As a manufacturer, what does your marketing approach look like? Is it still based on trade show attendance, print-ups of detailed spec sheets and glossy brochures? Or maybe you have a large sales team dedicating their days to in-person meetings and client calls?
Although there’s still no substitute for physical presence and human interaction, there are ways to increase your outreach without expanding your sales or marketing team. CRM tools, in fact, allow existing teams to work more effectively while simultaneously reaching more people on a regular basis. How? By streamlining their approach to client outreach, and helping management back up decisions with data.
Many marketing teams are already benefitting from automation. The Content Marketing Institute reported that 55 percent of B2B marketers use marketing automation software. One of the main reasons: automation allows a big bump in productivity while simultaneously reducing costs. According to a study by Nucleus Research, marketing automation increases sales productivity by 14.5 percent and reduces marketing overhead by 12.2 percent.
Will Marketing Automation Replace a Sales or Marketing Team?
While nothing can truly replace the human interaction a client craves from a company, automation can fill in gaps and ensure that the right customer is hearing the right message at the right time. While automation can ensure outreach happens, and in a more regulated and easily traceable way, your team will continue to be an essential part of the process.
CRMs are simply making marketing more manageable. In much the same way that automation revolutionized the manufacturing industry, by taking labor-heavy processes and streamlining operations, automation basically takes time-consuming and repetitive processes out of the equation.
They’re also fantastic at removing guesswork. Marketing automation can improve on everything, including: email marketing, website monitoring and management, lead filtering, digital advertising and social media marketing.
CRMs to the Rescue
The most important thing to track in both marketing and sales is a lead. In this especially, marketing automation excels. CRMs allow manufacturers to monitor exactly how leads are engaging with their company. Tracking this activity can provide insights that can be used to engage effectively with prospects. For instance, a contact that opens and interacts with most of your emails is fundamentally different from someone who only opens an occasional message from you. CRMs can tell you who’s engaged and who’s not, allowing you to laser-focus your messaging to those most receptive to your product.
But more importantly, marketing automation can help you re-engage with clients in meaningful and timely ways by scheduling drip campaigns to help you re-warm cool leads. If you’re a company that thrives on personal contact with customers, CRMs can help there too. Automatic reminders for sales reps can be set for when an important customer has been silent for a defined set of time, or if a follow-up is necessary to close a deal. Powerful segmenting tools help sales teams understand where their client is in the sales process to also make outreach more meaningful every time.
So…should you automate everything?
Automation is an amazing tool, but a personal touch should never go out the window. In fact, arguably, the personal approach that most companies have deployed to cultivate relationships and convert prospects into actual customers becomes only more important as the influence of technology becomes more and more pervasive. You don’t want your clients to feel like they are only ever interacting with technology instead of real people. Building meaningful long-term relationships with clients still should be the end-goal of any marketing initiative.
That said, more and more, businesses will inevitably utilize any tool that can increase sales productivity, decrease overhead, and serve as a differentiator. But here’s the thing: Marketing automation is by no means a panacea that can be deployed to quickly solve all of your marketing challenges. It is simply a tool that can provide meaningful value to certain marketing tasks. The question is this: When does it make sense to use marketing automation and when does it not?
Where Automation Makes Sense
Automation makes sense when time can be saved, because time, after all, is money. As a very general rule, it’s best to consider utilizing CRM marketing automation for the tasks that take up a lot of time and, while necessary, don’t require much creativity or thought. For instance, digital marketing is ultimately only as effective as the content created to support it. But getting that content in front of the right people and on the right channels can be a tedious and time-consuming task. In this case, you should consider automating the publication to channels such as websites and social media.
Email marketing campaigns can also benefit from automation. For companies with large email lists especially, automation cuts down on a lot of monotonous labor. More importantly, automation can help segment leads based on the buyer personas that your marketing team has developed and also ensures that the salutation in the body of all of your emails is personalized with the recipient’s name. It puts a bit of a human touch on every email that goes out in a minimal amount of time. And, as an added bonus, marketing automation can track the results of your campaigns and provide helpful feedback that can allow you to tweak messaging to continuously improve its effectiveness, which can boost sales numbers over time.
Where Automation Still Falls Short
You can’t automate experience, or insights, so be aware there are no shortcuts here. Only a human, and an expert in the field, can provide and share on-the-ground realities and personal findings, so when focusing on content creation, keep it human-focused.
The same approach can be applied to email campaigns. Although you may want to automate the delivery, the content itself should come from real human beings that can carefully craft a company’s unique differentiation or value proposition.
Just as content creation should always be handled by people, so too should the work of engaging with your prospects and customers. Phone calls and in-person meetings may still be necessary, as it’s important to put faces in front of the products. No amount of automation builds trust and the sort of long-term relationships built by real human interaction. Used properly, however, it can provide marketers and sales teams with the time they need to do the valuable one-on-one work that closes contracts.
Ultimately, though, the reason why all manufacturers should embrace marketing automation tools is similar to the rationale for automating your factory: it makes you and your staff more productive. When employees aren’t spending their time doing all the manual and mundane tasks that can be a big part of marketing, they can devote their time and efforts to more valuable activities like client outreach or trend exploration that prospects will want to know about.
In other words, marketing automation gives you the freedom and flexibility to spend your time growing your business.
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