Why Companies Buy Marketing Automation Software

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.

3 thoughts on “Why Companies Buy Marketing Automation Software

  1. Jeff Ogden

    Really good post, Howard. Marketing automation plays a critical role today. I simply could not run my business without it. The need to do all of these things manually would kill us.

    That said, businesses still need great content and well thought out processes. If they see marketing automation as the answer to their problems, they are in big trouble.

  2. John Fox

    Howard, at least from an outbound marketing perspective, marketing automation does something really cool. It systematizes all the stuff top-notch sales people do unconsciously.

    When I look at a set of autoresponders and lead scoring metrics, it’s just doing what these best-of-breed folks have done all along… but now we can do it faster, at less cost and by doing so, make even our most junior sales reps perform at a level well beyond their years of experience.

    And that’s cool.

  3. Kathleen Schaub

    Good post, Howard. Embedded in your conclusion is that companies must do what is necessary to truly nurture in order to get benefits from marketing automation. Until marketers think like great sales people, marketing automation simply becomes an upgrade to a spam machine – a faster, cheaper, way of firing off the the same batch & blast content. And they wonder why the leads still stink.


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