Considering the volume of attention marketing automation platforms receive, it may seem as though these platforms are ubiquitous. But the data tells a different story. Indeed, according to recent research, 51 percent of companies now use the technology, with 58 percent of B2B organizations planning to adopt the technology in the future.
So, while marketing automation tools are enjoying considerable market growth and adoption, nearly half of businesses still have not implemented a platform. If your organization is one of those still considering whether to invest in automation technology, you may be trying to find the answers to a number of question, such as:
- Is now the right time to invest in marketing automation?
- What kind of platform should I buy?
- Am I going to be able to learn to use the technology effectively?
- Will I get the ROI I need to justify the purchase?
Fortunately, there are relatively easy ways to find the answers to these questions, simply by taking a look at your specific business model and challenges. So let’s get to it!
Is Now the Right Time to Invest in Marketing Automation? What Kind of Platform Should I Choose?
These questions are grouped together because you need to look at similar factors to determine the answer. For most organizations, some kind of automation platform is usually a sound investment. If you do any email blasting to customers and prospects—and almost all organizations do—a platform that allows you to schedule and automate email sends, use pre-configured templates and track open and click rates will provide you some value. You can save time and get you greater insight into your marketing efforts through analytics.
The same principle applies to social media. If you are interested in automating just a single marketing channel, the barrier to entry, from both a cost and effort perspective, is fairly low.
So the question then becomes, how do I choose between marketing automation platforms? If you are looking to do more than automate a single channel or tactic, you probably want to explore more full-featured solutions. For example, if you employ a sales team, a platform like HubSpot that provides lead scoring, customizable contact fields, website analytics and automated lead routing may make sense. These platforms typically offer a number of other features as well, such as social media integration; analytics and dashboards; a CMS; SEO tools; email automation with branching logic; landing pages and forms; and even web hosting.
Full-featured platforms are of course more expensive, but most do offer a basic package that provide less functionality at a lower cost if you are looking for a way to test the waters. But the most important thing to keep in mind when considering whether to make an investment is whether you have reached a point where scaling with legacy technology is no longer possible. Tracking dozens of leads a week in a spreadsheet or manually sending alerts to your sales team each time a new prospect hits your website simply isn’t sustainable. Automation makes scaling possible.
Am I Going to Be Able to Learn the Technology?
In a word…yes. Obviously some people will pick up the technology more quickly than others, but being intimidated by technology—while a completely understandable feeling—can hold an organization back from increasing efficiency.
Most platforms provide you with some kind of onboarding program during which you will receive training on the tool’s core functionality. If you are still struggling with some aspects of the platform after the onboarding period is over, you can procure services from a marketing automation consultant certified with your particular solution.
Additionally, it’s important to remember that you don’t have to know how to use every single feature in the platform right away to get value out of it. Start with a few applications that are core to your business and expand your knowledge over time.
Will I Get the ROI Necessary to Justify the Expenditure?
Obviously, if I didn’t believe in marketing automation, I wouldn’t spend the time to write this blog post! But the truth is, this answer depends on you. Reaping an ROI many, many times your initial purchase is eminently achievable as long as you commit to using the tool.
The most common mistake I see with companies that newly invest in marketing automation technology is that they leave it on the shelf for a month, two months or more, and before they know it they are nine months into a year-long contract and haven’t used the platform at all. It is critical to dive right in and start experiment and using the tool immediately, even if it is just to test features and complete small tasks. Once you get comfortable using features you’ll build some momentum and before long, you’ll be seeing real value.
Are you looking for help getting started with marketing automation? Schedule an exploratory call with The Forward Marketer.