Is Your Business Ready For Marketing Automation? 5 Telltale Signs
Do I need marketing automation? If you are responsible for marketing a small or mid-sized business, you’ve probably been asking yourself this question for a while now. There is no doubt that automation can reduce tedium and allow you to accomplish more with fewer resources. And if you don’t want to remain a small business forever, you will need to leverage technology when and wherever possible.
But just like any investment, there is a right time and a wrong time to take the plunge. If you automate too early, your business could lose that personal touch that sets you apart. But if you wait too long to automate, you could miss out on valuable opportunities to scale and risk burning out your team.
Marketing automation is a term that gets used a lot, but its exact definition and use cases can be somewhat blurry. So before we dive into your current situation and decide if your business is ready to automate, let’s get on the same page as to what marketing automation is and how it can help you grow.
What is marketing automation?
Marketing automation is a combination of software and strategy that is used to automate specific marketing activities that are high volume, complex, and/or repetitive. Examples can include the following:
- sending emails
- posting to social media channels
- nurturing incoming leads
- updating lead status
- scheduling meetings
- distributing content
- and more
Marketing automation works by creating a set of rules-based instructions called a workflow. Workflows can either be copied from a template or created from scratch. Workflows allow you to target a specific audience with custom messaging to ensure they are getting the right information to move them along their buyer’s journey.
From automating email drip sequences to tracking lead status, marketing automation allows you to implement an effective digital strategy without having to manually hit “send” for every communication that goes out.
Why do I need marketing automation?
Effective marketing automation can save you loads of time, provide better data, and build stronger relationships with your customers. As your business grows in size and complexity, your automation systems will too.
Approximately 68% of businesses are using some form of marketing automation. Your competitors aren’t necessarily smarter or more capable than you are, they have adopted technology and created processes that give them the edge. A proper automation strategy can allow small teams to compete with, and even outperform, the biggest players.
If your business sees marketing as a necessary expense rather than a meaningful investment, marketing automation can help change that. By collecting better data analytics, calculating ROI, and executing campaigns more efficiently, it is easier to prove how marketing is affecting the bottom line and generating revenue for your business. This will allow you to make smarter decisions that will help you justify allocating more budget to the marketing department.
When should I use marketing automation?
Purchasing a marketing automation platform won’t help your business grow by itself. There needs to be a strategy behind the technology for it to be successful. If you aren’t generating a steady flow of incoming leads, or if you don’t have a proven content strategy in place, automation isn’t going to be the magic bullet.
Before purchasing a marketing automation platform, ask yourself the following questions:
- Are my current marketing efforts generating new and qualified leads at a consistent and predictable rate?
- Do I have a proven content strategy in place that is mapped across the buyer’s journey?
- Am I effectively nurturing incoming leads into qualified sales opportunities?
- Are the marketing and sales departments in agreement as to how and when the handoff should occur?
- Are you tracking user behavior across all channels and touch points (email, social, blog, website, ads, phone call, etc)?
If you answered “yes” to all these questions, that means you have all the right pieces in place and are on the right track! But we still need to determine if you are ready to scale that system.
5 Signs Your Business is Ready for Marketing Automation
So how do you know that you are ready to scale your marketing strategy? These five signals will tel you if you are generating enough volume to justify investing in automation.
1. You spend a lot of time performing the same task
If you find that a bulk of your time is spent performing the same task over and over again, then you are a prime candidate for automation. Examples can include sending a templated email, updating contact records, posting content on social media, remembering to follow up with new leads, and other simple but repetitive tasks.
2. You are getting overwhelmed by communication
Communications take up a lot of our time. If you’ve ever spent half your day trying to schedule a meeting, then you know how frustrating that can be. Marketing automation can simplify this down to a few clicks. You can even automate your post-meeting follow-ups, giving you one less thing to worry about.
3. Your marketing strategy is growing more complex and harder to execute
As your business grows in size and complexity, so does your marketing strategy. Whether your sales cycle is growing longer and you need to disperse more content, or your buyer personas are growing more diverse, or you have more communication channels to manage, marketing automation can make it all easier to manage.
4. You are getting more inbound leads and need help nurturing them all
More leads are great, but keeping track of them all can be unnecessarily complicated. If you are struggling to get the right information out at the right time and to the right people, marketing automation can prevent qualified leads from slipping through the cracks. Automating your lead nurturing process keeps your contacts engaged and interested throughout the buyer’s journey without requiring more effort from your team.
5. You want to expand your inbound marketing efforts
If inbound marketing is going well for your business, it makes sense that you will want to expand your efforts. Marketing automation creates a scalable process that can be adjusted and tweaked over time. It allows you to grow your marketing efforts without having to hire multiple people to do the same job.
Do You Need Marketing Automation?
If your business continues to grow, the answer is most likely “yes.” At some point, you will need to automate your marketing to keep up with the competition. But automation isn’t going to solve all your problems so you need to be smart about when and how you implement it.
Like most technologies, marketing automation is not a solution in and of itself. You need a strategy for how you will use it to support your business objectives. If you don’t have this expertise in-house, working with a third party that specializes in automation implementation can provide the guidance and assistance you need.
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