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CRM opinion

Shifting to the next phase of CRM: Marketing automation

Marketing professionals are forever being swamped with snazzy new buzzwords and trends that are poised to transform marketing practices.
This is especially true when it comes to CRM, which evolves and innovates at an alarmingly fast pace. It is difficult, as a result, to identify the tools and technologies that present real value, and that offer marketers tangible opportunities in the long term.

One of the trends that has undoubtedly come to the fore over the past several years is marketing automation, which harnesses both the intelligence and convenience that digital innovations have proven so effective at producing. Indeed, according to Hubspot, marketing automation has seen the fastest growth of any CRM-related segment in the last five years.

Market on multiple channels

Put very simply, marketing automation is a term for the software platforms and technologies - designed for marketing departments and organisations - that enable them to more effectively market on multiple channels online (such as email, social media, websites, etc.). It also, very importantly, allows marketers to automate repetitive, costly and tedious tasks.

© Jakub Jirsák - za.Fotolia.com
© Jakub Jirsák - za.Fotolia.com

Marketing departments therefore benefit by specifying criteria and outcomes for tasks and processes which are then interpreted, stored and executed by software - naturally increasing efficiency (and reducing the scope for human error). While the approach was at first focused on email marketing automation, marketing automation has evolved to include a wide range of automation and analytic tools (with an emphasis on inbound marketing).

When used correctly, and by optimising content for specific audiences, marketing automation presents a massive opportunity for businesses of all sizes - and across sectors. Businesses need to ensure, however, that they have the right content to begin with, and are tailoring and packaging this content based on thorough knowledge of the target market.

Benefits of marketing automation

In addition, the correct use of these tools requires buy-in from the entire organisation, and a firm commitment to what is essentially a marriage of marketing and technology. Indeed, as with any marketing and technology tool, it is only as 'good' as the people using it. This may require education and training, in order to ensure that the maximum benefits of marketing automation tools are being obtained. We often see marketers only making use of the email functions, for example, and using a mere 10% of what certain solutions offer. This is due to the complexity of these tools, which is usually underestimated.

Given the stats, it is definitely worth the time and investment to understand what is on offer. According to a 2011 Raab Associates Inc. study, the B2B marketing automation industry coined $325 million in revenue in 2011. This represents a more than 50% increase over the previous year, which had also doubled in revenue from the year before. The early adopters, according to Frost & Sullivan, are high tech and business services (marketing agencies), with financial services and retail following closely. Frost & Sullivan have also predicted that the industry will reach $1.9 billion in value by 2020.

"Future growth will be fuelled by the demand for marketing agility, actionable customer intelligence and ability to measure revenues on marketing campaign performance," the Frost & Sullivan report stated.

Attractive strategy

Widespread adoption will be challenged by the usual resistance to new technologies, however, as marketing professionals rely on tried and trusted strategies. Research has revealed that only 33% of companies who use both CRM and marketing automation said the two integrated well, and only 64% of CMOs have either an informal or no process to manage their marketing automation.

Yet, while it will undoubtedly take time for marketing automation to become one of the most attractive and streamlined strategies for organisations, it is clearly far more than just another fad.
    
 

About Lauren Heap

Experienced marketer and new business professional with over 10 years' experience in the business working with a number of blue chip clients such as Nestle, Coca Cola, Nintendo, Diageo and Microsoft. While working in the incite head office in London she proved herself to be a brilliant client manager and a great team leader. She has unrivalled abilities when it comes to converting interest into sales on her clients' behalf. She now heads up incite's South African operation. (http://incitenewbusiness.co.za/)
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Anita Holley
Thanks for the very informative article Lauren and I totally agree, with the fragmentation of digital marketing channels, marketing automation is an absolute must to help co-ordinate your message online, via email and even at events. In addition, most good MA platforms offer lead nurturing capabilities, which with customers looking to self-educate are invaluable and also lead scoring which is closing the gap between sales and marketing. In fact having used Marketing Automation, integrated with my CRM system for a while, I would go so far as to say sales and marketing teams can be friends. How? Well for me the big win of integrating Marketing Automation with CRM is the ability to share the lead intelligence with Sales. Sales can now see exactly what a contact has done i.e. web pages viewed, content downloaded, blogs read etc. and therefore get an idea of what the contact is interested in. This information then helps the salesperson prepare for the first initial sales call, leading to significantly improved conversion rates – a win, win check out this practitioners guide for more info http://www.max.co.uk/landing/driving-sales-with-content

Anita Holley
Maximizer CRM
www.max.co.uk
Posted on 19 Aug 2014 11:30
Anita Holley
Thanks for the very informative article Lauren and I totally agree, with the fragmentation of digital marketing channels, marketing automation is an absolute must to help co-ordinate your message online, via email and even at events. In addition, most good MA platforms offer lead nurturing capabilities, which with customers looking to self-educate are invaluable and also lead scoring which is closing the gap between sales and marketing. In fact having used Marketing Automation, integrated with my CRM system for a while, I would go so far as to say sales and marketing teams can be friends. How? Well for me the big win of integrating Marketing Automation with CRM is the ability to share the lead intelligence with Sales. Sales can now see exactly what a contact has done i.e. web pages viewed, content downloaded, blogs read etc. and therefore get an idea of what the contact is interested in. This information then helps the salesperson prepare for the first initial sales call, leading to significantly improved conversion rates – a win, win check out this practitioners guide for more info http://www.max.co.uk/landing/driving-sales-with-content

Anita Holley
Maximizer CRM
www.max.co.uk
Posted on 19 Aug 2014 11:26

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