Whereas marketing automation was still mainly a trend years ago, now its power is undisputed and it is gaining ground at C-level as well, because you can serve large groups of customers personally and efficiently. But, how do you build a business case for the purchase of marketing automation software? We will help you map out your process in 4 steps.
The corona crisis’s acceleration of digital transformation is pushing marketing automation to the top of many companies’ agendas. And the spending on marketing automation tools will be growing substantially in the coming years, Forrester predicts.
There are different reasons for this immense interest in automating marketing processes. For one thing, the threshold to automation has been lowered by the availability of efficient and affordable software. Moreover, marketing automation offers enormous advantages:
- It delivers an average of 10 to 30% return on investment
- You save up to 20% in marketing costs
- Your marketing team is much more agile as you are no longer dependent on your IT department or external parties
Therefore, with marketing automation you can reach more people with fewer resources. However, with great power also comes great responsibility. When you fail to deploy marketing automation correctly, your customers can become alienated from you. Therefore, proper preparation is essential. To make the right choice for your marketing automation tool, follow the steps below.
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Step 1: Decide on the business case
Determine if there is a business case for marketing automation based on the following six signals:
Insufficient visibility into potential customers
It is almost impossible for you to follow and nurture prospects at the orientation stage. The number of channels and data in different places in the organization are fragmented. This gives you little insight into potential customers.
Little distinction in customer offerings
You are running into limits with the segmentation methods of your current systems. You feel like you are missing out on sales because you cannot make a personalized offer to customers.
Fragmented internal data sources
You gather customer data in several places in the organization – in your CRM, ERP, online shop. You are aware that merging these data sources is essential for a good customer experience, but the task is simply too big.
Newsletters are not very result-oriented
You are only too happy to have a mailing out on time and you are hoping for good results. There is little focus on open and click rates and other measurable results, and the feeling is that contact with customers and prospects is being diluted.
Lack of hands in the marketing department
When it comes to marketing campaigns, your team is spending a lot of time collecting customer data and content, and getting both in the right place. Not to mention, it’s uncertain whether the right leads are on the list, and if the most relevant channels are being used.
Opaque Marketing-Sales funnel
Your sales and marketing departments are not on the same page. No one is clear what a well-qualified lead is, and where it ends up.
If three or more of the above statements apply to your organization, you know there’s a business case for marketing automation.
Step 2: Get the right stakeholders involved
Before getting started with marketing automation, sit down with your key stakeholders. In general, these are your colleagues in marketing and sales. Work with them to develop an online strategy and some practical use cases as the basis for the marketing automation approach. Be sure they know what you expect from them, and that you communicate this in time. Working together, organize buy-in from the three key people within your organization:
The marketing director
Based on the structure of your organization, the marketing director can be the key stakeholder in the project. Engage them in the capacity of project sponsor. Marketing directors are interested in understanding how marketing automation will deliver more effective and targeted campaigns, and a larger (and more measurable) marketing ROI.
They are not as concerned with the technical capabilities of the system as the rest of the internal team. The implementation of marketing automation is a perfect opportunity to re-define the customer journey with the marketing director, and thus get their buy-in.
The sales director
Sales directors are curious about how marketing automation can help their team meet sales targets. Collaborate with them to understand what a good lead looks like for the sales team, using segmentation criteria. For example, this could be based on the prospect’s geographic location, job title, or industry. Then help them understand the impact of implementing customer data-driven marketing. Be sure to explain how scoring and reviewing leads can save time for the sales team, and improve conversion rates.
The general manager/CEO.
Your organization’s size and structure will affect your access to the general manager or CEO. While it is unlikely that they will be involved in the project, their perception of marketing automation may be a key success factor.
They have much the same motivations as marketing and sales directors; they would like the organization to be more customer-centric, and value a clear understanding of the ROI of marketing campaigns. You have the best chance of getting buy-in from the top boss if you can prove that marketing automation contributes to two things: increased revenue and customer retention.
The IT director
An important stakeholder. The majority of your customer data resides in systems managed by IT. The purpose of this department is to keep systems running operationally safe, fast and efficient. However, it is also increasingly important to align technology as closely as possible with business objectives. This is where you have the opportunity to work with the IT manager. The objective is to purchase tooling that allows marketing to work on its own and to minimize the burden on IT after the initial set-up.
Step 3: Planning, budget and return on investment
Prepare a realistic plan and allocate sufficient budget. Marketing automation software usually takes three months to implement. On average, you will pay $ 2,000 – 3,000 per month for a system with features such as email marketing, content personalization, segmentation and analytics.
Do not get confused by vendors who communicate low entry-level subscriptions. Getting the right data integrated, setting up your platform and onboarding your department is serious business. Afterwards, you also want to be flexible. Simply setting up Marketing Automation is not a handy little tool.
Would you like to go next level? Then also implement a Customer Data Platform – one platform with all relevant customer information that allows you to easily tune marketing promotions on the basis of a complete customer view of buyers or segments. That will set you back about $ 4,000 to 6,000 per month, based on the size of your organization and the number of systems. That is clear information for your stakeholders!
Step 4: Selection of tools
Work with marketing and sales to identify your needs in terms of tooling. Is the focus of your online strategy on lead nurturing? If so, choose a system that allows you to register leads, but also to follow and nurture them.
Are you looking for far-reaching content personalization and to manage all your customer and prospect data in one place? In that case, go for a system with a Customer Data Platform (CDP). Be sure that your platform can handle your data flexibly. This is because you are going to learn from campaigns over time, and still want to change them.
When you choose the tooling, you’re also directly choosing an automation partner. You should choose a party that can (and will) train your team hands-on in how to work with the tool and provide support when you need it. You should ideally work with experts who develop the software themselves. With an experienced personal consultant for guidance, coaching and extra support. Furthermore, it is important that you and your colleagues can find your way around the new tool.
There is a lot to do when you start using marketing automation. In reality, it’s about more than choosing and implementing the tools. You now understand the steps you need to go through to build a solid business case for the marketing automation.