Selling marketing automation to management.

When selling this software to management, it’s important to communicate your points from their perspective. Recognise that your concerns and theirs are different so you need to tailor your pitch to cater to them. Executives don’t have a lot of time to spare so it is best to be succinct and focus your arguments for maximum impact. Respect their limited time by distilling major points and statistical support down to the most noteworthy elements— instead of providing a case study, create a summary version with key takeaways and how to apply them to your own organisation.

Management is concerned with a more macro view of organisational health, which actually lends itself well to an investment that will be successful in the long-term but will require significant commitment in the meantime. Explain that success will not be immediate but assure your management team that over time this paradigm shift will be critical for growth and success.

Argue based on need. Focus on areas of weakness like inefficient lead management or missed retargeting opportunities by explaining how marketing automation software can help each situation. Highlight capabilities that are beyond what your existing email marketing platform is capable of, such as behavioural tracking and advanced nurture campaigns. If you emphasise struggles specific to your business it will be clear you have done your research and your goals align with those of the organisation. You want your pitch to resonate with management the same way you want your marketing messaging to resonate with prospects.

Advocate for an inbound philosophy

Marketing automation software is a platform of tools that were designed to facilitate and support an inbound approach to marketing. Marketing automation is the best tool for an inbound marketing approach because the set of features within each platform was developed to facilitate specific inbound marketing tasks, such as offering the most relevant content to an online visitor or filtering low priority leads into an email nurture campaign instead of sending them to sales. If your management team doesn’t already believe in inbound marketing, you may not be ready for marketing automation yet. It’s worth advocating for this approach before purchasing any new marketing software.

Easing the transition

Even though adoption of marketing automation is a long-term process, there are ways to even out the learning curve. You might find management to be more receptive if you offer a phased launch plan for the software that emphasises faster and more effective training methods. Many organisations begin their implementation with the email marketing feature, learn the additional capabilities of it and become proficient with that before moving on the rest of the tools within the platform. Starting where you’re already somewhat familiar can boost morale and demonstrate value more quickly.

If you put together a launch plan, consider the many options available to find the best balance of time and budget. Most platforms offer some form of onboarding after the initial purchase, some offer customised training at an additional cost and agency partners can be used to outsource skillsets for some project-based consulting and expertise. Extra help and strategic support during the implementation process can mean quicker success because it helps you make the right decisions the first time around. Sell the value of leaning on the knowledge base of others with experience because it will be much cheaper than guessing as you go and postponing your success with the technology by doing so.

Highlight efficiency

Marketing automation isn’t automatic marketing, but it can be set up to automate repetitive or predictable processes. These automated workflows make your marketing and sales teams more efficient by freeing them up to focus on more strategic tasks like persona development and campaign creation. These automated processes also simplify the process of filtering out low quality leads, so time is spent more efficiently and efforts are geared toward leads with the highest potential value. You should explain to management that marketing automation drives and optimises organisational efficiency through better lead management and automated workflows.

Accurately monitor KPIs/performance

Many members of the executive team are evaluated based on overall organisational performance. This contributes to their macro perspective and acknowledging this in your pitch can help increase your chance of success. To cater to this mindset, you can discuss the reporting and analytics features within the software- as well as the novel ability to track and respond to behaviour. With the ability to automatically track customer activity, valuable insights are easier than ever to find. You’ll often read the phrase “ROI of marketing”, which is a reference to the software’s ability to accurately monitor previously untrackable marketing efforts. This, when coupled with predictive analytics that are more accurate than ever before, is a recipe for management buy-in.

If you’d like assistance in effectively preparing and implementing marketing automation technology, contact us.

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4 tips to help determine which marketing automation platform you need

Choosing the right marketing automation platform (MAP) can seem like a complicated process. There are several well-known platforms, similar features within each one and plenty of positive reviews for them all. Can you really make a wrong choice? Unfortunately, yes.

While all the major platforms have the same features and abilities, not all of those features are created equal. In addition, it’s easy to overlook integration capabilities but those can be key factors in determining which platform is best for your business. Lastly, what is user-friendly or intuitive to one user might be the opposite to another, so without trying out several different solutions, you may miss out on the best platform for your team’s abilities and preferences. The solution is to research multiple vendors and allow employees with different areas of expertise to be involved in the decision. This article offers advice about what to look for and how to begin eliminating potential solutions based on what’s best for your specific organisation.

1. Organisational assessment

Begin with an internal audit. What skills do you currently have within your in-house team? Will you need to hire or outsource expertise to get started with a MAP? If your entire team is new to marketing automation you will need to budget time and money for initial training and you should probably hire an agency for help with the implementation and strategic processes. In addition, it will be easier to find experts for platforms that are large and well-established, so unless you are in a very specific niche with its own platform solution, you can eliminate many of the new and smaller vendors in favour of a solution that is proven and widespread.

2. Budgetary constraints

Everyone’s favourite part is the budget. Obviously, figuring this out upfront will help you make the best platform decision. Make sure you think of any potential hidden costs (onboarding often costs extra, integrations can be an additional fee, etc.), include strategic services, and ensure you are allocating funds for a sufficient length of time. Success is not immediate so planning for a longer learning curve is ideal. Just because you cannot afford a premium solution does not mean you will never succeed with marketing automation. Think of your budget as an easy way to eliminate some platforms and consider how growth from implementing marketing automation will contribute to future revenue gains.

3. Need-based research

Make sure you have a clear idea of why you’re considering marketing automation technology. Is there a specific challenge you’re looking to solve? Is there a capability you think will catalyse growth? Is there one critical feature your team would use all the time? By examining your reasons for pursuing this technology, you will gain a clearer understanding of which features are non-negotiable and which features are simply an added bonus. The secret to determining the right platform for your needs lies in focusing your research on those non-negotiable, need-based features. Consider whether the supplier can help you meet your marketing objectives.

4. A Plethora of features

Marketing automation platforms are always evolving. As vendors compete with one another, new features are constantly being developed and added, making it difficult to determine the difference between each competing platform. Is it critical that your platform integrates with the latest new social media or will strong integrations with Facebook, Twitter and Instagram be sufficient? Avoid the feature bells and whistles by concentrating on your core needs instead. Any additional capabilities are a boon but shouldn’t determine your final decision.

To undertake this analysis for your business, it is important for both Marketing and the IT team to work together. Successful marketing automation deployment requires both technical and strategic input and advice, so ensure you consider both attributes in your supplier. If you want some help in choosing the best marketing technology, contact us.

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Email marketing on steroids- is marketing automation worth the extra cost for your business?

Marketing Automation isn’t cheap, but its proven effectiveness and ability to transform businesses justifies the cost for many organisations. According to a 2015 report by VentureBeat, “The majority of users think Marketing Automation is worth the price. 10% finds it inexpensive, 47% fairly priced, 22% pricey but worth it and 11% too expensive. 10% was not sure.” So how do you determine if it’s worth the extra cost for your business? Start by learning about the differences between email marketing and marketing automation and then focus on the capabilities that contribute to marketing effectiveness.

The Difference between Email Marketing and Marketing Automation

Marketing automation can do email marketing, but an email marketing platform cannot do marketing automation. Marketing automation is an entire suite of tools whereas email service providers (ESP) only provide email capabilities with basic success tracking. Putting aside the extensive additional tools, there is still much marketing automation can do with email that email marketing cannot. The email marketing limitations are often what piques initial interest in a Marketing Automation Platform (MAP). In fact, in 2014 VentureBeat found that “firms that use email marketing are 75% or more likely to be purchasers of marketing automation software over the next year.”

Limitations of an ESP

Email marketing is a valuable marketing technique for communicating with customers and prospects but it is limited in scope. It is often referred to as “broadcast style” messaging because it is a one-to-many form of communication without much in the way of feedback` or response. Initially, the ability to inform leads and consumers in a scalable way was revolutionary enough, but email has been around for a long time and the technological progress seen in marketing automation is changing what email is capable of and how it is used. For simple communication at scale, email marketing is enough but if you want to respond to recipient interaction in an efficient and personally relevant way, then you’re going to need another level of capabilities that cannot be attained without marketing automation software.

According to a 2015 Performance Report by Autopilot, “While companies using blast email software still generate more leads than those who use nothing at all, marketers using automation software generate 2X the number of leads than those using blast email software and are perceived by their peers to be 2X as effective at communicating.”

How Email Marketing is Different with Marketing Automation

The primary difference between email with an ESP and email with a MAP comes down to drip and nurture email campaigns. ESPs are only capable of drip campaigns, which involve an email or a series of emails being sent to a list at a pre-programmed interval which cannot be changed retroactively. Once the drip campaign starts, it can be cancelled or paused but not edited and restarted. Marketing automation enables nurture campaigns.

A nurture campaign can branch and send different emails to different members of the same original list based on their behaviour to previous emails. If they didn’t open your second email you can send it to them again a week later or set it up to try a resend with a new subject line instead. Nurture campaigns can also be edited mid-campaign because leads can qualify for the list on an ongoing basis. Want to send a series of emails highlighting product benefits whenever someone views a page comparing two similar, high-selling items on your site? Build a nurture campaign.

This also relates to behavioural tracking. With marketing automation, you can track visitor behaviour and have specific behaviours trigger campaigns to begin like in the example above. With email marketing, you would have to put together or purchase a list of people who you think are interested in your message based on demographic data. If someone doesn’t open any of those emails, you could not react to it by offering different information without starting a whole new drip campaign. With marketing automation software, it becomes possible to build alternatives paths within your campaigns, preemptively determining potential reactions and enabling the software to respond to specific behaviour with customised messaging. This behaviour-based approach offers additional analytical insights and advanced marketing capabilities too, making it truly revolutionary.

Is it worth it?

At the end of the day, you need to ask yourself: would these capabilities help grow your business or is your organisation fine as is? For most, the potential for growth far outweighs any growing pains associated with learning a new set of technology tools. Contact us to find out how to compare the benefits.

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How does automating marketing communications help organisational effectiveness

Marketing automation can be a misleading term because it seems to imply that marketing becomes somewhat automatic. In reality, rather than replacing marketing employees, it reduces inefficient tasks and creates a need for additional skillsets. However, the software benefits extend far beyond automatic processes because the software is really a set of tools designed to support an overall inbound approach. A better way to explain marketing automation’s strong suit is to say it increases organisational effectiveness.

Marketing automation software was originally designed to help B2B enterprise-level organisations manage leads in a more efficient way. As technology advanced and competing vendors added an array of ever-more-useful software tools, marketing automation became a platform-based solution with capabilities valuable to many different businesses, both B2B and B2C. As adoption of marketing automation grows, businesses utilise the tools in increasingly creative ways to grow business and work more efficiently, which leads to continual feature development within the marketing automation platforms.

Achieving efficiency

Ultimately, efficiency is attained through a combination of powerful features that make certain marketing tasks automatic and allows the marketing and sales teams to determine which leads are the most valuable. The idea of quality over quantity is something that existed in theory but was difficult to put into practice without behavioural tracking, a key component of marketing automation software. Today, by tracking behaviour and scoring it based on various criteria, marketers and salespeople can communicate in the most relevant way possible with their leads. Salespeople can spend their time with the highest quality leads and marketers can nurture leads that aren’t ripe with automatically triggered, long-term campaigns. Leads aren’t lost or neglected and messaging is designed to emphasize what each individual needs to hear in order to eventually close.

Automating internal workflows

Automated workflows are the typical way marketing automation technology increases organisational efficiency. Internal processes can be automated with the software the same way that campaigns and other consumer-targeting processes are. Campaigns are essentially automated workflows and they can be used to do things that would otherwise be done manually at the expense of an employee’s time (and management):

  • list building based on specific characteristics
  • task assignment based on lead ownership
  • regular custom performance and predictive reports
  • transactional purchase emails

These automated processes don’t eliminate the need for marketers- they free up marketing brainpower for tasks that need it more, like content brainstorming and campaign creation.

Automatic triggering based on behaviour

The software also supports an inbound approach, making it easy to provide the best information to each individual prospect in a scalable and efficient way. Upselling products in an effective way (think of Amazon’s ‘you might also like’ suggestions) is easier because historical data can be combined with real-time behaviour so that recommended items have the highest likelihood of being relevant and resulting in another purchase.

Discount offers can be sent automatically when a shopping cart is abandoned for more than 4 hours, a success story case study can be sent to everyone who visits your pricing page but doesn’t reach out or close, etc. Inbound marketing is all about relevance and timing. Instead of sending ‘batch and blast’ emails to everyone on a list, emails can be triggered automatically for specific behavioural and demographic data.

Real time behaviour triggers

The ability to automatically trigger events based on real-time behaviour and to branch emails mid-campaign is what makes even the email marketing feature within marketing automation software vastly more powerful than the email marketing offered by companies like MailChimp and Constant Contact. Add in all the additional features and it becomes clear that this suite of tools is completely different from an email service providers..

Ineffective organisations communicate poorly internally and externally, contributing to a stagnant growth cycle. Marketing automation software changes the way communication is handled so messaging is relevant and workflows are streamlined. This powerful software has led to a marketing paradigm shift — a shift that focuses on inbound practices and a more holistic approach to the buying cycle. The universally accessible behavioural and demographic data allows members of each team to contribute to the pipeline and glean new insights that, in turn, catalyse success and growth. Contact us to find out how we can help.

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So what, who cares – the search for the ideal marketing technology solution.

When thinking about improving the digital marketing for your business, research tells us that most marketers will consider a number of crucial topics during their decision making stages – sourcing and reviewing applicable software solutions, gathering best practices, and sorting through implementation case studies/examples. Unfortunately, much of the content is focused on comparing unique features and benefits, reading how global organisations are using the technology, and sifting through the results of using the technology on leads/sales/customer experience etc. So what, who cares?

So what – if this technology has this special feature. So what – if I must introduce this business critical technology into my business now. Who cares that 70% of marketers are having challenges with marketing automation? How does this impact on me?

If you have also thought this, I’d say that this is a good thing. It’s easy to start with the technology and possibly even get excited by it’s features or it’s user-friendly dashboard. But, identifying why your business should be investing its money, time and strategic focus is significantly more important. It pretty much underpins the entire investment and approach to your customers.

At a recent ADMA event, I presented on the results of the 2015 Marketing Technology State of Play Study and this point came through loud and clear – forget the technology, be clear on the needs of your organisation. The technology solution is but one cog in the ‘customer machine’.

The research indicated that users and considerers of marketing automation technology all seem to struggle with three things regardless of how long they have been using or considering the technology:

  • budget
  • resources and skills
  • not being clear on needs/strategy

For many of you, it’s the end of the financial year and you’ve probably spent the last few months reviewing your marketing and business objectives, metrics, and then matching the performance of each, and then reporting back to management. I bet you’ve had a few moments of clarity where you realised that some of your campaigns/tactics missed the mark due to poor or rushed planning. Hopefully, you’ve also had a few campaigns that you’re really proud of where you focused on customer insights and these helped you craft the communications and call-to-actions. What lessons have you taken from this?

So, moving forward, what is your path to continuous improvement? How can technology assist? If you’d like to discuss how our growth series can help articulate and execute on your strategy – we can help.

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