This blog post is an excerpt of a presentation given to the Marketing Peer Group of TechConnex. The presentation can be downloaded at the end of the post. And don’t forget to sign up for Marketing CoPilot’s Marketing Automation Workshop.

Hype versus Reality

Not long ago there was a little company called that burst onto the market selling client relationship management software (CRM), making every business think it was a tool they needed. CRM wasn’t a new idea; it was an old concept but with a different twist. Managing prospect and client information in a database had been around for a while. But it was hard to buy, difficult to implement and only made sense for big companies with big teams and deep pockets. changed that and suddenly CRM was a product everyone could afford and implement. By lowering the barriers to ownership, everyone wanted in.

Don’t forget to check out our video from our Marketing Automation Workshop

Fast forward to 2014 and the new hype is about marketing automation tools Do you need one?

Marketing automation is not a new concept. There have been lots of tools that companies have been using over the years to perform the same function as a modern-day marketing automation tool. There are email tools, CRM tools, database management tools, and then there is good old fashioned sweat labor where people manage leads in the pipeline using a one-to-one relationship with a prospect. Maybe it’s the sales rep, sales engineer or telemarketer. At the end of the day regardless of what tools you are using, or what process you follow, you need to ignore the hype and document a few key details before you implement anything in your business.

  1. What is the definition of a lead for your business?
  2. What are the steps that someone follows as they go through the buying process and the sales process to buy something from you?
  3. What pieces of those steps can be automated and tracked?
  4. How high is your lead volume to be able to support automated processes?

Without understanding any of this, it’s next to impossible to decide if a marketing automation tool is right for your business regardless of how many eBooks you’ve downloaded from Hubspot, or demos you’ve done with Pardot or definitive guides you’ve got from Marketo. None of these tools are going to work for you if you have not figured out 5 keys metrics in your business:

  1. What is the potential lead volume you should be getting to your web presence on a monthly basis in order to achieve your revenue targets?
  2. What is the cost of lead acquisition for your business?
  3. What are the primary conversion steps you need to track and measure in the lead management process?
  4. What are the resources you need to properly manage the lead cycle?
  5. What content will you use to manage and convert leads generated online?

The Marketing CoPilot rule of thumb:

We work with small and medium-sized businesses that have 10-50 employees and generate $3-50M in revenue a year. Most of these companies generate less than 100 leads per month from their web presence. They could be doing higher lead generation volume but they often lack the process, resources, time and money to build out their program. This is why we are baffled when we see a company with no clear buyer process mapped to their website, no conversion points and no buyer-centric content, investing in marketing automation tools. Frankly, these companies are not ready yet for the complexity of marketing automation.

We feel the same thing can be achieved from a marketing automation perspective with a well-organized WordPress website, an email platform like Constant Contact and Google Analytics. Sure there is lots of manual intervention in this set up, but this helps you test and learn before you spend the time and money on an expensive marketing automation tool. Until your lead volume is more than 100 leads via your web presence a month, it’s just not worth it.

Before you jump on the marketing automation band wagon, make sure you have:

  • A defined lead nurturing process identified
  • Good content
  • And time time to manage it properly and learn from the data you are collecting about visitors and leads on your website.

If you don’t have these things, the best marketing automation tool in the world will not help you.  Avoid the hype of the latest marketing automation technology trend and get the basics right.

And as Bill Gates said,

The first rule of any technology used in a business is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency. The second is that automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency.

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