If you feel like you’ve been spending too much time on tedious marketing tasks while leads and potential conversions slip away, you should consider the ways in which marketing automation can help you. What is marketing automation? In a nutshell, marketing automation is defined as the use of specialized software as a means of automating repetitive tasks that would otherwise be done manually. When you use the right software, you decrease the amount of time that you spend on monotonous marketing chores while creating more time to spend on your marketing strategy.
Do You Really Need Marketing Automation?
Some marketers are reluctant to begin using marketing automation software because they feel like it will remove their ability to retain control over their operations. Although this is an understandable concern, the best marketing automation software allows marketers to retain complete command over all tasks while eliminating the busywork that often accompanies such jobs. With the right tools and software, you can simply eliminate the frustration that you have come to expect from your marketing tasks. Once you’ve chosen the ideal marketing automation platform, you will have to contend with a learning curve and a breaking-in period. However, the time you spend learning the software while implementing it correctly will pay off in the form of a more streamlined, efficient and profitable workflow.
What Marketing Automation Can do For You
We’ve established that marketing automation software can have a positive impact on your work, but you may be wondering exactly what these platforms do. In general, these software platforms reduce the amount of time and energy that must be spent working on mundane or repetitive tasks. They also allow you to improve your overall reach and influence with your customer base. In addition to these broad concepts, marketing automation offers benefits in some other important categories:
Finding leads is easy. Locating good leads is another story. Few things are as frustrating as spending time generating and nurturing leads only to find that they are simply not going to impact your bottom line. Locating and tracking qualified leads (those that have a strong chance to show interest, buy products and convert) is one of the major benefits of using marketing automation software. With it, you will not only generate a larger number of leads, but you will also notice the quality level of your leads increase.
Greater Efficiency in Sales
When it comes to sales, it’s more important than ever to stay on the cutting edge of technology. Marketing automation gives sales teams the tools they need to work more intelligently, and many platforms offer training modules that can give your sales team a competitive edge. Efficiency is extremely important, and marketing automation helps to ensure that your sales personnel generate the greatest value from their efforts.
Alignment and Coordination Across the Board
One of the main reasons why some businesses remain stuck in ruts is that they are unable to align their various departments. This is particularly problematic when it comes to a lack of coordination between your sales team and your marketing department. Marketing automation platforms allow you to draw a straight line through all of your departments by offering consistency and a common guiding force. When all departments are using the same platform, it is much easier to stay focused on a common goal, and it is much easier to foster teamwork based around consistent visions of success.
Automation of Content Delivery
Sending well-crafted messages to the right people at the right time is almost impossible to do without the help of a marketing automation platform. The right software can help you ensure that your messages contain the key elements needed to make an impact, boost traffic and lead to increased conversions. The software also helps you track the performance of content that you’ve generated so you can fine-tune your messaging to meet your specific needs.
Improved Return on Investment
At the end of the day, your return on investment, or ROI, is the most important aspect of your business operations. Simply put, if you aren’t generating a healthy return from the money and effort you expend, your business is likely to fail. Many companies use scattered approaches wherein they throw countless ideas at the wall to see what sticks. Marketing automation platforms eliminate the guessing games so you can operate more efficiently. What’s more, these software platforms help you to focus on nurturing only the leads that have the greatest potential.
Quantifying the Value of Your Leads
You might use a system that assigns a value to certain types of leads. Maybe this works for you, but it is more likely that your system is really no more than a series of well-intentioned shots in the dark. Most makers of marketing automation software have spent fortunes developing sophisticated and amazingly accurate systems designed to assign scores to your leads. These scores help you understand your customer base better than they understand themselves, and they help you pinpoint specific strategies to gain the largest possible benefits from your activities.
Gathering data, sifting through it and taking action is only helpful when the data is accurate and actionable. With the proper marketing automation software, you can see tremendous amounts of useful data concerning web page visits, downloads, email communications and more. This data is presented in a way that makes it easy for you and your team to take action, and it helps you to understand your leads and their most common behaviors.
What Marketing Automation Platform Should You Use?
There are many different companies offering software for marketing automation. With so many choices and pricing plans, it can be difficult to choose one over another. Thankfully, most platforms allow you to experience the software on a trial basis before you make a full commitment. The top platforms are popular because they work well, and they deliver results.
Here is a brief rundown of a few of the most popular and successful marketing automation platforms:
Hubspot is one of the more comprehensive all-in-one marketing automation software platforms in existence. The company has a strong web presence, and it’s likely that you’ve read blog posts from the company or have had exposure to their educational resources. Hubspot is growing in popularity thanks to its unique, user-friendly interface as well as the company’s ubiquitous nature in the online world. Hubspot is fun to use, and its real-time tips for generating content are incredibly valuable. For many marketers, Hubspot represents the standard by which all other platforms are judged.
As far as pricing is concerned, three main packages are offered. The “Basic” package costs $200 a month, while the “Professional” and “Enterprise” packages cost $600 and $1,000 per month, respectively. Additionally, there are costs associated with the number of contacts that you want to use. For example, if you choose the “Professional” package and you import 4,000 contacts, your total monthly cost would be $1,000.
Eloqua is considered to be one of the true pioneers in the world of marketing automation software. The platform has existed for a decade, and it has helped many businesses focus their marketing efforts in a streamlined and efficient manner. Like Hubspot, Eloqua is an all-in-one platform designed to meet all aspects of a company’s marketing campaign. It also offers special integration with Twitter and Facebook so you can monitor the effectiveness of your social media campaigns.
There are three different pricing tiers available with Eloqua. The first tier is the “Marketer” level. This has a monthly cost of $2,000, and it accommodates 10 unique users. The “Team” tier allows access for up to 50 users, and it costs $4,000 a month. It also includes additional features like custom CRM and third-party application integration. Eloqua does not publicize the price for its “Enterprise” level, which allows you to have an unlimited number of users. This level also includes features like advanced data cleansing. Interested customers are encouraged to contact Eloqua’s sales department to learn more about pricing options. Prices quoted here are for accounts that include 10,000 contacts or fewer.
Optify is also one of the major players in the marketing automation industry. The company focuses on offering a full set of features for its users, and it stays relevant by providing a wide range of educational opportunities through webinars and a highly informative blog. Unlike Hubspot, Optify does not offer website hosting, but it offers much of the same functionality otherwise. However, it includes a number of other features that make it worth the price. Some users have complained about the software’s ease of use, but your mileage may vary.
Like most other marketing automation platforms, Optify offers three distinct pricing tiers. The “Express Edition” costs $300 per month. The “Team Edition” has a monthly cost of $600. Finally, the “Premium Edition” costs $1,200 per month. All tier levels offer an unlimited number of contacts. Features like link management and sales force integration are only available in the more expensive packages. The “Premium Edition” package is distinguished for allowing 250,000 emails per month (compared to 2,500 and 100,000 for the “Express” and “Team” editions, respectively), plus it also allows access to the Optify Cloud API.
There are many more excellent marketing automation software platforms available today. Some of the other notable platforms include Act-On, Genius, LoopFuse and Marketo Spark. Those who are interested in less comprehensive – and less expensive – solutions can check out the WordPress Lead Generating Machine for a surprisingly effective alternative to the major players in the industry.
The good thing about having so many options is that the industry benefits from competition. Moreover, these software platforms are available to try for free before you make any commitments. By doing this, you can choose the perfect platform for the specific needs of your organization.
What’s Your Experience?
Do you feel confident answering the question, “What is marketing automation?” Have you used marketing automation software? What are some of the benefits that you’ve noticed? Do you prefer one platform over others? Drop us a line or let us know what you think in the comments section.