Marketing Automation – Benefits and Pitfalls

By David Waldron, Guest Blogger | 8.23.16

One of the things marketers need to know about to be most effective in their work with clients is the strategy and use of marketing automation as a part of an omnichannel marketing effort.

Marketing automation pertains to software platforms that allows a digital agency to automate some of their marketing tasks, and also can be much more effective in creating deeper relationships with clients in all phases of the buyer’s journey.

Most marketers today automate tasks that are repetitive in nature, which include social media, email, and other online actions. These automated tasks can also be timed to be delivered and interacted with at the most optimum time based on data gathered in previous marketing activities.

With the use of marketing automation, marketers are able to streamline their segmentation, lead nurturing and scoring, lead generation, marketing ROI measurement, customer retention, customer lifecycle marketing, and a lot more. It can be used for all types of businesses, whether it is a B2C or a B2B company.

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Below are some of the main benefits (and a few pitfalls) of using marketing automation:

Better Lead Generation
Marketers attract people to the brand through an overall brand strategy, including both outbound and inbound marketing and lead generation. However, the effort will be wasted if the people are not interested in buying or are jarred or alienated by the marketing touch. With the use of marketing automation software, marketers can reach out to more people during the exact right time in the sales funnel.

That exact time is when consumers have expressed interest in what was written in a newsletter, signed up for a content offer,  or have been browsing a blog for a long period of time. The lead list will be more targeted, and useful, instead of using a list of random (or purchased) email addresses. This is one of the main reasons why thousands of B2B marketers use automation for their digital marketing campaigns.

The data collected by platforms such as Hubspot, Adobe Marketing Cloud, or the IBM Marketing Cloud include open rates, delivery times, visitor engagement times, pages and features viewed, and conversion rates from visitors to leads to customers to brand evangelists.

Nurture Potential Customers
Leads are nothing if marketers can’t convince them to buy something. That’s why one of our main tasks is to nurture leads and existing customers. A marketer must know how to keep potential customers interested in their clients’ products and/or services, and make them ready to take action towards a purchase.

Nurtured leads often make larger transactions compared to leads that were not nurtured. With the use of marketing automation, you will be able to nurture the leads without the need to personalize the emails manually.

Instead, the software will do all the work for you. The marketer can focus on making the content of that outreach engaging, immersive and remarkable.

Convert Consumers Faster
There are instances in which there’s a gap between the time when a person shows interest in the business and the time one decides to buy something. Our prospects lead busy lives, and they deal with many distractions. Whether it means an abandoned shopping cart or suspended product research, these gaps can easily be created during all stages of the conversion funnel. Marketing automation can help decrease this gap.

Automation software can convert leads faster than any other digital marketing tool, through the delivery of great content at the perfect moment. This will help boost the revenue of your or your client’s company without having to greatly increase the effort of the marketing department.

Improve the Company’s Bottom Line
One of the objectives of running a business is to make money. And marketing automation can help companies improve their revenue by ten percent within six to nine months. Users of marketing automation software have reported that they improved their sales by an average of 34 percent.

Get Maximum Results from Digital Marketing Strategies
Another benefit of using marketing automation is that it can be integrated into the company’s CRM platform. That will allow you to check whether the digital marketing strategies are working or not. By monitoring the progress of the campaign, you will be able to tweak it in a continuous improvement cycle so that you will be able to get more leads and conversions.

Pitfalls of Using Marketing Automation
Most marketers think that the software can provide an instant solution to their lead generation and email marketing needs. That’s why they use marketing automation without a clear goal in mind. To get the job done, they need to have an effective strategy in place. They should understand that the system is just a tool that will be used to implement their strategies and not the other way around.

Some marketers buy marketing automation software to use for their email marketing campaign with very little thought as to its integration. These are very complex systems. Before purchasing the software, be sure to know what its capabilities are, if it fits into your overall strategy, workflow and team, and if you really need it for your company.

Another problem that companies face is that they don’t have team members that have the required technical skill sets to run the marketing automation systems. Some platforms require people who have a background in development, data architecture, and IT instead of pure marketing skills. The company may need to hire a marketing technologist to maintain and implement the platform or would be better suited to outsource the work to a qualified digital agency.

With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility
Investing in marketing automation can greatly help the profitability of your company. It is important to find the right software or the right digital agency that can handle all the requirements of your marketing campaigns. That way you can drive the best quality leads to your sales team by targeting the right market, at the perfect time.

 

David Waldron

David Waldron is a digital marketing and website development veteran with 18 years of experience in the field. He is a partner with Darkstar Digital, a digital marketing agency specializing in inbound or content marketing and website development. He is also a foster parent for Tennessee Scottish Terrier Rescue and is also a beekeeper in his spare time. Contact David at david@darkstar-digital.com.

How Will Marketing Automation Add Value?

By Christopher Davis, Guest Blogger | 1.31.16

Earlier this month, NAMA hosted a panel, “Marketing Automation for Lead Generation,” moderated by Virsys12’s CEO and Founder Tammy Hawes.

Representatives from national email solutions provider Emma, Oracle Marketing Cloud/Eloqua and Bytes of Knowledge, an award-winning Middle Tennessee technology consultancy, all weighed in on the topic of how marketing automation generates sales.

While the audience was treated to a variety of different perspectives and opinions, one common theme emerged: If you don’t use marketing automation effectively, your competition will.

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Most of us realize that strategy comes first, and content is king when it comes to marketing.

Marketing automation offers a tool to increase the potential of the right content reaching the right person at the right time. Personalized marketing and the qualification of who is consuming your content are both essential for sales conversion.

Here are just a few of the insights the panelists shared:

Julie May, CEO, Bytes of Knowledge:
– “Marketing attracts, Sales closes.”
– “Look for marketing partners that complement what you do, and stop treating them like competitors.”

Christopher Lester, VP of Sales, Emma:
– “Lead scoring is an art and a science.”
– “64% of customers say brand experience is more important than price.”

Patrick Brenner, Enterprise Application Sales Manager, Oracle Marketing Cloud:
– “You automate to create efficiencies down the road.”
– “International data panel predicts 50x the amount of data in 5 years. Automation is essential to send the right message at the right time if you are scaling up.”

Tammy Hawes, CEO, Virsys12:
– “If you are scanning business cards and pulling the data into a spreadsheet to make calls, that is not marketing automation.”

Research shows that customers are engaging in content long before they ever speak to a salesperson, so having a tool to deliver relevant content and respond based on the potential lead’s choices and actions is a must.

Not only should your marketing automation system deliver content, it should also capture a history of the consumer’s engagement across all of your content sources.

When the potential customer is finally ready to talk to Sales, your marketing automation dashboards should reflect what has been important to them. This shortens the sales cycle and in turn, may lead to greater revenue from the sale.

None of the panelists recommended going out and buying the hottest marketing automation tool immediately. Instead, they emphasized the importance of determining the right strategic growth steps for your organization.

As one attendee tweeted, “Love that these panelists are not self-promoting; they are talking about things that matter to the audience.”

Having worked in sales throughout my career, I have seen good and bad relationships between Marketing and Sales, and varying degrees of alignment.

To help bridge the gap, some organizations are now adding new “Lead Generation” or “Sales Enablement” departments that sit between the two in order to analyze data and keep overall efforts and strategies in line.

In the best cultures, Marketing and Sales align to collectively provide value to potential customers, collaborating on what steps have been taken and what is next. Dysfunctional organizations “point fingers” at each other when questioned on added value and results.

But now, with the help of marketing automation and the ability to score and grade leads, marketing teams can reflect both the quantity and quality of the leads being passed to their sales counterparts. In these kinds of collaborative cultures, sales people like me can spend more time talking to people who actually want to hear from us.

In addition to the importance of aligning incentives for Marketing and Sales, one of the clearest takeaways of the day was that a culture of embracing positive change has to exist to really get value from any marketing automation tool.

 

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Christopher Davis is director, client engagement for Virsys12, an award-winning Salesforce Silver Consulting Partner focused on healthcare innovation nationwide that offers integration for a variety of marketing automation software products including Emma email and Oracle’s Eloqua. Additionally, Virsys12 is a certified implementer of Salesforce’s Pardot platform. Contact Christopher today to learn more: christopher.davis@virsys12.com.

 

Automated Marketing: What’s next?

Melinda Hudgins Noblitt | 1.26.16

NAMA has spent the past month examining marketing automation. In fact, if you attended the January Power Luncheon (or read about it on the blog), you heard from local experts themselves.

The question now begs: What’s next?

If we had a crystal ball, we’d be millionaires – like those lucky folks who split the $1.5 billion lottery jackpot.

Unfortunately, we don’t.

What we do have is a list of resources that can help explain where marketing automation is headed and how to determine which course of action is best for your individual needs.
AWS_Simple_Icons_On-Demand_Workforce_Amazon_Mechanical_Turk.svgMarketing automation has evolved throughout the years, from its beginnings of basic email marketing to a more complex process of tracking online behavior. Irv Shapiro does a fantastic job of explaining that evolution in The Future of Marketing Automation, calling it a three-generational process that will become a much more integrated “cycle.”

It’s no secret that companies are utilizing marketing automation more and more.

According to Jordie van Rijn’s The Ultimate Marketing Automation statistics overview, an average of 49 percent of companies are using some form of marketing automation, with more than half of B2B companies (55 percent) adopting the technology.

In fact, he breaks down usage, cost, and benefits into digestible data. Check it out; the numbers speak for themselves.

Retailers are at the forefront of the marketing automation train with omnichannel brands tracking shoppers’ every move in-stores, online, and everywhere in between.

Foursquare released a report showing shoppers spent an average 4.9 hours at storefronts on Black Friday. Brick-and-mortar sales were down, but Internet sales skyrocketed yet again last year, surpassing the $4.5 billion mark, according to Ingrid Lunden‘s TechCrunch article. What’s more, 34 percent of all online sales were made on mobile devices.

An estimated $4 trillion worth of merchandise abandoned in online shopping carts last year alone. That means retailers’ main focus is now converting those “browsers” to “spenders,” which is possible with automated marketing, says Ashley McGregor Dey in her article Win Back Revenue with Automation.

There’s no doubting the obvious need for marketers to stay up-to-date with trends. But with thousands of automated marketing options, from apps to CRM systems, how exactly can marketers stay ahead of the curve?

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UK-based Brandpipe answers this very question in The future of Marketing: 11 Technology trends for 2016.

While you probably can’t afford to do them all, focus on what’s right for your company, and make it work within your budget.

Do your research. Ask your colleagues what they’re using and what they like (and dislike) about that particular program.

G2 Crowd offers a software comparison program on its website that easily defines marketing automation so you can decide which suits your company’s strategy best.

NAMA President: This group is on fire!

By Courtenay Rogers, NAMA President | 1.5.16

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Courtenay Rogers

There is no question Nashville is part of the “it city” movement.

Our city was recently named the top destination of 2015 by Travel + Leisure readers, beating out international hot spots like Adelaide, Australia, and Korea, as well as domestic cities New Orleans and Detroit.

NAMA is capturing that momentum and moving full speed ahead.

Our year officially started in July and kicked off with a sold-out mixer at Amerigo of 100 marketing professionals, students, and thought leaders gathering for good company and great food.

Speaking of Amerigo, they are our mixer sponsor and have done an amazing job with all of our mixers, treating us to lavish appetizers, and top-notch service.

The best part about these events is the genuine connections that actually happen over cocktails and handshakes.

Our Power Lunch series launched in September with a panel discussing experiential marketing, then continued with programming that included innovation in video and engagement through passion.

Our Special Interest Groups (SIGs) offered multiple, excellent events in the areas of B2B marketing and Healthcare marketing.

Our membership committee coordinated monthly coffees for folks who may be interested in joining NAMA. In fact, we added quite a few members over the past six months!

One of our newest sponsors, Alcott Whitney, has been working diligently behind the scenes helping us to analyze our data and engage our members more effectively from a communications perspective.

We’re getting geeky, learning more about using Google Analytics and integrating our vast collection of tools.

NAMA has more than 380 members, and our programming, networking, and educational opportunities have been abundant in 2015. This year is sure to offer even more!

Our research committee continues to ask event attendees and members what most interests them, and our programming reflects their feedback.

Marketing automation is a hot topic and was chosen as the theme for our Jan. 7 Power Lunch that includes quite an impressive panel of experts in the field.

NAMA is one of the most robust chapters of the American Marketing Association (AMA), and the national chapter offers local chapters like ours extensive support with weekly training calls, virtual events, case studies, and white papers.

President Elect Jamie Dunham is taking a handful of our board members to the AMA Regional retreat in Birmingham at the end of January to learn best practices from other chapters in the area.

We’re excited to support one of our sponsors Emma again in 2016 as a partner in their second annual Marketing United conference this spring. Keep your ears open for special discounts and volunteer opportunities for what will be one of the most inspiring marketing events in Nashville.

We’re all about supporting the Nashville community and are very grateful for the support that our sponsors offer us and our members.

Being President of NAMA is an honor and a privilege, and I’m truly excited to see what 2016 brings for our members, guests, and volunteers. Thank you for a wonderful 2015 and cheers to a productive and positive new year!