Technology has significantly enhanced the way businesses operate nowadays, and marketing to a target audience is no exemption. Marketing automation systems have paved the way for us to improve lead generation efficiency while analyzing results in a predictable, measurable way.
These modern tools have helped marketers establish more fruitful relationships with prospects, improving their ability to convert them into paying customers. This is generally achieved through the use of personalized, behavior-based communications that make interactions far more timely and relevant.
At present, businesses have the tools needed to gain insight into client preferences and pain points—two pieces of information critical in helping shape their marketing strategies. Big data, software tools, and digital footprints pulled from social media platforms are some of the readily available sources marketers have successfully utilized to better understand buyer behavior.
However, marketing automation still has a long way to go as far as full adoption goes. According to Sirius Decisions, up to 85% of B2B companies have yet to use these tools to their optimum potential. The reasons cited for this scenario include too much complexity, a prolonged implementation period, difficulty when learning how to use it, and a steep price tag.
On the part of the modern consumer, technology has provided multiple options for them to avail of services or products. This has empowered customers with the ability to choose from a myriad of businesses and make informed decisions based on what they discover. As a result, they are becoming more demanding and highly discerning of what material you put out there for them to consume.
Add to that the fact that leads rarely fall into the traditional sales funnel—that is, one that neatly follows a linear, step by step stage before going into the final stage of sales conversion. Harvard Business Review published an article that states, “Prospects don’t just enter at the top of the funnel; instead, they come in at any stage. Furthermore, they often jump stages, stay in a stage indefinitely, or move back and forth between them.”
This erratic buyer behavior has made it all the more important to use marketing automation tools that allow us to adapt and respond to buying triggers in an appropriate and timely manner.
The Benefits of Utilizing Marketing Automation Tools
- Improved lead management and nurturing
- Measurable results
- Enhanced targeting and personalization
- Seamless campaign tracking and execution
- Increased efficiency and productivity
- Marketing and sales alignment
- Better customer relationship management
- Improved acquisition of business intelligence
- Improved user engagement and experience
The main reason B2B companies have cited using marketing automation software has to do with better ROI and higher quality leads. In a 2013 survey conducted by Gleanster, 63% of respondents say that using these tools allows them to set measurable objectives in their campaigns, giving them the means to quantify data and take action based on these results. Furthermore, the same survey indicates that the “most compelling reason for implementing marketing automation is to increase revenue (79%) and to get higher quality leads (76%).”
These tools are widely used to help boost business capabilities by removing tedious, repetitive tasks from a marketer’s daily responsibilities, allowing them to focus on revenue-generating activities and their core function. Nucleus Research stated, “Marketing automation drives a 14.5% increase in sales productivity and a 12.2% reduction in marketing overhead”.
Improved targeting of prospects and current customers is another benefit, because DemandGen report stated that lead nurturing allows companies to “produce, on average, a 20% increase in sales opportunities versus non-nurtured leads”. Lead nurturing also enables businesses to “generate as much as 50% more sales-ready leads at 33% lower cost per lead,” based on reports from Forrester Research.
There is also a marked improvement in customer experience. According to Kapost, “Successful lead nurturing breeds educated, gratified customers who channel their satisfaction into their purchase sizes, making 47% larger purchases than non-nurtured leads.”
Better email marketing due to improved targeting efforts is another benefit, along with a reduction in human error and more seamless multichannel experience for customers.
Types of Marketing Automation Tools and Systems
These tools are typically used for different reasons, mostly to gather customer intelligence across various channels, effectively manage cross-channel campaigns, obtain better email marketing results, and implement impactful lead nurturing campaigns.
Many of these have the capability to perform the most commonly used functionalities, but some are better equipped to handle specific tasks. You’ll find that functionalities overlap among various tools, but it’s entirely your call as to which ones you prioritize based on your campaign objectives.
Here are some common tools that are available in the market today:
Email Marketing Tools
The Marketo marketing automation software is a multi-functional platform that promotes customer engagement via personalized messaging across different channels. Its key features include email marketing, campaign management, lead generation, search marketing, creating landing pages, as well as the ability to measure and optimize ROI.
Canterris offers an all-in-one marketing solution that helps manage leads, optimize content, create and manage email, as well as initiate newsletter campaigns for better lead nurturing. It also has website publishing tools, marketing analytics, and can help you optimize website content.
Salesfusion is a multifunctional marketing platform that boasts faster sales cycles, improving the ability to reach sales quotas. Its key features include email marketing, management of lead revenue and lead scoring, social marketing, event and campaign management, and website visitor tracking.
- Sales Engine International
Sales Engine International is a comprehensive Marketing as a Service (MaaS) platform with the ability to launch automated, personalized emails for lead nurturing while simultaneously executing, measuring, and optimizing multiple campaigns. It uses buyer persona data to communicate with leads, and tracks online activities to uncover very specific buyer behaviors.
This automation tool allows you to send targeted personal messages and emails to customers according to unique interactions you’ve had before (user behavior captured in the past). It allows for flexible segmentation, A/B testing, conversion tracking, and integratation with your online channels to trigger actions based on pre-defined rules.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Tools
They offer a comprehensive suite of tools with a centralized lead database that allows progressive profiling and intuitive landing page design. It has a full-feature content management system and competitive analysis tools to help you with lead segmentation upon capture.
This marketing platform helps streamline your business strategies by aligning marketing and sales through multichannel tracking, detail lead history reports, and the ability to maximize AdWords return on investment.
Some of its features include tracking metrics for ad groups, ad content, campaigns, and keywords for AdWords; Google analytics style monitoring, and seamless integrations with various channels.
This comprehensive marketing platform allows you to nurture targeted leads and effectively manage marketing initiatives by monitoring and analyzing real time reports. It features live email and tracking, one on one email marketing capabilities, CRM integration, landing page editor, and has easy to use campaign building tools, with drag and drop capabilities.
Social Media Management Software
This re-targeting tool allows you to re-engage with leads and exiting clients via ads that appear on social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.
It is capable of re-targeting across platforms and various devices as well, with features that include flexible segmentation and transparent analytics reporting for optimum customization.
This widely used inbound marketing platform contains a full suite of integrated tools that include blogging, social media, SEO, and email marketing, among others. Its key features include lead monitoring capabilities via landing pages, an effective content management system, building automated workflows while converting, monitoring, and categorizing leads.
All these allow you to use real time data to provide leads and customers with contextually relevant marketing experiences that resonate with them.
Pica9 uses its comprehensive patented CampaignDrive platform that provides multi-channel capabilities for brand resource management, web-to print, email, and social functions. It has built-in approval loops to help streamline workflows and provide platform reporting capabilities to enhance your marketing campaigns and lead generation activities.
This multi-channel marketing tool allows you to manage campaigns with a single platform by helping you coordinate and manage multiple direct marketing promotions simultaneously. It helps you coordinate campaigns across various departments, disciplines, and executive campaigns via multiple channels.
This platform provides users with insights into marketing investments, allowing you to effectively manage budgets and facilitate better marketing campaigns for future initiatives.
Its key features include the ability to connect your planning, budgeting, and ROI data in a single platform, collaboration tools through customized permission levels, marketing analytics, budgets reporting, and target audience selection capabilities for each specific campaign. It even has the ability to provide analytics how your investments impact performance.
BrandMaker helps you streamline and simplify your marketing process through a module design that allows customized solutions and relevant analytics reports. Its key features include individualized compliance materials, digital asset management, order and distribution capabilities, reporting, dashboards, and analytics.
What Marketing Automation Can Do, and What It Can’t
With all the capabilities that today’s marketing automation tools have, it’s tempting to believe that they’re a panacea for all marketing problems. From analyzing buyer behavior to providing comprehensive reports, you’re bound to find a tool you need to fit your needs. But, while it’s true that these tools are capable of amazing feats that we could only dream about twenty years ago, they do have their limitations.
What can marketing automation tools do? If there’s one key takeaway you should know, it’s that these tools can be relied on in the area of personalization.
They has the ability to harness data gathered from various sources. From online footprints to cart abandonment rates, you can use them to tweak communications to suit your target audience. You can tailor your ads based on a set number of rules and buyer behavior captured by your marketing automation tool or CRM system.
The limitation lies in what your next steps will be based on these reports. While they can provide insight into customer behavior and motivations, these tools cannot be relied on to create a full-fledged campaign strategy—the decision-making still falls on your shoulders. They can provide you with all the relevant data you need, but at the end of the day, what you do with that data is completely up to you.
Feel free to use the data for lead capture, lead scoring, lead response, lead nurturing results, etc. to direct your future target marketing initiatives, but don’t expect it to come up with creative content or campaign strategies guaranteed to resonate with your target profile. This still requires A/B testing and a human touch to get right.
If you haven’t fully explored everything that marketing automation tools have to offer to help streamline your marketing initiatives and business operations, it’s high time you did. Optimizing these tools to their maximum capacities will not only eliminate mundane, repetitive tasks, but it can also help you make better business decisions that are based on real time data, and not just intangible buyer personas.
You now have the ability to attract your target audience and send relevant messages with faster response rates than ever before. Your content will resonate with them more, allowing prospects to move down the sales funnel faster and convert into buying customers in the least amount of time. These are essential tools for effective marketing strategies and many of your competitors have already taken advantage of it. So if you’re not leveraging technology, you’re bound to get left behind.
Marketing automation is intricately linked to sales targets, allowing you to scale effectively without sacrificing quality, especially when your business expands and your marketing programs begin to accelerate. You need these tools to help you manage and accommodate a growing client base.
We now have access to these automated tools that can perform tasks more efficiently than any human can (within the scope of that tool’s abilities). They’re also highly scalable, allowing for a reduction in variable costs, which means a better bottom line for your business.
Now that you see the opportunity, don’t you think it’s time you got on board?