Quick Takes | Marketing Automation – Silver Bullet for Sales and Marketing ROI?

Marketing Automation (MA) is the new shiny thing in marketing.  More than just an app, marketing automation technology is designed to:

  • Shorten sales cycles
  • Increase revenue
  • Improve marketing ROI

by aligning and automating marketing tactics that nurture, cultivate and convert leads into customers.

Recently, Click Z reported that 25% of the F500 have adopted marketing automation platforms .

IDC predicts that the overall market for automated marketing  exceeds $4.8B.

Balm for Marketing’s Pain Points

Digital lifestyles have dramatically disrupted the buying process, putting buyers in control. Whether shopping for a TV or procuring transformers, we’re using the web and apps to guide us through a wide array of options to a purchase decision.  As prospects, we may encounter companies earlier in the sales cycle, but we don’t want to engage with salespeople until we are ready, well after we’ve have done their research, and checked-out friends and peers opinions of the category, brands and values.
In fact, in a study the E-tailing Group found that 76% of purchasers research online at least 30% of all their retail purchases and that only 2% of consumers never conduct online research before making a purchase.  Equally important, as prospects or “leads” traverse the “journey” from awareness to purchase, Marketing Sherpa reported 79% never convert to a sale, primarily due to a lack of lead nurturing and follow-up.

Rishad Tobaccowalla, Chief Strategy & Innovation Officer of VivaKi put it succinctly in an interview for Google’s Zero Moment of Truth, saying “Today you are not behind your competition.  You are not behind the technology.  You are behind your consumer.”  Marketing automation helps marketing and sales teams bridge the gap between prospect awareness and early information gathering to the point when they are ready to buy.  The promise in the technology is perfecting the art of maintaining permission to stay in front of leads as they educate themselves and create a relationship that will convert them into buyers.

Marketing Automation Need to Know

Definition: Marketing automation is the use of a technology platform to streamline, automate and measure the process and tasks of generating leads and converting prospects into buyers.

How it works:  The process of lead nurturing through MA tools centers on delivering relevant, valued content to the lead when, where and how they want.  Appropriate content delivery is triggered by prospect behaviors such as opened email, clicks to landing pages, sites visited, time spent on pages, and engagement with other campaign assets.

Marketing Automation tools allow marketers to deeply understand prospects, based on their interaction with the content and improve:

  • Customer segmentation
  • Customer data integration across digital assets
    • Content marketing strategy
    • Campaign management
    • Lead scoring
    • Closed loop analytics –sales and marketing share data, insight on conversion events and channels
    • One-to-One marketing and detailed metrics of the customer lifecycle

    A key construct of marketing automation is organizing marketing initiatives around the buyer’s journey from awareness to consideration to evaluation and lastly purchase intent.  The technology helps marketers strategically align their marketing strategies and assets to the journey stages and capitalize on opportunities for engagement.  Analysis of prospect interactions with assets like PPC, SEO/SEM campaigns, content and social campaigns enables marketers to:

    • segment more precisely
    • send more targeted, personalized and relevant messages and offers based on prospect engagement
    • qualify and score leads for sales based on their engagement with the brand and offers.

    BtoB Magazine’s industry study found almost 80% of respondents cited lead generation as their No. 1 goal when implementing a marketing automation solution, followed by tracking website visitors (77%); managing marketing campaign and tracking lead activity (70% each); lead scoring and qualification (69%); and automated-lead nurturing (62%).

    Key Success Factors

    While marketing automation might sound like a turnkey solution to better integration of sales and marketing initiatives for significantly better results, early practitioners have found you can’t “plug and play”.

    Industry leaders cite the following critical success factors to success with MA:

    • Secure CEO/Senior Endorsement
    • Be sure there’s adequate budget to obtain the “best fit”, install and train staff properly on the platform
    • Pay close attention to the end-user interface – complex software, though powerful, won’t be used if not understood
    • Establish clear integration between Marketing and Sales – Hubspot recommends Closed-Loop Reporting and  Service Level Agreements to keep everyone pulling together
    • Define goals, metrics and make sure the data collection infrastructure is in place to support tracking and analysis of the data that MA platforms provide
    • Start small and demonstrate ROI

    Find a Marketing Automation cheat-sheet from Marketo here

  • Learn more about Marketing Automation from these service providers:Marketo – www.marketo.comVocus – vocus.comPardot – pardot.com a division of Exact Target, now owned by Salesforec.comHubspot – hubspot.com

    Matthew Sweezey, “25% of Fortune 500 B2B Companies Have Adopted Marketing Automation”, December 27, 2013,” http://bit.ly/1gtMgZs

    Bryan Ehrenfreund, Marketing Automation & Lead Nurturing Defined, Sept. 1, 2013


    Paul Demery, The web rules purchase decisions, a new study says, Sept. 27, 2012,


    BtoB/AdAge, July 9, 2013,“Marketing Automation: Best Practices for the Management of B2B Digital Marketing Campaigns”, http://bit.ly/1ezMBCY

  • Geoff Livingston, “Do Marketing Automation Better”, N.D., e-Guide available here Ellen Valentine, “Step up Your Marketing Sophistication-Create a Marketing Automation Action Plan”, Jan. 3, 2014,   http://bit.ly/1kcW7AT