Marketing automation is now the biggest form of marketing. With automation comes CRM, massive conglomerate companies and massive campaigns.
Marketing technology continues to be a number one priority investment for businesses within every industry. With an increased demand for marketing systems and strategies, employees with marketing experience are still in demand. Along with this increase, the demand and need to improve customer experience is also required. This is achieved by personalisation and the quality of customer that is collected by the data captured.
Overall budgets have remained consistent year on year. However, with technology increasing not only in price but also advancements, getting your worth out of marketing continues to be a hard battle.
Meanwhile, Global Marketing Automation spending is projected to be around 25.1 billion US dollars by the year 2023. With an estimated growth up 14% according to Forrester’s Marketing Automation Technology Forecast, 2017-2023 (Global).
Want to learn more about automation? Have a look at out automation blog on team’s within marketing automation. ‘How to structure your marketing automation team’
Prioritising user experience
Marketing automation has become the staple go to strategy over the last decade. These sophisticated platforms have become increasingly more popular with thousands of brands and organisations. A range of platforms are now available to marketers but, due to budget and the size of your team, it depends on what you can afford and more importantly, handle.
Vendors of marketing automation now have to make themselves stand out from the crowd, as the basic functions of a such a system have been somewhat commoditised since. These days, it’s all about having the ability to scale and offer unique services.
As an example, let’s use Salesforce, the number one leader in marketing automation and marketing cloud. Here are just some of the following services they provide:
- Marketing cloud – Helping you implement and optimise the world’s leading marketing cloud platform to ensure you get the best of it from the very beginning.
- Pardot – Nurture your prospects using AI to surface those buying with intent and find leads who are most likely to become customers.
- Interaction Studio – Deliver next best interactions (NBA) and the next best offers (NBO) using AI to provide truly personalised content across different channels , devices and platforms.
- Sales Cloud – Helping you integrate both Sales Cloud along with marketing cloud to enhance the capabilities of your CRM environment to seamlessly synchronise data between the two platforms.
- Audience Studio – Gather deep insights by unifying and capturing your data to strengthen customer relationships across every touch point with a powerful data management platform.
- Commerce cloud – Industry leading propulsion for transforming your shopping experiences across all digital platforms. Through promotion to customer service, make sure your products get the trust they deserve to create an impact.
- Social Studio – Blast your social status into the atmosphere by allowing yourself to manage, schedule, create, monitor and develop your social status. Enable your product and organisation to become powerful through user engagement.
Standing out in the crowd
Marketing automation and cloud vendors are also looking to separate from each other by offering more support. For increasingly sophisticated customers who have adopted the software, they are looking to increase their knowledge within marketing automation.
If we use Salesforce again as an example, vendors like them provide training programs, along with professional services that are available to clients. For both customers and developers, it has become increasingly popular to gain familiarity with these platforms. As a result of all this, the clients and developers have become more tech savvy, they’ve had to!
Learning marketing skill sets has evolved in recent years. Marketing has become ever more tech dependent and data heavy by combining skills, such as IT and business operations. This presents many more marketing roles, specialising in data, architecture and customer experience.
Integrations within marketing automation
There’s starting to become a great demand for capabilities among marketing cloud and the marketing technology platforms.
When we combine marketing with sales while, also trying to understand how sales and customer service professions use these platforms, us as marketers are able to understand our customers better. By using an integrated CRM, we can enhance the customer experience using focused marketing automation platforms and personalisation.
Personalisation is increasingly popular. However, some platforms do not cater for this. Although this is not a key feature, third party integrations allow for this as it’s all about the customer. Third-part companies (and also developers) are continuing to develop and create applications for marketing automation services and platforms. The Marketplace, where third-party plugins, for instance, are being created.
CDPs within marketing automation
With the need to focus on the customer experience AND handling vast amounts of data, traditional and basic CRM tools are not able to keep up. With the sheer amount of data, some marketers are now turning to CDPs or (Customer Data Platforms).
Marketers are now able to store and process more data than ever. This is because data is being linked to “customer profiles” while being analysed. There is also the possibility of real-time response data. This is done for some extreme personalisation, and achieved by looking at individual data while using advanced analytics to expose customer profiles.
With CDPs in question, they are being increasingly produced and used by more companies and individuals. With CDPs being relatively new to the market, it’s hard at this stage to see if they will eventually have an edge over CRM entirely. However, they are definitely a good addition.
What are the big boys capable of ?
The market is definitely made up of “big boys”. It’s very concentrated with only a few cloud vendors including Salesforce, Adobe and Oracle. Acquisitions, in particular, over the last year with Salesforce aquired Tableau for $15.7 Billion. So you know, just a tiny bit more than your normal aquistion!
Adobe, on the other hand, acquired Marketo in september 2018 for $4.7 Billion. By gaining as much of the market as possible, each competitor has the best chance of coverage and ultimately, client capture.
Similar tools of the trade
Although they try to separate themselves from one another, the tools and features tend to be consistent throughout: landing pages, lead capture and management, scoring and nurturing etc… Typical marketing automation platforms will also provide marketing databases and reporting web traffic, visitor behaviour and also campaign results.
With a quickly growing and evolving environment, the demand from marketers continues as they use them. This includes more advanced features providing marketing users the ability to build, track and manage campaigns across multiple channels and devices. Monitoring these leads, through marketing sales:
- Dynamic content (emails, landing pages and websites)
- Account based marketing (ABM)
- Mobile marketing
- Social/lead profile integration
- AI analysis
All marketing platforms will give the user an environment to create, send and measure personalised emails campaigns. They will differ in respect to how they personalise these emails, landing pages and website content.
Some will provide a template approach while others will leave customisation to the user. There can always be change in the way content is generated by the user – static vs. dynamically generated content.
The deliverability of messages and content is also an aspect that can be talked about. Some B2B marketing automation platforms offer dedicated IP addresses to improve accessibility for customers. Email previewing, for example, is an advanced function. This may be critical to marketers who want to reach their audience through multiple devices. It basically allows them to view the design on multiple/various screen sizes.
Lead management refers to aspects and factors such as lead capture, lead scoring and lead nurturing. It’s always about leads.
These leads are captured from a variety of sources and put into a marketing automation database. This includes leads such as:
- website visitors
- social media visitors
- digital campaigns
- email respondents
- third-party lists.
Lead scoring, the act of assigning a value to each lead identified. This is measured through “behaviour” of the lead by tracking activity such as online purchases, browsing, social posts, commenting etc…
Many marketing platforms available now, offer predictive scoring with social networks, internal systems with CRM while the marketing database, itself, calculates scores.
Each B2B marketing platform provides a standard set of analytics. These will track your quantifiable data such as:
- Website visitor activity
- Viewed pages
- Time spent (on websites)
- Opened emails
- Downloaded content
- Responses to things, such as campaigns.
More and more vendors are offering predictive analytics and models based on machine learning. It’s this processed data and surface trends that enable marketers to customer visitor experiences, along with marketing content and campigns.
Making content dynamic can be a pain, trust us, we’ve all been there!
An engaging experience for mobile audiences is a capability. B2B marketing platforms include responsive templates for things such as email, landing pages and web formats. Several vendors now even integrate with third-party applications such as testing tools like Litmus. Litmus as an example, allows users to preview email marketing messages across email clients and devices.
Marketing automation platforms and vendors also provide more applications and features that include SMS/ texting, in app marketing, and remote platform management from all mobile devices. B2B marketing automation vendors have also expended platform access to mobile users, moving beyond automated alerts and remote data to full platform management.
Account-based marketing (ABM)
Combining marketing ideas with the sales teams has become a priority for many marketers. Rather than targeting only new people who have moved into firms, the concept and focus is to target marketing programs to attract customer buying teams. The larger the purchase or acquisition the more people, departments and sectors within that organisation you gain.
Native CRM integration
With the rise in businesses trying to align those marketing sales (native or integrations), CRM systems have become a crucial feature of marketing automation platforms.
Salesforce, Oracle, Adobe, HubSpo and DotDigital are just some of the most common platforms out there. Data added from a sales representative to an account record, in the CRM system, is automatically added to a record in the marketing automation platform for marketing users, accounts and profiles to act upon as well.
Social/lead profile integration
The majority of B2B marketing automation platforms provide some support in social media planning, sharing and tracking. There are more advanced features included by some vendors, those who use social media engagement and activity as a scoring factor instead. Other platforms will encourage the use of sign-on, such as a contact form for example, to capture that data in a different format.
Third-party software connectivity
B2B marketing automation platforms will continue to display their platform through APIs and marketplaces to offer users to an expensive arsenal of third-party software. The app marketplace provides faster access between systems although, additional fees may exist to purchase these apps.
The benefits of B2B marketing automation platforms
With an increased amount of digital channels and devices, it has made difficult for marketers to target prospects with the right messages. If you factor in multiple devices and also, targeting at the perfect time, it becomes even more difficult.
To be effective, B2B marketers must be creative and have a wider visibility and range. Mix this with targeted and aligned sales goals and it will lead to a greater look into attributes and behaviours. In reference to marketing, dynamics companies gain these benefits of marketing automation platforms.
Increased marketing efficiency within marketing automation platforms
There are multiple things that increase productivity and efficiency. Automating time-consuming tasks using journeys allow the business to focus on other elements like creating the next piece of content or campaign. Even being notified and following up on a leads can be automated.
Generating more leads but, of better quality
Marketing automation can combine multiple factors and aspects including demographic, firmographic and behavioural data. This refers to the number of pages visited, files downloaded and even, the amount of contact forms filled out. A lead scoring system within the marketing automation platform is then able to generate, and identify, any leads made.
Behaviour within marketing automation platforms
Marketing automation platforms are able to integrate multiple channels and devices. This also includes social media and mobile integrations with the capability to create more prospect profiles, views of behaviour and also, activity.
Sales and marketing goals in marketing automation
The software within marketing automation platforms can help with the collection of sales and marketing efforts. This ensures the sales representatives, who are working with this data, are ready with the leads that have been found.
By defining these qualified leads, sales and marketing become one team. Marketing works in these early stages of a relationship between the customer, which makes the most highly qualified leads and prospects more focused on.
Studies have found that using a B2B marketing automation platform can increase conversions. Forrester established that B2B marketers implementing a marketing automation experience an increase of around 10% in their sales pipeline contribution. This can also be linked to sales productivity and research.
So, is marketing automation the right solution for you?
This all depends on implementation and if you actually need an automation platform. Understanding your current processes, trying to figure out your success and being able to see where you can improve is the key to understanding if you need an automation platform. It all boils down to decision making. If it’s the right fit for you business and what you are trying to achieve within your company.
All the vendors supplying the marketing automation software go by a Saas system of pricing. The software tends to be licensed and hosted by the vendor. Many vendors require annual contracts or long terms agreements.
Deciding on your marketing automation platform
Have you outgrown your current system? Marketing automation is often a solution for companies that are growing dramatically fast and need to scale their efforts. This also applies to massive conglomerates who are trying to manage their efforts.
If your company has outgrown it’s way of dealing with data and the use of an email system, that can cater towards your customers, then marketing automation might be the solution you are looking for. It is, however, important to find the right marketing automation platform.
These platforms are not all the same, as we’ve established. Every company offers the basics for email, website tracking and marketing database. However, it could be the additional capabilities that sway you to one rather than the other. By knowing what you need and ill benefit from, you’re in a better position for the selection process and one that will best fit the organisation.
Goals and capabilities
It is very important to know your goals for your marketing automation system. Do you want to improve the quality of your leads? Also, will this be handed to marketing or sales?
Increasing revenue and conversion is key. Increasing this at the early stages of the cycle, you will best optimise your marketing engagement. Establish these goals early so you know what you are aiming for. You will also need to identify your capabilities, the ones that you will need from the marketing automation system.
- Will sales representatives need access to the data?
- Do you have large social media presence?
- Do you also have the staff to do this implementation?
- Will training be needed for staff?
- Will your co-workers and employees be willing to change to a new business prospect?
- Who will take the lead the lead role?
These are questions to seriously consider. You may also need someone who will monitor the system once it has been adopted.
Measurement of the task
This is one of the hardest questions, How is success going to be measured with your marketing automation platform.? If your goal is to increase your conversions, you will need to know your conversion rate. See if marketing automation is actually going to make any impact on this.
If you are dealing with your emails, then you are going to need to be aware of metrics, open rates and dealing with data and statistics. You need to come to a conclusion of how you are going to use the platform. Companies often waste money by only using the basic services offered to them. Have they really assessed the cost of the process and the implementation?
A lot of the vendors offer add-on tools to the platform which, can be very very costly. As well as buying the licence for the software, you should also consider, the cost of staffing and any training if it is needed. Let’s not forget the running of the system either.
If you don’t have staff who can deal with your marketing automation, this will also need to be outsourced to a third-party consultancy which, could also be costly.
Ultimately, deciding your company needs a marketing automation system/platform means you have to evaluate all steps that are going to be needed in that process. This includes the needs of the business. Consider the implementation of the software, staff capabilities and if you have the right staff for the job. They will not only need to know what they are doing but, can also manage and maintain the software installed. Think about management support and the money to support all this financially.