Marketing, Software

What SMEs need to know about marketing automation

Fi Bendall /

Marketing is an essential part of any business but it can be time and cost intensive, which ends up meaning many businesses don’t get the benefits they could from it.

Marketing automation (MA) provides a way for businesses to streamline and optimise the way they do their marketing. It has grown out of using customer relationship management (CRM) software specifically to service marketing rather than strictly sales needs.

While MA software has been around now in some form or another for a couple of decades, it has only become more commonly adopted in the past couple of years. Prior to this more mainstream adoption it was very much the domain of more tech-savvy businesses.

Businesses big and small are now using MA software to nurture and qualify leads, and to gain a better measure of the return on investment of their marketing. The software can be especially useful for SMEs looking to ramp up their marketing efforts without having to take on extra employees to do so. It also frees your employees from a lot of the drudge work that goes with manually executing campaigns.

According to statistics compiled by HubSpot (a vendor of marketing automation software), business-to-business marketers say MA software’s main benefit is its capacity to generate and nurture leads.

Here are a few other stats about MA software:

• Marketing automation software generates twice as many leads as blast email software (Autopilot, 2015);
• Sixty-four percent of marketers saw benefits from MA within the first six months of use (Regalix, 2015);
• Nearly 70% of businesses are using a marketing automation platform or are currently implementing one (Aberdeen, 2014);
• Nurtured leads produce, on average, a 20% increase in sales opportunities versus non-nurtured leads (Demand Gen Report, 2014); and
• Thirty-seven percent of marketers state that budget constraints hinder them from conducting an efficient marketing automation strategy (Pepper Global, 2014).

Investing in the software might seem like a big outlay at first, but the benefits in terms of optimised workflows, additional capabilities, and more effective campaign measurement make it highly advisable.

There are hundreds, maybe thousands, of marketing automation programs out there. Some of the more popular ones being used right now include HubSpot, Pardot (Salesforce), Marketo, Infusionsoft, and Microsoft Dynamic CRM. 

The platform that’s best for your enterprise will depend on factors such as the size of your marketing program (do you have hundreds of customers or thousands?); how much you are willing to spend; and whether you need more than just a basic platform that simplifies and automates your email marketing.

Do you need a platform that automates social media posting? Do you want to know who is sharing your content and where? If so, look for software that incorporates social media functions similar to what you find in standalone social media tools like Hootsuite.

As always, ask around and do some research before you commit to any specific software, but using MA software might be one of the better marketing decisions you make this year.

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Fi Bendall

Fi Bendall is chief executive of The Bendalls Group and a Westpac/AFR 2015 100 Women of Influence, who was described by CEO Magazine as 'The CEO's Secret Weapon'. An expert and pioneer in digital strategy, she has over 23 years’ experience in the digital and tech sectors.

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  • Kirsten

    Thanks for posting. Marketing automation sounds like a good opportunity. I’m considering a few options, but lately also GetRepsonse caught my attention. Have you ever tried their solution?