All marketers want the same two things: more revenue and faster growth. That much is clear. The path to those goals—getting the right people, processes, and technologies in place—is much less obvious. Marketers who are on the right track have a holistic view. They can identify the returns from each element of their program. They can pick out a clear revenue figure as surely as you can see the sun in the sky.
Where some see their email, social media, website, and current and prospective customer lists existing in different silos, marketing rock stars see a comprehensive and interwoven program. Where some duck their heads at the mention of measurement, analytics, and revenue prediction, marketing rock stars know their tasks and workflows so they can increase operational efficiency and grow real revenue faster. What do these enlightened beings have in common? Marketing automation, plus a clear-eyed view of what it is and, just as important, what it isn’t.
Here are three common misconceptions about marketing automation to avoid on your road to revenue nirvana:
Misconception #1: Marketing automation requires no effort
If fragmented marketing is a bicycle, marketing automation is a Porsche. But that Porsche isn’t going to drive itself. You still need to pick your destination, map your route, and navigate all the speed bumps to get where you want to be. The same is true of marketing automation. Think about it: You don’t put a form on your website and expect leads to simply flock to it; and you don’t build a Facebook page and expect new customers to swarm to you just because you posted 10 updates.
For marketing automation to deliver, it must encompass marketing campaigns across all channels. That includes everything from direct mail and phone campaigns to online and social initiatives and beyond. You need to combine robust, insight-focused capabilities from your CRM, lead management system, Web analytics platform, and other systems to create something that truly works in concert and is a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts.
Misconception #2: Marketing automation is just another way to send spam
In the wrong hands, even the most benign tool can be used for evil, rather than good. Let’s go back to Facebook as an example. Used correctly, Facebook and other social channels help you inform, entertain, and otherwise initiate or maintain relationships with customers. That some people post the same coupon 15x a day, effectively spamming their followers, doesn’t consign the whole platform to the realm of the spambot.
The same is true of marketing automation. It’s not simply an email engine. Rather, it enables you to nurture relationships with people who aren’t ready to buy. You work hard to get prospects through your door—whether that door is a landing page, social campaign, or anything else—so, it’s important not to scare them off. On average, only 20% of leads are ready to buy when you first encounter them. So you need a disciplined lead nurturing process to keep people interested until they’re ready to pull the trigger. And patience pays off: Done well, nurturing can result in 50% more sales leads at 33% lower cost per lead.
Misconception #3: Marketing automation only benefits marketing
Great marketing radiates throughout an entire organization. It aligns sales and marketing, leading to better business performance. It helps companies retain and build on their customer relationships. This is the broader impact marketing automation can have. Everyone knows that once the customer has made that magical first purchase, the real work has just begun.
No matter which industry you’re in, or what size business you run, the real value comes from deepening customer relationships over time. You want your customers to buy more of the same product, additional products they haven’t yet bought, and remain loyal. Marketers may be in the business of overseeing that process, but loyal customers are an indicator of better alignment with sales, clear ROI, and better business overall.
By now, the road to more revenue and faster growth must be clearer. It’s paved with some straightforward processes and a lot more ease. Ease in sending emails, creating custom landing pages, and prioritizing your customers—current and potential—based on fit and propensity to buy. And the final step: Measure how much each program adds to your revenue. Go to it, get ready for results and get the most out of your marketing automation investment.