A conversation that keeps cropping up with our customers revolves around marketing automation platforms and sales engagement. From the basics such as what are they, through to questions around which platform they should use and how can they generate a respectable ROI.
These platforms are now a vital tool for many organisations. To give an idea of the scale and growth in usage, according to Gartner, the B2B marketing automation market grew 15% in 2020 and was valued at $2.1 billion.
With this increasing importance, impact and demand, alongside the reduction in barriers to entry EBY has recently hired our first specialist to manage the automation needs for our customers. Having the skills in-house means we can offer bespoke support to our clients on whatever platform they are using. This can be very light-touch/ad-hoc support, through to staff being embedded and becoming an extension of a client’s teams.
This introduction of on-tap support means that our clients generate better performance results and ultimately increase their ROI, which is the goal of all automation platforms.
What is automation software?
Marketing automation platforms are designed to automate marketing tasks, eliminating repetitive jobs such as repeat email sends. They are also used to create automated contact sequences to nurture the relationship with prospects and customers. These sales engagement sequences can be triggered by actions including button clicks, form completions, visits to website pages, time spent on websites and engagement with social media content. The only caveat is that users must have permission to contact the individual, in order to adhere to GDPR regulations.
But, automation is only part of the story. Arguably, the most valuable features are the performance measurement capabilities of automation platforms and their ability to track the journey of the prospect, from initial contact through to conversion and beyond.
Central to any of these platforms is a contact database. This is where all information about prospects and customers is stored. These can be within the automation platform itself or a complementary CRM platform.
Finally, the best automation platforms combine many elements of a traditional marketing technology stack. They link to website CMSs, social media accounts, diary software, auto-diallers, account systems, analytics platforms and chat-bots, again pretty much any tech that is supporting the client’s sales and marketing output.
Benefits of using automation.
So, what are the benefits? Why should any business invest the time and resources in implementing an automation platform and more importantly, what will ensure the widespread adoption of the new tech.
These are our top six benefits:
1. Automation provides users with the ability to execute effective, continuous and planned communication cadence. The efficiency they deliver allows users to concentrate their efforts elsewhere on higher value-added outputs.
2. The performance of marketing activity can be tracked and measured. This delivers valuable insights and the ability to identify what is and isn’t working. From this, a clear measurement of ROI can be calculated. This insight, in-turn, supports future planning and activity.
3. Individual leads can be tracked through the prospect-customer funnel. This is a great tool for learning prospect/customer behaviour, allowing users to gather data, which in turn will enable them to develop more insight-led sales and marketing campaigns.
4. The journey can be personalised for each individual through lead scoring. This means the communication that is delivered can be more relevant and timely. Thereby increasing engagement and conversions.
5. Once customers are embedded into the platform there are potential opportunities for cross-selling through further automation and sales engagement strategies.
6. Encourages collaborations across teams, as platforms provide seamless and effective communication between different departments. All users are contributing to a single platform that is live, which reduces inconsistencies in data.
How to choose the best automation platform for your business?
There are dozens of options available and there are a number of factors that need to be considered when making a decision. What features are key to the user’s requirements, how many users licences are required, where are you sourcing your data? Alongside these are the integration requirements. What supporting systems will work alongside the platform, are there open APIs and are there any security issues?
Our advice would be to identify the features and integrations that are needed and then draw up a shortlist of the solutions that meet these needs. Most offer free demos too, so the platforms can be evaluated thoroughly.
While we don’t have a preferred platform, two that stand out because of their ease of use, integrations and support are SharpSpring and HubSpot. Both offer slightly different solutions and have different subscription models, but they give any user a robust, tried and trusted platform to start from.
It’s obvious that automation will continue to grow in importance for business, with over 90% of marketers already using some form of automation. With personalisation becoming even more significant in sales and marketing communication, then platforms will also continue to evolve and develop to meet the increasing demands of markets.
To find out more about how automation could help your business increase its performance, then please get in touch to arrange a call.