Are you ready for marketing automation?
21st June 2017
If you’re looking at how to market your SaaS product more effectively, it’s likely you will have considered investing in a marketing automation software platform such as HubSpot, Marketo or Pardot.
At Xander Marketing, we know first-hand the benefits of marketing automation software, having used a variety of technologies for many of our clients. Done right, these tools are a great way to propel your marketing strategy forward, and attract new prospects. However, if you choose the wrong solution, or implement it at the wrong time (or in the wrong way), it can have the opposite effect.
How to tell if your business is ready for marketing automation
Successfully embracing marketing automation software will depend largely on your overall marketing strategy. Some businesses start off with a manual marketing process, before exploring low-cost tools to automate certain elements, such as email marketing or social media. Others choose to take the plunge with sophisticated marketing automation software from day one.
We’ve been through both journeys, and many routes in-between, and it has taught us some valuable lessons.
For example, marketing automation isn’t a silver bullet; it won’t turn your company into a lead generating machine overnight. Like most software tools, it replaces manual processes. While this frees up time, the quicker, automated process also means you will need to create more content to sustain the lead nurturing process – more emails, landing pages and so forth. Do you have the expertise and resources to meet this need?
Think about marketing automation as a car: the automation tool is the engine, but content is the fuel needed to make it work. Starting with a full tank of content, and regularly topping it up, is essential to a well-functioning strategy. If you can’t meet this requirement in-house, an external marketing partner could be the best option.
Here are the questions you need to consider when thinking about implementing marketing automation:
Does your company have more leads than it can handle?
A key consideration when looking at marketing automation software is how your business is going to handle the leads generated by a better coordinated marketing strategy. The most effective way to prioritise leads, and condense them into a manageable amount, is through lead scoring.
All good marketing automation solutions include lead scoring functions, which assign your prospects a number based on the interactions they have made with your campaigns. This lead score should integrate with your CRM software, to show campaign engagements alongside other interactions.
Not only does this help to avoid a situation in which your business has ‘too many leads’, if your sales team relies on a CRM system, integrating important data will help them to identify which leads they should follow up first.
Ideally, all sales personnel should be making use of lead scoring capabilities to prioritise their workload. Making this transition will be much tougher if they are currently working off spreadsheets – something else to consider when assessing whether you’re ready for marketing automation technology.
Will marketing automation software integrate with our CRM?
If your business is already using CRM software you are a step closer to embracing marketing automation, but it is important to understand whether your existing CRM system will integrate with the marketing platform you choose.
Generally speaking, web-based CRMs will integrate easily with marketing automation software. Some even have their own CRM solution – Salesforce has Pardot for example, and HubSpot has created a CRM product.
If your CRM is not web-based, however, it may not be possible to implement it with marketing automation software. Therefore, you need to consider whether it’s worth changing your CRM solution as well – and the impact this will have on your business.
That’s not the only thing to bear in mind; it is important that any existing client and prospect data you own is in good working order as it will act as a database for your marketing.
How aligned are your sales and marketing activities?
Synchronising the platform that your sales team is using with marketing automation is just one element of a successful lead generation programme.
Your business also needs to be confident about the relationship between marketing and sales, understanding what constitutes a marketing qualified lead, compared to one that is sales qualified.
For instance, a free trial or demo request may count as a sales lead, but what about when a prospective client downloads a piece of technical content, like a whitepaper, and then follows up by visiting your website?
Marketing automation software tends to be more beneficial over longer sales cycles, particularly when it replaces manual follow-up processes. However, the number of interactions, the lead scores assigned to them, and the point at which sales personnel take over needs to be clear.
Marketing automation software can certainly help to develop this process, but alignment between sales and marketing teams is vital to ensure the lead nurturing journey functions effectively.
Which marketing automation software is best for your business?
If you’ve read through everything and feel the time is right to invest in a marketing automation platform, your next step is to choose a solution.
To help you make the best decision for your business, we recommend you start with the following checklist:
- Put together a list of requirements – what exactly do you want to get out of your chosen solution?
- Think about where you most need marketing support – some solutions are geared towards getting traffic and leads at the top of the funnel, with others focused on closing leads and onboarding
- Narrow it down to a shortlist and then get a free demonstration or trial of each solution
- Score and compare the functionalities of each solution before making your final decision
Develop your marketing automation strategy with Xander Marketing
Choosing the right marketing automation platform is just the start. As a SaaS marketing specialist, Xander Marketing can ensure your lead nurturing journey is supported with quality content that drives pipeline. Learn more about our marketing strategy packages to see how we can help your business.