How can you get the most from your integrated marketing platform?

Marketing automation is one of the most significant trends in the business-to-business world. This software has the potential to boost Internet lead generation, create better nurturing campaigns and give salespeople access to data that allows them to make stronger connections with their prospects. However, companies get caught up in the benefits of an integrated marketing platform without planning properly for implementation. As a result, they may not see the promised advantages.

Common myths about marketing automation

In addition to not using these solutions to their full capabilities, some B2B firms procrastinate the adoption of an integrated marketing platform. You can put yourself at a competitive disadvantage compared to other businesses in your industry without it. The primary reasons executives don’t take marketing automation seriously are the cost, complexity, lack of in-house expertise for statistical analysis and some believe these platforms reduce employee creativity, according to an article for Business 2 Community written by Monique Torres. Most of these are myths.

When marketing automation platforms first emerged, they were mainly for larger businesses. However, many vendors cater to smaller B2B companies now, and some solutions are subscription-based, which allows you to only pay for the capabilities you need. Because of the cost, many small businesses don’t think they need one of these platforms, but they help sales teams get better quality leads and close more deals.

The main reason an integrated marketing environment can seem too complex is because it isn’t implemented correctly. Additionally, the B2B sales cycle is so complicated that sales representatives need tools to make their lives easier and boost productivity. Not only do these platforms allow you to send automatic nurturing emails to prospects, but you can also segment your audience and generate accurate reports on lead activity. Segmentation helps you send more relevant communications to each customer group. For example, you wouldn’t send the same message to a first-time customer as you would to a returning client.

While most marketing automation solutions come with pre-built email templates, this doesn’t need to limit creativity, Torres said. Not having to design each email frees up time for employees to focus on other crucial tasks.

Why aren’t companies seeing the results they want from marketing automation?

Although following the correct implementation process is important to start using these platforms the right way, there are a number of other reasons why businesses may not capture an immediate return on investment. Marketing automation is no longer prohibitively expensive, but there is still a cost of purchasing a platform and migrating data to it. It’s easy to get frustrated when results don’t happen overnight, but there are a few clear reasons why companies don’t get a return right away, Ian Cleary wrote for Venture Beat.

When companies make an investment in marketing automation, they need to make a commitment to sufficient staff training. Because these systems are new for many people, employees need guidance in how to use them to extract the full benefits.

One of the biggest reasons businesses don’t see quick ROI from an integrated marketing platform is because they don’t use all the capabilities of the system. Integrated marketing environments can handle a wide variety of challenges for sales organizations, but many companies just use them to send automatic emails. While this is useful for lead nurturing and drip campaigns, the platform can do a lot more, like pull reports on lead generation, prospect activity and conversion rates. This is immensely beneficial for determining future marketing strategies. Even though email is the most common form of lead nurturing, there are other ways to build relationships with prospects. Spreading a wider net ensures you can convert a higher number of leads.

You can’t treat marketing automation like a magical answer to all your sales team’s problems, Bill Cozadd wrote for Business 2 Community. It is a powerful tool, but it can’t cover all gaps in the sales process, especially if they are employee-related. It may be beneficial to take a look at your internal sales procedures before implementing a marketing automation platform. Boosting sales training beforehand can ensure employees are prepared to start using this solution. It’s also a good idea to assess whether your company is ready for such a major change because establishing an integrated marketing environment will likely overhaul some outdated processes. You need to set some goals before the transition as well. Implementing marketing automation without a plan can cause the initial deployment to be unsuccessful.

If you have a separate marketing and sales team, you need to address causes of dissonance between the two departments. While an integrated marketing platform can bring these two teams together, you need to know what is causing tension so you can tackle it head on.