When is the right time to implement an integrated marketing platform?

As a medium or small business, managers are faced with a number of hand-wringing decisions during the course of a day. One of the biggest is when is the right time to bring an integrated marketing platform to attract new customers. The second big question is what vendor or software package to use once that decision is made. Idan Carmeli is with appXtrm and he wrote an article for Business​ 2 Community that explained a number of factors to help make that determination.

Where does the company stand in its development?

In ascertaining when to make the merge into an integrated marketing environment, Cameli, said, company management needs to make a realistic assessment of what stage of development the business is at and can it withstand the implementation of a new discipline that will take time and money to learn. If the company is operating in beta mode or has just received seed fund money, chances are, Cameli noted, that it’s too early in the company’s life to make such a jump. However, if the business’ client base and delivery operations are working well, maybe it’s time to make the step.

Lists and data base sizes are a factor

Cameli indicated that if a company’s database is under 10,000 names, it’s far to early to fully automate. If the base holds between 10,000 and 50,000 names, stepping into automation is the next logical step, but full deployment of an integrated marketing platform should be held off until more than 50,000 names are in the database. At that point, non-automated processing just can’t keep up with volume.

More analytics in the software packages

A Raab Associates report showed clearly that vendor software packages are trending toward more analytics and less social media in their platforms. Stewart Rogers at Venture Beat asked company owner, David Raab, if adding analytics was by customer demand or because vendors are looking to strengthen themselves in the market.

“It’s a bit of both,” Raab said. “Changes related to lead scoring were concentrated among some of the less mature vendors, who were indeed filling gaps. But other changes were spread more broadly and were generally related to advanced capabilities such as fractional revenue attribution, predictive modeling, and marketing stage analysis. Those were more driven by customer needs, whether requested by clients or anticipated by the vendors,” he added.

Cameli’s survey found that companies need to calculate their monthly growth rate when deciding whether to automate or not. If the growth rate is less than 10 percent, he wrote, then there’s no need for an integrated marketing environment. If an industry has a growth rate of 20 percent it’s probably not ready to merge into automation but growth more than 20 percent is optimum for deploying automation software for the business.

Lead generation and the sales team

Another area of concentration for company management before moving to automation is the size of the sales team and the ratio of personnel to Internet leads generated. 4-600 leads monthly is probably not enough traffic to warrant deployment of integrated marketing platforms, but if leads are averaging 750 or more, then Cameli advised making the move in order to streamline the entire operation, retain more customers and lose fewer than with the traditional sales and marketing business models.

Rogers’s story at Venture Beat said that the numbers in the integrated marketing software sector show 50 percent revenue growth across the sector for the third year running. Rogers asked David Raab if the industry can keep posting those type of figures.

“Nothing can continue forever, but I don’t think we’ll slow down for the next year or two,” Raab described. “There are still plenty of companies who are buying their first system, and there is an increasing supply of marketers who have experience with these systems.”

Additional information contained the Raab reports showed that vendor revenue growth across the industry remains on track to pass the $1.2 billion mark at the end of 2014, which is a 50 percent hike over last year.

The upgrading of integrated marketing software to include more analytics was a surprising sideline to the survey, and Raab said content marketing continues to see explosive growth but still only accounts for about 10 percent of the upgrades made to the automation procedure. Raab talked of how they learn more each time they collate all the survey data.

“Comparing results over time offers still deeper insight into how vendors are reacting to marketers’ requirements,” he said.

Cameli added that when everything is factored in, including operating costs, budget additions and subtractions and unforeseen costs, a 10-12 million bottom line is about right for deploying an integrated marketing platform protocol. Anything else, he said, would not be cost effective and could ultimately lead to financial difficulties down the road.