Recently, Lauren Carlson of research site Software Advice wrote a very perceptive and timely piece entitled “Tailwinds for Marketing Automation Software” about the broader market trends that, in her view, are driving the increased adoption of marketing automation technology.
Two of the key trends she identifies include (I’m paraphrasing):
* increasing rejection of phone communication and the corresponding movement towards email and the Web
* lengthening sales cycles during a down economy and the desire to support sales reps who are reluctant to dedicate their valuable time to nurturing buyers throughout that process
As part of a team that works regularly with companies who are either actively considering marketing automation, or have just invested in the technology, we get a first-hand view into what drives people to take the leap. Here are a couple of other factors that often figure prominently:
Desire for Marketing Efficiency
Though marketing budgets may begin to recover in 2011, the last two years have been marked by cutbacks in overall marketing spend and an over-arching desire to do more with less. In that context, two of the most common use cases for marketing automation are:
* ensuring prompt, effective, and systematic follow-up to all new inbound leads
* converting more existing leads over time to new, qualified opportunities
Marketing automation helps eliminate marketing waste. It works in tandem with inside sales by eliminating the chance that new leads will go without follow-up due to issues of bandwidth or lack of profile data (i.e. which leads merit sales investment and which don’t.) Similarly, marketing automation helps companies get more from their investment in demand generation by nurturing and cultivating the vast majority of leads that aren’t immediately sales-ready. By increasing marketing efficiency, marketing automation lessens the demand for expensive marketing initiatives designed to bring in net new prospects.
The Changing Role of Email
The email blast is dead. Companies are recognizing that simply sending one-off, one-size-fits-all broadcasts to an entire database regardless of buying persona or interest level is out of step with the reality of today’s selling cycle. Today’s sophisticated buyers want different information at different times: educational content in the early research stages, then more product-specific content later on. Doing otherwise dictates the terms of engagement, and buyers are having none of it.
Many of the companies we see buying marketing automation technology are upgrading from older-generation email broadcast platforms. The reason? Email is now a means to a conversation, not merely a one-off broadcast, and marketing automation solutions enable sophisticated, automated, triggered, multi-step, “drip” marketing campaigns that respond to changing demographic and behavioral criteria.