Marketing Automation: Why You Need To Be Doing It

marketing automationAs digital marketing continues to evolve marketing automation isn’t simply a neat option. If you’re focused on ways to generate leads, capture customers and measure results, it’s a necessity. A recent report from Forrester Consulting reveals that four out of five of the top performing marketers now use some form of marketing automation to scale and standardize their processes.

The report, which involved in-depth surveys with 157 marketing professionals in the United States (admittedly a small sample group), suggests that marketing automation should now be an essential part of a successful marketing strategy. Small sample group aside, we are big advocates of marketing automation and agree with Forrester’s conclusion that it’s the marketers who embrace data and understand the importance of behavioral marketing and marketing automation who will see the best results.

So if you’re not yet there but thinking about incorporating marketing automation into your integrated marketing efforts, here are some key findings from the report, which might just persuade you in that direction:

  • Marketing automation enables marketing success. Marketers are automating processes such as campaign and lead management, which allows them to execute more focused and more highly targeted campaigns.
  • Multichannel marketing is becoming common practice. More than two thirds of B2B and B2C respondents are now using multichannel marketing; a quarter of the survey group responded that they see themselves as experienced hands with the strategy.
  • Behavioral marketing can bring greater rewards. More than half of behavioral marketers said that they grew their revenues faster than planned as compared to 41% of more traditional marketers. However:
  • Behavioral marketing is a less mature practice. Only 17% of respondents to the survey considered that they were mature practitioners of behavioral marketing.

According to Forrester, while automation allows marketers to scale up their campaigns, it’s focusing on customer behavior that brings results. The data from an automated campaign can reveal a great deal about customers; what they read, where they find content, which sites they visit, where they are in the buying process, what they buy and maybe even what they do next. Understanding that behavior, determining your customers’ needs relative to where they are in sales funnel and having a strategy to engage and have a conversation with them in those channels and with the right kind of content is key to a successful marketing campaign.

Not surprisingly the report indicates that most marketers are failing to capture and analyze customer behavior data effectively. This is largely true of data in general (at least that’s what we see) and a big concern of marketers. For instance, adding an item to a shopping cart is the most frequently used action trigger in a campaign, however, behaviors such as preference, propensity and influence are often overlooked. Forrester suggests that there’s still a long way to go and that marketers have a lot to learn, saying “even the most advanced behavioral marketers still rank as neophytes.” As mentioned earlier and after countless presentations on this topic and many hundreds more conversations with marketers, we agree. It’s not that marketers don’t understand the importance of marketing automation, it’s just that mostly they’re not there yet. And that’s again attributable to being understaffed and operating with budgets that are insufficient for these kinds of tactics and also largely likely due to senior leadership not yet understanding the fact that data driven marketing is not the future – it’s the present.

For us marketing automation is a no brainer. It allows marketers to scale up campaigns, target more precisely, gather more data and track results effectively. It’s what we then do with the data about customer behavior and how we employ it moving forward to nurture the buyer in their buying journey that’s the challenge most marketers aren’t yet meeting.

There’s one clear danger with regard to marketing automation that I would be remiss not to mention because we see it so often in our work. Don’t be persuaded by a vendor to buy a product without fully understanding your individual situation, your needs and the assets you have on staff to execute. Once you’ve bought a product, you’re stuck with it. And all too often people either buy a product that won’t work for their specific needs or they buy a product but have no internal resources to effect the implementation of marketing automation. Better to make sure you understand your needs first, which might mean working with a marketing automation consultant, than buying something and ultimately having it not be the right solution for the challenges you have. And if you need help with that, let us know.

What about you? Is marketing automation and leveraging consumer behavioral data on your list for 2014 or are your marketing automation efforts already underway? What challenges have you experienced or do you foresee with regard to marketing automation? We’d love to hear your thoughts.

The full report is available for download (registration required) at Use Behavioral Marketing to Up the Ante in the Age of the Customer.

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