Tailwinds for Marketing Automation Software
Marketing automation has become a hot segment of the CRM industry. While it was a relatively quiet niche several years ago, marketers are now flocking to these systems to help automate marketing and lead nurturing campaigns. Relatively young vendors such as Marketo and Pardot are reaping the benefits and growing exponentially. Even well-entrenched IBM is getting into the segment with its recent acquisition of Unica. It’s no surprise given all of wind the marketing automation industry has at its back.
We’ve experienced these tailwinds first-hand through our phone calls with thousands of business software buyers and have watched the sales environment shift to “Sales 2.0.” It is changing the way people purchase, making marketing automation software more essential than ever for most marketing organizations. Let us outline the eight macro trends that we see pushing buyers towards adoption.
Sales cycles are longer in a down economy.
Under adverse economic conditions, consumers are less inclined to purchase, plain and simple. The risk goes up when money is tight, resulting in hesitation on the part of the buyer. Therefore, sales professionals are faced with increasingly shaky prospects whose buying timeframes are now longer. Marketing automation tools such as drip marketing campaigns can help build relationships with buyers and carry them through a longer sales process.
Businesses are becoming consumerized.
According to Peter Sondergaard, SVP at Gartner, consumerization is the single most significant trend that will affect IT over the next 10 years. Consumers are buying their own laptops, mobile devices, electronics and other IT innovations that used to be targeted at the enterprise level. This shift results in sales beginning lower on the totem pole, making the sales process more hectic. Sales can start, stop quickly, and then restart soon thereafter. This nonlinear process requires a fair amount of lead nurturing to keep a company on the mind of the buyer.
Consumerized buyers want valuable content.
With the consumerization of businesses, more uneducated buyers with less tech savvy are initiating the sales process. Traditional pamphlets and brochures filled with marketing jargon just don’t cut it anymore. Buyers are looking for informative and interesting content that provides actual value and education to them. Whitepapers and case studies are the new value proposition, and with marketing automation software, marketers can educate these beginner buyers over time and over multiple channels.
Buyers are increasingly wary of salespeople.
One of the biggest issues sales professionals face when engaging with prospective buyers is growing discourtesy. This is often because the buyer is uneducated about the software, just learning about the market, and not ready for a sales pitch. Also, when the economy is poor and money is tight, consumers become much more skeptical of sales people making big promises. As a result, sales and marketing teams are facing the challenge of selling to buyers who won’t talk to their sales team. Delivering the right content over time is a great way to “warm up” buyers until they are ready to talk to sales. Providing content effectively without marketing automation software is cumbersome and time-consuming for most companies.
People (not just buyers) hate getting on the phone.
Engaging a potential buyer over the phone is one of the biggest challenges sales professionals face in this new environment. However, getting people on the line isn’t just challenging in sales. It’s endemic throughout the business world today. Receptionists screen every call and employees don’t answer calls they’re not expecting. It’s partially due to the attitudes of Gen Y entering the workforce and also due to the popularity of email. People would rather communicate via email than talk on the phone. Period. As a result, sales and marketing teams are doing more emailing than ever. It gets really difficult to manage without software.
Desire for transparency into all business expenses.
There is an increasing desire in the enterprise space to have transparency across all business expenses, including marketing. Marketing has traditionally been a “black box” expense for businesses. It’s tough to track return on investment on brand building campaigns, display, print, etc. In a tough economy, businesses want to track their ROI on everything and marketing automation software can provide that needed transparency.
Business are pushing for more effective sales teams.
The old method of sales involved feeding a ton of leads into the sales and marketing pipeline and hoping that a good percentage turned into conversions. This resulted in wasted effort on the part of the sales team. As sales and marketing organizations try to eliminate this waste and boost efficiency, they naturally turn to lead scoring and nurturing tools to make sure they are focusing on the most sales-ready leads.
Marketing mediums have changed and grown exponentially.
The Internet has vastly changed the way we communicate. It has also changed the way companies market. Now, there are more channels to reach customers (email, microsites, social networks, wikis, etc.), and businesses must develop more cohesive marketing efforts. Marketing automation allows companies to ensure a coherent, unified marketing approach by tracking these various marketing channels in one system.
All of these trends are results of the overarching shift in power from vendor to buyer. It will be interesting to watch the development of this CRM application over the next couple years as companies learn to adjust to and embrace Sales 2.0.
Think we have left any trends out, or wish to share comments of your own? Feel free to leave feedback below.