9 ways to make the case for marketing automation software

November 7th, 2011 by Robert Pease

This is a guest post by Matt Heinz, President, Heinz Marketing. Read more on his Matt on Marketing blog.

Let’s face it, nobody likes to buy software. It’s a means to an ends, and often the path from cost to revenue impact isn’t always clear. Even with marketing automation software, whose inherent intention is to make your marketing efforts both more streamlined (lower cost) and more effective (higher sales pipeline output), it can be difficult to carve out the dollars necessary to get rolling.

If others in your group or organization need convincing to give marketing automation software a go, here are nine proven ways to get the thumbs-up.

1. Do the math
Demonstrate quantifiably what a lift in some of your key response and sales pipeline metrics could do to sales and revenue growth. Don’t just talk about automating marketing. Doing more with less is interesting, but not nearly as interesting as increased response, higher volumes of engaged sales prospects for your sales team, larger qualified sales pipelines to work with, and more monthly/quarterly closed business. Build a simple model that demonstrates the impact of improvement at a handful of key funnel points your organization already has a focus on.

2. Show the math from others
Use the marketing automation vendors you’re talking with to gather examples and case studies of how other companies have already done what you’re modeling. Especially look for companies that look close to you – online businesses, B2B businesses, SaaS businesses, etc.

3. Think about customer retention in addition to acquisition
There’s no reason you need to justify marketing automation purely based on new customer acquisition. Most software suites can manage the entire customer lifecycle, including early-customer onboarding, behavior and usage-based communication scenarios and more. The result is higher engagement, lifetime value and referral potential – all of which can also be modeled into your before-and-after ROI.

4. Show samples of metrics/reports possible
Get your team excited about the specific metrics they could use on a regular basis to help manage the business. Marketo, for example, has developed a set of metrics and reports in their automation system that looks beyond traditional marketing metrics (clicks, opens, etc.) and instead looks at a set of revenue performance and prediction measures. These speak directly to current and future revenue potential within your wider prospect pipeline. I’m guessing your boss and executive team would love this kind of future sales & revenue visibility.

5. Outline domain and black list risk

If you continue to do “batch and send” email marketing, vs. the more intelligent multi-track marketing that automation software systems enable, you’re putting your entire company’s reputation at risk with ISPs and email delivery watchlists. The risk of getting black-listed is real and getting more likely for companies that aren’t managing prospect relationships carefully. Make sure the organization understands this risk (not only to ongoing email marketing, but to the domain itself, corporate email deliverability, customer marketing, etc.)

6. More email (not less)
The most common objection I hear to investing in marketing automation software is that the company’s existing, batch-and-send strategies just need to get smarter. But usually, that just means harder and harder decisions about which messages and emails should go out to a prospect list that already gets way too much email. The more you send in bulk like this, the more your prospects will tune out…or unsubscribe. With more intelligent, multi-track automated marketing systems, you can actually increase your regular email volume while ensuring the right message gets to the right prospect at the right time. Higher volume plus higher response rates equals happiness for your sales team and executive team.

7. Long-term headcount reduction
Some organizations have been able to model long-term headcount reductions in marketing as well as sales with successful marketing automation implementations. This doesn’t mean eliminating roles in the organization immediately, but does mean that fewer marketing heads may be needed as the company continues to grow, but more of the marketing execution is automated. Those eliminated future heads are meaningful to your CFO.

8. Impact on inside sales performance

Your VP of Sales should be your strongest ally in pitching a marketing automation investment, as he or she should understand quantifiably what the likely impact will be on the team. Inside reps should be more qualified leads, leads that are ready to convert into and through the pipeline at a higher rate. Over time, fewer sales reps may be needed with higher individual productivity rates to achieve the same or higher sales outputs. Work with your sales counterpart to build this model and business case.

9. Don’t talk about software
As I said at the beginning, nobody likes to buy software. And although that’s what this is, it’s not about that. Build your case based first on what it does, not what it is. Paint a picture of the success and outcomes you’re trying to achieve, then once you have the entire team head-nodding in agreement, outline the solution.

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