Today’s B2B marketers are awash in automated solutions, which are being deployed for so many use cases that it’s hard to keep track. But having more automation isn’t always the best answer for driving B2B marketing ROI, not least because automation can be expensive and challenging to use. You need the right mix of automation for the particular strategic goals of your organization.
What do marketers think are the most important benefits of automation? A survey of nearly 400 marketers, conducted for the report The State of Marketing Automation 2022 (free download), uncovered the top 7 benefits, described in detail below.
1. Automation improves the overall customer experience
Driving a great customer experience requires marketers (and their entire organizations) to deliver consistent and relevant messaging across whatever channels their customers use (from brand websites to call centers, social channels, email, SMS messaging, and more). Automation can improve the customer experience in so many ways, including:
- More personalized email messages and automated, orchestrated follow-up depending on customer responses.
- More relevant, timely product and/or content recommendations depending on customer behavioral/intent signals.
- Subject-line and send-time optimizations for emails, improving open and response rates.
- Better and more dynamic customer segmentation and lead scoring.
- More targeted, personalized paid advertising (and therefore more efficient advertising spend for marketers).
2. Automation enables better use of a marketer’s time
Perhaps the most obvious and important benefit of marketing automation is how it frees up marketers from the burdens of monotonous, manual work.
What could be more boring than manually reformatting or updating customer data? An automated tool such as a data washing machine can do it better. How about manually pulling data from multiple spreadsheets in order to prepare a marketing report? That sounds like a nightmare from the mid-1990s, when marketers spent days writing a single report. Today, automation can instantly gather the relevant data and create a report in just seconds.
“I became a marketer because I always dreamed of manually formatting data and spending days sifting through spreadsheets to create reports,” said no marketer, ever. Automation enables marketers to do the tasks they’re best at, creating ideas and campaigns that engage customers.
3. Automation provides better data to support better decision-making
Automation not only provides more and better data about your customers than you’ve ever had before, but it can also help you manage and deploy all that data, leading to better, more personalized customer engagement and improved marketing ROI
For instance, automation enables marketers to leverage search queries and “digital behavior signals” from customers to inform engagement approaches. Actionable data such as customer intent signals help marketers put relevant messaging and offers in front of highly qualified leads when they’re in-market, driving better revenue outcomes.
4. Automation improves lead generation and nurturing
Way back in the 1990s, lead generation efforts often meant picking up a “cold call” list and calling prospects. The cold call recipients were generally less than thrilled to hear from a sales rep trying to set up a meeting or “hard selling” a product they didn’t need. And if receiving those cold calls was a cringe-worthy experience, how about spending hours making those calls, with your job depending on it.
The automation of lead generation, via an “always-on” revenue engine, saves marketers time (and sanity) while streamlining a formerly labor-intensive process. Gartner offers the clearest explanation of how marketing automation helps marketers with lead gen: “B2B marketing automation . . .supports the practice of demand generation. This includes building awareness, generating and nurturing high-quality leads, orchestrating multichannel engagement to guide customer journey progression, and using analytics to measure and optimize performance. The main goal of these [automation tools] is to capture, qualify and nurture leads and accounts, align them to the appropriate sales team member(s), then continue sales- and/or marketing-driven engagement to drive toward a closed deal.”
5. Automation makes marketing budget/spend more efficient
Beyond enabling marketers to do more in less time (see benefit #2), automation also allows them to scale capabilities and drive cost efficiency.
An automated tool such as a data washing machine, the example we used above to show time savings, also saves budget because engaging customers with inaccurate or outdated data simply throws your marketing spend out the window. Conversely, engaging customers with accurate, updated data results in a higher marketing ROI.
Email engagement and Ad targeting are other areas where bad data and a lack of automation wastes your limited resources: automation can drive better, more personalized engagement that delivers cost efficiency/ROI. Almost every automation benefit related to customer engagement (see #1, #3, #4, and #6) also results in enhanced cost efficiency, a massive win-win for both customers and marketers.
6. Automation enables more personalization
Most B2B marketing organizations today orchestrate customer journeys that combine human and automated interactions to create a more personalized, relevant customer experience across channels. Email and SMS, for example, are two channels where the use of “automation-fueled orchestration” are growing, resulting in better personalization.
The level of automation marketing organizations deploy to orchestrate customer journeys is on a continuum, with 78% of marketers using some level of automation. The survey of 400 marketers from The State of Marketing Automation 2022 report notes that “69% of marketers consider their overall customer journey to be partially or mostly automated.” What percentage of today’s marketing teams are fully automating their customer journeys? Only 9%. On the flip side, 22% of marketers say their “customer journeys include no automation at all.”
7. Automation improves measurement
Automation, as we’ve seen, is fueled by data. Having the volume and visibility of data that automation provides can also help B2B marketers prove and improve everything they do, which is the foundation of marketing operations and performance marketing. In terms of measuring outcomes and performance, automation can’t be beat.
Want to improve your B2B marketing efforts with marketing automation? We’re experienced experts who can help you – learn more here.