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Making a business case for marketing automation can be tricky when your company already has a CRM system in place.

But let’s get one thing clear: that’s not because the two are so similar. In reality, reluctance to unite indicates a failure to understand the buying journey of the modern day customer.

Now more than ever, the onus is on marketers to manage prospect relationships over time and educate them with relevant, customer-centric content until they are sales ready.

While CRM systems remain a must-have solution for sales people, marketing automation software vendors have spotted their lack of relevance to marketers in today’s B2B buyer arena. With the CRM continuing to manage the sales funnel, marketing automation unites separate systems for email, web visitor tracking, lead scoring, nurture campaigns, campaign management, reporting and other core components to manage a marketing funnel.

It’s this double-funnel approach that’s allowing savvy businesses to flourish, with sales being provided with only the hottest leads and marketing with all the tools they need to do what they do best – create.

With this in mind, let’s take a closer look at some of the specific tools marketing automation brings together:

Email management – The extensive email marketing functionality in automation platforms allows marketers to deepen relationships with relevant, informa­tive correspondence in the form of trig­gered campaigns or drip programs. You can access a range of tools, including the latest deliverability technology, easy segmentation, and WYSIWYG editors for the crea­tion of light HTML emails. Instant reporting also allows marketers to establish which emails are the most successful and adapt accordingly.

Lead scoring – By working with sales teams to set scores for user actions, marketers can automate the lead qualification process. Leads can be scored based on demo­graphic or behavioural data and duly moved into the CRM once they reach a pre-determined ‘sales ready’ score. This makes a marketer’s life much easier and ensures a seamless progres­sion for leads through the marketing funnel.

Campaign management – Easy and intuitive campaign management al­lows marketers to attach materials to specific campaigns and establish quickly which have worked and which need a little adjustment. By storing all marketing materials, it’s simple to repeat successful campaigns.

Website tracking – Marketers are given a unique insight into who is doing what on their website. This applies not only to known leads but also anonymous visitors, whose companies can often be identified through IP lookup. Depending on the user’s preference, sales reps can be instantly notified of one of their leads’ activities.

Landing page and form optimisation – Marketing automation platforms make the crea­tion of effective landing pages and forms easy. While such functionality would have no place in a CRM, marketers are increasingly using these tools to capture high quality leads by ‘gating’ their coveted material. Once again, success rates can be quickly established while most platforms will also offer the option of A/B testing, enabling marketers to find the most fruitful approach for their organisations.

Social media management – Social media is wielding an increasing influence in B2B marketing. Although measurement is known as notoriously complex, marketing automation allows marketers to instantly establish which platforms are working and which aren’t. By centrally man­aging interactions on various networks, marketers can reduce the time spent going from network to network and even schedule posts.

Dynamic Content – Increasingly important in modern B2B market­ing, marketers can create and manage dynamic content ensuring website visitors are presented with images and text that truly resonates with them.

Reporting – Proving marketing’s worth has never been easier. The comprehensive one-touch reporting functionality offered by marketing automation technology means marketers no longer need to wrestle with hordes of spreadsheets packed with incomprehensible data. Whatever information CEOs or sales teams require can be provided in a matter of seconds with no room for doubt.

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