Is My Business Too Small For Marketing Automation?
In addition to guest posting on the UpCity blog, SequoiaCX is featured as one of the Top Digital Marketing Agencies in the United States. Check out their profile!
Alright, let’s address the elephant in the room.
What is the value of marketing efforts—and particularly investment in automation tools?
I know, an investment in marketing automation can be a pretty nebulous decision for many organizations. Yes—we can (and will) provide formulas and walk you through the calculations—but that’s really not going to assuage any concerns about whether or not it’s the best decision for your business RIGHT NOW. (Which is, of course, the most important aspect of this decision.)
Having been through this SPECIFIC decision-making process for multiple businesses—I believe I can provide you with some clarity and help you determine if it’s the best decision for your business… right now.
Let me specify… I”m uniquely focused on small to medium-sized—and growing—businesses. If your company already fits into the “established” category, then the complexity and value of your marketing efforts may already warrant the use of marketing automation software—even if you don’t meet the quantity and other “limits” outlined herein.
So, that’s WHY we’re here.. Let’s get at it…
Do you have the foundation in place for marketing automation?
The first question (or check) is simple.
Do you have the strategy and resources—already in place—to take advantage of marketing automation?
Marketing automation software is a force multiplier. It’s all about distribution, recirculation, social media engagement, retargeting, and automating follow-up email campaigns with visitors who are ALREADY engaging with your business (leads).
If you don’t already have a pool of visitors and leads—marketing automation may not make sense.
Determining whether or not your current marketing investments and efforts have the potential to be effective is an essential input for your decision here.
Are you producing AT LEAST two to four blogs, press releases, or other pieces of content per month?
The truth is… the value of marketing automation will never scale with you if you aren’t ALREADY able to consistently execute blogs, news articles, email newsletters, downloads, or other content that drive high-intent leads.
This just means that you need to have the capacity to produce quality content—month in and month out.
This may be through an internal marketing resource that works with your team—or it may be derived through an external content team. Either way, you need to first produce quality content that is valuable to your audience and drives website traffic month over month before marketing automation is practical.
If your business has the resources—or the budget—to produce content in this way… then there’s a good chance you’re ready to take advantage of marketing automation software to expand your reach.
What are the specific foundational elements?
That’s a good general introduction—but here are some specifics to gauge whether or not you’re ready…
Do you have the following…
- A cohesive digital presence (website, landing pages, etc.)
- Consistent content creation (blogs, webinars, downloads, etc.)
- A content & engagement strategy
- A social media presence & strategy
- A well-defined CRM process and lead validation strategy
- A well-defined sales process to coordinate marketing-sales hand-offs
- Eagerness to participate in account-based marketing activities
Typically, organizations that have these elements in place are “ready” for marketing automation. That said, further exploration is still required to determine if the investment will produce returns.
Are you ready to “pull the trigger”?
The big question is…
Do your resources have the bandwidth for marketing automation?
The basis for determining a return on investment (ROI) for marketing automation is not necessarily about “how small” or “the size of your company.”
It’s about whether or not you have the foundations and resources to continue producing marketing content and take advantage of the marketing automation software to drive growth…
The fact is…. “most” small businesses and marketing teams have been more focused on helping the “team(s)” bring in sales—and rightly so—than building out everything they need for their marketing foundation to produce sustainable marketing content. However, it’s important to remember that marketing automation will require an investment of time in processes and execution.
Will your marketing team continue to have the capacity and bandwidth to produce content for the coming months as you bring on a new automation tool?
What you need to think about is the time commitment a marketing automation platform will require… And will that commitment be placed on your internal resources of external resources—like an agency?
A marketing automation platform will require SOME time and energy to onboard and orchestrate.
Particularly as you begin automating efforts—you should ensure that you have a full-time resource (or agency resource) that can COMPLETELY focus on optimizing the platform and operationalizing new activities.
That specific resource shouldn’t be expected to continue developing content—like writing blogs, facilitating webinars, and other activities—at least for a month or two as you work through onboarding a new automation technology.
This typically means that you have a well-worn content marketing strategy, execution pipeline, and lead generation funnel. Not always—but if you’re “close” and have the budget and trust—that’s generally when it “makes sense.”
Are You Ready For Marketing Automation?
Generally, we don’t recommend marketing automation until an organization has a solid foundation built out—and—has the budget/resources for at least two marketing personnel in-house. (hold on… caveats.)
There are exceptions.
Some organizations are more than ready and capable with ONLY ONE dedicated marketing resource.
Businesses that take on an “agency model” for their marketing execution can often effectively run marketing automation with just a Marketing Manager or Director. These “models,” however, require an additional budget for freelancers, contractors, or marketing agencies to help them develop and execute content—from blogs and press to webinars, videos, and infographics.
It’s DEFINITELY NOT a hard-and-fast rule—but generally—a $3,000 to $5,000 USD per month “retainer budget” is the “entry fee” into high-quality marketing content that drives growth for MOST small to medium-sized businesses. Depending on the complexity, knowledge, and expertise required for your sector—that figure can increase significantly.
The True Value of Marketing Automation…
The true value of marketing automation comes from the fact that your EXISTING marketing efforts—and representatives—can significantly extend their reach. Not only can they automate tasks and engage with thousands of customers through easy-to-use tools—but they can also keep tabs on key accounts and sectors through social engagement tools.
The advantages of marketing automation are enormous…
- A 14.5% increase in sales productivity
- A 12.2% reduction in marketing overhead
- 77% of marketers report an increase in conversions due to automation
And improved personalization—to name just a few….
I cannot understate the value of investing in systems or platforms that help you promote transparency and automate metrics gathering to improve data-driven decisions… You must reach a certain threshold before you’re ready—but once you’re there—the value of marketing automation only compounds.
I hope that this blog has helped you determine whether marketing automation is right for your business…
… As promised, here are a few links to calculators for you to identify the ROI for marketing automation tools based on what platform you’re planning on adopting:
If you find them useful, I hope you’ll contact us—or a local agency like SequoiaCX—to support your community AND help you grow with a technology skillset that you don’t currently have in-house.
Essentially marketing automation provides the ability to engage, connect, and wow customers at scale. So long as you’re ready for it…
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