Marketing automation in the SaaS industry has moved from beyond a buzzword to an industry standard, and achieved the status of digital marketing ubiquity in record time. The use of marketing software to manage repetitive marketing tasks, such as emails, social media management, and personalized content for leads has gained notoriety for delivering an enormous ROI for SaaS companies.
As of a study last year, nearly 60% of all Fortune 500 companies have a marketing automation application in place, and a whopping 95% of the top 19 SaaS enterprises were and are using the software to nurture cold leads. These numbers are no accident, as marketing automation is a powerful weapon to wield to slay the beast that is cold leads, and allow the phoenix that is SQL rise from its ashes.
The Fortune 500 crowd was a little late to the party compared to their SaaS counterparts, but that should come as no surprise - SaaS companies are young, agile, and are overwhelmingly digital natives; they get their target B2B and B2C target audiences from the get-go. The reality is that B2B buyers are spending more time, year after year, intensively researching companies before making a purchasing decisions; they need to be nurtured, coddled, shown value and enticed to buy if companies desire to shorten an increasingly growing sales cycle. This is exactly what marketing automation was designed to do.
So, it sounds like marketing automation is here to save the day, right? YES! But, wait a minute, what were we saying in the title about the challenges that CMOs face when dealing with implementing marketing automation. So, not so fast…
While marketing automation is a weapon to win the sales war, if mishandled it can easily be turned against the one wielding it. Automation software is not simply bought, installed, run, and POOF - here are your qualified leads! It is a sizeable company investment, and a top priority for many companies, but it is not for every CMO and their marketing team.
Join us today while we touch up the 3 most common challenges to CMOs when using marketing automation, and how to turn a problem into a rewarding ROI solution.
1. Jumping the gun; buying prematurely
You are not Gene Wilder playing Willy Wonka and neither is marketing automation software a golden goose.
As we mentioned before, marketing automation is not for everybody, but what we really mean is that it is not for every time and place in a company’s life. One of the biggest challenges CMOs face happens after they hear “marketing automation, ROI, customer nurturing, conversions” ad nauseum they feel compelled to join the crowd and hop on the automation bandwagon.
Then, they notice something rather quickly: it isn’t working.
This is because their company simply was not ready to implement automation, resulting in an ineffective software that they invested an arm and a leg in. How do you say it, um, there’s a word for this phenomenon, oh yeah - FAIL.
If your company has just started out and you have a mere brook of traffic, granted a brook that is slowly gaining greater velocity and volume, you will not reap the benefits of marketing automation until that brook has grown into a rapid river. 85% of B2B marketers feel that they cannot use their marketing automation to its full potential, because there isn’t enough traffic coming in. It is senseless to spend the money for automated emails and content posting when it’s falling on few ears, and could be manually managed for less of an investment.
Solution: hire an experienced marketing project manager, who can guide your team to generate more traffic, and consistent traffic. Marketing automation only becomes an ROI machine if you can feed it enough visitors. Invest first in inbound marketing tactics like SEO, blogging, and content creation. Only after inbound efforts start driving traffic to your site, then go ahead and pick an automation software that suits your needs and enjoy the success.
2. Where have all the high-end leads gone?
For many CMOs that have adopted marketing automation software after spending the money, going through the exhaustive training, and finally have their system integrated with their CRM software and the like, it feels to them like they made it to the marathon’s finish line and deserve a trophy and a few days rest. Oh, and more leads!
Yes, more leads - marketing automation can do that. However, one of the top challenges to CMOs is that not all leads are created equal. 76% of CMOs believe that high-end leads are their greatest challenge for marketing automation. Here’s the thing though - marketing automation can help with that, too.
So, why is this a challenge for CMOs and their marketing mavens? It’s because marketing automation may reduce redundant tasks, saving otherwise wasted time. However, it also collects a lot of data for marketers to deal with and send over to the sales team. Inexperienced CMOs and their teams will make sure that their marketing automation nurtures every bit of traffic that becomes a lead, but keep this in mind: not all leads are created equal.
Quantity of leads is super, but if quality is neglected the company will miss out on huge payoffs of renewing customers. The way this happens is that CMOs setup their automation to nurture each and every lead, but in the same way. Take a minute and consider this: the majority of your leads are not going to be high-end, as they are few and far between. Thus, many CMOs want to focus on nurturing the majority, as that may appear to be their customer base.
When blanket-nurturing the majority of leads, which are low to middle-quality, sure, marketing automation will increase the frequency with which you convert them to customers. That being said, if you blanket-nurture leads you will shoo away the most promising leads, by not engaging them appropriately. If you talk to a PhD like they are a high-school student, well, how long do you think they are going to keep a conversation with you? They will quickly move on to converse with someone a bit more sophisticated and aware at the cocktail party.
Solution: If you implemented marketing automation to achieve this marvelous ROI you keep on hearing the other guys talk about, remember that the “I” stands for investment. In addition to the upfront costs of MA software, time and energy needs to be further invested until the system will perform as desired.
Start by using two unique nurturing protocols based on visitor behavior data: one for low to mid-level leads, and one for those that are high-end, and require greater engagement. Yes, it will take more resources to monitor the data, and segregating it into groups before passing it along to your sales team. However, foregoing this effort will guarantee that the MA never reaches its peak ROI.
3. Software Integration
One of the key challenges for many CMOs, and one of the primary reasons why they purchase marketing automation software in the first place, is integration with other software. Some 50% of CMOs cite that integration with their existing marketing technology is a top challenge, and as seen above, only a quarter of B2B companies have fully integrated MA.
So, what is keeping these companies back from fully integrating their MA with their CRM, social media marketing, etc? The number one answer to this question is the complexity surrounding the process, followed by strategic and budgeting issues, as we can see below. As we mentioned earlier, marketing automation is not for everybody.
This may sound a little bit brutal, but frankly, marketing automation cannot be afforded by each and every company, at least not just yet. The majority of B2B companies, 65% as of last year, are increasing their budgets either marginally or substantially to invest more in marketing technology.
With regards to complexity, it all comes down to whether you either can afford an integration specialist, or if the MA vendor offers direct support in integrating the MA with your pre-existing systems. Whatever the case may be, both require further financial investments and time allocation.
Solution: We apologize in advance if this sounds blunt, but if you cannot afford yet to purchase and immediately integrate marketing automation, you need to wait. There is no easy way around it, as your marketing and sales teams are two different animals, though they both live under the same roof. One recent study showed that adopting marketing automation without an integration process generates a negative ROI. In this case you do not want to bite off more than you can chew.
To fully appreciate the value of your hefty marketing automation investment, it is essential to have integrated. If you do not have the resources to fully integrate MA, no problem - just stick to the top of the sales funnel for now, build traffic, revenue, and then get ready to take the marketing automation plunge.
Hmm, this all sounds like a pain in the ass...
Well, it is, but tell us one thing in the history of forever that ever paid off immensely without first demanding time and effort! The ROI is huge for marketing automation, but the initial “I” in resources is rather hefty to get to the “R”.
Hopefully we didn’t scare you away, and you understand that marketing automation can be a boon to increasing conversions. But, this is only if you avoid the hazards that have been headaches for other marketers. Before all else, make certain that you ask the right questions regarding the MA plunge.
If you have experienced come particularly challenging issues with MA that you feel earn a worthy mention, please share them in the comments below and how you overcame them. We can all learn from each other.