Marketing Automation: How to find your perfect fit

Marketing automation is no longer a concept pitched within digital conferences and ‘marketing trend’ blogs, it is an industry standard.

The landscape for your audience's attention has become increasingly crowded, and the reach of competing brands around the world is now limitless; with numerous opportunities for rival businesses to engage, interact and potentially poach your existing customer base on a daily basis.

Maintaining personal relationships with your consumers has never been more important. However, with the increasing pool of potential customers available online, trying to do this manually is inefficient and almost impossible as your database grows.

Marketing Automation is the golden ticket for keeping communications personal with your customers. It helps you to nurture leads that aren’t quite ready to buy and retain and extend the relationships of customers who have previously converted.

No matter how big or small your business is, if personalised Marketing Automation isn’t part of your mix, you’re being left behind and likely losing brand loyalty.

Let’s get to the point, what is Marketing Automation?

Marketing Automation is the art of using software to perform routine communications and CRM database processes with your customers. Tasks such as database development, customer segmentation, data integration, campaign management and lead nurturing can be automatically delivered based on where in the decision-making process your customers are. It is an integral part of customer relationship management and conversion.

For many years platforms like MailChimp have been making marketing processes easier but this is like the mother of all platforms. Marketing automation software is where all these previously exciting functions like email, database, analytics and social media publishing are integrated into a single piece of software to deliver a consistent message to your customers.

Depending on the platform you choose, marketing automation can support processes including:

  • Segmentation
  • Lead nurturing and scoring
  • Lead generation
  • Cross-sell and upsell
  • Retention
  • Marketing ROI measurement
  • Relationship marketing

The benefits sell themselves. For a B2B company lead scoring, nurturing and lifecycle management is made possible and efficient. For a B2C company, marketing automation will fuel up-selling, cross-selling and retention to help build a solid customer base and inform what is working and what is not. Oh, and it’s a great ROI tool where all your marketing efforts can be measured in one spot and in real time.

Important: Before purchasing any software you need to know that these features are only designed to amplify your sales and marketing strategy. You must have a solid marketing strategy that is geared for growth and full of relevant tactics. You should also have an aligned communication plan that defines your key messages and acts as a golden standard for all your written content.

How to choose your Marketing Automation platform

Marketing automation is a considerable, yet worthwhile investment in money and in time. Before you sign up, it’s important to set some goals for implementing this software into your business. There’s a lot of training and time involved in integration once you’ve made your choice and even more time if you change your mind.

Some tips

  • Consider which features are most important to you: is it being able to send emails, track your website visitors, manage your social media, create and A/B test your landing pages or lead score?
  • Think about your business goals - not just immediate, but long term too. You want to select something that meets your needs not just today but into the future. Will the platform you choose grow with your business?
  • What is your budget and is it realistic given your goals? Remember this software is an investment and you need to look at this with an ROI lens. If used correctly this tool will drive more revenue.
A good approach: You should inquire with a few marketing automation platforms and request demos and/or free trials. Make sure you have a list of all your questions prepared beforehand to get the most out of these sessions.

Still don't know which Marketing Automation software is best for your business? Contact us today for assistance from our expert team of digital marketing strategists.

Comparing the cost of Marketing Automation platforms

Marketing automation is generally sold based on the following pricing structures:

  • Number of contacts in your CRM/ Database
  • Number of active contacts per month
  • Features as separate bundles you can purchase, or
  • Personal quotes

Additional pricing may include:

  • Onboarding
  • CRM integration
  • Training
  • Number of users
Note: The initial figures of some software solutions might make you fall off your chair, but it’s important to think of these systems as an investment in business services. It will be an integral part of your marketing workflow and a vehicle to drive more sales, gain more loyal customers and a long term competitive advantage.

Automation platform features

The majority of marketing automation platforms offer very similar functionality, but they differ in how well they execute these and their pricing structures.

If you have your eye on one or two, or want to compare in depth here is a handy tool.

It will take time to decide which one is the best fit and often it’s best to do your research and ask what tailoring options they may have. If you’re still not sure where to start, here is our opinion of the winners when it comes to:

A small budget - Agile CRM

Agile is a CRM software with a focus on making marketing automation more accessible for all businesses, no matter how big the marketing team. From as little as $8.99/user/Month it's worth a try. It also has no onboarding fee and is a completely web-based app with no server updates or additional hardware.

A Small business - InfusionSoft

InfusionSoft is designed for the smaller business and if your goal is to remain small this is a good option. You can focus in on campaigns and leads with email marketing, social media tracking and campaign management.

A Medium business - Act-On CRM

Act-On operates on a month to month basis and is focused on email marketing with great A/B testing functions. It has a great easy to use UI with good drag and drop functions.

A Large business - Hubspot

Hubspot are industry leaders in the marketing automation space and their enterprise level (giving access to all the features) is a great option for large businesses with bigger customer bases and marketing resources. It is user-friendly and always evolving to suit the needs of growing brands.

A rapidly growing business - Marketo

Marketo is a software designed to handle all business sizes - so if you’re a medium business wanting to grow this is a great one for you to reach your current and future goals. It is on the more expensive side but allows you to tailor how much you want to spend as its features are in bundle. You can select the relevant ones to you and add them as you go.

The best for value - Sharpspring

Sharpspring’s pricing structure means that no matter how much you spend you get access to all the features. It is half the price of some competition and has great support. It also sends a daily report on who has visited your website which can be great for your sales and marketing team.

The best for training - Hubspot

Hubspot offers intensive training with modules, with over 20 available online for free!

Where to from here?

If you’re still feeling lost the Thirst Creative team are here to help. Whether you need a solid strategy to get results or are looking for someone to take the stress of marketing away - our team will help you reach your goals. Contact us today.