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The Core Business Case Behind Marketing Automation

Jon Miller MarketoBy Jon Miller, VP of Marketing Content and Strategy, Marketo

B2B marketing has become much more complex over the past decade. In addition to direct mail and events, new channels range from email, web sites and search engine marketing to landing pages, blogs, and podcasts. Many of these require sophisticated testing, analytics and targeting to be executed well.

The good news? There is no shortage of marketing automation solutions that can help automate manual processes, provide best practices and improve the measurement and analysis of results. The bad news? Marketers have historically had difficulties getting the budget approved for these technologies. There is rarely extra budget, and it is nearly impossible to convince executives to invest more budget in a department they perceive to be a cost center.

In order to combat this misconception, marketers must build the business case for marketing technologies — and stress the ROI that the company will see as a result of implementation. Here are the three core benefits to focus on:

1. Speak the CFO’s Language: Marketing Automation Saves Money And Time

Building your business case for marketing automation on its ability to save time and money is generally the best way to get CFO signoff. Here are the three proof points to highlight:

  • Less Human Resources: By investing in the technology to automate marketing processes (instead of hiring humans to do the work manually), Nucleus Research found that companies achieve an increase in marketing staff productivity between 1.5% and 6.9%, and reduce administrative overhead by an average of 3.4%.
  • DIY Marketing: Marketing automation allows companies to DIY. Instead of outsourcing landing pages to expensive design firms, marketing automation technology allows companies to build marketing campaigns in-house. Not only does this save time and money, but it also makes a company more agile.
  • Simplifying Approval And Compliance: Especially for large companies or those in highly-regulated industries, sending a marketing campaign might require many levels of sign-off. Marketing automation simplifies and standardizes this process — meaning fewer spreadsheets to track and update.

2. Show Impact On Revenue: Marketing Automation Helps Measure And Optimize Investments

It's no secret that CEOs and boards don't care about the latest email campaign’s open rate or a press release's view numbers. However, they do relate to cold, hard revenue numbers. The key is focusing on quality over quantity, sharing metrics that show marketing's impact on revenue. Gleaning that information about your marketing efforts allows your company to optimize its marketing decisions to directly impact revenue growth.

Here are four ways marketing automation helps measure and maximize your marketing investments:

  • Creates A System Of Record: Marketing automation provides the core system of record for all your marketing information. If you don’t have a system of record for your marketing efforts, you can’t measure your success.
  • Encourages Testing And Comparing: The ability to run tests (this landing page vs. that landing page; this offer vs. that offer) helps your company learn what works over time, which ultimately gives you better optimization and more revenue.
  • Proves Program ROI: Marketing automation can provide the specific amount of revenue generated from a marketing program. That information allows you to compare results and spend your money where it’s proven to work best.
  • Shows Funnel Impact: Marketing automation helps quantify the different touch points within the funnel, such as conversion rate from a name into a lead, or an opportunity into a close. The technology allows you to understand how leads are moving through your funnel so you can make forecasts around how marketing nuances impact revenue.

3. Create Quality, Long-Term Relationships: Marketing Automation Impacts Revenue Long After Initial Sale

Following an initial purchase, marketing automation empowers companies to effectively and efficiently build and retain customer relationships down the road. The result is deep, long-lasting connections that increase customer lifetime value. Marketing automation technologies enable companies to:

  • Develop Relationships: Engage in personalized and interactive multichannel dialogues —  and scale these interactions — across a growing number of prospects and customers.
  • Focus On The Right Customers: Capture data about, analyze and respond to consumer behavior both online and offline so you’re targeting the hottest leads, as well as developing relationships with prospects that aren’t quite ready to make a purchase yet.
  • Break Down Barriers: Marketing automation systems closely integrate marketing activities and information with other parts of the organization, such as sales or call centers, to create a seamless interaction for buyers.

Marketing must stop being perceived as a cost center and start taking its seat at the revenue table. Marketing automation gives marketers the tools to not only fill the revenue pipeline with enough sales-ready opportunities, but also improve accountability and predictability by connecting marketing efforts to hard metrics like revenue and profits.

Jon Miller is VP of marketing content and strategy for Marketo, a cloud-based marketing software platform. You can follow him on Twitter at @jonmiller and on Marketo’s blog: