SMBs 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 have become 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 incorporates email into the multi-channel engagement strategy has changed. Customers have increasing influence and control over the buying cycle. Small business marketers (defined as organizations with 1-250 employees) need to take stock of these changing dynamics, in order to grow revenue and extend customer reach.

No matter how much people like to talk about how critical it is to manage the pipeline, generate leads, and qualify prospects, the reality is, most small businesses struggle to do these effectively. This is, in part, a byproduct of relying 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 actual 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 (1-250 employees) engage in outbound email marketing
  • Top Performing** companies are 3x more likely to leverage a marketing automation tool
  • 4% of small businesses 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. So, it makes sense to explore the tradeoffs between email marketing and marketing automation. 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?

  • Is there a point where SMBs outgrow traditional email marketing tools? Are there diminishing returns on email marketing technologies?
  • Is there a right time to invest in more robust marketing capabilities?
  • How do Top Performing organizations maximize the value of marketing technology investments and consistently outperform peers?

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 are 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 explore in the upcoming webinar “SMBs: Crossing the Chasm to Marketing Automation” on November 17th at 11am PST. Register today and join me for a deeper look at the key capabilities that differentiate email marketing and marketing automation.