Marketing organizations are supported by technology more than ever before. Leveraging automation has allowed marketers to do more with less and it’s changing the way marketers tackle the challenges of inbound marketing. The number of companies offering these marketing solutions has risen from 100 in 2011 to 1,876 in 2015. That’s double the number of companies in 2014 when there were 947, and these companies are offering increasingly diverse solutions with varying capabilities.
With such a rapid growth in technology, marketers have a ton of choices but its important to understand which technologies will actually help drive business goals. Marketers must also weigh the advantages of any new solution with its ability to integrate into their marketing stack.
Does it Stack up?
Marketing automation, a.k.a. the marketing stack, is simply a set of tools from a variety of vendors to manage the data used to create automated and measurable personalized prospect and client communication. B2B marketers who implement marketing automation increase their sales-pipeline contribution by 10 percent according to Forrester Research. Most likely, that’s because automation allows marketers to improve their efforts to educate and nurture prospects during a long B2B buyer’s cycle. The analytics these tools provide help marketers quickly determine the success of campaigns or lack of thereof, making it easy to tweak messages or images to improve effectiveness.
Despite the rapid growth in marketing automation and its promise of improved efficiencies and results, only about 9 percent of marketers have a complete and fully utilized marketing stack according to a 2015 study by Ascend2, a demand generation firm. While budgets, risk-averse managers and a lack of training may play a role in this statistic, integrating the efforts and systems in such a way that will meet current and future program needs is always a burning question or perhaps a fear for marketers.
Marketing technology blog Cheifmartech.com advises that marketers should think about how the vendor partner will fit into the stack rather than what a stand-alone vendor offers. The existing capabilities for current and future program needs should also be considered.
All Things Considered
Among B2B marketing managers, the most important criteria for a marketing automation system are price, product integration (e.g., CRM, social, web, mobile) and ease of use according to Pepper Global, a German-based marketing and communications agency.
But you should consider the needs of your team as well. What is it that you really want to do? Create personalized, multi-channel campaigns? Segment your database by demographics, firmographics or simple behaviors? Track cross-channel behaviors to send personalized nurture emails and coordinate marketing across channels? Or, do you want to do all of that?
Next, you’ll want to make certain that all of your tools are compatible. Integration, as I’ve mentioned, is a major consideration. You also want to weigh how much time and energy you’ll have to spend on training your team to use the tools.
The Advertising Automation Factor
Automated advertising is also a rapidly growing tool in the data-driven marketer’s toolkit. A recent Magna Global study predicts advertising automation spend to reach $37 billion by 2019. Advertising integrations allow for seamlessly incorporating personalized digital ads into your outreach and nurture streams. B2B marketers should also consider combining their marketing automation with automated advertising to reach the goal of personalized multi-channel campaigns.
This kind of integration will make life so much easier. For example, the ability to synchronize data between your advertising and marketing automation vendors to use CRM values to change ad tracks is a major consideration. You’ll also want the ability to inject the use of CRM values such as ‘company name’ or ‘industry’ into the actual ads. This a much more effective use of retargeted ads than simply offering an advertising bridge to Google’s Adwords remarketing tool that creates segments or audiences that can be targeted.
Whatever your goals are for 2016, automation is likely to be a huge factor in helping you reach those goals. Choose wisely and integrate your automation for optimal results.