When marketing automation was introduced to the business world, it began to revolutionize processes, enabling marketers to automatically communicate with prospects without needing to set up and send individual messages or campaigns. From this initial functionality, marketing automation has evolved to boost a vast array of marketing channels and benefit many different departments. But as with any new marketing process and software investment, it’s important to understand what this approach means for businesses, and what pros and cons you can expect when embracing marketing automation software.
What is marketing automation?
55% of B2B marketing departments are already using a form of automation to boost everyday operations. In essence, marketing automation (MA) is the process of using a software solution to conduct specific activities, saving your team from doing the process manually- in other words- making the process automatic.
In the beginning, this technology focused on frequently sending email communications, adding personalized features such as name and business name without the need for human interaction. Many marketers were keen to maximize this solution, as this process had previously been a time-consuming exercise. As time unravelled this technology continually advanced, and now benefits a multitude of online channels including social media, content and digital marketing.
Embracing automation has helped many teams see exceptional results, increasing sales success by almost 15% and helping over 80% of businesses improve their reporting analysis and campaign optimization. But automation continues to spark debate amongst marketers; many fear welcoming this advancement in removes the need for human interaction, and places too much reliance on technology. As marketing automation opens the gate to artificial intelligence, introducing systems and processes that were previously deemed impossible, the question over whether automation is the best investment for marketers continues.
Embracing marketing automation software into your pipeline
So, here’s the ultimate question- should you embrace marketing automation software into your pipeline, or not? There is no black and white answer to this question, it is ultimately your decision as to whether this process will work well within your pipeline, for your team and for your audience. But to help you understand what MA software may mean for your business, here are the key pros and cons, outlining the outstanding benefits and common challenges of working with a marketing automation software.
- Increased productivity and bandwidth– A key benefit of marketing automation software, and a reason many teams are keen to make the investment, comes from the increased productivity it enables. Automation tools can conduct around 50% of daily marketing operations, from gathering and segmenting data to conducting marketing communications, leaving your team with additional time and bandwidth. This enables them to put more time into planning future strategies and using campaign analysis to optimize communications. This also means your departmental results are less affected by last-minute team hindrances like illness and unplanned leave.
- You can do more– Ultimately, automation allows you to send more communications, across more channels, more often than before. This, in turn, produces an increase in desired conversion resultsand provides your team with additional metrics for more detailed analysis. Whatever channels you choose to benefit with a marketing automation software, your team will have the ability to increase overall marketing activity, without needing to employ additional team members, making marketing automation a great way for smaller teams to increase their output.
- Never miss an opportunity– Many marketing automation software solutions gather data for engaging projects and automatically conduct communications to boost conversion, ensuring no opportunity is missed. Where in the past, your team would need to use a variety of different tools to detect online engagement, gather the necessary data and spend time crafting appropriate responses as and when needed, it’s easy to miss possible opportunities or overlook certain details. However, an automation software makes this process simple and seamless, requiring minimal effort and input from your team.
- Organize your data– Marketing automation success is driven by data. Though this means you’ll need to do a large data audit and cleanse before starting, embracing MA into your marketing strategy helps your team get data processes organized and keep in good habits. Once the software is implemented, it can help your team gather and categorize data, enabling them to run more efficient and compliant data processes for increased marketing reach and success.
- Improve lead quality– Lead quality is key to marketing, promoting an increased chance of sales success. Marketing automation expertly nurtures prospects with regular, engaging communicationsusing content tailored to previous behaviour and interactions. This nurture heightens product value and brand authority, meaning leads generated are likely to be well suited to your product and spend an average of 47% more.
- Complicated set-up– Though automation runs smoothly when fully integrated and accepted into your pipeline, getting there isn’t easy. Setting up detailed workflows to trigger differing automated responses or actions takes a huge amount of strategic thought, and additional time understanding software requirements. Incomplete or inaccurate set up can cause disaster, so this is a process your team need to get right first time, but depending upon the depth of automation chosen, and the complexity of the purchased solution, your team may see some considerable time pass before gaining the desired results.
- Too much communication– When automating communications, it’s easy for prospects to feel overwhelmed as they end up on the receiving end of several workflows not meant to be used in tandem. They may start receiving communications from your brand far too often, which in turn has the opposite effect desired and pushes prospects away from your brand. Whilst automation aims to relieve your team of consistently conducting manual communications, many solutions struggle to identify when prospects are excessively contacted, which can cause additional concerns surrounding data processing and compliance.
- Expense– Though marketing automation isn’t the most modern technology available, this solution is still vastly innovative and ever-evolving, meaning software enabling MA carries a certain expense. For many teams, embracing marketing automation carries a heavy investment, and whilst a majority gain desired ROI, not every pipeline can properly welcome marketing automation, making the expense involved a risk we must consider, especially for those working with tight budgets.
- Magnified mistakes– A key challenge of marketing automation lies in the possibility of error. These software solutions aim to relieve your team of manual tasks, but without some human intervention, mistakes can magnify. If the wrong email copy is added to a specific workflow, hundreds of prospects may receive a communication totally irrelevant to their behaviours, causing confusion and driving them away from your brand. This problem will continue until someone decides to update copy, check intricate workflow details, or gains insight of the issue from prospects, by which time a huge number of buyer journeys could have been negatively disturbed.
- Brand disconnection and de-personalization– Whilst investing in automation may be a brilliant idea to boost your team’s capacity and productivity, it may not be what’s best for your audience. Departments over-relying on marketing automation can end up completely disconnected with their target audience, sending communications lacking in all personality. Your audience can feel snubbed, like they’re not good enough for human interaction from your brand, and be discouraged from engaging further. Many decision makers are aware of business tactics, and can easily see through computer generated communications, meaning your organization will need to strike a harmonious balance between instant and responsive contact along with detailed and genuine copy.
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