How to Calculate Marketing Automation’s ROI for Manufacturers

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Marketing Automation

How do you measure the potential value of your marketing automation you’re considering? Are you considering all the factors, such as the additional staff and staff training that may be needed? Is the product you purchase going to be the same one the salesperson showed off in the slick demo? Don’t you wish you had an easy-to-use ROI calculator?

Making a big purchase can be stressful. Heck, for me, finding the right blender for smoothies took several hours of Internet surfing. You don’t want to get stuck with something you regret.

We can’t help you on blender options. But we can better arm you when you consider purchasing marketing automation. We recently released an economic impact calculator for the manufacturing industry to help those marketers get a better understanding of the whole cost of adopting marketing automation, from labor savings to new business growth.

Adam Mertz, the vice president of marketing and strategy at Act-On, was recently a guest on the Rethink Marketing podcast, where he talked about the new economic calculator. Our conversation is below.

[podloveaudio src="" duration="16:06" title="Ep. 91 | The Economic Impact Calculator for Manufacturers and Why it Matters"]

This transcript has been edited for length. To get the full measure, listen to the podcast.

Act-On’s New Economic Impact Calculator for Manufacturers

Nathan Isaacs: Act-On introduced an economic impact calculator for manufacturers. Can you tell me more about it?

Adam Mertz: The calculator itself is actually built off of the Forrester total economic impact model. And that specifically was made for marketing automation platforms. I’ve been in a lot of conversations with customers who are looking to improve their digital marketing efforts, and they’re looking at marketing automation platforms. They, a lot of times, just need a better quantifiable way to show the rest of their team and organization that what they’re looking at is going to have a huge impact.

And some of the things they’re looking at in terms of getting that quantifiable impact and showing that to others are around those areas, if you think of marketing, of driving inbound marketing leads, moving from anonymous to known visitors, their outbound campaigns, and showing the effectiveness there. They’re always looking to improve their conversion ratios, their end to end conversion ratios. And then as you move into the sales side, trying to help the sales team increase the deal sizes.

Now as they’re trying to do that, they’re also simultaneously trying to reduce costs because almost every marketer is being asked to do more with less. This calculator also helps to not only highlight what the revenue benefits would be, but to highlight where those cost savings are going to be from improved marketing operations efficiency and where they’re going to avoid some of the costs because they might be able to even sunset some of the tools or technology they’re currently using.

Why are ROI calculators like this useful for manufacturers?

Nathan Isaacs: Why are calculators like this useful for manufacturers?

Adam Mertz: I would say that more than any other industry, manufacturers are maniacally focused on the bottom line and ROI. And that is shown in industry data that I’ve looked at. Again, that was Forrester data and also from my own conversations. What’s critical for manufacturers is that if they’re looking to make a purchase decision, it really does make sense on the bottom line.

And a calculator like this, which on the front end by the way we’re talking about an economic impact calculator, what they really need then further in the process is an ROI calculator.

But even on the front end, even when they don’t know the cost of whatever it is the tool that they’re buying, understanding what the quantifiable benefits and key areas are is really critical because that’s how they run their business. It’s really tight margins.

Nathan Isaacs: They’re being judged themselves on what their cost is to their customers. And their customers are going to say, a bolt costs 5 cents here, it costs 4 cents there, I’m going to go with the 4 cent one. There’s no other difference in the bolt. And they have to be conscious about their costs of what they’re buying into and stuff like that, right?

Adam Mertz: Yes. They have to have the same mentality as you’re saying, that their buyers do, and that the people that are running other aspects of the business do, even though they’re on the marketing team.

What’s covered in Act-On’s Economic Impact Calculator

Nathan Isaacs: With the calculator, are there any other details you can pull out and explain to us?

Adam Mertz: On the inbound side, if you think about it from a marketing standpoint, you’re trying to turn as many anonymous visitors into known visitors.

If you can have tools, for instance with a marketing automation platform like Act-On, you can create lots of different landing pages, you can create different social posts that drive people to those landing pages, that you’re generating awareness in general about your product or your offering.

And a calculator like this can show, ‘OK, if you don’t have a great digital marketing engine, here’s what you can expect on the inbound side.’ And now you can convince people internally as a champion for something like this because it’s going to help you ultimately be more successful to show you’re going to actually be able to go from a 2 percent conversion ratio for qualified traffic to maybe a 4 percent.

Similarly, on the outbound side, you’re able to show how your response rates for different nurture campaigns can go up. And the fact is you’ll be able to do more nurture campaigns. But if you don’t have an economic impact calculator, you’re just talking about this to your peers or to the people who are part of the decision process. And because they don’t understand marketing as well as you do or the things that you do, they just hear, ‘Oh, you might be able to run some more campaigns, great. What is the actual quantifiable result that that’s going to drive to the business?’ And something like this can makes it very easy for you as a champion to help get people on board with this direction, this path that you want to go.

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Nathan Isaacs: And you’re talking about the conversions and just how it can improve that, whether it’s inbound or outbound. Also along those lines, the labor savings that’s coming from that. Rather than taking a week to build a landing page, it’s just taken a half hour. And so now you’re able to build six landing pages, when it took you the same amount of time to build one, or to set up a nurture program and so forth.

Adam Mertz: That’s exactly right. And so again, the cost savings, it’s really important not to just show the value, but to show savings. We are very confident the simplicity that you have with a platform like Act-On makes it very feasible to generate many different landing pages very, very quickly.

How is an EIC Calculator useful for a marketing executive at a manufacturer?

Nathan Isaacs: If I were a marketing executive at a manufacturer, how would this be used in shaping their consideration of Act-On versus any other vendor?

Adam Mertz: This goes to the simplicity of the different platforms. So I think if you look at a calculator like this, and you’re assessing Act-On versus other industry providers, marketing automation providers out there, with Act-On you have a very straightforward, user-friendly platform that allows you, whether it be that email that you want to launch and being able to have a drag and drop interface that automatically is going to work on whatever mobile device it supports, it’s responsive design out of the box, allows you to create nurture campaigns that are drag and drop.

Doing all these things is ultimately going to have a calculator that shows you’re being able to create more campaigns, that you’re going to be able to save more time, and that you’re going to be able to have higher conversion ratios. I think you can look at this and you look at different vendors and ask the question are you going to be able to provide me this sort of percentage improvement on my inbound conversion ratios or outbound conversion ratios.

The other big thing that’s important to realize is with Act-On, there’s people resources you don’t have to worry as much about and that’s baked into this calculator, as compared to other industry vendors.

It doesn’t take a certified expert that takes months and months of training. And with other vendors you’re not going to get that sort of cost avoidance because you’re going to have an additional cost and potentially hire somebody. That’s an example where you could be using this calculator. And it forces this sort of depth of conversations that helps you again just make the right decision for your organization.

Nathan Isaacs: Anecdotally, our senior vice president of marketing, Nina Church-Adams, tells the story about where at her last workplace, they had brought on one of our competitors. And three months into it they were still not up and running because they were training somebody, getting them onboarded. She came to Act-On, which coincided with somebody else just getting hired, and that person was up and running with the platform within a day and was sending out an email. And it was just like. She has been in that seat that many of our customers are in.

Leveraging the calculator in your buying process

Nathan Isaacs: It seems to me what the calculator helps that marketing executive do is arm them with questions to ask. They’ve taken the time to put in their information, find out what the benefits are. But now when they’re going to other vendors and saying, ‘Would you be able to provide the same sort of benefits that Act-On would be able to do here?’ Is that correct?

Adam Mertz: That’s exactly how you want to use it. You want to be leveraging it. This is your project. You have a project most likely that’s focused on helping to drive growth in your business. It’s not necessarily to say you have a project that’s focused on implementing a marketing automation platform. And this is probably one of many things you could be considering. And as you talk to a number of vendors, both within this space along with other potential digital marketing options that might be out there, you want to be using this as your starting point to say, ‘Am I going to get the same return on investment that I could get by doing this other option, or going down this other path, or working with this other vendor?,’ and forcing again those conversations to take place.

Nathan Isaacs: How big a factor is cost in those considerations? And you and I were talking earlier, and you mentioned a case study that comes to mind when I asked this question. Can you tell us about that?

Adam Mertz: If you don’t have a business case, and you don’t have an economic impact calculator like this, it does lead decision makers more often than not to focus too much on the cost side. Because it almost by default doesn’t enable you to highlight the impacts that you’re getting. And then the only decision is like, ‘Well, here’s option A’s cost and here’s option B’s cost.’

And I work with a lot of different customers. And one that this question brings to mind is Bisco. And they did a lot of modeling. They’re in the manufacturing space, manufacturing distribution. And they did a lot of modeling as they went into this process so they could have eyes wide open, if you will, with this investment. And they looked at a three-year economic impact and ROI. And I worked into this calculator some of the elements they worked into the calculator that they created when they made the purchase decision. And it really helped the champion there that ultimately made the decision. And yes, they do go with Act-On.

But it was really, he was just saying to the people, the CEO and others at the organization, that he almost didn’t expose them as much to the decision of Act-On as it is marketing automation. And they said, ‘Well if you can get these sorts of returns and have this sort of impact on the business, then by all means move forward.’ It made that conversation and ultimately that alignment at the executive level that much easier.

Is Act-On going to be developing similar economic impact calculators for other industries?

Nathan Isaacs: What about other industries? Is Act-On going to be developing similar economic impact calculators for those?

Adam Mertz: For sure, we want to go in and for the areas that we have a lot of customers and that we’re really targeting, we have a very focused go to market strategy not only around manufacturing, but around a few other key industries like financial services, and insurance, and higher education. And although some of the benefits will in a general sense be the same, both some of the assumptions that you use for profit margins and other costs, they might be a little bit different. But there also might be some other elements that you’d want to bake in.

And we’re taking a very focused approach and making sure we introduce these economic impact calculators correctly across the board for the industries that we’re really focused on and getting more and more of our customers from.