Marketing automation programs can show great promise and make great promises. However, ask a sampling of companies who use marketing automation software whether they are happy with their return on investment (ROI), and you are likely to get some mixed results.
What type of ROI should you expect from a marketing automation system, and what factors influence whether it is successful?
How Marketing Automation Impacts ROI
Marketing automation software is designed to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of your marketing and sales departments. Common features and functions provided by such programs include:
- Automating administrative tasks
- Lead scoring
- Collecting and organizing intelligence about a prospect
- Managing email marketing programs.
- Coordinating lead nurturing campaigns
A collection of studies on the effectiveness of marketing automation shows that the software does, on average, provide returns in the form of increased sales and time efficiency. According to the data, companies that implemented marketing automation software:
- Reached 84 percent revenue plan attainment, versus just 67 percent for companies without marketing automation.
- Had sales forces that spent just 38 percent of their time on administration or other non-selling activities, versus 49 percent of non-automated companies.
- Received 45 percent of their sales pipeline directly from marketing activities, compared to 31 percent for non-automated companies.
- 66 percent of companies with marketing automation software reported faster growth than their competitors, compared to 50 percent of companies without marketing automation.
- Similarly, only 8 percent reported slower growth than the competition, while 12 percent of companies without marketing automation reported slower growth.
- Nearly 70 percent of marketing automation users said the ROI of the programs met or exceeded their expectations.
While the numbers all look positive, that doesn't mean that every company has seen success with marketing automation. Within those samples, there is a wide variation: many saw a huge ROI, but others hardly received any benefit at all.
Improving Marketing Automation ROI
The clearest predictor of ROI for marketing automation programs was not the software itself, but the extent to which it was integrated into a company and the skill with which it was used.
Companies that were still focused mostly on traditional marketing models, used little targeting and testing and kept the marketing and sales departments completely separate saw the least benefit from implementing marketing automation. Those that were more experienced with inbound marketing techniques, had better targeting and measurement processes and more fully integrated marketing and sales had the highest ROI. The difference was pronounced, with the most experienced companies seeing almost twice the revenue plan attainment and a sales conversion rate that was 10 times higher than the least experienced companies
The problem and solution clearly lies within the organization, not the automation. If you are not using lead nurturing or email segmentation strategies, then you cannot use marketing automation to improve those functions.
It may require new training or outside help to do so, but making the transition to an automated, integrated and customer intelligence-driven sales and marketing organization is a change that can truly produce a worthwhile return on investment.
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