Key Learnings

  • Decide on what marketing improvements you want to achieve with your use of technology
  • Set a budget and weigh up for your own business what balance you need between cost and functionality. Remember there can be a cost to your team's time if the system gives them more work.
  • Test out a few solutions with companies you have done some due diligence on and ask the same set of questions to each so you can benchmark them
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By its very definition, marketing automation should make life simple. It should liberate marketing campaigns, not restrict them, and make strategies agile, rather than sluggish. Adam Oldfield, Managing Director of Force24 shares his tips on how marketing automation can be used to enhance your business.

Marketing automation technology is super-personalised and delivers humanised communications to recipients via email, SMS, direct mail, social and more – in only a couple of simple clicks.

But with an extensive portfolio of channels to leverage, and greater opportunities to target through data, getting the most from a lead nurturing campaign can be incredibly difficult for businesses.

So, where does an organisation start if it wants to maximise its customer opportunities and make things slicker, quicker, smarter and easier?

Firstly, there needs to be a decision made on what a company wants to achieve from a smart piece of tech, and why? The ideal starting point is to understand the expertise automation offers, and how it can be advantageous in terms of increased ROI.

Understanding the key benefits of marketing automation

So, what can this type of platform bring to an organisation? Well, it allows prospects to learn about the brand in great detail – by receiving messages tailored to them, at the right time.

It also retargets past, and current, consumers with upsell and cross-sell messages to aid retention, whilst improving their lifetime value by comparing – and monitoring – results.

A strong piece of tech that can pass opportunities through to a sales or customer retention team, can seriously enhance overall bottom line, and allow organisations to reach out to targets quickly.

By its very nature, there are so many more profitable elements to automation, however, companies shouldn’t be purchasing costly or cumbersome services to best support growth – especially those with limited resources – because the platform will simply never get used.

The first steps – set a budget

Of course what is affordable for one marketing team may seem expensive for the next, so decisions should be made on a case-by-case basis.

There are a number of ‘free’ solutions available, which perhaps offer some support to microbusinesses dipping their toes in lead nurture. However, these ‘freemium’ models can soon become very expensive because of limited functionality.

Remember, ROI is measured at both ends – freemium or low cost products inhibit the marketer, meaning less power, and more time wasted.

Whilst certainly not ‘free’, there are more sophisticated marketing automation platforms available on transparent ‘pay as you go’ pricing structures. Initial set-up fees are usually incurred but, with costs as low as £289 and competitive rates offered, such pricing models enable teams to plan for – and stick to – set budgets.

Finally, there are tiered options. These reflect the depth of performance, with additional components able to be bolted on according to whether they are – or aren’t – required. This means a company pays for what’s needed, and only when the technology is sweating – not when it isn’t! More importantly, they facilitate growth, investment longevity, and a return.

Next – test what’s on the market

When the time comes to organising demonstrations, any business worth its salt should’ve already conducted rigorous due diligence before deciding on the vendor to partner with.

By remaining focused on the right questions to ask, there’s a far greater chance of coming away having learned what really matters – if the platform can do what it has promised, and achieve the marketing objectives concerned.

Here’s what to ask in demos:

1.       How intuitive is the platform?

2.       What does the suppliers training and support model look like?

3.       What does ‘multi-channel’ communications truly look like?

4.       How is email deliverability configured?

5.       Does the technology include powerful reports?

6.       How do they attribute ROI?

7.       Do they offer a flexible lead scoring module?

8.       Where will data reside (within the EEA or USA)?

9.       Is training available to help replace lost skill-sets if employees leave the business?

10.   What if you encounter a problem?

11.   Ask to watch a campaign being built end to end?

12.   What does the product roadmap look like?

And, finally…

Overall, it’s worth exploring the market with an open mind. Ask specific questions which meet activity and goal requirements, and remaining focused on objectives. Fancy bells and whistles may appear attractive, but technology should be rated, pound for pound, against the use case.

Contributed by Adam Oldfield
Ashleigh Smith
Article by Ashleigh Smith
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