst, observed that companies that were early arrivals on the marketing-automation scene "demonstrate the value of automating standardized, day-to-day marketing activities," while companies who are late to the table "spend unnecessary time on manual processes and administrative tasks that can easily be streamlined and automated with marketing-automation technologies."
Another 2007 Aberdeen Group report on marketing automation, co-sponsored by Market2Lead Inc., indicated that companies that invested in marketing-automation technology during the previous two years saw a 10 percent increase in lead-to-sales conversion rates. Market2Lead CEO Geoff Rego said at the time that the report, "shows that marketing automation plays a significant role in increasing the return on investment that companies receive from their marketing campaigns."
In no particular order, here are five key aspects of marketing automation that can directly benefit your business's sales efforts.
- Targeted Sales Leads: One part of sales that has killed many a rep from the start is the dreaded cold call — not necessarily because the rep is afraid of the phone, but because the vast majority of random leads result in time wasted and no sale. Marketing-automation software has a direct impact on sales efficiency by generating leads that are best suited for your enterprise's products and are therefore most likely to result in success.
- Improved Campaign Management: Rather than have your sales and marketing staffers struggling to control list generation, campaign costs, distribution of promotional materials and response tracking, marketing automation gives them the tools to manage campaigns quickly and more effectively.
- Increased Integration Between Marketing and Sales: Did you ever get the feeling that your marketing staff and salespeople aren't always on the same page? Marketing-automation solutions can help eliminate that problem, especially if your business has branch offices or sales teams in satellite locations. The marketing software allows for joint execution and real-time tracking of marketing projects to get the most out of your creative efforts to sell your company's products and services.
- Easier Bulk Email Campaigns: Sure, everyone is worried about spam and cluttering inboxes. However, the reality is that targeted email blasts to the right individuals and businesses put valuable information about your company's latest offerings in the right hands. Marketing-automation solutions make it easier to generate a list, blast out the email and track its response.
- Better Branding: As has been established, marketing staffers and sales representatives are sometimes literally off doing their own things. Somewhere, the company message and vision gets lost while everyone is out fending for themselves rather than working together in a cooperative fashion . With better control over planning and assigning tasks, the message your marketing team and sales staff delivers will be consistent and will hammer home an unmistakable brand identity.
But as with all other software solutions, buying the software is merely the first step. Michiels added one key point when his report was released. He said that the best-in-class companies, "do more than adopt technology; they establish organizational practices around measurement and accountability for marketing initiatives."