SMB’s Crossing the Chasm with Marketing Automation


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For over a decade, email marketing has been the de facto channel for outbound marketing. An estimated 250 billion plus emails are sent each day and, of those, over 90% are spam. Buyers are simply becoming complacent to inbox clutter. As a result, relevance drives revenue for today’s top performing organizations. It’s truly about the right message, at the right time, in the right place. But, the “place” seems to evolve every year as buyers connect and share experiences on digital, mobile, and social channels. Email hasn’t become any less relevant than it was 10 years ago, but the way business incorporate email into the multi-channel engagement strategy has changed. Customers have influence and control over the buying cycle. Small business marketers (defined by organizations with 1-100 employees) need take stock of these changing dynamics to grow revenue and extend customer reach.

It’s easy to talk about how critical it is to manage the pipeline, generate leads, and qualify prospects. But, the reality is, most small businesses struggle to do this effectively. This is in part a byproduct of reliance on legacy marketing tactics that, frankly, still generate modest results. With limited resources, why would a small business change what seems to be working? But, it’s also a byproduct of a lack of education about the real best practices that are emerging for customer engagement in 2011 and beyond. Here are a few stats that set the stage for the real question at hand:

  • Research from Gleanster* shows that 89% of small businesses engage in outbound email marketing
  • Top Performing* companies are 3x more likely than Everyone Else to leverage a Marketing Automation tool
  • 4% of small businesses (1-100 employees) leverage a marketing automation tool
  • 78% of small businesses “have used social media” for marketing campaigns and/or lead generation

*Q3’11 Marketing Automation Survey, n= 285 Survey Respondents & Q4’11 Lead Prioritization Survey, n= 303

*Top Performers = Respondents that achieved Top Quartile performance in revenue, click-through rates, and return on marketing investments.

While target audiences have evolved, many SMB marketers still primarily rely on traditional email marketing tactics. But, Top Performers reveal there might actually be something to this whole “Marketing Automation thing”. Since most small businesses are already using email marketing tools, it makes sense to explore the tradeoffs between Email Marketing and Marketing Automation. Should you be thinking about transitioning to a more robust technology than email, and if so, why? Standalone Email Marketing tools might be more than sufficient for some organizations, but when do you know when your organization is ready to take it to the next level?

The thing is, we know from research that success with Marketing Automation isn’t dictated by the tools or capabilities. Don’t expect to switch out your email tool with a Marketing aAutomation tool and suddenly boost the top line. Top Performers adapt the entire organization to extract value from Marketing Automation investments, but when they do, they it’s not uncommon to see 2-3x higher performance over peers and competitors. When you hire a plumber to fix a leaky pipe under your sink, you assume the person will show up with the tools to do the job, and the skills to know how to use the tools effectively. And while there are probably a half dozen different ways to fix a leaky pipe, there’s probably only a few that will get the job done adequately. For small businesses, there’s a point at which you need better tools to engage with prospects and customers, but you also need the skills to use those tools appropriately. We can actually rely on research to extrapolate the people, process, and technology skills required to maximize the value from a Marketing Automation investment.

That’s exactly what we will be exploring in the upcoming webinar “SMBs: Crossing the Chasm to Marketing Automation” on November 17th at 11am PST. Join me for a deeper look at the key capabilities that differentiate Email Marketing and Marketing Automation. Click here to register for the webinar.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Ian Michiels
Ian Michiels is a Principal & CEO at Gleanster Research, a globally known IT Market Research firm covering marketing, sales, voice of the customer, and BI. Michiels is a seasoned analyst, consultant, and speaker responsible for over 350 published analyst reports. He maintains ongoing relationships with hundreds of software executives each year and surveys tens of thousands of industry professionals to keep a finger on the pulse of the market. Michiels has also worked with some of the world's biggest brands including Nike, Sears Holdings, Wells Fargo, Franklin Templeton, and Ceasars.


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