Lead Nurturing

How Marketing Automation Can Help You NOW

If you're responsible for marketing in almost any organization, your head is likely ready to spin off your shoulders. You're being called on to do everything from research to strategy to advertising and promotion to social media. And oh by the way, measure it all to see what's working.

It doesn't look like the added bricks of responsibility will lighten up anytime soon so what's a harried marketer to do?

Take a serious look at Marketing Automation for one thing.

Marketo defines Marketing Automation (MA) as "the technology that allows companies to streamline, automate, and measure marketing tasks and workflows so they can increase operational efficiency and grow revenue faster." That's a mouthful but stated simply it means that there's software available that can help you automate and handle many of your mounting tasks.

In its eBook The Right Content at the Right Time, Yesler states that 18% of B2B marketers have adopted MA and that's expected to rise to 40% by 2016. Marketo points out in its Definitive Guide to Marketing Automation that not just large companies are employing the technology. The fastest growing segment of MA adopters are small to medium sized businesses (SMB's).

There are a myriad of reasons why MA is being so aggressively implemented. Here are five key areas where an effective Marketing Automation program can yield significant results.

1. Lead Generation

The days when a breathing, warm body was considered a good prospect are long gone. Companies have come to realize how resources can be squandered pursuing the wrong target audience. Effective lead generation requires that you find the customers that fit your target profile. According to Marketo, MA helps to identify "the hot ones displaying buying behaviors that indicate that they are ready to engage with you and make a purchase."

2. Persona Development

Designing your target profile customer is not enough. Yesler points out that you have to build your buyer personas as well. "Today’s purchasing decisions most often include multiple people who play different roles in the buying process, sometimes at different stages." Identifying users, influencers and the appropriate budget authority is as crucial to the selling process as targeting the buyer. Once you've established all the players, MA helps organize and drive the appropriate content to each at the appropriate time.

3. Lead Nurturing

I discussed the importance of lead nurturing in an earlier post but it's clear that obtaining the lead is just the beginning of the process. It's estimated that only 20% of leads are sales ready when they are first uncovered. Your MA program includes the integration of Sales operation software and CRM applications to ensure that you are doing everything possible to nurture each lead into a sale. According to the Marketo Benchmark on Revenue Performance, companies that implement this kind of lead scoring enjoy 28% better sales productivity and 33% higher revenue growth than companies without lead scoring.

4. Relationship Management

We all know it's far more profitable to grow sales with existing customers than by acquiring new ones. That's why retaining and strengthening the bonds with existing customers is so important. An effective MA program helps with up-selling, cross-selling, managing feedback and maintaining an ongoing conversation with your current customers. Marketo stresses that "you need multiple tracks for each buyer persona and buying stage that 'listen' to how the customer behaves, and adjusts accordingly – just like a real-world relationship."

5. Marketing ROI

Back to the numbers. Not only do you have to manage all these various programs, but you also need to measure and justify their existence through a detailed ROI (return on investment) analysis. According to Marketo, Marketing Automation "goes beyond process automation to help marketing executives get much-needed insight into which marketing programs are working and which aren’t. It gives CMOs the metrics they need to speak confidently to the C-suite about Marketing’s revenue impact."

Marketing Automation is catching on fast and will quickly evolve from a luxury into a necessity. As John McTigue, co-owner of Kuno Creative has said, “without marketing automation, you are just guessing– just hoping that people will take the bait and be ready to buy your products. Statistics show that buyers don’t do that. They want to learn at their own pace and be reached when they need more information or are ready to buy. A well-constructed marketing automation strategy makes that a reality.”

Are you using Marketing Automation? Could it help your marketing program?