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Finding Value in Marketing Automation

March 02, 2017 | By Laura Cross

  • A marketing automation platform (MAP), combined with process definition, should enable buyer engagement at scale
  • Marketing must ensure that business value and ROI are achieved from the MAP investment
  • MAPs must contribute to the efficiency and effectiveness of marketing programs

A marketing automation platform (MAP), while helpful, is not a silver bullet. The system does not magically produce leads, rain revenue and create customer advocates. More than ever before, marketers must justify the entire investment in MAP or the need to have a MAP at all. There are two parts to justifying and delivering value from a MAP:

One: Core Processes

The first step to achieving value with a MAP is to define the core processes that the system should manage.

  • Lead management. All MAP platforms manage demand. They capture lead information, prioritize leads using a rules-based process of assigning weighting and scoring, and hand the leads off to a sales force automation (SFA) platform through a technical integration. The demand management process should include a service-level agreement with a feedback mechanism. MAPs can capture insight and analysis into the buying behavior of the individual prospects and at the account level.
  • Campaign management. Most organizations want to leverage MAPs to help with multi-channel delivery and orchestration of integrated marketing programs and testing to determine what is working and what is not. To maximize value from MAP, organizations must leverage the capabilities to tie their efforts to a larger campaign objective, driving the go-to-market strategy.
  • Reporting and visualization. MAP offers the ability to report on impact, output, activity and readiness for programs. This could include simple reports on delivery mechanisms such as email performance or more complex reporting capabilities like overall program influence and ROI, velocity and effectiveness of programs. This also pertains to demand management reporting capabilities for lead volume and pipeline contribution, as well as overall effectiveness and efficiency when looking at velocity and conversion rates.

Two: Productivity

Organizations often seek more value from MAP with higher levels of buyer engagement and tracking through integrated applications or processes to the platform. Productivity enhancements include:

  • SFA integration. SFA integration allows organizations to bidirectionally sync with the lead, contact, account and opportunity data records from both systems. This synchronization between systems provides marketing and sales teams with the ability to view the same information regardless of what system they are logged into.
  • Data services. Although MAPs provide the ability to capture, maintain and relate account, contact and activity data and use this data to enable a touch governance strategy, organizations often need additional data services.
  • Testing and optimization. Experimentation platforms provide marketers the ability to go beyond core MAP functionality, such as simple subject line A/B testing and multivariate approaches.
  • Marketing resource management. This type of solution provides the marketing team with budgeting, planning and performance functionality for campaigns and marketing programs, including demand creation.
  • Event management. Most MAPs offer integration to event management applications for organizations to extend functionality to offering payment solutions, travel and venue selection, registration and on-site experience capabilities.
  • Webinar technology. Webinars continue to be an effective engagement tool for prospect and customer marketing programs. These applications expand core MAP functionality, staging and controlling online events by supporting the presentation of audio, video and screen sharing.
  • Personalization tools.Web conversion optimization, real-time personalization and next-best offer capabilities are all examples of how a MAP can be extended beyond dynamic content personalization to maximize relevant experiences at scale for buyers.
  • Predictive applications. These applications extend MAP functionality, helping marketing and sales organizations optimize prospect identification, sourcing, prioritizing and engagement as well as provide predictive segmentation, predictive personas and tactic matching.
  • Content marketing and operations. Content marketing technology supports content operations, streamlines workflow, reduces redundancies and amplifies reach. At its core, content marketing helps an organization operationalize, manage and measure its content.
  • MAP playbooks and templates. Most organizations run hundreds or thousands of marketing automation programs every year. A MAP playbook is a simple way to increase the value that a MAP generates, while decreasing the level of effort required to fulfill those requests.
  • Analytics. These applications expand core MAP reporting capabilities and provide a deeper level of data comparatives. They also integrate multiple data sources to support more sophisticated metrics and dashboards.

Due to the complex business processes, distributed workforce and technology environments, marketers often have a difficult time creating demand and demonstrating pipeline and revenue contributions that result from their marketing programs. When properly set up and deployed, a MAP platform can systematically engage with prospects, customers and partners to help provide business value and required ROI against the investment.

Laura Cross

Laura is a results-oriented marketing professional with more than 15 years of experience in strategic planning, demand creation, marketing operations and public relations. She understands demand creation for b-to-b companies and is passionate about companies with complex business models, especially those that sell to – and through – a channel.

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