Marketing Automation is a fairly known concept ; in fact many B2B companies today realize the immense potential of this multi-dimensional tool.
In a world where every day hundreds of ideas, products and business solutions take shape and hundreds more make a beeline for our fleeting attention, it is essential to know which of these merit the time and resources spent in exploring their worthiness and their relevance in our organization’s scheme of priorities.
This post is an effort to put down the kind of problems the marketing automation tool is capable of addressing and the kind of organizations who should opt for this solution, if it is in alignment with their overall objectives and budget constraints.
Does your organization struggle to generate leads?
Keeping a healthy sales pipeline is a desired objective of every organization, also the only way firms can sustain themselves in the marketplace. But then finding good business leads is no mean task. If you are a firm that is struggling to keep your sales funnel buzzing, a marketing automation tool can really help you.
Unlike B2C organizations and e-commerce sites, B2B websites have primarily been used as a company brochure online. All marketing activities, be it online or offline, do direct a number of company’s prospects to their website, but these are hardly noticed. Research by LeadFormix and other leading agencies has shown that visitors who fill forms on a website and identify themselves stand between 5 and 10%.
This clearly indicates that organizations are actually losing out on getting to know almost 95% of the people who have shown some level of interest in their company or product by visiting their website for ‘more information.’
Marketing automation tools can help in such a scenario because they provide insights on both the kinds of enterprise visitors – those who disclose their identity and those who abandon the site, without so much as dropping a Hi! (the anonymous ones).
I think it is not difficult to imagine how many more leads you would have in your database to follow-up with; the fact that these are warm leads (unlike your paid cold calling lists) makes it worth the investment.
Do you desire a better and smoother running Lead Management process?
If generating leads is tough in a B2B set-up then managing leads and tracking their progress from a warm lead to a closed deal is even tougher, considering most B2B cycles are 12-18 month long. Keeping track of a lead’s activities, their varying stages of interest and pushing the irrelevant ones out of the system are all essential part of Lead Management and can make all the difference when it comes to successful sales closures.
The marketing automation tool eases and simplifies the process of Lead Management, it makes it easier to track the activities of the Leads, it scores them based on their interactions with your website and even helps you automate the Lead nurturing emails to leads keeping in mind their levels of activity and interest in your product. Marketing automation helps your company prioritize your leads, keeps the communication channels with the lead open and informs you when the lead is ready to be graduated as a prospect and sent to the sales team for final pitch and closure.
Do you know your prospects well?
Reading your prospect’s mind would require years of sales and marketing experience limiting to only those prospects you might speak to or meet in person (Tip: Keep Allan Pease’s The Definitive Book Of Body Language handy).
In an age where prospects are well researched and armed with information about your company as much as you are, the only differentiator in clinching that deal will depend on how informed you are about your prospect’s needs, which is no small feat.
But it is important, nonetheless, to ensure that your prospect comes to the negotiation table. Wouldn’t help, if you knew what your prospect was looking for even before your first interaction? I’d say, it’s a boon, because that’d mean you can customize your marketing activities, lead nurturing programs and sales pitches to ensure a warmer response than a cold call/email which just sells.
Marketing Automation tools can help you read your prospect’s mind, analyze their behavior and draw logical conclusions, thereby helping you make more informed marketing and sales pitches.
Are you losing out due to sales and marketing divide?
It is a proven fact that sales and marketing can rarely think alike and this misalignment might prove expensive for the organizations. Reasons could be lack of communication, mismanagement of leads and expectations, untimely responses to prospects’ requirements, lack of common processes and strategies that enable to achieve the common goal of increased sales revenues among others.
Marketing Automation is seen as the most promising solution for this persistent problem within organizations. The solution requires the organization’s marketing & sales teams to define a good lead, which becomes the base criteria for scoring and qualifying Leads. This has to be a joint effort and once this common definition is in place, it helps in stopping the blame game – at least as far as the quality and qualification of leads go.
Also, marketing automation tools provide both sales and marketing with more specific information about their end customers, which helps them in focusing their respective energies in customizing their pitch, ensuring better returns for both. Having common data to look at, pursue and measure against, ensures a smoother run for the warring departments.
Is it hard to prove ROI for your marketing efforts?
Marketing your offerings requires a considerable budget, but often organizations find it difficult to measure the ROI on their investments, irrespective of how they measure it, against the number of leads generated or the brand value created.
If you are a company which spends a major chunk of your marketing budget on online marketing or a company which never forgets to mention on all your marketing collateral – “For more information please visit our website www…..” then marketing automation tool can be the solution you have been waiting for.
This tool help you measure the effectiveness of marketing channels which generate leads through your website. So it not only helps you evaluate the marketing activities yielding the maximum results but also identifies channels which are popular with the target audience. The tool helps you optimize your marketing spend by helping you focus your resources on channels that gives you the maximum bang for your buck.
Are you a start-up operating on a shoestring marketing budget?
Start-ups are always short on resources and are looking for means to get the maximum out of their minimum investments. A Marketing Automation tool can be can be a real value-add to find unexplored business opportunities on the website or automate their lead nurturing programs using the email marketing tool that come with these solutions.
What works in favor of Marketing Automation solutions is that these can be both integrated into your existing CRM systems making them more effective or can be used independently.
According to Gartner, B2B marketing automation is predicted to become a more than $3 billion industry by end of 2011. This means scores of organizations across the world will be adopting this tool. North America has been the biggest contributor to this boom so far and only lately is the rest of the world waking up to the potential which is gradually changing the way people do business.
But note that Marketing Automation tools may not be the panacea for all your corporate problems – it can definitely enable your marketing and sales to perform better, with better customer insights.