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Are Your Competitors Using Marketing Automation Tools?

Written by Alastair Kane

Jun 5 2015

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What Is Marketing Automation?

Marketing automation is the process of managing digital marketing channels more effectively; by automating repetitive tasks from a single platform such as HubSpot or Marketo (though many other marketing automation tools are available).

Designed to save time, improve marketing productivity, and simplify the increasingly complex world of marketing technology, 43% of marketers are already using marketing automation with 45% of marketers planning to adopt MA within the next 12 months.

Why Your Competitors Are Using Marketing Automation

If your competitors are among that 43%, not only will they have a better grasp on aligning fragmented marketing channels and strategies, they’re likely able to:

  • Better close the loop between sales and marketing for more informed strategies.

  • Better manage leads from initial engagement through to the final sale.

  • Deliver more relevant messaging and content to audiences.

  • Have the benefit of increased revenue.

  • Be far more efficient and productive.

Essentially, marketing automation removes a lot of needless effort and complexity from marketing activity. But while 47% of senior management recognise that MA is important (and another 18% think it’s extremely important), 3 out of 5 companies think MA implementation is difficult; recognising challenges such as a lack of needed team skills (to implement/use MA), difficulty integrating data, and an overarching lack of resources.

How To Implement Effective Marketing Automation

As referenced in B2B Marketing’s Marketing Automation Benchmark Report 2015, there are many considerations to implementing effective marketing automation for your business:

Consider The 4 Pillars of MA

Choose The Right Technology

When implementing MA, it’s crucial to choose the right technology for your business. Copying your competitors may not be a great option here, as every business has different marketing requirements. A one-size-fits-all approach is likely not to be the solution. Research is key, so take the time to find a MA solution that meets your business’s specific integration requirements. Consider:

  • Make sure your whole team can use it (or be trained).

  • Make sure it integrates with your CRM to grow your database.

  • Check it comes with the reporting functionality you need.

  • Make sure landing pages and email templates can be mobile optimised.

  • Make sure the solution meets your scalability needs.

Get Your Processes In Order

Implementing new process and solutions can be complex and time consuming - even if automation itself will eventually enhance efficiency. For MA to be as smooth and pain free as possible, define everything that needs to come together in advance or implementation - and follow your goals (i.e. campaign planning, content creation, landing page development etc).

Consider Your People

Your team may understand why you need marketing automation - but they also need to understand how to use it. Make sure each member of your marketing team knows what role they need to play in the MA process, that they have the skills, and make sure they have sufficient additional support if needed.

Know Your Data

You need to use your marketing data effectively if MA is going to have any success. From effective segmentation, to well-targeted content offers, to lead scoring, make sure you constantly review your data, and act on it appropriately - or your campaigns won’t go anywhere.

When starting your MA campaigns:

  • Understand why you’re automating. Focus on your goals, and use the time you’ll save to plan and re-examine strategies.

  • Get going but start small. MA can be a daunting process. But until you begin you won’t learn how to progress, or receive any return. Start small and keep it simple until you’re more confident - then scale.

  • Align sales and marketing. For the process to be seamless, all sides must speak to each other from the start. Know what each side’s concerns and blocks are, and make sure everyone understands the end goal.

  • Use your data. Uncover and focus on the channels that will impact your business most. Measure your progress, and constantly re-evaluate to improve process and strategy.

  • Remember - all you’re aiming to do is send the right messages to your audience at the right time. In a nutshell that’s what MA should aim to achieve: helping your prospects down the sales funnel with timely, relevant content and offers.

Master Marketing Automation To Beat Competitors

57% of a sale now happens before your sales team is even involved in the process (again according to B2B Marketing's Marketing Automation Benchmark Report, p7). With the recent advance of inbound marketing, marketing teams are taking increasing responsibility for the sales funnel - which is why increasing efficiencies via automation can be so beneficial.

This guide from Quicksprout goes into more detail about the marketing factors behind automation; from considering new methodologies such as inbound, to the psychology of buyers, and how MA should best be used once you get the process going. So whatever marketing strategies you prioritise, it’s clear that mastering marketing automation will leave your business ready to make the most of opportunities; bringing clarity, insight and competitive advantage to all activity.

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