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Marketing Automation Tools Every Company Should Be Using

Marketing Automation Tools Every Company Should Be UsingMarketing automation is far from a trendy phrase that businesses are using to create buzz. When marketing automation tools are implemented, lead nurturing skyrockets: an astounding 451% of companies see an increase in quality leads and 53% higher conversion rates. Marketing automation will also save you time, money, and stress and will condense many of your daily activities so your team can focus on more important tasks. Clearly, marketing automation is a solution that many businesses should be engaging. If you’re just now considering adding marketing automation, you may be overwhelmed in the sea of options. We’ve broken down a few marketing automation tools for you to consider.

Blog Content Management Systems

You’re probably familiar with this type of marketing automation system and don’t even know it. Popular blog content management systems include WordPress which is an active user community that has an enormous range of plugins available, all designed to help you create and manage a blog. Other options include Joomla and Drupal. Like WordPress, Joomla has an enormous interactive user community who can answer your questions or address concerns. Drupal is an additional option that is an open source CMS and is used to create blogs as well as enterprise applications.

Landing Pages and Lead Capture Forms

A landing page is a single web page, designed to be individual from your main web pages. In simpler terms, a landing page can be any web page that someone ‘lands’ on but it’s generally used for one main purpose: to guide users to convert. Some landing pages are ‘click-through’ which means your user will click a link through to another page. Typically, this page will be a descriptor page offering them more information about your products. Lead capture forms are often on the landing page: a place where users can submit their information for a Freemium trial, get a free sample, or request that the sales team call them back with more information. Truly, the lead capture form should be the focus of your landing page and its placement is important.

Contact Management and Lead Nurturing

The most popular contact management suites for midsized companies include Lead Liaison, which allows you to rank your website and sales team generated leads according to buying interest – making your leads all the more powerful and improving conversion rates. Some content management suites also allow you to manage your social media accounts and offer extensions that will make you even more automated – especially common and time-consuming tasks. You can even choose software that will track your interactions with potential customers, making it clear where they fall in the conversion funnel.

Email Marketing

Perhaps the most time-consuming and tedious task, automating your email marketing frees up a considerable amount of your time. Want to email all contacts that are about to exhaust their Freemium version? Email marketing automation can send out targeted communications and automated messages while also appearing to be customized to each receiver: this means that you’ll create a more personal relationship, which will hopefully lead to higher conversion rates.

This isn’t an inclusive list of all the marketing automation tools available but it is a good place to start. There are options that can automate some or all of your marketing. You just have to do your research and decide which one is right for your company and your customers!

Myths about Marketing Automation

Myths about Marketing AutomationWe’ve heard it all from companies about why they’re delaying their decision to use marketing automation. Myths about marketing automation get in the way of making logical decisions. We gathered our sales force and asked them, what are the myths you’re hearing from companies about marketing automation? The list went on and on, here’s a short list of objections to marketing automation that our sales force commonly runs into:

  • Waiting for website to be re-done
  • Not a priority right now (focused on sales right now)
  • Technologies changing (ERP, CRM, etc)
  • Not enough time to implement
  • Busy hiring salespeople and traveling
  • Downturn in economy/industry
  • Not ready to benefit from all functionality in the system
  • cost/competition

Let’s take a moment to address this:

Great Myths about Marketing Automation

One of the great failures in sales and marketing comes from a belief that you are not in a position to prepare for the future.   Marketing automation is a great example of an investment that you can make today in the future of your growth and sales success.

Here are five common reasons why people wrongly believe that they cannot tackle a program that will yield sales results within 30-90 days in most cases:

Myth # 1: Until my website is perfect, we can’t really benefit from marketing automation

Truth:  75-80% of the value of marketing automation has nothing to do with your website!  In fact, poor messaging on your website is MORE of a reason that you want to identify and nurture prospects who may not have given your brand enough time to truly understand what you do.

Myth #2 :  You need to spend a ton of time preparing strategies and focusing on marketing automation for it to be successful.

Truth: Some of the most successful users of marketing automation spend less than 15 minutes a week building and deploying content.  As an example, one Lead Liaison client was able to build a connection with 100s of prospects as a result of a message that took less than 20 minutes to create and deploy.  With historic sales and marketing approaches, it would have taken a dozen sales people a year to reach that many people.  Now those salespeople can focus on stage two messaging with more qualified prospects!

Myth #3 :  When shifting technology (CRM, ERP, etc) you should not use marketing automation because you will have to restart your efforts later.

Truth:  Unless you are using an all-in-one system (which we heavily discourage), a good marketing automation system will stand on its own.

Myth #4:  We are putting all our focus on the website, tradeshow, end-of-the quarter, etc.   We don’t have time for marketing automation.

Truth:  The fact that your company didn’t invest in marketing automation is precisely why you are working so hard to put out fires this quarter, and this will repeat itself next quarter as you make excuses for not acting now.   Furthermore, marketing automation can make your other efforts (like tradeshows) more effective and efficient.

Myth #5:  We are watching costs right now, so we are delaying our marketing automation program.

Truth:  If your organization isn’t striving to increase sales revenue and profitability, then you should shut down your doors right now.   Why would you invest in sales people, a marketing department, etc.. if you aren’t committed to making every penny of those investments matter?   Marketing automation tends to cost 10% to 20% of what a company pays for a single employee.  If you have 5 salespeople that you are paying for every day; but do not want to spend the extra 4% to make those people successful… you are putting your company at a huge competitive disadvantage.

Bottomline:  Implementing marketing automation is not a big deal.  It’s easy and scaleable.  Based on the simple premise that people buy more of the products and services that they know, trust, and feel are best supported.

Each month that you delay in implementing marketing automation is a day in which your competition creates a competitive advantage that could have been yours.  Such delays will result not only in a loss of existing business; but struggles to increase your revenue in the short-term and long-term.

Effectively Implementing Marketing Automation

Effectively Implementing Marketing Automation Often, the biggest challenge in effectively implementing marketing automation software to your repertoire of business tools is how to deliver messages that are appropriate to your audience while engaging leads. Marketing automation can help you reach a broader audience than other marketing strategies but it can be stressful software to implement and the concept can often seem overwhelming.

Decide What Your Goal Is

A successful marketing automation program really begins with a company deciding what they want to accomplish. Creating a plan for implementation before purchasing or even considering software is key for success. It’s easy to get carried away by all the excitement that good marketing automation can bring but you’ll need to set expectations to be really satisfied. If you really want to be successful at marketing automation, your sales and marketing teams will need to get on board with the plan and come to an agreement on how they will work together and what their roles will be. Starting with a Service Level Agreement (SLA) between sales and marketing is always a good first step.

With marketing automation, your marketing team’s new job will be to deliver the right message at the right time so you can engage your audience and nurture your leads. This means that marketing will be getting a new workload, probably from the sales team, and everyone will need to realize his or her new roles. Avoiding unwelcome surprises regarding workload, tasks, and interaction between teams will be easier if all these issues are discussed beforehand.

Start Small

It’s tempting to take your marketing automation software and throw everything into it but it might not be wise, especially at the beginning. Sometimes, less truly is more, and trying to include every feature of your marketing automation program right at the offset is more likely to set you back than push you forward. You’ll be in a much greater position if you start small, measure your successes and reevaluate your challenges, than you will be if you toss everything into the pot and hope for the best.

To get off on right foot effectively implementing marketing automation, think of your first full-fledged campaign as a trial run and learning experience will help mitigate any difficulties or disappointments. What you learn from your first sales and marketing campaign can help you learn what works and what doesn’t work for your next one. You also need to decide what exactly you’ll be automating. Do you have on the fly content that needs to be automated or are you looking for a more complex plan on creating, distributing, and re-employing your creative content? Don’t forget to include in your plans some action items for what should happen after the leads start coming in. You need to ensure you have a dedicated and knowledgeable sales team who can answer all your leads questions and concerns.

Keep in mind while you’re doing all of this that the process, planning, and implementation can be overwhelming. Remember that your investment into marketing automation isn’t just your monthly or quarterly subscription, but it’s also the time you put into the software and the data it produces.

Artificial Intelligence and Marketing Automation

Artificial Intelligence and Marketing AutomationAs marketing and technology continue to embrace one another, it seems inevitable that the future holds great innovations, especially in the field of marketing automation. While marketing automation has made many common marketing tasks like copywriting and strategy computerized, there is a field of marketing jobs that are still to be innovated using technology. As technology evolves, the possibilities of artificial intelligence and marketing automation are real.

Marketing automation is a billion dollar market but despite the money being invested into it, we still haven’t figured out a way to consistently legitimize the data and use it to make action plans. All in all, marketing still relies heavily on the people behind the marketing including our biases, beliefs, opinions, experiences, and education. Since the majority of customers are constantly connected via social media or mobile devices, the influx of data received is often overwhelming. Marketing automation can save time and money while increasing efficiency, but still, when it comes to providing us with information about consumer spending habits and buy decisions, those statistics are often confusing and platforms used can’t strategically recommend action plans.

All of these significant problems have one solution and a grand one at that: artificial intelligence. While it may seem like a notion straight out of a science fiction movie, artificial intelligence is actually used among some of the most profitable companies marketing automation programs including Amazon, Netflix, and Facebook. Artificial intelligence is used to turn data into real, marketable experiences that drive traffic and attract customers. Instead of raw data, you get highly personalized content that delivers as if a person with tone, personality, and voice wrote the content. This means that customers and potential customers are more connected to the material and, therefore, more likely to engage and buy.

Natural language, dynamic learning, and hypothesis generation are all traits of a successful artificial intelligence program. Marketing automation uses these programs by adding an intellectual layer to the marketing – this means that content generated is done much faster, more effectively, and cheaper than any employee could ever do. The future of artificial intelligence in marketing automation means that time spent reviewing analytics, writing and scheduling social media posts, copywriting and a variety of other time consuming tasks could be done by your automation program. This frees you up from repetitive tasks and gives you the ability to focus on moving leads throughout the purchasing funnel while establishing important relationships with customers.

Artificial intelligence and marketing automation together  is the next logical advancement in the evolution of marketing automation. Driven marketing tools will deliver more personalized content that’s intelligent – already this technology is being used when delivering online customer service chat sessions. Self-service web, voice response systems, and other marketing automation media incorporating artificial intelligence will be coming to a marketing automation system near you. The future is here!

How Can Marketing Automation Save Money: How Does $181,059 Sound!

How Can Marketing Automation Save Money?

“Marketing automation” has become such a buzz phrase over recent years that most vendors try to incorporate the term into their pitch, and sometimes go as far as completely branding their business as marketing automation. In reality, there aren’t that many pure-play marketing automation companies out there in the industry. 100s of providers stake claim on marketing automation to be part of the buzz, which causes confusion in the marketplace. Companies have a hard time understanding marketing automation let alone how marketing automation can save money. In this post we provide a quantitative analysis to answer the question, how can marketing automation save money? We’ll also touch on our approach to marketing automation.

ROI of Marketing Automation Based on Functional Usage

You’ll see some fancy calculators to add up the ROI of marketing automation, but not many resources provide a ROI analysis based on functional areas. We did that for you and looked at what a typical company would spend after investing in a piece-milled software strategy. When you list out the category of tools that companies use to help drive revenue, the list typically includes sales efficiency tools, landing page designers, form designers, email marketing, automation, and a handful of other tools. The problem with buying all of these ad-hoc solutions is two-fold. First, they don’t all play nice together as disparate solutions. Second, your wallet gets pretty thin when you’re buying all these pieces separately. We decided to do a little analysis and tally up individual, best-in-breed solutions to see how much money would drain from your budget over a five year period if a company were to acquire all of these solutions standalone.

Integrated Marketing - How Much Money Can Marketing Automation Save

How Much Money Can Marketing Automation Save You?

Below you’ll find the assumptions we used, cost of individual solutions, and a ROI analysis at the end.

The bottom line: Lead Liaison can save your company $181,059 or 362%! What we didn’t include are the incremental costs for:

  • Multiple learning curves
  • Multiple resources required to manage each ad-hoc solution

Add those in and you could very well double the ROI from what we’ve reported above.

Assumptions:

Assumptions
At least 5 sales people
Up to 10,000 contacts
No more than 100 forms
No more than 25,000 unique visitors per month
Email frequency to database 2x per month
Use each software package for 5 years

Cost of Individual Solutions:

Solution Monthly Price Package Purpose
Tout App $250 Team Email for Sales
Blogging $600 2 Posts Per Week, $75 per Blog Marketing Content
Litmus $149 Plus Email Testing
Marketo $1,795 Standard Marketing Automation
VisiStat $500 Rocket Visitor Tracking
HootSuite $10 Pro Social Posting
Gravity Forms/
Formstack
$99 Business License / Gold Web Forms
Unbounce $99 Pro 99 Landing Pages
Mailchimp $150 Growing business Email Marketing
Opt-In Monster $199 Pro Engaging Popups

Total Spend on Ad-Hoc Solutions:

TOTAL $3,851
ANNUAL SPEND $46,212
LIFETIME SPEND $231,059

ROI with Lead Liaison:

AVERAGE ANNUAL SPEND with Lead Liaison $10,000
LIFETIME SPEND with Lead Liaison $50,000
ROI of Lead Liaison 362.12%
SAVINGS with Lead Liaison $181,059

Lead Liaison’s Philosophy

We’ve got a different philosophy about marketing automation here at Lead Liaison. We don’t hate marketing automation, we just hate how the term is overused, misused, and misunderstood. The truth is that marketing automation is not software, it’s a strategy. You can’t really buy marketing automation software, but you can buy software that helps execute your strategy, which should include automation. No software out-of-the-box is going to automate your marketing – that’s wishful thinking.

Choices are getting “clouded” too. Some companies like HubSpot try to be the all-in-one solution, and get your CRM business too. Unfortunately, or fortunately for some, HubSpot is morphing into an Oracle or Salesforce.com type of company, is now public – trying to satisfy Wall Street, and now trying to take all your sales and marketing dollars with the emphasis on their new CRM. Lead Liaison fits in between the all-in-ones and marketing automation providers with our Revenue Generation Software® platform optimized for mid-market companies. Our mission has always been to focus on automation that improves a company’s sales and marketing operations but more importantly, generates more revenue for our customers. We believe companies care about revenue, not just automating marketing. We’re CRM agnostic, offer professional-grade sales and marketing automation functionality at killer prices, and have the industry’s deepest integration with 3rd party solutions.

It’s Simple Really: Your Introduction to Marketing Automation

Your Introduction to Marketing AutomationThe Age of Technology is truly upon us. If it doesn’t send email, it wasn’t built in this century. If the toaster can’t be programmed with Bluetooth, you need a new toaster. And now, we’re taking things a step further. And you’re going to be part of it. You’re ready to embrace automated marketing. Excellent… what is that?

Despite its popularity, more than a few companies struggle to grasp the concept of marketing automation. We’ll give you a fun and light-weight introduction to marketing automation. Here’s where part of the problem lies:

Marketing, people understand. Automation is the part that trips them up.

So lets break down “automation.”

Imagine instead, your FAQ page. A customer or prospective client has a question, you have the answer there waiting for them. You provide information they didn’t realize they’d need. And it came at no added cost to you. Now imagine a FAQ page, addressed to and tailored for each individual client.

How is that useful?

You want your customers to feel valued. To do that, you need to show them they’re more than just a number to you, that their needs are your priority.

You want to get your latest products and special offers seen by the right audience. To do that, you need to gather what relevant information is available and send out the appropriate response.

You want to make the most of your leads.

This is what marketing automation software was created for.

Automated marketing encourages leads to become personalized sales.

Great. Job done, right?

Lets go back to the FAQ page. Have you ever been denied the option of sending in your unique complaint, referred only to a static script of answers, with the very distinct sense that the site owners are trying to avoid dealing with you? How did that influence your opinion of that company?

This is where automated marketing falls short.

When handled badly, it’s mistakenly viewed as lead generation, in a campaign left unable to adapt. Investing in automation and failing to take into account your client’s specific and ever-changing needs is a sure-fire way to lose on that investment. In the end, your once quality leads have discredited your company.

Marketing is still the question of “what can I do for you?” Automation hasn’t changed that.

Knowing what it is is only half the battle. Knowing what it’s for, whether it’s right for you and how to use it is the real key to success.

Marketing Automation: What Defines Top Performers?

What Defines Top Performers in Marketing AutomationIn organizations, job retention in the marketing department remains low. In fact, job tenures in a typical marketing department are as little as three years and it’s one role that is under constant analysis and assessment. When performance wanes, marketers can expect to have to answer big questions and fight for their jobs. Successful marketers from one company may have trouble transitioning to another because what works for one industry may not work in another. This can lead to confusion about what traits top performers have.

Most top performers tend to focus on keeping their existing customers while spending less time on expanding their customer base. Keeping your customers loyal and happy tends to work out much better for companies rather than chasing after new customers. It’s also less expensive with top performers only spending approximately 20 percent of their budget on expansion where others in the field spend around 30 percent. When it comes to customers, top performers also make it a priority to manage the entire life cycle of their clients. Instead of leaving the majority of the life cycle to sales and technical support, top performers recognize that marketing has a huge role to play in successfully managing the entire customer experience.

Speaking of the customer life cycles, top performers tie response rates, satisfaction scores, and other metrics into how well they’re performing. Instead of measuring typical things like number of leads, top performers are able to control their technology and make it work for them instead of the other way around. In fact, 30% to 75% of top performing marketers personalize their technology and data to get a better perspective on how they’re performing and what they should change to boost performance.

Finally, top performers recognize that retention is a problem. Recruiting and retention is a priority among top performing companies but it doesn’t stop there. Top companies make sure that they provide their crucial employees with the training, technology, and resources needed to get their job done – therefore, customer satisfaction tends to rank just as high as customer satisfaction with these companies.

Obviously, when it comes to performance, recognizing the link between customers, marketers, and the sales team is key. But you also have to take all of that data and put it to good use – making it work for you – instead of the other way around. Marketing automation may vary from industry to industry but top performers know that one thing remains true: using your stats and metrics to evolve and change your marketing strategy will maximize your effectiveness.

The Future of Marketing Automation

The Future of Marketing AutomationTo understand the future of marketing automation, you must understand the importance of the technology and how it can make your marketing process more powerful and efficient. Your competitors have probably already added marketing automation to their business repertoire or they’re evaluating the software for future use. If you haven’t taken steps to look into how marketing automation can change how you do marketing, you’re already one step behind and at a huge disadvantage.

As of December 2013, nearly 60% of top performing companies in the United States were using marketing automation. This number will only increase as the benefits of marketing automation become impossible to ignore. The marketing automation industry is valued around $10 billion so, obviously, something is working. But what does the future hold? Well, for starters, expect to see a significant increase in the use of mobile technology in marketing automation. Today, customers expect to interact with Marketer’s and their favorite brands on the go – and because the majority of customers are on the go – you can’t afford not to take advantage of this technology. Wearable technology use will grow from 22 million in 2012 to 177 million, by 2018. In five short years, marketers can expect that the way they gather data will be substantially changed by wearable technology, creating a significant marketing opportunity.

But marketing automation will also transition to better customer service, based on aggregated data. For example, if you’re a customer who’s just signed up for a freemium trial and you call in on an unrelated question, it’s not a mistake if your customer service representative offers you a deal to extend your freemium offer or offers you a discount to convert to a paying customer. It’s all about good analytics and allowing companies to track where their customers are in the purchasing process to make sure you’re offering the best deals and service available. Software will also become much easier to use with interfaces that are easier to understand and user-friendly. Since smaller businesses might not be as familiar with bigger and more complicated systems as a large company (not to mention that they may not need a large, overly complicated system), smaller businesses tend to need skill development, training, and help with resources.

As technology becomes smarter, you’ll see that marketing automation will use new ways to determine the purchasing habits of your customers. This means that businesses, regardless of size or output, will be able to figure out who their most valuable customers are and how to engage them in ways that make the most of their spending, buying power, and habits.

The Cost of Marketing Automation

The Cost of Marketing AutomationBeing ready to take the plunge into marketing automation means that you have many questions – and perhaps none is as important as what it will cost. After all, the cost of marketing automation will have to be low enough to convince shareholders to take the leap but high enough that your company is getting the best that marketing automation has to offer. You’ll also need to use the cost revenue and savings that marketing automation will provide as a business case to add it to the repertoire of software you’re already using.

Today, the cost of marketing automation is broken down monthly, quarterly, or annually, based upon a company’s preference. The cost widely varies with prices ranging from a few hundred dollars a month to over six figures a month. Prices will depend upon the different features you add to your plans but, in general, you can expect your price to rise as you add features. The number of leads and contents that your database will hold will increase the price of your subscription dramatically. Other factors that will drive up price include the efficiency of each edition offered. A standard and basic edition of the marketing software will cost far less than a premium version of the same software, but the premium version will contain many more features.

Savings for marketing automation can come in a variety of ways. Your vendor may be able to save you money and may provide discounts if you opt for an annual contract as opposed to a monthly pay-as-you-go contract or a quarterly contract. If you want to give some of your sales team access to your marketing automation, the majority of vendors will provide this access free of charge, up to a reasonable number of users. On average, a safe estimate is that a marketing automation solution will take up between 3-5% of your total marketing budget. Large companies typically spend 3.1% of their budget and 1.6% of their attrition rate. Overall, a company is expected to spend 7% across the board on marketing automation – but this average includes small, medium, and large companies and a variety of industries.

Be aware of add-ons that some companies offer in fine print. These add-ons will increase your cost and may not be necessary for functionality. In many cases, the add-ons are ‘fun extras’ that might be neat to have but you don’t really need. Depending on the vendor you select and your marketing goals, you can get the best value for your buck as long as you read the fine print and get bids from many different marketing automation vendors. We hope this article on the cost of marketing automation was useful to get you thinking and budgeting!

Create Marketing Customers Love

Create Marketing LoveIf implemented correctly, marketing automation provides the framework of sending customers and prospects messages that resonate with their specific needs and wants.  Ultimately, marketing automation is the tool you will use to drive customers to your website and products.  It will keep your customers happy, informed, and connected – and provide you with real-time analytics that are invaluable to a marketer.  When done right, you’ll create content that your customers will fall in love with.

Humans make decisions based on emotions – how something makes them feel, what it reminds them of, and what kind of experiences they’ve had in the past with similar products or businesses are all influencers on how your prospects will react to a product.  This means that your marketing needs to leverage this to your benefit. When a customer loves your marketing they’re more likely to try and love your products.

How Does Marketing Automation Do It?

Marketing automation makes it easy for you to be aware of where your prospects are in the buying pipeline.  This, in turn, allows you to interact with your prospect in a way that’s appropriate for whatever stage they’re at – cultivating relationships with prospects who aren’t ready to buy, networking with those who are in contact with sales, and developing relationships with customers who’ve already purchased.

How Does It Work?

Marketing automation can also give you great details on what your prospects are reading, how they engage, and what they’re doing socially.  Using this information, you can see what they like and send them more of it – all because marketing information provides you with segmented information.

Additionally, you’re able to send messages at the right time and on a schedule that works for the customers instead of your marketing team.

Before marketing automation, messages were generally sent during normal business hours or by snail mail.  This means that your customers sometimes received communications when they weren’t able to reply.  Messages were forgotten or pushed aside.  Even worse?  Prospects received marketing in their mailbox days after they’d already purchased.  Marketing automation creates better timeliness, which increases the appeal of your marketing.

Customizing each interaction, whether it’s through e-mail or your landing pages renders every bit of content is customizable for each prospect.  Relevant content automatically makes it more enjoyable and the bonus is that you can also make sure prospects are receiving consistent communications.  Prospects and customers don’t want to receive disorganized messages but it’s easy to make this mistake, especially if the customer is interacting with different departments at the same time.  Marketing automation ensures that communications and every interaction are smooth and easy.

For marketing automation to work correctly and for your customers to love it, you’ll need to use it intelligently.  Following the tried and true tips of successful automation will be key to making your messages and content relevant and personalized.  Make sure you’re using your automation software to make the best marketing possible. The Lead Liaison staff is happy to help you make this happen!