What Every CMO Should Know About Marketing Automation
Marketing automation is more than a tool for sending emails and storing leads. Columnist Mary Wallace explains why it's a key component of your strategy.
Marketing automation for many marketers has become a utility. Emails are sent to prospects, and customers and leads are stored within the database for future communication.
For the CMO, viewing the marketing automation platform in that light isn’t sufficient. It doesn’t justify the cost or the effort expended to implement and maintain the tool.
Marketing automation is so much more than a platform to store leads and send emails. It is the foundation for many other marketing technology tools. Even more important, it is the platform that’s responsible for elevating marketing’s position in the organization.
Reporting On The Numbers That Matter
A central value point of a marketing automation platform is reporting. Beyond email opens, bounces and clicks, reports highlight where visitors are on the website, how they arrived at the site, and which assets are driving interest and action.
Information about buyers’ interest can determine the best medium (banner ad, email) and message for new content. Buyer insight also can be analyzed to shape future products and to provide companywide information on the needs and wants of leads and customers.
Reports that align engagement and lead source provide insights into which sources deliver the best leads. From there, focusing on the sources that produce the best results and cutting the ties to the weak lead sources are simply a step away.
Closed loop reporting provides insights into which campaigns have the greatest impact on revenue. These reports, which require integration with a CRM (customer relationship management) tool, report on program and asset performance. At a glance, they can steer marketers to focus on the campaigns that are generating the most pipeline.
What the CMO reports at the boardroom can be pulled directly from the platform.
Process is key to meeting and exceeding expectations. Without a standard process, results vary widely. Optimization and improvement cannot begin without a standard process from which to draw a baseline.
Marketing automation platforms go a long way in ensuring standard processes. What happens to newly generated leads is mapped out in the platform.
Should the lead be nurtured? Should the lead be left alone? Should the lead be sent to sales?
Nurture programs, a microcosm of a structure process, define a communications sequence with a potential customer. The communications are based on the lead’s needs and how they respond. CMOs can see an average 20 percent increase in sales opportunities from nurtured leads versus non-nurtured leads.
Lead scoring programs and the associate service level agreement with the sales team define what a warm and hot lead is, and how and when leads should move back and forth between the sales and marketing organizations. This ensures both teams are on the same page for success — and that reporting in the boardroom is consistent between the two organizations.
At a campaign level, marketing automation platforms manage the communication sequence, ownership, goals and success criteria.
Optimize Your Impact
CMOs are struggling with the demands on their organization. Buyer behaviors have changed, with buyers staying hidden much longer.
At the same time, the buying process now involves multiple people. The responsibility for communicating, engaging and activating prospective buyers during this elongated period is in the hands of the marketing organizations.
The marketing organization can extend what it can do to meet these business demands with a marketing automation platform. On average it can increase the marketing team’s productivity from 1.5 percent to 6.9 percent, according to Marketo, citing Nuclear Research.
Through marketing automation, personalized emails can now be automatically distributed without the need to send an email one at a time. Sender personalization can be applied based on the contact owner. Personalization based on buyer personas can be determined from the digital body language alignment of topic and buying cycle.
Lead quality is also greatly improved by employing lead scoring techniques and structured nurture processes. Together these concepts ensure communication with the leads until they are ready to speak to sales.
The sales organizations can now focus on those leads that are most likely to convert to a sale instead of having to reach out to all leads. Forrester Research reported that companies that use marketing automation increase their sales-pipeline contribution by 10 percent.
Business Critical Functionality
From the CMO’s perspective, marketing automation platforms can produce results that really matter to business. But the tool must be leveraged as more than a source for sending emails and storing leads.
Increased sales and increased revenue are the results. In fact, 78 percent of successful marketers cite marketing automation as being the key component for improving revenue contribution, according to Position2. And with accurate on-point reporting, the information the boardroom demands can be shared.