The Investment in Marketing Automation
The typical investments to get started with Marketing Automation are:
- The time – you and your marketing and sales teams
- The time and cost of consultants
- Marketing Automation software or system(s)
The first item may be hard to quantify, because you won’t get a bill for it. Making a rough estimate is usually the best bet. If you’re doing a lot in-house, increase the number of hours. If you outsource a lot, you can decrease the number of hours.
The brings us to the second item: consultants or agencies. Do you really need them? I’ve seen companies who are successful with their own staff. However, most of these companies employ people with relevant experience. Even though Marketing Automation is much simpler today then it was only a couple of year ago, it’s still a specialty. If you don’t have in-house expertise, consider hiring someone, or work with outside vendors. Also don’t underestimate the effort involved in creating good lead nurturing content: you may need some help with copy writing or editing.
Marketing Automation software has come a long way. Today, it is feature rich, fast to implement, simple to use (MUST) and usually pretty affordable. This has brought down the cost of doing Marketing Automation, and therefore also improved the ROI (lower cost = higher ROI).
More Revenue With Marketing Automation
Where do the big gains come from? There are roughly two areas:
- Better conversion from inquiry to revenue
- Better lead generation
- Less staff/employee time invested in the items that are/can be automated
Measuring revenue in companies with complex sales processes is hard, because it may take up to 1 year to close a deal. A pragmatic solution is to use stages: from inquiry, to qualified lead, to a lead that is accepted by sales, via opportunity to closed business. For every step you can measure a percentage: say 5% of inquiries turns into qualified leads, and so on. Improvements in conversion rates make it possible to predict increased revenue much sooner.
What are the drivers for conversion improvements? I’d say it’s timely and relevant follow-up, and a focused sales force. Often, prospects will only buy after 7 ‘touches’. You’ll miss revenue if you stop after 2 or 3 lead nurturing emails, or don’t nurture at all. Also, by capturing prospect information and segmenting the database, you can send prospects information that is relevant to their situation and their stage in the buying process. With lead scoring you determine when a lead is sales-ready: this gives the sales team fewer but better quality leads, ensuring 100% follow-up and a bigger likelihood of closing a deal.
Better Lead Generation
Marketing Automation does not just increase conversion, it can also make lead generation more effective. Often, the effectiveness of lead generation is measured by the number of new leads. However, a low quality lead is unlikely to result in revenue. With proper marketing automation processes, you can correlate revenue to specific lead generation activities. This gives you clear feedback which lead generation activities are working, and which are not. By adjusting your lead generation portfolio based on this information, you will generate better-quality leads and increase revenue.
How Much ROI Can You Expect?
First a caveat: a prerequisite for strong ROI is a successful business model. If you currently have a hard time selling your product, automation won’t be the magic bullet. Sorry. But if there is a healthy demand for your products, you should see a significant increase in revenue with the implementation of Marketing Automation strategies. You will be able to follow up on 100% of all leads (because that follow up is automated), and you will contact leads at exactly the right time with exactly the right information (because that timing is pre-designed and pre-set).
The exact ROI percentage depends on many factors: for example, the number of people involved in the buying process, competitors doing a bad job nurturing leads, and the complexity of your product. My suggestion: start small, and measure everything. You will quickly see changes in metrics that will justify an bigger investment.
For more internet marketing tips and strategies call Lane Houk, CEO at (813) 438-2428… also, check out other posts on our website at www.AffordableInternetMarketing.org