As we dig deeper into 2013, I predict even more companies will get on the marketing automation bandwagon and the marketing industry as we know it will become an ‘Automation Nation‘.
By definition (and according to Wikipedia), marketing automation is the name given to software platforms designed for marketing departments and organizations to automate repetitive tasks. Marketing departments, consultants and part-time marketing employees benefit by specifying criteria and outcomes for tasks and processes. These tasks and processes are then interpreted, stored and executed by software, which increases efficiency and reduces human error. (Originally this was called email marketing automation.)
The benefits of implementing a marketing automation solution are tremendous especially for those firms’ marketing departments that are operating on the ‘lean and mean’ side. It gives organizations and marketers the ability to do more with less! Using a marketing automation platform allows marketers to streamline their sales and marketing activities by replacing high-touch, repetitive manual processes with automated solutions.
Marketing automation consequently provides a more consistent, less manual way for tracking items such as lead source, conversion rate and MARKETING ROI (aka the holy grail: being able to attribute sales revenue to the Marketing department!!! Yes Sales Team we do contribute to ‘your sales’ )
Okay now where was I…yes marketing automation solutions. As I was saying, there are many different solutions out there –some more basic than others. A fully developed marketing automation system will provide information across all phases of the marketing process, including:
• Demand Generation
• Lead Management
• Lead Scoring
• Lead Nurturing
• Lead Generation
• Campaign Analysis
• Lead Qualification
• Sales Effectiveness
Whereas, a more basic platform may only provide lead nurturing and automated functionality, for example.
The first question most people will ask is, “Okay, so which is the best marketing automation provider out there?” TBH (to be honest), the answer really depends. It depends upon your organization’s need, established business practices as well as its level of commitment to making your sales and marketing processes automated.
If you know there are certain processes that your organization will never change, that will prevent you from, for example doing lead scoring and nurturing, then a fully developed system might not be the best choice. Conversely, if your organization is open for change and you have buy-in from key decision makers and leadership, a fully-developed system might just be the perfect solution.
Here’s a great chart that helps defines the steps you should take if you are looking at selecting a marketing automation vendor:
Courtesy of: http://www.marketingautomationsoftware.com
So, if your organization isn’t already on the bandwagon, I encourage you to get on and not be left behind! The benefits of automation are just too great to ignore. Let automation take over all those manual tasks you are doing so that you can be freed up to take your marketing programs to the next level. I promise you, it’ll be a life changer (in a positive way) and fun too!