Gain a competitive edge with marketing automation: How to start small

Ilari Vallisaari

10.11.2016

The purpose of marketing automation is to ensure messages get to customers at the right time, in the right place and at the right price. Ongoing digitalisation increases pressure on companies to create functional solutions. The good news is that now it is easier than ever to get on the automation path with little effort.

We typically only associate marketing automation with large companies that have extensive customer databases, large projects and dedicated teams to handle marketing communications. However, this is all changing. Even medium-sized businesses with small campaigns increasingly have the need for real-time, cost-effective customer communications.

Fortunately, supply now meets demand. Companies can afford to choose from many different automation systems to suit their needs and objectives. Automated solutions provide a competitive advantage regardless of the size of the company or campaign.

Benefits overcome lack of resources

Marketing automation is not an IT project but a mindset, in which we commit to learn and do things in a new way as well as analysing the results. It is a new way to communicate with customers and develop the current form of marketing.

Although we recognise the many benefits of marketing automation, we all too often highlight the costs and resource problems. Also, firms might be in the midst of other upgrade projects that take priority.

Like a train, digitalisation is moving full speed ahead regardless of these excuses. In the corporate arena, a seismic shift could take place in marketing in which the winners seize other players’ competitive advantages. It’s best to be among the winners.

Of course, starting means a system acquisition that requires resources. But once the ball gets rolling, people begin to make time for planning and developing operations. Automated solutions help shape the workplace to meet the demands of today.

What business wouldn’t want to increase revenue, as well as develop and commit employees to the company? Results ultimately also reflect on brand value which is, after all, one of the more important metrics for tracking results.

At the end of the day, facts help tackle the resource issue. Many studies have shown that it is not necessary to wait long to see returns from marketing automation. For example, according to Salesforce, the payback time for marketing automation in a business is, on average, about one year – 75% of companies will see returns within 12 months:

marketingautomationstats

Start with a pilot, invest later

The majority of marketing automation systems are scalable. In other words, you can deploy only the elements needed. An acquisition decision should always prioritise company goals. Even the finest bells and whistles will gather dust if they are not needed.

If you are just starting to form an idea of your needs, it is possible to try a cost-effective MICROPOC solution (Proof of Concept) to find a suitable system and features. MICROPOC allows firms to test how well a system works for business purposes during a quarter and to see its potential. This neither commits resources needlessly nor requires massive investments.

In MICROPOC’s first phase, we pilot a solution for everyday business. The test might include elements such as a welcome programme for new customers or a call-to-action message path for less active customers on the B2B side. After the agreed trial period, we summarise the outcomes and evaluate the next steps.

Generally, the results have been so good that companies have given a green light to move forward. Players in the company have understood the system’s role in communications as part of budgeting, as well as harnessing staff potential for automation optimisation. The benefits and required resources become evident in practical terms.

Therefore, it’s possible to get started on marketing automation with a light trial. In today’s competitive environment, it is worthwhile to take even small steps to better reach your customers. Not whenever, but now.

Ilari Vallisaari

Ilari Vallisaari

Measuring and developing marketing operations are very important to me. I currently work with marketing automation and data integration to get the best possible ROI from digital marketing. I have encountered all kinds of projects during more than 10 years in the IT, mobile and marketing sectors. Success stories require support from the entire organisation and a successful product launch.

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