Three Questions to Consider Before Investing in Marketing Automation

According to Sirius Decisions, the adoption of marketing automation technology is expected to increase by 50% in 2015. Marketing automation providers are responding to this flood of demand with an ever-increasing array of options, from full-featured platforms that offer services such as multichannel campaign management, marketing analytics, budget tracking and forecasting to simpler systems designed to appeal to smaller organizations.

But is marketing automation really worth the investment? Here are three critical questions to answer to help you make the right decision.

  1. Is marketing automation right for my organization? Marketing automation solutions come in all shapes and sizes, but in general, they work best for companies that have a sales cycle that stretches at least six months. They are optimal for companies whose products or services require a sizable investment, one big enough to necessitate a purchasing committee decision. Marketing automation is also a strong contender for companies that have a potential lead volume numbering in at least the high hundreds. It’s important to differentiate between current and potential lead volume here. Consider your total addressable market and your rightful share of it. If you’re not generating hundreds of leads now but you think you could be, buying into marketing automation is probably a safe bet.
  2. How much should I spend on a marketing automation solution? Before you start comparing features and functionality, first consider time to value. How quickly will you be able to demonstrate a return on your investment? This can help determine price range, particularly for smaller businesses with limited resources. Next, consider what you need the system to do. Marketers are spoiled for choice here, so it’s important to think about what you might need now – and what you might need in the next 6 to 12 months. Inventory your needs and start from there. And don’t forget to consider interoperability. Make sure that whatever you decide to invest in will work with the infrastructure you have in place, especially your CRM or SFA solution.
  3. Is my organization ready to implement marketing automation? To answer this question, look no further than your sales process. It needs to be established, documented, and working like a well-oiled machine. Of course, adding marketing automation to the equation will introduce new changes to this process, but starting with a workflow that everyone understands and agrees on is important. Next, evaluate your marketing and sales alignment. The core value of marketing automation is to help deliver leads that are ready to engage with sales, but if that transition is broken, no amount of technology will help bridge that gap. Last, have a clear understanding of how marketing automation can accelerate and improve your process. Are you looking to capture more leads or maximize the intelligence you get with each one? Do you need help sustaining the conversation through the entirety of the buyer’s journey or are you looking for analytics support to quantify and predict potential revenue? Knowing this information will help you get a running start on a successful marketing automation implementation.

With the answers to these questions in hand, you’ll be in good shape to start building a business case for investing in the right marketing automation system, plus have a head start on integrating it into your current marketing infrastructure, processes, and team roles and responsibilities.

Want to learn more about how you can realize a greater return on your investment in marketing automation? View our on-demand webinar Build a Blueprint for Marketing Automation ROI now.

Image credit: Hubert Figuière

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