Hiring and Outsourcing Guide: Marketing Automation Companies
Connecting with customers and offering them a more personalized, easier experience is a huge goal for any business. From startups to major corporations and all businesses in between, connecting consumers with products and services in the smoothest, most natural way makes it much more likely to drive purchases and keep customers coming back for more.
So how do you create that experience? How can your business enhance the customer experience and serve up the right product to the right customer at the right moment? One of the keys is marketing automation.
Marketing automation tools essentially allow you to put some of your customer communications and outreach, from lead gen to promotions to email marketing and more, into a workflow that is almost on autopilot. In addition to streamlining repetitive tasks, automation also brings with it numerous ways to see and understand customer behavior, and find ways to fix sticking points, correct problems in the purchase process, and ultimately drive more sales.
Let’s take a look at just what marketing automation companies are, what they can do for businesses, and how you can benefit from hiring a marketing automation company.
What is a Marketing Automation Company?
Marketing automation is the process of utilizing one or more technology tools to create, manage, and analyze marketing campaigns across several different channels simultaneously. For instance, you may be launching a new product or service, and want to utilize numerous forms of media and outlets to tell people about it. That can include email marketing, lead generation, social media, landing pages, demand generation, and more, as well as the reporting and metrics about conversion rates, clickthrough, and so on.
A marketing automation company is a firm or agency staffed with experts in one or several marketing automation tools. A good marketing automation agency will also have marketing automation consultants who have several years of experience in one or more digital marketing areas, including email campaigns, lead generation, audience segmentation, content marketing, and more. Often many marketing automation agencies are staffed with marketing automation specialists who have extensive backgrounds in marketing, including being members of a sales team, a social media agency or department, digital marketing group, or an inbound marketing team. Combined with their knowledge of the sales funnel for multiple organizations, SEO principles, and marketing automation technology, a marketing automation company can provide tremendous benefits for your business and do so quickly.
What are the Different Types of Marketing Automation Tools and Features?
There are several popular tools available nowadays that offer some or all of the marketing automation processes mentioned above. Some of the biggest names include Salesforce, HubSpot, Marketo, and even MailChimp. Each of these suites operates in a slightly different way, but providing great marketing automation functions wherever possible is a shared goal among them.
Marketing automation consultants will be able to consult with you and your business depending on the goals, needs, and industry you are in. Whether you are planning to run a demand generation campaign, a follow-up campaign for lead nurturing, email campaigns for your different customer segments, or any other digital marketing campaign, marketing automation specialists have a terrific amount of know-how to share and apply to help your business succeed.
Why Should I Invest in Marketing Automation for My Business?
Once people learn what marketing automation is, this is very often the next question—Why do I need marketing automation for my business?
The answer can be slightly different for every type and size of business, but there are some common benefits and functions that make marketing automation essential for any modern business. Those benefits include:
Incredible time savings—while there is obviously an initial setup period required with any new system, the potential time savings of automated marketing campaigns are tremendous.
In-depth consumer information—marketing automation tools offer a remarkable amount of insight and actionable data about customers, from profiles or personas to granular metrics about exactly what parts of any campaign are most effective for each type of customer.
Improved customer engagement and retention—Sending just the right message to the right customer at the right time is the ultimate goal of any business, because it means a much higher likelihood that customers will take an action (in other words, serious conversion rates). Marketing automation makes that not only possible but much more likely.
Stretch your budget further—Bringing a new customer to your business always costs more than keeping the customers you do have. Customer retention pays big dividends, and personalized messaging and marketing is a very effective way to keep customers coming back to your business
Should I Hire a Marketing Automation Company or a Freelancer?
Marketing automation consultants are available both as freelancers and within marketing automation companies. Some full-service advertising or marketing agencies may also have dedicated teams for marketing automation services.
In that case, would it make more sense for your business to hire a marketing automation company, or work with a freelance marketing automation specialist? Let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons of each.
Positives and Negatives of Working With a Company
Starting with marketing automation companies, there are a number of upsides that can benefit your business. These might include:
Availability of Marketing Automation Technology
A company that specializes in marketing automation is more likely to not only have extensive experience with multiple marketing automation technologies, but will also be able to help your marketing team learn and become familiar with the tools, dashboards, and functionality of them.
A marketing automation company will also be able to very quickly help you choose the right marketing automation technology for your business, all based on your exact needs, goals, and growth projections. Different marketing automation software may excel in different marketing processes, and a knowledgeable agency or firm will be able to help you narrow down and select the right technology.
Across every part of the process, from selecting marketing automation technology to launching email campaigns or marketing efforts, an automation agency with multiple people is more likely to have knowledge in most (if not all) of the digital marketing areas your business needs.
On the other hand, there can be some factors to consider when considering whether to work with a marketing automation company, such as:
What is the company’s workload like? How many clients are they servicing, and where will my business fall within the list of their priorities?
As within any other purchase your business makes, there can be a huge range of options and prices. Some marketing automation companies are certain to simply because of how broad the expertise and options are.
You may run across some marketing automation companies that are not full-service but instead are highly focused on a particular area (email marketing or CRM, for instance). If that’s the kind of expertise your business needs that can work, but if you are looking for help with marketing strategies and campaign management across multiple messages and media, then these agencies would not be able to help.
Positives and Negatives of Freelancers
Freelance marketing automation consultants or marketing automation specialists are another great option, but also come with some pros and cons. Benefits include:
It’s possible that a freelance marketing automation specialist will have just one or two clients that they are working with at a time. In turn, that means more dedication to your specific project and marketing campaign needs.
Working with a freelance marketing consultant can sometimes be a more affordable option, though not always. However, working with a freelance specialist can also allow for more flexibility in pricing, and the option to negotiate rates based on the scope and scale of your project.
As part of the affordability conversation, freelancers can also be hired to help with very specific project needs. If you have marketing staff or a marketing department already but need someone who specializes in email marketing automation, a freelancer can be a very affordable way to plug that gap in your current company structure.
On the downside, freelance marketing automation consultants might have:
Limited Expertise in Marketing Automation Software
A freelance consultant may be extremely knowledgeable about HubSpot, for example, but may not have much background with Salesforce or MailChimp. This will limit your business’ options when selecting a marketing automation platform to work within.
Freelance specialists in any field may only be able to devote a certain number of hours each week to your project, which could end up slowing down your company’s progress toward the finish line.
Why You Should Hire a Marketing Automation Company
As far as benefits outweighing the negatives, hiring a marketing automation company is almost always the best choice for a small business. And there are several reasons for that.
First, a dedicated marketing automation company will be able to offer numerous services (and their benefits) to your business that can have a near-immediate impact. From maximizing a campaign’s effectiveness (through clickthrough, optimization, and more), to spotting and correcting errors in the automation system, to reviewing and reporting on key metrics and campaign performance, a marketing automation company has the combination of expertise, personnel, and people to give your business a serious boost.
In addition, a marketing automation company is likely to be able to answer virtually any questions you may have and to work within the specific budget, goals, and needs of your company.
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Hiring a Marketing Automation Company
Much like hiring any marketing or creative agency to help your small business grow, there are some best practices and important tips to follow when hiring a marketing automation company.
How Much Does It Cost to Hire a Marketing Automation Company?
Like other small-business services, marketing automation pricing can vary widely. However, as a general rule, you can expect there to be two phases to billing—the initial setup stage, and the ongoing function/service phase.
For setting your business up with marketing automation, you can expect pricing to range anywhere from $2,500 to $8,500 dollars. The final price tag will depend largely on what services your business needs, what tool you have chosen, and what services are needed.
From here, your ongoing costs can range from as low as a few hundred dollars each month to $2,500-$3,000 dollars. Again, this depends on the complexity of your automation needs, the depth and breadth of services, and the specific technology chosen.
How to Find a Reputable Marketing Automation Provider
When you begin looking for a marketing automation agency to work with, you can do a good deal of research and ask a few key questions that will help.
First, like any other service or product, you can usually find customer reviews, testimonials, and even case studies for some of the great companies out there. Evaluating their online reputation and their past work (and results!) in this way may even give you some insight as to how much experience they have in your industry or field.
You’ll also want to review what specific skills they mention and can apply to your business. For example, are they data-driven people with analytics experience? Do they have in-house specialists in the area(s) you need? And what marketing automation software are they experts in?
Questions to Ask a Marketing Automation Company
The list above is a great start when asking questions of any marketing automation company. What they use, what they know, who they have worked with, and how they handle each project/client are all great information.
More specifically, you may want to ask them about the products or services your business offers. Have they worked with similar clients in the past? If so, what were the results? Do they have any data they would be willing to share?
If potential growth is on your mind (and we’re sure it is), you could also ask them about what other tools and services they offer. Do they have people in-house who can handle email design or content marketing, for example? As your business grows, it could be helpful to know that the marketing automation company you chose can grow with you.
What to Expect After Hiring a Marketing Automation Company
Once you have chosen the marketing automation agency that you are going to work with, there are a few things you should expect.
- Excellent communication—Letting you know about not only successes but challenges or problems, and being available to answer any and all questions.
- Data, data, data—Once the numbers start rolling in, you should expect your marketing automation consultants to provide you with a wealth of data and information.
- Trust—Be excited! You’ve picked a great company to partner with, and experts that you can trust. Now the fun part starts—seeing the results.
Marketing Automation Expertise is Just a Click Away
With the growth of marketing automation software, and the growing needs of small businesses to get in on the benefits of marketing automation, marketing automation companies are popping up everywhere. You’re no longer limited to working with marketing agencies and automation firms in New York, Los Angeles, or Chicago. However, those cities are booming with talent, and the digital nature of marketing automation means that they can provide the same level of outstanding service (and results) to your business no matter where you are located. There is tremendous expertise in those markets, along with a remarkable breadth of experience with clients in almost every field imaginable. Once you have your goals and needs identified, the fun part can begin—finding the right marketing automation partner for you.