This blog post was last updated on January 16th, 2020.

Marketing automation is a wonderful tool that is meant to make the lives of marketing and sales teams easier. It helps you generate more warm leads for your business, improve follow-up with prospects, and better manage customer relationships. It’s a super powerful tool, but you must know exactly what to expect so you can get the most out of the software you’re using.

Maybe you’re beginning to look into marketing automation for your business, or you’re unsure you’re currently using the right software. Whatever your situation is, there’s a ton of unknowns to clear up. So, to reduce any “gotcha” moments, we’re going to cover precisely what you’re getting yourself into when you use marketing automation software. 

1. You’ll Need a Website – and Traffic

If you don’t have a website or online traffic, there’s no need to invest in marketing automation.  After all, the whole point of marketing automation is to better engage with people who visit your website and to nurture your leads with emails that drive them back to your website, where they will eventually convert into a customer.

So, if you’re a brand new business with little to no web traffic, investing in marketing automation today may be jumping the gun a bit. Instead, focus on building a professional-looking website that converts. Then find ways to drive quality traffic to it, which brings me to the next point.

2. You’ll Need an Inbound Marketing Strategy

Marketing automation software is like an engine; it needs the right kind of fuel to make it work. For marketing automation, inbound marketing is the fuel. Before you can capture a new subscriber and nurture a lead with email marketing, you need to drive them to your website.

In the past, top-down advertising methods like radio, TV, print, direct mail, and cold calling pushed messages from brands to consumers. But the game has changed, and these traditional marketing methods are easily tuned-out.

With so much information available online, consumers are doing most of their research before connecting with a salesperson. If you can reach your audience while they’re still in the investigation mode, you have a much better chance of earning their business when they’re ready to buy. Inbound marketing helps you get found online through channels and content like SEO, social media, guest-contributed articles, press mentions, and paid online advertising. 

So, instead of going out and finding new leads, inbound marketing helps new, quality leads find you, driving them to your website where marketing automation takes over.

3. You’ll Need To Implement Email Marketing

One of the primary ways marketing automation helps you convert your leads into customers is by sending them personalized emails. And while all of your emails can be sent from your marketing automation tool, it’s the Email Service Provider that determines if your email will stay out of the spam folder. 

When it comes to bulk emails, you’ll find you have to adhere to the rules of the game to prevent your emails from being marked as spam or blocked. You’ll start thinking about things like:

  • Will sending an email to this cold list hurt my sender reputation?
  • How can I make sure to keep bounce rates in check?
  • Do I have a way for new subscribers to “opt-in” to my email list?
  • Can I tweak my subject line to boost open rates?
  • Do I have a good word to image ratio in the body of my email?
  • Do I know how I’ll be measuring success? 

Learning how to keep your emails in the inbox and out of the spam folder can make a big difference in the performance of your email campaigns. Ultimately, following email marketing best practices can increase the number of leads you can convert into customers.

4. You’ll Need to Send Your Leads Personalized Content

Segmented email lists and individual email campaigns are the most effective personalization tactics. Therefore, it’s essential to analyze the position of your leads in the buyer’s journey and then nurture them accordingly. However, gathering the right data to sort and segment leads would require excessive amounts of time and energy from your marketing team. Instead, marketing automation systems gather information and do all the sorting for you, putting your leads in the right buckets. And once your leads are segmented, you’re on your way to nurturing them with personalized content.

Marketing automation tracks your leads’ activity and determines their sales potential every step of the way. With leads properly segmented, you can meet each lead where they are in the sales funnel and take the right steps to direct them toward conversion. You’ll be able to automatically nurture your leads by sending them personalized content they value instead of slamming them with sales tactics and generic taglines. 

5. You’ll Need to Create a Sales and Marketing Process

By automating workflow, tasks, and follow-up, marketing automation is an excellent tool for fixing any holes in your sales and marketing process. That being said, you need to have a solid sales and marketing process in place before you can automate it.

When you’re setting up your marketing automation engine, you’ll be thinking a lot about your process. For instance:

  • Where do your marketing leads come from?
  • What’s the difference between a hot prospect and a cold lead?
  • When should marketing pass a hot prospect to the sales arm of your business?
  • What are the most critical conversion points to track in your sales process?  
  • How long is your sales cycle?

Asking yourself these questions will help guide your process and help you compare marketing automation products so you can figure out which features you need.

6. You’ll Need Training and Support

Website design, inbound marketing, email marketing, sales, and marketing process – there’s a lot that goes into using marketing automation effectively for your business. Because of this, you might need help that goes beyond learning how to use the software.

For instance, you may need help with the software, like learning how to import a list of contacts from another system. But you may also need help on the strategy side, like understanding how to create compelling content for an email campaign.

When comparing marketing automation tools, make sure that the software you choose includes the training and support you need to be successful. Take advantage of what you’re offered by attending one-on-one training, signing up for webinars, and digest any online onboarding materials to ensure that you get the most out of your investment in marketing automation.

Remember that customer service and support are just as important features of your software as website tracking, forms, and email tools. If you can’t get the help you need, your investment in marketing automation won’t pay off as it should.

7. ROI May Take Time – But, Your Patience will be Rewarded!

Inbound marketing isn’t a race. It creates a longer sales cycle because you’re focused on educating and nurturing your leads to a sale, instead of pushing them towards a sale. The latter just isn’t appealing anymore, and with consumers being as knowledgeable as they are, they want time to make a decision and gather information. 

With that said, businesses who nurture leads make 50% more sales at a cost 33% less than non-nurtured prospects. There is profit to be had, but you have to be patient to see it. Too often, when a new tool is implemented, companies think they should see immediate results. It is important to realize that the ROI is measurable and real, but it may take time to create the kind of impact that moves your audience towards purchase decisions. In the long run, this is a short-term investment that will pay out in a great way for the company if implemented correctly.

8. You’ll Lower Your Costs 

When companies apply a nurturing strategy and automate mundane processes, they save money. Employees don’t have to do the mindless work of sorting through lead behavior. Instead, they can focus on answering questions and cultivating relationships. Allowing the work to be done automatically means a faster and more efficient process for everyone. Forrester Research found companies that excelled at marketing automation were able to generate 50% more leads ready for sales at a 33% lower cost. When a software system can do the busywork, your employees are freed up to work on tougher tasks that have a more significant impact on your business.

Well, there you have it! This is everything you need to know before embarking on the wonderful and magical world of marketing automation. To help you get started, set up a free demo today, and learn how our software can help you meet your marketing goals.