The statistics show marketing automation is lucrative, so why does adoption hover at 9% for businesses with revenues between $20 million and $500 million?
After all, nearly half (48%) of the technology industry and 36% of enterprises (businesses with more than $500 million in revenue) use it.
Like most new software platforms, the first solutions targeted the technology industry because of its engrained technical expertise and comfort level as early adopters. Next, providers focused on enterprise businesses with large resources.
While this is a necessary step, the result is that early solutions, including marketing automation, become too complex and too resource-intensive for everyone else, creating a digital divide that puts mid- and small-market businesses at a disadvantage in increasingly digital marketplaces.
But without automation, marketers send untimely and depersonalized emails, misdiagnose where marketing processes fail, and continue time-consuming manual lead transitions to sales teams.
A new class of solutions has made holistic marketing automation more accessible and a realistic option for businesses of all sizes.
Here's how the latest marketing automation solutions have gone mainstream:
Lowered barriers to entry
Original automation solutions solved lots of problems but created a slew of new ones. Companies needed a team of creatives and a dedicated technician or statistician to leverage the solution to its fullest.
A recent survey showed that fewer than 20 percent of businesses with marketing automation solutions had fully integrated them into their current sales and marketing initiatives. I believe one reason for this is the amount of manpower required to operate these complex systems.
Newer marketing solutions targeted at the mainstream have become friendlier, nearly eliminating additional strains on resources. Instead of requiring a team of designers, choose from hundreds of professionally designed email and landing page templates. Watch creativity explode as your existing staff tweaks templates and uses freed resources to develop outside-the-box solutions.
Also, new automation solutions eliminate the common practice of buying software and immediately making a hiring request for someone to run and analyze it. The simplified, straightforward presentation of data in mainstream solutions requires just a smart person or two to analyze and present data to stakeholders, and they're likely already on staff.
Content creation capabilities
However, the top challenges that content marketers face are limited staff and limited resources for consistent content creation. That spells trouble for marketing automation users.
"Companies rarely have enough of the right content to make marketing automation work," says Jeff Ernst, principal analyst at Forrester Research. "Marketing automation is like a Porsche. The platforms are well-architectured but they need fuel, which is content."
Look for an automation solution that gives marketers enough diesel fuel to fill the tank and keep it topped off. The solutions deliver social media engagement advice, identify top industry influencers, suggest content to share, and provide original content creation ideas.
Costs become reasonable
Remember when HDTVs first hit the market? At the end of 2004, the average 42-inch HDTV cost $4,446. As they became mainstream, prices dropped to the point where you could now buy a quality one for around $500.
The original marketing automation solutions came with high price tags because they targeted fat cats – Fortune 500-type businesses that could absorb high costs.
Just as HDTVs have gone from penthouses to modest homes, effective and affordable automation has reached the masses. Many automation systems come with tiered pricing or subscription models to make it even more accessible.
The availability of comprehensive marketing solutions gives every business opportunities once only enjoyed by the largest corporations. To determine the right solution for you, answer these three questions:
- Do I want to work existing leads, generate new ones or both?
- Which channels are most important and how do I integrate them?
- Do my marketing team and I value power or ease of use?
Remember, automation isn't an elixir that produces results overnight. Though businesses often attain ROI within six to 12 months, plan a thorough analysis after 24 months because work done in the first year lays the foundation for the second.
No one doubts the benefits of marketing automation; it just stayed out of reach for too many businesses – until now. Don't let the opportunity pass you by.
About the Sponsor
You Mon Tsang is responsible for driving global product vision and building Vocus' brand in the marketplace.
Prior to Vocus, Tsang was CEO of Engine140, a company Vocus acquired and subsequently integrated into its product portfolio. A serial entrepreneur, Tsang also founded and was CEO of Biz360, a market intelligence company that helped Fortune 500 companies compile and analyze media content. He also founded Boxxet, a consumer content aggregation engine with 4 million unique visitors a month, and Milktruck LLC, an Internet pioneer in offline browsing and "push" software.
Vocus (NASDAQ: VOCS) provides leading cloud-based marketing and public relations software that enables companies to acquire and retain customers. The company offers products and services to help clients attract and engage prospects, nurture and convert customers, and measure and improve marketing effectiveness. More than 16,000 annual subscription customers across a wide variety of industries use Vocus software. The company is headquartered in Beltsville, MD with offices in North America, Europe and Asia.