2identificationFor quite some time we are accustomed to the fact that, when browsing the Internet, we receive notices of offers that may interest us, and we are well aware that airlines set their prices on online portals automatically, depending on the capacity utilization or the development of the price competition. Even banks’ lending decisions are becoming more and more automated. So why are there still just a few companies intensively involved with the process and decision-making process in marketing and sales - despite the facts that marketing automation makes cross-channel campaigns possible and generates qualified leads for the sales department? According to Forrester, just 10 % of marketers are able to develop an automation strategy, and the research firm believes the reason for that are false perceptions.

Let’s look at the following assumptions to evaluate why the full potentials of marketing automation isn’t exploited, yet:

Marketing automation is too complicated

Good automation solutions not only support the core tasks of marketing, but also integrate customer relationship management (CRM), sales force management (SFA) and content management systems (CMS), enable social monitoring and data activation. The more a solution can provide, the greater is its potential for the company, but the more complex it becomes, too.

Anyone who wants to learn and use everything at once will feel overwhelmed. Instead, a step-by-step approach is recommended. Firstly, marketers should focus on functions that cover their essential needs and achieve the greatest improvement in the current situation. For example, start with email marketing, web forms, landings pages, lead generation, success monitoring and reporting. When employees are familiar with these basic functions, the next steps towards more complex operations are easier to manage.

The selection of marketing technology is too big

According to a study by Forrester, 80% of marketers today consider it their task to understand and apply marketing technology. In view of the variety of solutions on the market, however, this is becoming a difficult venture, with more than 3000 different products on the global market. On one hand, this diversity brings advantages, on the other it makes the selection more difficult: Marketers run the risk of getting lost in single solutions during their examination, but can avoid this by determining their goals first to decide on the solutions that suit them best. Ideally, the vendor they chose has a broad and modular supply, so that it can be easily retrofitted, when necessary.

Marketing automation focuses on outbound campaigns

Nowadays, customers get informed in many ways before they make their final purchase decisions. Particularly, web search plays an important role which explains why inbound marketing is gaining in importance.  However, when thinking about marketing automation, many marketers have immediately outbound marketing on their mind. Good solutions, however, are including all contact possibilities with the customer - whether by email, the company website, social media or a special landing page. At each touchpoint, the customer leaves digital traces and signals that the system collects. This creates a valuable data pool that can be used for the development of future campaigns and segmentation.

With marketing automation, we can control the Customer Journey

The times when customers and prospective buyers covered a straight path are over. Today they jump through many different channels and use a variety of media until they decide to buy. The Customer Journey has therefore become a much more complex process. Even with an automation solution, this can no longer only be controlled in one direction. What the new technology can do, however, is to provide the marketers with a variety of data, so they always know exactly where and at which stage of the Customer Journey the customer currently is. This allows the marketing department to respond to it precisely, ensuring a positive customer experience.

Effective marketing automation requires many resources

Bringing the right content to the right person, through the right channel at the right time, is no easy task. However, marketing automation makes this possible with significantly less effort than ever before. No big teams are actual needed, even if it first sounds like this. Employees have more time and can focus on strategic tasks. Of particular importance is the development of a content marketing strategy. With reusable building blocks, for instance, many different channels can be used without great effort. Instead of producing as much content as possible, you should focus on content that is relevant to the customer.

As always, concentration on the essentials is important for success. Marketers should always have their eyes on their goals when choosing the technology. It is recommended to start with the basic functions and to proceed gradually to more complex processes.

By Daniela La Marca