If you’re a digital marketing manager, whether you’re working for a startup or established company, you’re probably familiar with the idea of marketing automation. You might even be using some elements of it. You might have spent time reading case study after case study telling you how much more effective it can make your marketing efforts, or how much time it can save you. You might have even been told it’s the “holy grail” of marketing if you get it right… and yet you still aren’t using it in your digital marketing strategy.
I speak to so many frustrated marketers who hit a roadblock when it comes to selling in marketing automation to their boss. If you’re one of them, and need a helping hand to convince the people at the top, here’s our five-step guide to pitching marketing automation successfully.
Step 1: Know your stuff
Before you can sell anything effectively, you first need to understand what it is and be able to explain it succinctly. It’s easy to forget when you spend every day immersed in the world of digital marketing that not everyone in your organisation will fully get what you do. So the first step is to be able to explain to non-experts exactly what it is you want them to invest in.
In a nutshell, here’s the simplest way to describe what marketing automation is:
- Marketing automation assigns tracking to every individual user in your database. This unique tracking allows you to segment your customers, manage campaigns more effectively by tracking individual results, personalise content (e.g. by sending the right automated emails or tweaking content that appears on a web page), and gather reliable customer data for all your marketing channels.
- Marketing automation streamlines your marketing efforts into one platform. If you’re currently using MailChimp, WordPress, SalesForce, Google Analytics, and a handful of other tools, marketing automation brings everything together into one platform. Not only does this save time and effort when it comes to analysis and reporting, it also allows you to identify the ROI of your different marketing channels.
Step 2: Get where your boss is coming from
Whether you’re in a small or large organisation, you’ll be facing your own set of barriers when it comes to selling in marketing automation. For smaller companies, an effective marketing automation platform can feel like too large an investment of money and time. For larger companies there might be additional complex or costly requirements to consider, from GDPR processes to in-house training for all members of staff on a new system.
If you’re going to successfully ‘sell in’ marketing automation to your boss, you’re going to need to spend some time getting to really understand their concerns.
Here are some of the questions or objections you might be faced with, along with some helpful responses. Keep all of these points in mind when you start to build your business case, and gather your supporting stats.
“We have an email service provider (ESP) already, how is marketing automation software different?”
ESPs and marketing automation platforms aren’t the same thing. ESPs send emails and provide top-level analytics like open rate, click rate, bounces, etc. A marketing automation platform goes much further than this. It will track how a user navigates your website, assigning a score to their behaviour, and automatically serve them specific content based on their behaviour. Not only does this gives you a complete picture of your customer journey, from the first touch point to conversion, it also increases your chances of converting leads.
“Why do we need marketing automation when we already have a Customer Relationship Manager (CRM)?”
CRMs like SalesForce simply track your marketing communications and store data on your prospects and customers. Your CRM won’t generate leads or help convert them, whereas marketing automation software does just that. By using a whole suite of tools including behaviour tracking, automated emails, lead scoring, and analytics, a marketing automation platform will get more leads into the top of your sales funnel and track their journey through it. Some platforms (such as SharpSpring) come with a built-in CRM, while most should integrate seamlessly with third-party CRM.
“We can’t afford to invest in marketing automation.”
This is probably the most common objection, and you’ll need to emphasise that the benefits will outweigh the up front cost in the long run. For example, if you’re wasting thousands of pounds on social media, display, or PPC advertising that isn’t working, your marketing automation tool will identify that, and highlight where to redirect your budget to get the maximum ROI. You’ll also be consolidating your existing tool subscriptions into one, so there might not actually be that much difference in cost. When you start to build your business case, you’ll want to do these sums and be clear on your budget vs. your projected ROI.
Step 3: Put together your business case
Digital marketing has been around for years, and while most businesses now get why they need to do it, plenty still don’t understand what it means to do it well, and what it takes to be successful.
Gone are the days when you can simply shout about your product and wait for the phones to start ringing. Effective digital marketing isn’t about who can make the most noise anymore, it’s about building effective relationships with your customers. And marketing automation helps you do that more efficiently and reliably.
When you’re thinking about your business case for marketing automation, you’ll want to address all the concerns raised by your boss, and focus on the benefits for the business. That means you’re not only going to need to understand your boss’s concerns, you’re going to need to understand the business too. That includes what appears to be working, what’s definitely not working, what your colleagues’ main challenges are, and how your proposal is going to make life easier, deliver results, and make everyone happier.
Streamlining, personalisation, and retention are likely to be the three key pillars of your business case for marketing automation, so here’s a bit more information to get you thinking.
If you’re working with several separate systems — one to send emails, one to track analytics, and one for sales CRM — then marketing automation software such as Sharpspring or Hubspot can bring all of these systems together in one tool.
Not only will this save time, freeing you and your colleagues up to focus on other things, it will help with strategic decision-making too — because you’ll have a clear picture of what’s working and what’s not, so you know where to direct your focus and efforts.
If you’re sending the same generic newsletter out to everyone and getting little response, then personalisation will be key to your business case. These days, customers demand more from businesses. They get a lot of noise coming at them, and they’re far more likely to take notice of messages that speak directly to them.
For example, if you know a client has bought a particular product, you can target them with content that shows them how to make the most of its features. You can up-sell them add-ons and accessories. Or if you know their job title, send them blog content that’s going to help them, in an email that speaks their language. Without marketing automation, this level personalisation can’t be implemented at scale.
Many businesses focus a lot of effort on attracting new customers into the top of their sales funnel, but if you don’t have a process in place for retaining these customers then you’re not maximising your marketing ROI.
When you have the right data about your customers, you can put retention strategies such as ‘trigger campaigns’ and loyalty schemes in place, which can be hugely beneficial in terms of driving revenue.
Step 4: Create a focused digital marketing strategy
Now you’ve established why you need marketing automation, and your bosses are totally sold on it. The next step is being able to communicate how you’re going to implement it. This means you need a focused digital marketing strategy that addresses all the points of your business case.
It’s been said for a long time now that “content is king” when it comes to marketing, and that’s still the case. But it’s not about the quantity of content you create, it’s about the quality of that content. Your strategy should focus primarily on attracting leads through offering brilliant content, and then being really smart about how you target that content to your customers.
For example, some elements you might want to include in your strategy which hinge on marketing automation are:
- Collecting prospects’ email addresses by creating offers on your website for free consultations, downloadable guides, eBooks, podcasts, or white papers (not forgetting your opt-in for marketing, in line with GDPR)
- Creating an email series, such as a training programme in instalments, to be automatically triggered when someone downloads the first piece of content
- Sending a quarterly survey your customers via email to find out what they really want from you in terms of product features, content, services, or support and using that to inform your planning
- Regularly publishing useful, well-written blog content that speaks directly to your customers’ needs, concerns, pain points, or interests
- Having a process for tracking the activity of prospects and customers on your website so that you know how they found your website, what content they’ve engaged with or downloaded, and what products they’ve purchased, so that you can sell to them more effectively
- Regularly reporting on your progress towards your business goals to assess what’s working, what’s not, and to enable you to make smart decisions based on reliable customer data
Step 5: Back your case up with statistics
Every marketer loves a stat, so if you don’t have any data of your own, here are some ready-made ones that you can include in your marketing automation pitch:
- Around 51% of companies are currently using marketing automation, and 58% of B2B companies say that they plan to adopt the technology
- Marketing automation increases sales productivity by 14.5% and reduces marketing overheads by 12.2%
- 91% of the most successful marketing automation users agree that it is “very important” to the overall success of their marketing across channels
- 64% of marketers said they saw the benefits of using marketing automation within the first six months of implementation
- On average, nurtured leads provides a 20% increase in sales opportunities versus non-nurtured leads
- By 2020, it’s estimated that consumers will manage 85% of their relationships without talking to a human
Good luck with your marketing automation pitch!
If we can support you with any more info, book in for a 45-minute consultation with us to ask questions, share your pain points, and get some advice.