Marketing automation can help your business succeed. True, but so can lots of other things. So why use marketing automation? What are the benefits of marketing automation to your business?

For starters, marketing automation works. Marketing automation drives a 14.5% increase in sales productivity and a 12.2% reduction in marketing overhead overall, according to Nucleus Research. Digging into the data yields even more compelling numbers for small businesses: A study by the Annuitas Group reveals that companies using marketing automation to nurture prospects see a 451% increase in qualified leads. Those nurtured leads, in turn, make purchases 47% larger than their non-nurtured counterparts.

Research also shows that marketing automation is growing fastest within the CRM space. And as the graphic above shows, Salesforce customers report an average 25% increase in marketing ROI after adopting CRM.
The data doesn’t lie: Automation can help businesses realize increased marketing ROI and overall growth . More specifically, how can marketing automation benefit your business? Let’s start with lead generation.

Lead generation is an extremely important step in any business’ growth. Automating the many steps between marketing and sales gives your team more time to focus on overall strategy and nurturing the leads that show real promise. That means more prospects, and more customers.

Marketing automation can also give you a richer, more detailed picture of potential customer behavior.

Using behavioral tracking methods such as following a user’s path through your website, marketing automation software can help your marketing team understand prospects’ interests and where they are in the purchasing lifecycle. Follow-ups can then be customized around those insights.

For instance, say a particular customer is reading about a broad category of products. This might indicate that they are at the beginning of the purchasing process, researching and comparing while preparing a short list. If they later download white papers on a specific product, that could indicate a narrowed focus, and a readiness to talk with a salesperson.

Bringing together information from touchpoints — including website visits and downloads, social media activity, and direct marketing — enables automatic scoring, qualifying, and prioritizing of leads. This, in turn, can drive wider marketing campaigns, including:

  • Trigger-based marketing messages
  • Infrequent “drip-feed” emails to maintain interest
  • Personalized emails
  • Facebook or Twitter messages

Nurturing leads can be tricky and time-consuming. Guiding a lead through the journey is absolutely worth it when it ends in a sale, but not all of your leads are going to convert to sales. In fact, according to Gleanster Research, 50% of the leads businesses generate are qualified, but not ready to buy right now.

For a small business, that can create a dilemma: You know roughly half of your leads are qualified, but still need nurturing. But with a small team handling both sales and marketing, you can’t exactly afford to keep constant tabs on half of your leads. Don’t stress! Computers were invented for precisely this reason: To do the work humans just don’t have the time for. Marketing automation can help.

Personalized content is key to nurturing leads. According to Pardot, 77% of buyers want unique, targeted content at each stage of their research. Marketing automation tools simplify the process of getting the right content to the right buyer at the right time. They also capture data from all of that content: Which emails are customers opening and clicking on? What posts are performing well on your social media channels, and how is that converting to website visits and other user actions? Are mobile messages driving engagement? Automated data capture can answer these and many other questions relevant to your content marketing strategies.

Take the example of Dell, the well-known computer maker. After noticing heavy volumes of traffic to their online store without many sales to show for it, Dell leveraged behavior analysis. Creating new ads based on customers’ web histories, products viewed, and products left in web shopping carts resulted in a 70% increase in click-through rates and 300% higher conversion rates.

Data gathered by a marketing automation system is also super effective for qualifying leads on the marketing side before passing them on to sales. Lead scoring and lead grading are two ways a good automation system captures and processes visitor data to trigger automatic routing of qualified leads to the right sales reps.

It seems like everyone is talking about “big data” these days, but few businesses have a grasp on how to collect and utilize it. Marketing automation allows you to effortlessly embrace big data, collecting valuable intelligence at scale and putting it immediately to work.

By providing a single platform for dashboarding and analytics, closed-loop reporting, and collecting and storing data, marketing automation platforms are the most comprehensive solution for measuring campaigns and predicting consumer behavior on a small business budget. One of the many benefits of a marketing automation platform is the ability to assemble a more complete profile of your prospects than ever before. A/B test marketing assets to find the techniques that work best, and truly understand how sales and marketing are impacting the bottom line.

It’s no secret that in many organizations, integration between sales and marketing can get a little rocky. But why? As technology continues to evolve and shape the buying cycle, the work of marketing and sales only grows closer together, making efficient collaboration more important than ever.

Misalignment between the two departments isn’t necessarily the fault of one or the other. The fault lies with outdated processes and structures. When marketing and sales work with different tools toward separate goals, it’s only natural for tensions to build. Fortunately, marketing automation can help by improving lead quality, increasing revenue, and automating traditionally manual processes like lead assignment and follow-up.

Ready to take this whole marketing automation thing to the next level? Pair it with a customer relationship management (CRM) system. Integrating CRM with marketing automation helps you delve into detailed behavioral tracking, like the pages your prospects are visiting, the types of content they’re interested in, and where they are in the buying cycle. Suddenly you’ve got incredible insight into exactly what your leads are interested in, which lets you custom-tailor everything from content marketing to sales pitches.

Which brings us to the final part of the journey, for us and for your buyers. Time to go all the way down the funnel to sales, where it’s essential to keep the pipeline flowing.