By David Stout, Bayshore Solutions Director of Digital Marketing
Marketing Automation continues to be a hot topic for businesses of all sizes and is being utilized by companies in nearly every industry. There are automation platforms produced by award winning software developers with features ranging from triggered e-mail responses and drip campaigns to those capable of deploying and measuring multi-channel marketing campaigns. Helping evaluate and finding the right marketing automation platform for you is a topic for another article. For now, the goal is to help answer the first big question surrounding automation, “How do I know if my company is ready for marketing automation?”
“What is your time and expertise worth?”
The best starting point for answering this big question is to evaluate what marketing without automation may already be costing you. For example, opportunity cost. What is your time and expertise worth? If you find yourself or high level employees are repeating tedious tasks, eating up time gathering information from multiple data sources, or setting up marketing campaigns in several different platforms (i.e. social media, email, paid search, etc.) – then you are likely utilizing high-value time on much lower-value tasks. This is one of the primary problems that marketing automation is intended to solve.
There are also more specific elements to consider prior to taking your plunge into marketing automation. Automation is not just a tool, it is an integration of sales and marketing processes that will require the focus of your marketing team. It may possibly require you to rethink the way you produce and nurture leads, to hire content specialists, or partner with an agency.
Below are two specific areas where you can look at your existing processes and technology infrastructure to investigate whether automation is right for you.
1) Evaluate the performance of your marketing efforts to date:
- Are you currently generating leads through your website?
- Do you generate a sufficient volume of website traffic now?
- Is your sales team frustrated by the poor quality of leads coming in?
- Have you documented your lead nurturing processes?
- Are you starting to get leads through social media?
- Are your blogs converting to email sign ups?
- Are you constantly trying to keep up with repeated emails from prospects who have a wide variety of needs or are at very different stages in their buying process?
- Do you have metrics in place to know how many leads you get and how many turn into sales?
If you answered “yes” to some of these questions, it is probably a good indicator of your organization’s readiness for marketing automation. It may be time to consider deeper research into automation software as there are enough complexities in your needs and lead volume to support some level of investment.
2) Conduct an audit of your existing marketing support technology:
- Look at your website’s design – is your website converting leads through call-to-action buttons, landing pages, and forms?
- Can you run an A/B test on your landing pages and calls to action?
- Is your email marketing platform synchronizing properly with your forms on your website?
- Have you segmented and purged duplicate listings in your email list?
- Do you have a CRM?
- Are the records on your CRM current and accurate?
If you answered “no” to any of these questions, then you now have valuable information to shape the direction of what marketing automation platform you choose.
Finally, if you DO believe your organization is ready for marketing automation, be sure that your team is prepared to “buy-in” on the system upgrade. Automation is more than a shiny new tool. It presents a real opportunity for your team to rethink the way they market and add value to the sales process by matching your content and process to buyers at several different points of your buyers’ journey.
Be sure you address how your team is performing in terms of creating content for a wide range of customer buying stages. Are they creating enough content? Are they creating content strategically and consistently? Will they need the help of an agency to create content that aligns with your goals? Will your in-house team need expertise in managing the details of properly utilizing the marketing automation tools, thus allowing your subject matter experts to focus more on content?
Once you have a fresh assessment of where your company is right now, you can develop an appropriate plan to make marketing automation and content marketing a key driver in your company’s future. An additional benefit of doing your homework first is a dramatic increase in the likelihood of generating a good return on your marketing automation investment.
For expert assistance in determining the right marketing automation tools and strategy best-suited to drive success for your business, contact Bayshore Solutions today.