people factor in marketing automation ROI

The People Factor in Marketing Automation ROI

People are the most important aspect of marketing automation success, because they make or break marketing automation ROI.
Article Outline

Marketing automation is all about results, isn’t it? Sure, you need content that resonates with the target audience and strategically guides them along their journey, but it’s impossible to know if you’re on the right track without understanding marketing automation roi statistics and potential results. 

And that’s likely why marketers want to know more about marketing automation ROI. If you invest in the tool, what can you expect? 

By the numbers, marketing automation is a darn good investment. Eighty percent of companies implementing marketing automation experience increased leads, and 77% experience increased customer conversions. 

But here’s the thing. A traditional marketing ROI calculation won’t tell you the whole story because a hidden factor can supercharge your results — or sabotage them. 

And that’s your people. 

Similar to other technologies, marketing automation can only work as well as the people behind it. And with a recent survey finding that martech utilization has declined to 33%, using automation tools to the fullest potential, optimizing technology and processes is more important than ever. That’s why we’re going to give you the lowdown on the “people factor” in marketing automation ROI and how to get the most from your investment. 

Marketing Automation Investment: The Inputs 

At first glance, the process of calculating marketing automation ROI is simple. You divide the profit earned from marketing automation by the cost of that investment. For the sake of simplicity, if your investment is $100 and the cost is $100, you have an ROI of 1 or 100%. 

But this calculation doesn’t include everything. For a complete picture of marketing automation ROI, you need to include all the expenses and all the benefits. And a large factor in both is your people. Here are a few things to consider when calculating the expenses. 

Investment in technology 

The first variable is pretty straightforward: It’s the money you spend on the marketing automation tool. It’s your upfront capital investment. You should also include any funds spent on consultants and implementation. For example, Act-On is intuitive, user-friendly and easy to set up without hiring outside experts. 

Time spent learning the technology 

Maybe you’re lucky. You have an internal marketing automation rock star, and getting up to speed is fast and easy. If so, your training and onboarding costs will be minimal. But if your internal resources aren’t as robust, you might need to spend more time — and money — in this area. 

By the way, do you want to know the secret to driving down these costs? Purchase a platform that is simple, easy, and fast to learn. Also, select a partner with training and resources to quickly get your team up to speed on content marketing automation.

Ideas and strategies behind using the software 

Less tangible but still important are the ideas that power your overall marketing strategy (not just what you automate) — Ideas for how to automate marketing processes, which content your ideal customer might love, how to organize the marketing-to-sales handoff, and how to best move deals through the pipeline. Creating these strategies and process improvements take time, energy, and resources. 

Marketing Automation Returns: The Outcomes 

No matter the business type or vertical, when marketing automation is done well, it reaches a large percentage of leads and customers who come into contact with the business. 

For some companies, 100% of leads and customers touch marketing automation in some way along their journey. From list building to lead nurturing to ongoing customer retention, marketing automation can help build positive outcomes at all stages of the customer life cycle. As a result, any calculation of marketing automation ROI also needs to consider the returns.

a professional leads a brainstorm meeting at a whiteboard illustrating the idea of marketing automation roi
Don’t forget the “soft costs” when it comes to calculating marketing automation ROI.

Returns on time … and sanity 

Every minute your team spends on boring, repetitive tasks has a cost. And sure, that expense includes wasted time, but it also includes other expenses. When employees are buried in mundane tasks, it can lead to disengagement and turnover. And it’s no secret that turnover has a high price tag.

Marketing automation moves the tedious work off your team’s plate so they can focus on higher-level and more rewarding work. So yes, it saves you time, but it also saves you the risk associated with a disengaged team.

Returns on speed 

With content marketing automation, you can reach thousands of people simultaneously with automated programs. As a result, it provides the right content to the right people at the right time. And that helps you nurture leads through the funnel faster, potentially shortening the sales cycle. 

Returns for the sales team 

Using marketing automation to educate, track, and score leads helps support your sales team. As salespeople know, receiving leads that have been well nurtured helps drive conversions and improve results. 

Returns on customer retention 

We all know the statistics … “It’s five times more expensive to acquire a new customer than to retain an old one.” 

So yes, we want to attract new customers. But we also want to retain our existing ones and prevent churn. Marketing automation can help nurture, support, and create brand advocates from existing customers. 

Why People Are So Important in Marketing Automation ROI

Even if the perfect marketing automation tool exists, it needs the right ideas to guide it and the right inputs to power its ongoing success. What it boils down to is that the tool is not the solution. The people behind your marketing programs — and automation in particular — are incredibly important. 

The roles you might have on a marketing automation team include:

  • Strategist
  • Writer
  • Designer
  • Developer
  • Videographer
  • Video editor
  • Automation manager
  • Analyst
a group of coworkers collaborate in a modern office space illustrating the idea of marketing automation ROI
The best marketing automation platform still can’t prove its ROI if you don’t have the right team in place to operate it!

The people factor in marketing ROI can be elusive because it is hard to quantify in some ways. Whereas one employee in your marketing department might cost $75,000 a year for a particular skill set, another may cost $80,000 with double the skills and a better strategic mind. Even among people with the same job title, one can contribute less or more, depending on experience, mindset, and many other factors. So, as much as it is possible to budget and invest wisely in your marketing team, it is nearly impossible to accurately predict each person’s value.

Add to that differing levels of complexity in marketing automation platforms, and calculating your people budget is even more difficult. Some solutions require an army of consultants to get them up and running, and an ongoing team of experts to keep them running day to day. Others are more intuitive for the average marketer and thus require less expert help to operate. 

While some roles are vital no matter what system you’re using, choosing the right type of marketing automation platform can help you save on certain expenses by automating specific tasks and allowing your team to focus on working to their strengths. On smaller teams, there’s sometimes a temptation to ask specific team members to carry out tasks they haven’t been trained to do. On larger teams, you may have more staff than is strictly necessary simply because that’s how many people you needed in the past. 

By focusing on finding an easy-to-use marketing automation solution, you can make sure you have the right people on your team to keep driving and improving your marketing strategy.   

Improving Marketing Automation ROI

Success starts with a solid marketing automation tool, so you’ll want to ensure your existing tool isn’t falling short. If you’re unsure, check out resources to compare how it stacks up to the other options

However, regardless of how powerful and intuitive your marketing automation software is, your ROI will fall short if you don’t have the right team behind it. If you are trying to improve marketing automation ROI (or looking into automation for the first time), consider your resources ahead of time.

Do you have the right people in place, and if not, are you prepared to find and/or train them? Are your current team members ready to improve your marketing automation, even if that means shifting roles or duties? Are you aware of the specific business goals you are trying to achieve with marketing automation, and do you have a specific plan to get there? 

Considering how to structure your people to get the most from your marketing automation tool might require some creativity. And if you need help, we’ve created a resource about structuring your marketing team for the best results. Because, after all, the success of any marketing program ultimately resides with the people. 

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