Move Over CRM, Marketing Automation has Arrived

Date:   Friday , April 29, 2011

“Sales is from Mars, Marketing is from Venus; the twain don’t see eye to eye” was an oft repeated quote in several enterprises. For ages marketing and sales have functioned in separate silos, unappreciative of each others efforts and costing their organization millions in revenue every year as a result of this divisional misalignment.

But that is becoming passé, thanks to Marketing Automation technology.

Marketing Automation pioneered as an on-premise module added on to key CRM functions in the early 1990’s, but the technology really gathered steam when the concept of SaaS took off in early 2000’s. It has taken more than a decade for marketing automation to become mainstream, but in the recent past, it is becoming a must-have for enterprise marketing departments.

1,500 new customers adopted Marketing Automation systems in 2010. The year also saw some big industry names like, Oracle, IBM and Teradata entering the market and it is estimated that taken together, the combined Marketing Automation revenue of all vendor companies in this space is well over $1billion.
In this article, we will explore the factors that have contributed to the recent rapid adoption of Marketing Automation, what is necessary to make the Marketing Automation implementation successful, and the astonishing results some enterprise marketing departments have achieved with Marketing Automation.

The Rise of Marketing Automation
In the recent past, all forms of lead generation have led to one destination ie., a visit to the company website. Even though lead generation may start off as an exchange of business cards at a tradeshow or a conference, it culminates in a visit to the corporate website which really is the start of a nurturing process leading up to a sale.

Recently, in an online seminar by DemandGen Report, it was said that, “75 percent of leads are expected to come via web by 2015”. In the same seminar one of the experts mentioned that, companies that automate their marketing process can see 10 percent revenue increase within 6-9 months of implementation.

Companies that don’t have a Marketing Automation system would just lose the opportunity to convert many of these website visits into sales. Of course, this applies only to situations where the sales cycles are long and does not apply to situations where a transaction is consummated online in one website visit. Marketing Automation has no relevance to short sales cycles.
The growth of Marketing automation in recent years can be attributed to the following reasons:-
* The Internet has given rise to a generation of buyers who want to take informed decisions. They have access to a lot of information online and have deep insight into a company’s offerings, even before they initiate contact with them. To stand out in the crowd, it is important for companies to gather enough information on the buyers by researching about them. Marketing Automation facilitates that, it gathers data, like, which companies visited the site, time spent, pages visited and more. Such data is invaluable from a marketing perspective as it allows marketing and sales teams to understand the needs of the interested buyers and offer something that suits their individual needs, even before they explicitly express it.
* Buyers today expect to be educated by their vendors on the value proposition of their offerings, in the form of content through the entire business cycle. Marketing Automation enables vendors to customize and automate a steady stream of content often termed as drip marketing or lead nurturing campaigns which are driven by a lead’s behavior and the interests and intent revealed by him on their website. Research proves that 81 percent of the consumers don’t buy until at least the fifth contact. This is where automated lead nurturing and Marketing Automation comes in.
* Marketing Automation also helps measure the ROI of marketing efforts, basically marketing’s contribution in revenue generation process of an organization. With analytics and data provided by Marketing Automation software, it is possible to quantify and measure marketing’s effort and results generated not only in terms of brand visibility but real revenue flow.
* Until now, the sales had its CRM system and the marketing a set of varied tools to track, score and measure its activities. Marketing automation provides organizations with a single platform for both their marketing and sales to track, analyze and evaluate the progress of their leads. This integrated ‘lead view’ is a major factor in aligning sales and marketing.

Ingredients of a Successful Marketing Automation Program
So, is Marketing Automation technology this pixie dust that magically starts generating sales out of your website? Such an expectation would be as absurd as expecting to magically become a master at scuba diving just because you bought scuba diving gear at the store.

So, what makes a Marketing Automation program successful?

Marketing automation in itself is not the answer to all your lead management problems; it is a means to the end. For Marketing Automation to give desired results you need to build a process around it and have people who can drive these processes to get the desired results. Marketing Automation is a tool, which provides you with, data, analytics and insights, how to use this is something your lead managers have to work on.

From defining what will be qualified as a lead to deciding on how the leads would be scored and nurtured before they are handed over to sales for their perusal, all needs a strategy and a well defined process.

For starters, having a Marketing Automation champion in your company will go a long way in justifying your investment in marketing automation software.

Amazing Success Stories with Marketing Automation
At LeadFormix, we have a program called Marketing Black Belts where we recognize those marketers who have achieved a high degree of success using marketing automation. The idea behind the initiative is to tell our users that if used appropriately, marketing automation software can be a game changer for their business.

One such Marketing Black Belt marketer is Steve Crawford, VP Marketing & Business Development at Jamcracker, who ensured his team used the marketing automation platform to run closed-loop marketing campaigns. The software helped his team automatically generate prospect lists for organizations that visited their website, they started sending out emails to target profiles identified from these companies. Steve and team found the the closed-loop email campaign approach to be very effective, their email open-rates and click-throughs doubled when compared to the response they received from standard opt-in lists.”

Future forward
Just as email marketing has become ubiquitous in marketing departments, we will see the foundations of Marketing Automation starting to become ubiquitous in 2011.

B2B Marketers are slowly realizing that just buying marketing automation software tools without building the right processes and people around them will not work. Some may wrongly conclude that marketing automation does not work but will eventually realize that Marketing Automation should be a “complete solution” with people, processes, and integration with other tools becoming an integral component of the solution to ensure success.

The way things are moving, it would not be surprising to see Marketing Automation reach critical mass and have the mindshare of all B2B marketers, by end of this year.

The author is CEO, LeadFormix