Thinking of Marketing Automation Software? Think Again.

You better read this first before wasting your money.

Marketing automation software is a big business. Lead by great companies like Marketo, Pardot, Eloqua and HubSpot, the marketing automation industry is forecasted to be a $5.5 billion business by 2019 - and for good reason.

These (and other) best-of-breed marketing automation applications offer a slew of features that can have a dramatic effect not only the leads your company generates but how your organization nurtures its customers and its community. These technologies work stand-alone. But most companies choose to integrate them with their customer relationship management (CRM) applications like Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics 365, Oracle and others to fully leverage their customers and prospects and provide back and forth information that can be used by all teams outside of just the marketing department.

It's powerful stuff. The applications drive e-mail campaigns and automate interactions with a company's social media, text messaging and digital ad platforms. They provide great tools for segmenting targets, both within their own databases or through integration with CRMs. They all have collaboration, communication and nurturing capabilities and use workflow and automation to enable users to stay in touch with targets over specific periods of time through actions defined by the marketing team.

The best of these applications assist marketers in managing and cleaning up data based on behaviors and other factors so that communications are made to the right people. When your company is using this technology properlyi, you're building customized messages, scoring leads, capturing information from your website through specifically designed forms and landing pages, tracking the behavior of your visitors, and "listening" for any conversations about your company, products, industry or defined topics so that you are ready to immediately engage.

Except, you're not. All of this is great, great stuff. But you're not doing it now and even if you buy a marketing automation application you probably still won't be. Why? Because this technology is no tool for you. It's a tool for your marketing staff. Do you even have a marketing staff? A marketing manager?

Back in the day most business technology revolved around accounting: creating orders, managing inventory, paying bills, collecting invoices. The accountants had their tools. But that's changed. Now, as cloud based technologies have become more powerful, each person in your company is being introduced to tools to do their jobs better, and it's all dependent on their job description. Sales people have CRM systems. Customer service workers now have help desk and ticketing software. Human resources professionals now have HR platforms. Plant managers have bar-coding and inventory systems. Executives rely on collaboration and project management tools. And marketers now have marketing automation software.

Like a linebacker's lucky helmet, a construction worker's preferred hammer, a plumber's favorite torch and a miner's most comfortable goggles every professional nowadays has specific tools they need to do their jobs. You wouldn't have a baseball bat lying around your office if there was no one to use it any more than you would purchase a delivery truck if you had no delivery driver.

The same goes for your marketing automation software. My company implements some of these applications and the first qualifier we use is this: does the client have a full-time, in-house marketing person? Does the company invest in internal marketing people? If so, then it's a green light. These professionals - like the others mentioned above - need marketing automation tools to do their jobs.

But if you don't have these people then buying a marketing automation application for your company is as useless as buying a fine set of cutlery for a McDonald's franchise. Don't waste your time.

Published on: Aug 16, 2017