Marketing Automation – It’s Not Just For Enterprise Anymore

DIGITAL MARKETING OPERATIONS Posted September 18, 2016

Can your business be found among the 10%? A VentureBeat article written earlier this year argues that “for larger businesses with larger revenues, marketing automation is driving a much greater share of the revenue flowing through the [B2B marketing] ecosystem” than the installation figures would have you believe, at about 10% of total B2B revenue worldwide. And the larger your revenue base, the more likely you are to use marketing automation (MA) platforms and services.

The MA tools of today offer features and functionality that flex to meet almost any company’s business goals. So, why are enterprise clients the only ones who seem to have caught on to the advantages inherent in MA?

We think that more small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) aren’t leveraging marketing automation for 3 reasons:

1. The effort to onboard: Marketing automation systems require a degree of effort at the outset, particularly to set up the integration pathways with a company’s website(s), social media accounts, CRM, and other existing infrastructure.

For some companies—especially lean-and-mean SMBs that are often spread pretty thin from a budget and resource perspective—the degree of effort perceived to be involved in onboarding new technology may outweigh the longer-term advantages derived from marketing automation.

2. Technical know-how: Once you’ve set up your integration points, there’s still up-front work that needs to be done to organize and manage your marketing campaigns. That’s to say, MA doesn’t necessarily mean ‘plug-and-play,’ and automated campaigns don’t come ready to deploy right out the box (actually a misnomer; since all MA software is cloud-based, there’s no box!)——So, while a technically-oriented marketing team may have the ability to complete the initial integration processes, the longer-term outlay of time, expertise, and functional know-how required to take full advantage of MA returns can lead some SMBs to cobweb their software over time, letting it go unused = a true, wasted opportunity!

3. Economics of software implementation: Implementation requires several hard costs that get passed on to the customer. On the one hand, there’s the investments in people-power involved at first (to get the software up and running) and over time (to optimize campaigns in order to deliver the best results against marketing plans). On the other hand, software companies pass along user or implementation fees—the cost for entry into the marketing automation game, which can depend on the depth of sophistication you want to be able to access, the number of users you want to register, or a whole host of other factors.

This can be an especially difficult equation for SMBs to balance, as the initial and ongoing output of fees can seem to greatly outweigh the potential returns that MA technology can provide in the longer-term.

Okay, we’ve made it pretty clear that there are barriers to SMB entry into the marketing automation user market. But there are some pretty smart ways that smaller companies that don’t want to or simply can’t ‘bet the farm’ on marketing software, can still reap significant rewards from marketing automation technology.

First, consider working with a marketing services partner. By combining the skills and expertise to set up, implement, and manage marketing campaigns across a vast array of platforms available in the industry, SMBs are guaranteed a smoother, faster, and relatively cheaper foray into marketing automation for their campaigns if they outsource their marketing automation to marketing services providers (like Vigorate, who works with both Adobe Campaign and Salesforce Marketing Cloud solutions.

Additionally, marketing automation partners can sometimes modify payment terms to a quarterly payment structure, in order to ease contract costs. At times, they’re able to waive kick-off fees if they perform the training and implementation for their clients—definitely worth the minimal effort to find out if this perk can be made available to you, if you come from the SMB space.

Second, a new wave of automation software with more flexible investment models is paving the way for more diverse brands to test the marketing automation waters. In the interests of attracting more fiscally conservative players, these new, dynamic software companies will sometimes do away with yearly contracts and allow monthly payments, as a way to amortize the costs of implementation over a longer period of time (or, across a wider array of participating brands). Also, these companies often don’t require kick-off fees—a real boon to those aforementioned lean-and-mean SMBs, but also to Enterprise clients that can’t carve away revenues from each campaign at the outset.

Does your marketing company use MA technology to streamline your cross-channel Mar-Comm campaigns? Leave us a comment in the section below, or drop us a line. Whether you’re currently enlisting marketing automation to up your promotions game, or are wondering how to make it work for your brands, we’d love to hear from you!

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