Over the last 10 years, more and more companies have jumped on the marketing automation bandwagon to prove ROI, better enable their sales teams (or operate without them) and make their lives easier by automating various marketing touchpoints. However, many marketers who have embraced these automation tools realize that success does not come easily.
28% of marketing technology spend goes to infrastructure (e.g., servers, storage, network) to run marketing software (Gartner, 2016). That’s a large chunk of the company budget to spend on a strategy without being able to prove its ROI. These five steps will ensure you have the building blocks of marketing automation in place so you can set yourself and your team up for the success you’ve been dreaming of.
Do the Legwork on Marketing Spend
Take the time to evaluate your marketing budget: what programs and items are you spending on? If you want to understand ROI, you must take inventory of all the activities you are leveraging your budget for to generate revenue. Yes, that includes events, happy hours, online advertising and email marketing, to name a few.
Think hard about these activities and what tangible results they have brought in, and make decisions about where to keep spending and where to cut. Does it make more sense to keep doing it yourself, or would your budget be better spent hiring a marketing firm to manage these pieces?
Read our blog post to get tips on deciding whether or not to outsource your marketing efforts.
Populate Your Systems With Data
Your activities in your marketing budget should be accounted for in your marketing automation platform (or in another system you’re using, like your CRM). This will connect the cost of all your marketing efforts to the programs that capture the responses you’ve received as a result, including your closed-won opportunities. By connecting these data points, you’ll be able to see the basic ROI instantly in your automation platform.
Marketing and Sales Should Talk (A Lot)
Many organizations have faced challenges to align their Marketing and Sales teams, but that shouldn’t be the case. Although there’s been a big push in recent years to fully integrate marketing and sales, other collaborative strategies may be more effective for your company. You may not be able to prove perfect results from marketing automation immediately, but, if you’re communicating with your sales team at all levels of the organization, you’ll be able to understand each other’s priorities and limitations.
Good communication is the basis for any good relationship, and over time both your relationship and your sophistication with marketing automation coupled with the ability to report on marketing activities will grow and evolve.
Keep Your Data Clean and Duplicate-Free
Many marketing and sales teams alike have all kinds of junk in their database, and duplicate contacts are the most common and most easily addressed. If you have messy data, make it a priority to clean it up and put processes in place to prevent this from occurring in the future. If you don’t have the expertise on your team, there are vendors such as RingLead that specialize in data quality control because duplicate records are death to marketing automation, and will keep you from maximizing efficiency of any platform you’re using.
Reevaluate Your Definition of ROI
The ROI of marketing automation doesn’t always equate to an exact linear relationship with a dollar amount. Depending on a company’s or team’s goals, the return on the investment may include intangibles like increased efficiency, brand awareness and better communication overall. Think about all the things you expect out of your marketing automation platform and plan to demonstrate how your use of the tool has helped you hit those goals.
Read more about the benefits of marketing automation and how it will boost your organization’s efforts in ways that may or may not have a dollar sign attached.
Ultimately, the decision about whether or not your marketing automation platform is benefitting your organization is up to you and your team. Keeping your data clean, well-organized and precise will help you make data-driven decisions about your ROI, but those critical intangible benefits are also worth examining.
If your automation platform makes your job easier and helps your team communicate across departments, it may already be providing immense value to your company.