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Alison A Primer and Introduction to Marketing Automation Software

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  By Alison Diana

Marketing Automation Systems Automate the Acquisition, Nurturing, Scoring and Forwarding of Sales Ready Leads

In today's world of immediate gratification, it is practically unheard of to wait a week for product literature to be delivered, for a return phone call or referral to a local retailer. Even waiting a day is unsatisfactory for many prospect inquiries and potential customers.

But how can businesses provide rapid-fire yet accurate responses, escalate serious prospects from browsers, and ensure the sales department follows-up with qualified leads without adding staff along with their salaries and benefit packages?

Marketing automation software that is part of or integrated with customer relationship management (CRM) software solutions eliminates many time-consuming yet vital tasks, automates both atypical and commonly recurring business processes, steadily advances sales prospects to become sales ready leads, provides analytics to measure benefits and results, and delivers closed-loop visibility around acquiring new customers. The results? Improved campaign performance, higher marketing budget ROI, more top of funnel qualified leads, increased sales and enhanced staff productivity, without the incremental overhead associated with bigger staffs, a surge in payroll and hours of new employee training.

At a time when marketing investments are extensively scrutinized for their return on investment, marketing automation software systems deliver a powerful and proven combination of increased sales lead acquisitions, more systemic prospect to lead conversions, improved marketing effectiveness, a more productive sales team and real time insight into the success of marketing campaigns.

Although marketing budgets are tight, according to VP Industry Marketing for Xerox Global Services and former Forrester Research analyst Laura Ramos, its fairly easy to make the business case for procuring some form of marketing automation designed to run online campaigns, capture responses, profile prospects with scoring and turn good leads over to sales.

Appiro, for example, has seen its lead volume increase by 195% since deploying Marketo's lead management suite a year ago, Kirk Crenshaw, marketing director at the cloud computing solution provider, told attendees at this year's Sales 2.0 Conference. In addition, the Salesforce.com partner's pipeline grew 100% and the volume of leads attributed to marketing grew 180% he said. All this at a time when Appiro halved its marketing spend, according to Crenshaw.

What is Marketing Automation?
Marketing automation software is increasingly offered as an on-demand, software as a service (SaaS) technology that enables companies to manage and communicate with prospects via their preferred medium, be it email, snail mail, online, telephone or instant messaging. Marketing systems provide the framework to methodically acquire, nurture, score and forward sales ready leads to the sales force. Since integrated CRM solutions track and store these communications, any authorized marketing or sales person has visibility into all points of contact and can effectively speak as an informed resource and with a consistent company message. Immediately, this eliminates the need for recap conversations, where callers must - often angrily - bring an inside sales person or account executive up-to-speed on the promotion or marketing message they received and would like to explore further.

Marketing automation technology allows a company to see a website visitor's digital footprints, tracking activities and behaviors of most interest to prospects, the materials they viewed or requested, and any subsequent actions - such as registering for a webinar, joining a loyalty program or social networking community, or locating a local retailer. Companies then can take this information to provide more relevant follow-on messaging and rank prospects, escalating the most promising to the sales team for speedier follow-up. In turn, executives can more easily determine the success of particular campaigns and use marketing analytics to better allocate funds for future promotions, technology or people.

Marketers can share marketing automation tools with partners, a move that improves partnerships, cements a brand and delivers more compelling joint messaging. A retailer, for example, can extract a customer’s purchase history and integrate to or customize a manufacturer's marketing collateral with its name and logo for use on the retail website or print campaign. This delivers more targeted campaigns, eliminates long approval processes and allows for immediate, across-the-board changes if necessary.

On the Flip Side
For years companies have been managing their marketing departments' campaigns and interactions with limited automation and much delayed information. However when communications, correspondence and transactions are not integrated with their CRM software system marketers miss the opportunity to get the most out of their marketing dollars. They run the risk of annoying potential customers with irrelevant campaigns, distributing ill placed campaigns to the same prospects multiple times, forwarding unqualified leads to the sales team and not unifying marketing staff with sales resources which ultimately comes across as disjointed to inquiring prospects. And even the smoothest-operating multiple tool system will be more time-consuming than a holistic approach to this critical component of a company's growth.

Solutions from vendors such as Eloqua, Manticore, Marketbright, Marketo and Pardot are pushing the envelope in areas such as anonymous visitor tracking, lead scoring, nurture campaigns and automated lead distribution to the sales team. With offerings for small, midsize and enterprise-level organizations, there is a marketing automation software solution available for businesses of all size and industry.

With marketing automation software, businesses can navigate that tightrope between too much or too little information, effectively communicating with website visitors and campaign prospects - and improving their ability to transform those prospects into customers. End

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Comments — Comments for this page are closed —

Guest Ivan Koskey
  That's a good primer, though I think you should increase the emphasis in the changing roles of marketing and sales. Prior to Web 2.0, sales reps acted as gatekeepers for company and product information, and traded such information for access to and qualification of buyers. Sales person engagement and influence in framing the buyers decision making process is greatly reduced now that buyers find most of their information online and don't even reach out to sales people until they've formed an initial opinion and down selected a vendor short list. Any attempt to frame the buyers decision process now comes from marketing, not sales, and is challenged as buyers get information about vendors from independent sources (not controlled by the vendors) such as product review websites, bloggers, online communities and peers in social networks.
  Denise Denise Holland
    Excellent point on the changing dynamics among sales and marketing. While companies are challenged in being found and using content to frame buying decisions, they too benefit from some new empowerment as they have an opportunity to collect more information about prospects and their buying intentions. Some of the same vendor websites that let buyers browse free of salesperson involvement also gather the buyer's behaviors (page views, search terms, clickstream), identify the buyer (reverse IP address lookup), estimate the buyer's purchase cycle progress over time (based on content downloaded) and drip relevant content along the way. Marketers can now monitor buyer behaviors in more ways, leverage more data to better interact with prospects and even automate responses in real time. Clearly new challenges are met with new opportunities.
 


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At a time when marketing investments are scrutinized for their ROI, marketing automation systems deliver a powerful combination of increased sales lead acquisitions, more systemic prospect to lead conversions, improved marketing effectiveness, a more productive sales team and real time insight into the success of marketing campaigns.

 

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Marketing Automation Software

Marketing automation or lead management systems capture prospect information using 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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