Many marketers think the benefits of marketing automation are straightforward. But is implementing an automated marketing solution really that simple?
Even for Apple, one of the largest technology providers in the world, myths about its products are not uncommon. Many consumers believe one of the biggest unique selling points (USPs) for a Mac is that its operating system is invincible to viruses and other malware; in reality this is not true. There simply isn't a lot of malware out there designed for Mac operating systems; the majority are targeting PCs that run Microsoft Windows.
So while this myth isn't damaging to Apple, clearly (sales reached a "measly" $171 billion in the year to October), it could be for the customers who aren't doing anything to protect their devices.
Not dissimilar to this, many marketers think the benefits of marketing automation are straightforward; it can save time and money, it will generally be intuitive, it will operate with little resource support, it simplifies measurement, and delivers improved results. But is implementing an automated marketing solution really that simple? And is it damaging for marketers to believe it is?
The perceived benefits, such as improved sales and reduced time investment, will often be the catalyst for companies deciding to adopt an automated approach to their marketing strategies. However, while some of these may be true in the long-term, no solution is instantly automated and most will require a greater level of investment, specifically in terms of resource, than many people realize. Unfortunately for marketing automation, we're not able to match Apple's pioneering "instruction-less" unboxing and "plug and play" model just yet.
To help understand the truth behind marketing automation, here are five of the biggest myths that marketers should quash if they are to implement a strategically balanced approach to their level of automation:
It can take months to develop and streamline an automated solution, as changes to the service will need to be made on a daily basis in order to maximize its full potential. A common misconception of automated marketing is that it is a simply a "plug and play" solution that will spring into action without the need for servicing or support. This is not always the case, and it is therefore essential that businesses have the necessary support and expertise in place, both in-house and from their vendor, to guarantee the desired results.
Another myth, as indicated above, is that automated marketing solutions can be operated "hands-free," with little to no resource needed to support such activity. Much like with the latest driver-assisted technology, we've handed over control of parking but we haven't yet reached the stage where cars fully drive themselves.
At the beginning of the process of an automated solution implementation, people with the relevant expertise will be required to set up the software and ensure it is running effectively and to its full potential. It may be that an organization will need to up-skill or skill-shift its workforce to ensure that it has the right people in the right place to manage the system and maximize outputs.
In order to be able to evaluate the impact an automated marketing solution has on lead generation, it's essential that businesses evaluate the effectiveness of their existing marketing strategy. Identifying how many suspects turn into prospects prior to the implementation of any new software will create a benchmark by which to measure the success of all future activity. Once an automated marketing platform is in place, it is important to consistently and regularly review its performance to establish how the results compare to previous models, as well as to be able to exploit successes.
No solution operates in isolation. You may have a proprietary database at the other end, an e-commerce store to sync with, or a CRM you use to pass lead data to sales. It's imperative that this data is accurately recorded and managed. Furthermore, remember that any new technology you implement will need to seamlessly integrate with other platforms, both now and in the future.
When a solution is described as "automated," people often overlook the need for dedicated support and guidance. This is required not only during the initial implementation, but on an ongoing basis to ensure the marketing strategy continues to develop and evolve. It takes far more than just technology to build and maintain an automated solution and, therefore, organizations should work with a vendor that offers added benefits such as real-time support, regular training, project management, and access to specialist designers.
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Denner is the co-founder and director of Adestra, and is highly experienced in developing email solutions, having headed up teams responsible for bringing four separate email applications to market. A veteran of 13 years' experience in the industry, Denner has worked with many organizations on delivering technical solutions to real business challenges and goals.
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