In todays business environment, marketers are finding it increasingly necessary to improve the efficacy of their marketing campaigns. In order to achieve the goals set by senior management, it is necessary to effectively measure results and optimize resources, as well as measurably improve efficiency.
Enterprise software tools are increasingly being investigated by companies looking to enhance the efficiency and ROI of their marketing programs. There is however, a reluctance to embrace this emerging technology due to certain perceptions such as cost of implementation, the difficulty of merging with legacy systems, and questions of utility and future expansion.
Larger companies are finding it increasingly important to hold their marketing departments accountable to measurable performance indicators. This requires establishing a set of defined results leading to a determined return on investment. Improved campaign effectiveness is often determined by the ability to provide the right message to a target audience, through the proper channels. This will result in converting more leads into prospects which then increases sales. The ability to track, measure and analyze campaigns accurately is essential to improving sales, but extremely difficult and time-intensive to perform manually.
Customer relationship management, or CRM, also plays an important role. This is where customer responses and preferences have traditionally been stored, and this type of information must be used to drive marketing campaigns to the high degree of segmentation and customization needed. Only in this way can communications that are meaningful, relevant and useful (in the opinion of the recipient) be directed toward prospects and customers. Such targeted approaches are often referred to as precision marketing.
Once the need for an enterprise marketing automation solution has been identified, a careful examination of the companys marketing processes needs to be made, and areas of desired improvement noted. The software solution chosen must be able to address specific objectives that improve the marketing process such as improving contact response rates, lowering the sales cycle timeframe or reducing operational costs.
After the specific marketing objectives have been identified, they need to be developed into functional requirements which will be addressed by the software. Future requirements should be determined as well to ensure the system remains relevant as your business grows. The system will need to accommodate the scope, size and segmentation of your data as well as storage capacity requirements.
It is important to bear in mind that several organizations within the enterprise will need to be on board and work with the new solution. These include Sales, which provides a valuable feedback loop on the quality of prospects, and which prospects become customers, as well as IT, which will need to provide technical support for maintaining and running the system. These organizations should be included and have a voice in the selection process.
There are several ways an enterprise marketing automation software system can be deployed. The first is through an on-premise installation which provides the greatest flexibility of use and highest level of security. The downside is that this solution requires the highest initial investment since there are up-front hardware and software purchase costs, plus the cost of training internal personnel involved in addition to the maintenance costs. A second deployment method is a popular option known as Software as a Service, or SaaS. With this model, the vendor maintains the hardware and hosts the software and data. The up-front costs are generally lower but the long-term management costs can vary widely depending on the vendor and level of service required. Another model that is gaining in popularity is referred to as mid-source. Businesses that use this method maintain their contact and sales data in-house but outsource the technical and data processing functions to the vendor.
Once the decision to employ a software system has been made, a committed central contact point or owner needs to be determined in order to maintain good vendor relations and ensure the successful day-to-day operation of the system.
A well researched and implemented enterprise marketing automation solution which is actively and earnestly used by all required personnel can make a significant improvement in the efficiency and profitability of a marketing organization. This will be realized by an increase in qualified leads, more refined prospect targeting, improved customer relations and better overall client satisfaction which then lead to improving a business profitability.
Kristin Hambelton is the Director of Marketing at Neolane. Neolane provides the only enterprise marketing automation software specifically designed to manage, automate and optimize programs across traditional and emerging channels including direct mail, email and mobile.