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Alison Just What Exactly is Marketing Automation Software

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3 stars Average rating: 3 (from 72 votes)
  By Alison Diana

New Deliveries in Lead Management Systems Increase Sales-Ready Leads

In a world of increased competition, shrinking customer bases and eroding financial margins, savvy businesses are leveraging the power of marketing automation software to boost efficiency, separate themselves from competitors and increase the quality and volume of sales-ready leads delivered to the sales team.

Also known as demand generation systems or lead management software, marketing automation software, a key component of customer relationship management (CRM) applications, automates business processes such as lead acquisition, nurture campaign management, lead scoring, customer segmentation, lead transfer, customer data integration (CDI) and closed loop marketing analysis. By automating these high volume and time-intensive tasks, marketing professionals can more effectively use their time, better leverage prospect information, increase marketing cycle throughout, and ultimately win more sales opportunities to grow top line revenues and improve marketing budget ROI.

But after comparing marketing software, some marketing professionals are encountering resistance to the adoption of marketing automation software, a short-sightedness that could create opportunities for their more fleet-of-foot competitors.

The State of Marketing
In its most recent study on the topic, a 2009 Chief Marketing Officer Council study found that "83% of marketers say they face change-resistant corporate cultures, conflicts and competition between internal constituencies, and a resistance to operational accountability, visibility and measurement."

Although some businesses generate a dizzying collection of customer data, 41% of the 400-plus marketing professionals polled said siloed data and limited cross-function feedback loops were major internal challenges, the study - sponsored by Alterian - found. In addition, 16% of those queried said marketing is fragmented, and lacks cohesion, accountability and integration.

The outlook, however, is changing. A whopping 81% of respondents said their organizations are willing to use automated marketing technologies, the report said. And the benefits of this adoption are clear.

Top-management executives are mandating that marketing contributes to a company's profits by expanding and retaining market share, and by reducing costs through improved efficiencies, a March 2009 CMO Council's annual Marketing Outlook study reported. These enhancements include clearly defining goals, improving operational controls and using analytics to guide the allocation of internal resources, according to the poll.

More from Marketing Automation Software
Of course, marketing automation software cannot replace well-qualified, well-trained marketing professionals. The software alone is not a magic bullet. But the technology can eliminate manual processes, allowing marketing teams to focus on the key activities they enjoy - and profit from.

The return on marketing automation software's investment typically comes from increased lead flow, higher conversion rates of leads to sales opportunities and a measurable growth in sales dollars. In addition, marketing automation software delivers analytics, thereby giving companies the means to directly measure the success - or lack thereof - of particular campaigns, lead acquisition sources or promotions.

Standardized and automated lead scoring, which eliminates or dramatically reduces marketing professionals' pursuits of bad leads, immediately improves productivity by ensuring resources are allocated to the right prospects. In addition, marketing automation software reduces the amount of resources required to create and launch campaigns, and enables a company to quickly adapt to changes in its products or services, competitor moves or other factors that can affect a marketing program or initiative. In turn, these capabilities allow marketing professionals to transform queries into leads, and leads into sales.

Take a Look
With or without integration to customer relationship management systems, marketing automation software provides users with a central database repository for all the valuable information collected and acts as a single point-of-research that empowers employees to act quickly and effectively.

By centralizing information rather than taking a scattered approach to marketing data, managers can tap the rich capabilities of the business software's built-in analytics for campaigns, websites, promotions or other activities. Since marketing application software encompasses many mediums - from email and call centers to direct mail and website visits - it provides an up-to-date, easily viewed snapshot of how and where prospects are interacting with the company. Since some businesses gauge their marketing campaigns' success based on information from the sales department, marketing automation software integrates with CRM software and brings control back to the department responsible for creating and overseeing these programs.

This information also is vital when determining new markets, be it a product upgrade, a new offering or expansion into a different region. Some application solutions integrate with social network streams, allowing businesses to leverage new channels of customer engagement and the growing influence of sites such as Twitter and FaceBook to capture communications, mindset and leads.

The Right Timing
Contacting a prospect at the wrong point in their procurement cycle will annoy the potential customer - and take a lot of a marketer's time. Marketing software that automatically contacts a prospect in the preferred manner, at the preferred time and with relevant messaging results in a far more valuable outreach for the recipient and avoids the all too common approach of bombarding prospective customers with unwanted, unnecessary information.

Activities such as downloadable trial software, white papers or reports often signal a company's interest in a given product or service. A click on a website does not. Manually reaching out to each person who downloaded a marketing asset or filled in a request for information can be rewarding - but software eliminates the mundane, yet necessary, tasks related to this process, freeing up staff for more proactive, customer-centric functions.

Marketing automation software also enables staff to best-match the message to the prospect's interests by incorporating known activities - which links or pages captured the potential client's interests, for example. The software then can personalize the message based directly on these interests, making it more relevant for the recipient and much more likely to succeed. Trying to figure this out without the benefit of automated website visitor tracking, analytics, and automated personalization would be a gargantuan - and likely impossible - task for more than a handful of prospects. Lead tracking software then automatically scores leads in real-time, without reliance on clunky spreadsheets or gut responses.

It may seem counter-intuitive, but marketing automation software also enhances the personal relationship between prospect and marketing professional. That's because the software can appear to come from an individual, rather than a department or generic contact, making it more appealing to the prospect. It helps create an instant connection between two individuals, forming the basis for a relationship between both people and their respective companies.

No one would deny that personal relationships are the foundation of successful marketing departments, no matter the industry. Removing much of the day-to-day grind and guesswork empowers marketing departments to personalize their messaging, advance prospects through the sales funnel, increase sales-ready lead volumes, better utilize sales force time, measure marketing performance and improve marketing budget ROI. End

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Comments (4) — Comments for this page are closed —

Guest Fred Fishe
  I already have salesforce.com, which has a marketing module. What's the difference between a lead management function and the marketing management included with my CRM software?
  Denise Denise Holland
    The two marketing related functions are designed for different purposes and different business processes. By definition, lead management systems are limited to the business processes supporting lead acquisitions and their conversion to sale opportunities. They capture initial interest, nurture the lead until it is sales ready and then distribute the lead to both the sales person and your CRM system. CRM applications posses marketing modules which cater to a broader customer life cycle; from new prospect acquisitions to progressing sale opportunities through a sales cycle to closing both initial and recurring sales to existing customer relationships to managing programs that up-sell, cross-sell and promote customer retention strategies. While lead management applications facilitate a much smaller business process scope than CRM marketing modules, they are purpose built for lead acquisition and management and provide more lead features (anonymous visitor tracking, lead scoring, email and nurture campaigns) and automation capabilities for their undertaking. CRM systems generally facilitate campaigns for known contacts and existing customers and are likely better suited for campaigns which involve call centers, offline or mixed campaign types such as direct mail, paid advertising, trade shows and other events. CRM systems also often possess superior capabilities for contact segmentation, list management, content management, project management, campaign budgeting and ROI measurement. The net difference is that lead management systems deal with anonymous or unqualified leads while CRM systems manage known contacts, more diverse campaign types and the entire customer life cycle.

Guest Harold McGladrey
  Hold off long enough and your CRM software system will accommodate lead management automation. It's inevitable that the larger CRM software companies will acquire many of these very small lead management software companies.

Guest Sanjay Peduhimil
  I think the value of using lead management systems to demonstrate marketing's value and ROI is under-stated. Marketers have historically had little means to demonstrate their worth in hard dollars, which has kept them from greater participation among the executive team - and probably contributed to the fact that the CMO has the shortest tenure (23 months) of any C-level executive. When lead management systems from companies such as Eloqua, Marketo and Pardot, are integrated with CRM systems, they possess the complete revenue cycle data to deliver real numbers for marketing programs - which not only contribute to improved performance over time, but permit marketers to declare their value to the company.
 

 

Quote

Contacting a prospect at the wrong point in their procurement cycle will annoy the potential customer - and take a lot of a marketer's time. Marketing software that automatically contacts a prospect in the preferred manner, at the preferred time and with relevant messaging results in a far more valuable outreach for the recipient and avoids the all too common approach of bombarding prospective customers with unwanted, unnecessary information.

 

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Lead Management Software

Lead management systems capture prospect information using newsletter sign-ups and form submissions, assess prospects' online behaviors to determine where they are in the sales process, nurture the prospects with highly relevant messaging until they are ready to buy, score the prospects based on their digital behaviors and automatically forward sales ready leads to the sales force once a threshold score is achieved.

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