The truth about marketing automation: 10 pros & 5 cons. Matthew Johnson - Head of Marketing & New Business by Matthew Johnson, Head of Marketing & New Business

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What is marketing automation?

Definition: Marketing automation is a set of strategic software that streamlines, automates and analyses marketing tasks and workflows for businesses. It aims to improve operational efficiency and increase revenue generated online.

Marketing automation isn’t just about saving time. It also makes communications more personalised for your prospects and existing customers. Things like customer segmentation and campaign management become far more effective and a lot easier. Today’s consumer is far more likely to engage with a business who nurture them with highly relevant and valuable content while guiding them through the sales journey. 

The most impactful marketing automation strategies don’t stop when a lead finally converts into a paying customer. Successful strategies also focus on delivering continuous value and building trust with your existing customer base. It’s this belief that killed the sales ‘funnel’ and birthed the ‘flywheel’ which is an essential component of inbound marketing.

Marketing automation promises powerful personalised marketing that aims to enhance the customer experience and increase revenue generated online. Some businesses reported sub-par results that didn’t justify their investment when marketing automation first hit the market. This article looks at some of the pros and cons of marketing automation in the hope of educating readers on what to expect before adopting.

10 benefits of marketing automation

While marketing automation is considered the norm in most high-performance marketing teams, Grand View Research believe we’re only at the start of the automation revolution. They project the industry to be worth a staggering $7.63bn by 2025. But what’s fuelling the hype? 

Here are 10 ways marketing automation software can benefit your business:

1. You save time

Perhaps the most obvious, automation allows marketers to significantly reduce time spent on manual tasks such as reporting, email follow-ups, and content distribution which allows marketers to create space for strategic thinking. 

2. Improve your ROI on staff costs 

Your staff should be empowered by automation tools, not threatened by them. It should allow them to spend more time focusing on high impact tasks that bring the most value to your business. You will get more from your staff if you automate their manual processes and allow them to do what they do best. 

3. Scale and repeat processes and tasks

It is critical to choose software which is suited to your business’ long-term goals. Knowing that your MarTech stack has everything needed to reach 10x or 100x the size of your current contact database will give you confidence and motivation. 

4. Improve the relationship between marketing & sales

The law of large numbers suggests that the more prospects marketing can reach, the more opportunity in the pipeline for sales teams to close. Here, everyone’s a winner. For instance, CMO’s are happy due to more leads being sourced online and CEOs are happy because of how many deals are being closed. 

5. Measure your success in a centralised hub

Reporting all in one place and at the click of a button. Customisable reports and dashboards with accurate, up-to-date information available around the clock. Imagine that. With some platforms, you can even forecast future campaign performance based on historical data using AI. In this data-driven world, being able to measure success is critical and most automation software has great tools for reporting and analysis. This allows you to focus on making continuous improvements to meet your long-term goals.

6. Develop a deeper understanding of your audience & shape their behaviour

Every interaction someone has with your business gives you more data which is recorded and can be analysed automatically. Harvesting more data on how your leads interact with your business will improve your understanding of your audience. Buyer personas, therefore, become more accurate which improves your chances of converting leads online. Over time you can use this data and certain tools in the software to predict and shape what your customers do next, encouraging them to buy or even spend more. 

7. Improve your testing & optimisation 

Automation software gives you the ability to split test campaigns which saves you money on additional A/B technology. It allows you to test your way to better performance and more revenue.

8. Enhance your customer experience (CX)

Send highly targeted and personalised campaigns to improve your customer experience. Send behavioural-triggered emails to customers who do particular things. Partnering this with web personalisation creates completely individual experiences for your customers and increases conversions. 

9. Increase your clients’ lifetime value

Marketing isn’t just about attracting new customers but also about getting existing customers to spend more over their lifetime with you. Make light work of your customer retention and loyalty campaigns by automating tasks to reengage with existing customers. Automate requests for feedback and reviews, and send offers to high-value segments. Personalised service or solution recommendations are also an effective way of cross-selling and up-selling across your marketing channels. 

10. Reclaim lost revenue 

Automation tools allow you to set up workflows to send ‘basket abandonment’ campaigns to encourage your audience to complete the checkout process hour or days after they visit your site.

5 reasons businesses fail at marketing automation

As with life, not everything is all sunshine and rainbows. There are several reasons businesses struggle to extract value from their software, particularly in the beginning. Here are the top 5 reasons why marketing automation fails when it’s adopted: 

1. Poor deployment

One of the major frustrations with marketing software implementation is that adapting to it takes longer and costs more than anticipated. The software usually requires a higher level of technical expertise to set up than expected. This is why choosing the right software for your business is so vital. Getting started is a challenge so you must plan your deployment and schedule enough time for learning. Expect a period of trial and error and don’t try to do too much too quickly. Get the deployment right and you’ll set yourself up for success. 

2. Poor strategy 

Without a clear marketing strategy in place, there’s no point investing in automation software. None at all. The better your marketing strategy, the more your software can deliver. Above all, adopting an inbound marketing strategy makes the most sense when you consider automating your marketing efforts. 

3. Process inefficiencies

Similar to having a poor marketing strategy, if your processes are inefficient then buying new software won’t solve your problems. Also, if your people aren’t delivering the desired output, things won’t suddenly change when you deploy your new tech. When marketers are embroiled with disjointed processes, the likelihood for errors increases, the collaboration between teams becomes strenuous, and time is taken away from value-add business tasks. Think of a marketing automation platform as the engine in a car. The people and process are the fuel that enables the engine to drive you forward.

4. Steep learning curve

Jumping to new technology usually requires significant learning which means investing even more time. The first few months can be the most stressful as the onboarding, training, and set up can all take longer than expected. You must allow your staff the time to properly get to grips with the new software and processes to prevent confusion and sub-optimal performance in the future. Before you give the green light, you should consider any integrations you need to make. Who will integrate the software with your apps, website, etc? If you do not have the talent in-house it is vital to partner with experts who can guide you through the process. Get it right the first time. Benefit from knowledge transfer and create a team of super-users who can provide training to other teams and future hires.

5. Too many technologies at play

The number one reason automation software fails is that the MarTech stack itself is too complex, not the technologies being used. Businesses using siloed technology, specifically stand-alone marketing applications, can experience significant challenges that hinder their growth. Reporting becomes a nightmare, productivity decreases, stress levels rise, and unnecessary components are added to an already over-complicated process. Capgemini Invent explores this further in an article on the disadvantages of stand-alone marketing automation.

Conclusion

Marketing automation is the future and B2B businesses that do not invest in an integrated solution risk being left behind in the coming years. Businesses purchase the software to generate more revenue from their marketing efforts and develop closer relationships with their customers at scale.

Marketing automation can be a double-edged sword initially, but when you have become familiar with the applications, refined your approach and have maintained a clear focus on your goals for some time, you will reap the rewards. It can save you a fortune and drastically increase the size and value of your audience. If done correctly, it will improve productivity and empower marketers to think more strategically and creatively, increasing the number of leads and sales generated online. 


Matthew Johnson - Head of Marketing & New Business by Matthew Johnson, Head of Marketing & New Business
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