Why Marketing Automation Is More than a CMO Concern

Author: 
Ray Kemper

Just as CRM platforms revolutionized the sales industry, marketing technologies are becoming indispensable for businesses all over the world. Yet despite growing adoption, one misperception lingers: that these tools are relevant only to marketing leaders. The truth is that marketing automation impacts the entire C-suite — and that’s important when justifying the investment to key stakeholders.

Ask your average C-suite executive about marketing automation and they’ll often assume it’s about automating and personalizing emails. But what marketing automation really does is broaden the executive vision of operations, drive sales opportunities and enable ROI accountability across the company.

Consider the chief sales officer (CSO), the C-suite leader most impacted. Marketing automation has the power to super-charge the CRM system and sales pipeline. Let the CSO know that both platforms will work in tandem, with marketing automation enabling the additional personalization that’s needed to scale relevant content to customers and prospects. Sales will also have deeper account insights and see a specific contact’s engagement across all marketing touchpoints, helping them grow the account.

Another sales benefit from marketing automation: a higher close rate, thanks to a good scoring model. Once sales leaders grasp the potential for higher sales productivity and more opportunities, they’re much more likely to be enthusiastic about the adoption.

Cross-department benefits
The other leader highly impacted by the investment is the chief information officer (CIO) or chief technology officer (CTO). Because they’re responsible for overseeing the overall tech stack, you’ll need to explain how the marketing technology impacts the database infrastructure and integrates with other systems. For instance, your marketing automation platform helps better service clients and potential customers by targeting content and improving their interactions. The tool’s robust reporting and tracking capabilities can create more efficient analytics and reporting. It plays well with the tech stack.

Another beneficiary is the chief personnel officer. By measuring engagement with employee communications, they can gauge which areas are of most interest to the internal audience. The chief legal officer will be supportive in how the tool helps better instrument and standardize campaigns to ensure the company’s adherence to laws regarding customer privacy, international and federal privacy guidelines, logo and trademark infringements, as well as adherence to legal disclaimers for promotions.

The CEO and CFO may not be directly impacted from marketing automation, but they have as strong a stake as anyone. Why? Because marketing technology tells the story of impact — and marketing spend has traditionally faced a challenge in tracking direct or influenced revenue. By tying the technology investment to overall revenue and efficiency, the platform can reveal the components driving both direct and influenced revenue. (Tip: set expectations in terms of the metrics impacted by the tool. Not only will you show ROI on your solution, but you’ll be able to justify your marketing investment across channels by attributing impact.)

Finally, the CEO will be interested in the revenue impact, sales and marketing growth, as well as the heightened customer satisfaction. From empowering the CMO to demonstrate ROI to a happier CFO, and the greater strategic alignment between the CSO and the CMO, the CEO will recognize the benefits across the organization.

These interconnected factors should strengthen support for your marketing automation investment. But you’ll probably still compete for limited resources, which means you’ll need to spell out the advantages of marketing automation to improve every aspect of the company.

This happens in two major phases.

ROI through stories
Explain the potential ROI to stakeholders through relevant stories. Bring the benefits to life by connecting marketing automation’s potential to real business situations. For instance, most marketing technology tools have a plugin for social media management. Not only does this make it easier for your team to create, schedule and measure social campaigns, these tools can do double duty as a listening post, helping you discover what’s trending about your brand on the Internet. Your team can respond in real time to conversations and complaints, a serious advantage for boosting buyer engagement and brand management.

Another illustration of tangible value: the technology’s client profiling function. Here salespeople can monitor prospect interactions such as forwarding or opening emails, consuming content or spending time on other activities on the site. These insights are key to helping the sales team shape actionable strategies for better engagement. And because marketing automation tools usually plug into the CRM, the sales team won’t need to learn another system — always a selling point.

Leverage strategic partners
Educating the C-suite on marketing automation benefits is only step one. Once the platform is in play, you’ll need to prove the ROI on an ongoing basis. The key here is using a skilled and experienced partner in implementation. Marketing automation is not a plug-and-play tool, despite what the technology sales rep might tell you.

Taking advantage of its full potential involves a considerable transition, something many CMOs underestimate. Often marketing leaders will try to use their new tool with their existing systems and processes, basically to do what they’ve always done more efficiently. But, a year down the road, they find few of the benefits they promised have materialized. This is why it’s just as important to ask for the strategic and operational resources to support the technology, and not simply the platform itself.

The reality is that you’ll need to reengineer your processes to adapt to the system — not the other way around. After all, there’s no point in buying expensive technology to do what you’re already doing. Because your implementation partner has shepherded other companies through this kind of change, they’ll help you design productive new pathways that work with your new technology and ensure your tools are aligned for proper reporting and analytics across systems.

Marketing automation is not an overnight revolution. Your partner will guide you into building out the new functionality and new strategy in phases for a smooth transition that allows you to deliver on your promises. From lead management to increased sales, the advantages of marketing automation are undeniable. It’s just a matter of laying the right groundwork and getting full C-suite support for a new chapter in marketing success.  

Ray Kemper is CMO at Televerde, providers of marketing technology services, engagement strategy solutions and data consulting services.