Once upon a time, every social media message was crafted and sent in real time. Blanket email blasts cluttered the inboxes of decision makers everywhere. And scheduling a blog post to publish was a foreign idea.
But now, we have helpful tools to complete all of these tasks for us, often in a much more targeted and strategic way. And we have marketing automation to thank.
Before we go farther, what is marketing automation?
And one search on Twitter shows that the excitement around these tools continues to fuel their popularity.
But in practice, the truth is much less glamorous: these platforms still take work, and it’s possible that you might not even need one for your company!
Answer these questions with your own business in mind to see if marketing automation would make the difference you’re looking for or a headache you’re looking to avoid.
1. Do you use more than 2 marketing activities?
If you run email marketing platforms, social media campaigns, and post content on a regular schedule all on a large scale, a marketing automation platform can show you more than simple analytics.
It can paint you a picture of how all of these elements work together holistically and track conversions so that you can compare how well each of your activities are working. You’ll also have a much easier time maintaining all of your activities so you don’t spend too much time working on them.
However, if you’re only employing one or two strategies, you can probably get the insights you need from the reporting on those individual platforms.
2. Do You Use More Than 3 Online Tools?
If you use a variety of tools like:
Content management system
- Email marketing program
- Social media management
- Analytics and reporting
You’ll without a doubt have to spend time tediously combing through a tangled web of data while constantly switching between different platforms to work on your inbound marketing.
With just a few tools, you can get by without a MAP, but as your efforts get more sophisticated you could benefit from being able to carry out your activities all in one place.
Right in one navigation toolbar, in fact!
3. Is your sales cycle longer than a few weeks?
If you have a long sales cycle, you’ll have even more reason to look into a MAP. Companies that invest in marketing automation see 70% faster sales cycle times, which means that these solutions can shorten your sales cycle! (If you have a shorter sales cycle, marketing automation might not make much of a difference for your company.)
And if that wasn’t payoff enough, nurtured leads make 47% larger purchases than non-nurtured leads, making the payoff clear for staying in front of potential buyers.
For companies without a MAP, there’s no reason that you can’t simply create an email and send it to your database on a regular basis. If you’re just getting your feet wet with email marketing, there’s nothing wrong with that.
Just last week we discussed how segmented emails result in a 39% higher open rate.
A one-size-fits-all approach won’t get you nearly the bang for your marketing buck, and creating different email campaigns for different personas, juggling each schedule, and monitoring results gets complicated quickly without automation. You’ll also have a harder time telling whether your sales cycle is taking less time.
4. Do you understand your prospect’s journey on the way to becoming a customer?
If you have a very short, defined path that prospects take on their way to becoming a customer then a separate tool to track that might not be necessary.
But if your prospects can take multiple specific paths to the same end goal of becoming a customer, marketing automation can show you where they are in the journey, their interest level, and where exactly those interests lie.
Otherwise, you’ll go crazy trying to determine if the same prospects are favoriting tweets, clicking through emails, and downloading your offers (and not always in that order.)
And doing so would be worth it: this information lets you zero in on the hottest leads so that your marketing efforts bear real fruit in the form of new customers.
But with a MAP, no such effort is needed. The exact actions your prospect has taken on their journey are laid out for you on a silver platter-well, more of a simple list, but you get the idea.
5. Are you willing to dedicate resources to marketing automation?
This is probably the most important question of all.
Despite the time-saving virtues of marketing automation, the fact is it’s still a tool that takes time and effort to learn and use.
Email campaigns don’t just magically appear.
Social media posts still have to be created.
But if you’re willing to put in the work of learning how to use the functionality and implement it, you’ll reap rewards in saved time, better data, and more qualified leads.
If you want to get started with automation, check out Email Marketing Automation: Fanning the Flame of Prospect Interest and learn how to make it work in your organization today!