Marketers today are fending off challenges from all fronts. Expectations have never been higher, and the job has never been more complex. From managing multiple programs across an ever-expanding network of channels to fulfilling constantly evolving objectives, today’s marketers have to juggle changing priorities and reduced budgets while remaining creative and responsive.

Fortunately, marketers do have one powerful ally in their corner: technology.

Recent advances in marketing automation enable marketers to regain control of today’s complicated marketing environment and create integrated marketing programs that are easily measurable.

Essentially, automating marketing allows marketers to convert raw facts into actionable insights that can:

  • Drive focus and early value: automation allows marketers to dig out relevant information from the constant flood of digital data
  • Build measurement into the process: automation helps develop metrics and benchmarks
  • Show results: automation enables deeper analytics which in turn, help demonstrate ROI
  • Collaborate and integrate: once collected and analysed, data is easier to communicate and share. This allows for the creation of marketing programs that are truly integrated, and
  • Innovate: automation creates the awareness required to optimise future campaigns.

Despite the long list of benefits many marketers are reluctant to embrace automation. Marketers have traditionally shied away from advanced statistics and obscure computations and have recognised that automation has its limits.

What can automation provide?
Can automation platforms fit into an established workflow and help deliver true integration? Can they really make a difference while enabling marketers to thrive as creative, independent thinkers? The answer is yes. Automation provides plenty of opportunities to make marketers’ jobs easier. More marketers are moving beyond managing provisional processes, ad hoc applications and ‘taped-together’ technologies to true integrated marketing processes.

Marketing automation applications can also gather statistics about visitors, prospects, leads and opportunities, and often add input from the sales process too. By improving access to this data and sorting out the signal from the noise, automation streamlines business processes and provides marketers with insights to improve their go-to-market campaigns.

Resolving the sales and marketing disconnect
Research indicates that as many as 80% of the B2B leads passed on to sales are dropped. In addition, 90% of marketing collateral is unused. Fortunately, marketing automation platforms can help resolve this type of sales and marketing disconnect.

By enabling effective collaboration and analytics, automation helps sales and marketing take a more holistic view of each prospect, providing actionable intelligence that can help convert a website visitor, for example, into a qualified lead, and then into a sale.

Automation can also help companies strategically segment their customers. Segmenting on factors such as business environment, psychographics and other demand drivers, in addition to the typical demographics, can dramatically improve conversion rates and qualified lead volume.

While marketers have a wide range of automation choices today, the lack of integration among marketing technologies is a barrier to insight across the integrated pipeline. Marketers today are asked to run more programs across more media against more objectives – with the same or fewer resources. Marketing automation could make this possible, but it needs to be integrated and implemented in ways that both save time and measure program results before it can be truly achieved.

Lisa Arthur
BY Lisa Arthur ON 19 December 2011
Lisa Arthur serves as Aprimo’s chief marketing officer driving global market and brand strategy, solutions and product marketing, demand generation and customer-centric initiatives.