Here come the robots (mmm…not really).

A small dose of reality about marketing automation.

Ha, ha, got you! Sorry but I had to get the word robot into the title… I mean there is so much hype about ‘the robots are coming for our jobs’ in the media.

This is part of our content series about the whole area of marketing automation software (we’re talking Pardot, Hubspot, Salesforce, Act-On, Eloqua, Infusionsoft, Sugar CRM etc).

The conversation is between Kate Politano, of To The Point Marketing Agency, a Boston marketing automation agency and myself.

Some snippets:

Lionel (L): How would you define “marketing automation”(MA), in a few sentences?
Kate (K): ‘A tool to widen your reach, with less human interaction’.
L: Wow! Less than one sentence. But what is the hype versus the reality?

K: It’s not a magic wand, (hype) it takes a lot of setting up and maintaining (reality). Whether you’re using Pardot, Hubspot or one of the other leading software platforms. So the word ‘automation’ is misleading, because only certain aspects of marketing automation tools are ‘automated’. Using a marketing automation software takes time and effort and regular tweaking.

L: What is marketing automation actually doing for companies, then? Is there an R.O.I. (return on investment)?

K: Yes, because it helps you to extend your reach, with the same marketing resources.

So, yes, it’s a good business decision. It saves money in your cost of sales, particularly, because you’re spending your sales resources when sales is appropriate. It’s about not having sales do marketing’s job (which is identifying and qualifying prospects). It allows for sales folks to talk to prospects that are pretty interested already, and win new business.

Besides sales, MA helps you invest better in your marketing too. It gives you feedback about how prospects are interacting with your content and campaigns, which then allows you to tighten and improve that content. You save money because you can measure what’s working. Measurement is a huge benefit of marketing automation software.

So, you’re saving money and/or spending your money better in both the marketing and sales areas.

Big Bang Theory IT types and Tattoo’d creatives share an undisclosed beverage.

L: What kinds of skill sets are needed?

K: There are two skill sets needed in marketing automation. Hard skills are technical or IT (think Big Bang Theory) types. This is the aspect of actually setting up, customizing the software and making it work.

And the other type of skills are soft skills. These are the creative/marketing (think tattoos and piercings) types, with skills to create the messaging, copy-writing, design, etc.

When our agency works with a company, we’re often working right in between these two areas. Sometimes we’re helping the Big Bang theory types, who are good at the technical aspects, to do the creative marketing stuff.

OR we’re working with the creative types who are great at the messaging and creative, but need help with the IT aspects.

And sometimes we’re doing both. We’re helping those two groups in a company integrate with each other. We train the marketing department on how to use the software. Or we train the IT department, with the creative aspect.

A lot of small to medium size companies don’t have both skill sets fully in house, so that’s where we come in.

L: So, to summarize, Marketing Automation sits in between IT and marketing.

K: Yup.

L: How is marketing automation software different than sales software like salesforce.com ?

K: Sales automation or CRM, salesforce being the prime example, takes over from marketing automation when a lead becomes a prospect. MA takes prospects from every level of interest, wherever they are in the buyer’s journey, to the next level. MA is a process, enabled by software, to determine where a prospect is on the ‘path to purchase’ and to nurture them along to the next stage. When they’ve reached the right level of interest, CRM/sales takes over.

L: What other activities does a company need to be able to do, to make MA software worthwhile (messaging, copy-writing, creating content, having an effective website, etc)

K: Yes, all of these. Your website has to be relevant and updated. In the era of marketing automation, 60% of the prospect’s decision is made before they ever speak to a salesperson. So all your online presence and web design should be looked at.

L: Well we’ve probably exhausted our audience’s interest by now, but stay tuned, because we’ll be continuing these conversations in the future. And for help with marketing automation, content, or B2B strategy, especially in the food/hospitality area, contact us at msourcedeas.com.

About us: We provide expertise to help food brands grow through channel expansion strategies. Visit us at msourceideas.com