Will a Marketing Automation Platform Generate Results and ROI?

Contributed by Charles Besondy

“You want the truth; you can’t handle the truth!”  This was a line in Jack Nicholson’s famous court room rant in A Few Good Men (1992). Today for many companies the quote might be, “You want marketing automation; you can’t handle marketing automation!”

A Marketing Automation Platform (MAP) does for marketing  departments what Customer Relationship Management (CRM) does for sales organizations. If you’re unfamiliar with the term or technology check out Wikipedia or Marketing Automation Times.

There is a lot of buzz surrounding MAP. Some is hype. Much is factual. Marketers and their bosses are inspired by the encouraging results many companies are experiencing with the platform. However, most companies who have adopted a MAP struggle to use more than 25% of the application’s functionality, even after a year or so.

So, are you ready for marketing automation? It’s an important question because, frankly, a lot of companies don’t have “their act together” sufficiently enough to utilize MAP.  I asked Joseph Zuccaro and Steve Gershik, two savvy B2B marketers each with long pedigrees in marketing automation, to suggest how a company can tell if it’s ready for a MAP, or not.

You’re ready for marketing automation if most of these situations exist in your company.

  1. When Sales and Marketing have agreed upon what constitutes a “qualified lead” and when marketing should relinquish it to sales for opportunity follow up.
  2. Your company has a repeatable process of creating and managing leads that can be automated.
  3. When the organization understands that “throwing another salesperson” in the mix won’t move the revenue needle enough.
  4. When the C-Suite understands that this is a platform implementation critical to success.
  5. You have senior management buy in with the understanding that marketing automation is a practice, not a one-off initiative.
  6. You have enough content produced for each of the segments you want to reach that automation can be an efficient way to publish and measure.

You’re not ready for marketing automation if any of these situations exist and cannot be changed before the MAP is licensed:

  1. A majority of the marketing staff is dominated by creative/event planning/social media types.
  2. Marketing is viewed in a silo rather than integrated with sales.
  3. The IT department is very protective of its fiefdom and not forward thinking.
  4. You have no idea who your customer is.
  5. There’s little ability or willingness to establish a process for managing the life cycle of a lead.
  6. Your company has a culture that prefers flying-by-the-seat-of-your-pants rather than measuring what’s working and increasing the budget for those programs.

There is a growing ecosystem of marketing automation consultants and service providers that can help companies assess their MAP-readiness, and if ready, take the plunge. Many interim marketing executives have the background necessary to set up the processes and best practices, which form a solid foundation for a MAP implementation.

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