InsightsMarketing Automation: Narrowing down the options

Marketing Automation: Narrowing down the options

With so many marketing automation services, channels, suppliers and audiences to consider, how can you go about finding the best solutions for your business? CANDDi's Tim Langley offers some answers.

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Tim Langley is CEO and co-founder of CANDDi, an innovative marketing platform that gives companies real insight into their online interactions.

In his inaugural .rising leaders piece, Tim draws on his marketing automation experience and know-how to demystify the term and offer a practical, step-by-step guide to implementing the best solutions for your business.

 

 

Marketing Automation: Narrowing down the options

Marketing automation can be a deceptive term.  On one level it appears to describe an intuitive and straightforward way of building, monitoring and growing your customer base. But in truth the processes involved are often complex, using multiple tools, channels and technologies. It can also involve investment in management, money and time.

operating-system-97849_640Ultimately, marketing automation takes your prospects on a journey – and this journey can be very different depending on the needs and goals of each individual business.

But put simply marketing automation is about building awareness, generating interest and prompting action in a more intelligent, fast, and targeted manner.

This can sound very straightforward but when you consider the massive toolkit to hand, which includes email service providers (such as MailChimp and Campaign Monitor), CRM systems, text services, online activity like banner advertising and PPC, social channels, auto-responders (e.g. VerticalResponse), as well as remarketing tools, such as Google Ads, things can become quite complex.

Macro level  data aggregators, like Google and Twitter analytics, can be used to track inbound activity while at an individual level IP look-up companies and other channel tracking techniques that include call tracking, purchase behaviours and loyalty programme information can be used.

But with so many services, channels, suppliers and audiences to consider, how can you go about finding the best solutions for your business?

 

What do I need for my business?

376588066_ae1f1f8363_zBegin with a four stage audit:

1. What do you want to achieve, and what is your strategy?

Is it to build your customer base? Or do you want to target new markets? Perhaps you want to increase the value of your existing customers?  Is upselling the goal?

2. What’s your approach to lead generation and customer management?

Map out your processes and analyse what works and what doesn’t. What are your strengths and weaknesses? What can you improve on?

3. Technology audit.

What is already in place and at what stage of investment is it at? Do you feel you use it properly and does it work for you? If not, why not? Is it time to write it off and invest in something else.

4. What type of business are you?

Are you an agile company or are your processes fairly fixed? What is the culture like? Is there an appetite to improve and do things differently? These questions must be answered honestly otherwise you will be wasting your time or may end up investing in a business plan that just won’t get off the ground.

 

Weighing up the choices

Assess the investment required for each alternative – this may involve hiring in new skills – and estimate the total cost of ownership. Adopting magglass1one specific solution could mean writing-off any previous investment in technology.

 

Augment what you have

Look to add single point solutions to improve the processes you already have. You may already have a good CRM system but you need to add in IP look-up to identify which companies are landing on your site. Or you may need to strengthen your ability to track and analyse engagement with your social channels and invest time in monitoring and feeding this interaction back through to your CRM. Understanding your target markets, and how they make buying decisions, will help you to decide what you need. If you are a B2C business, a good social strategy is a must but if you are a B2B technology organisation, then content marketing will probably be more important than a heavy Facebook presence.

 

Think full serviceend-to-end

You may decide the best solution for your business is to adopt one of the end-to-end solutions, such as HubSpot or Marketo. These companies offer a full marketing automation service, but your business must buy-in to a new end-to-end way of working. Costs can also be significant, but so too can the returns if the technology and science behind these solutions are implemented and used correctly. You must be willing and ready to adopt a new process of dealing with marketing activity and lead generation as a full service solution usually means a significant overhaul of your processes and serious financial investment.

 

Integrate a marketing automation solution

The third option is to look for a marketing automation system that can work alongside your existing processes. It will still probably mean a business buy-in, financial commitment, and changes to the way you work. However, it can be a really effective way of reaping the benefits of marketing automation, without major spending and overhaul. You can keep the bits of your sales, marketing and CRM that are working and paid for but still improve your ability to track, engage with and close business. Options for tools that allow this integrated and augmented approach 229016531_c661cbdc0f_zinclude CANDDi and some sector specific options like Medilink.

 

The rewards

Taking the time to research, define your strategy, and implement a marketing automation programme can be a significant investment, but the benefits are worth it. The process of determining your business requirements and overall objective is also a great opportunity to define and resell your company vision.

At the end of the process you will have a structured approach to your sales and marketing efforts with the ability to assess ROI and understand what is behind your successes and where you can improve. A marketing automation programme’s tracking elements will let you see what messaging and approaches work best for your customers and for your business.

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