The secret to proving the ROI of your marketing automation platform

What are the main factors influencing the ROI of your marketing automation? Know the elements to a high MAP return on investment and how to increase it.
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Published July 31, 2019
Last updated November 14, 2021

Proving your marketing automation ROI (return on investment) is one of the most prominent challenges marketers face today.

There is a reason for this.

Often, marketers have a vision for their marketing operations, but they don’t quite understand how to reach it.

It’s the outcome that’s important with any marketing automation.

If you don’t know the outcome you are working towards, your strategy may prove to be invalid.

Another reason can be misaligned departmental policies, which always result in false reporting and dissatisfying results.

Marketing automation can fix some of the processes and help save you time and money. However, that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Moreover, we want to explain the ROI in-depth, so you can build a marketing system that will return your investment tenfold.

As Bill Gates famously once said:

“The first rule of any technology used in a business is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency. The second is that automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency.”

 

What does marketing automation ROI depend on?

 

The point of having marketing automation ultimately boils down to growing revenue.

We can break growing revenue down into:

  • Building customer journey maps for a better customer experience
  • Increasing lead quality
  • Increasing conversion rates

Each activity listed above can contribute to the outcome we want to achieve – more money.

So our question of ‘what does marketing automation ROI depend on’ has been answered right there.

However, some companies continue to outperform others in the ROI race. The actual return comes from the wisdom of how to apply your marketing to your processes, no matter what they are.

The factors that will influence the degree of your ROI are:

  1. Maturity
  2. Adoption
  3. Scale/Use

Each of these contributes to your ROI outcome.

So let’s look at each one separately.

The impact of maturity on marketing automation ROI
 

We all know there is a difference between understanding something conceptually and intellectually.

Marketing automation systems are a perfect example of this.

Although we might be extremely aware of what a marketing automation platform can do for us, until we implement it we don’t actually know for sure.

This is what happens with the majority of companies out there, especially with first-time implementations of such systems.

We read about it, compare solutions and expect miracles to happen.

But here is the truth – Marketing automation will not grow without your company growing.

It’s simple, yet we often miss it.

Bottom line – if your team isn’t clear on the desired outcome and the steps necessary to get there – your marketing automation will fail to deliver the desired ROI.

Different companies achieve varying degrees of ROI from marketing automation because of different levels of maturity in their operations. This may include processes, skills and any other systems that they already use.

In fact, the most mature users of marketing automation achieve 32% greater revenue versus their plan than average companies – and a whopping 79% more than the least mature companies.

The key elements that demonstrate marketing automation maturity include:

  • Data management – how you clean and handle your data
  • Content management – whether you have enough content for each stage of the customer journey
  • Metrics and analytics – the reporting process you follow and how in-depth it is
  • Departmental alignment – primarily includes transparent collaboration between sales and marketing
  • Skills and knowledge gathering – how does your team handle new technologies, what is their skill level and what is your business culture on learning new skills?

Additionally, maturity is visible in how you use the automation and where you are in the adoption process.

The impact of adoption on marketing automation ROI
 

Most marketing automation vendors offer advice on how to use the platform features. However, this may not be enough.

Developing specialist knowledge on your chosen platform is one aspect that will influence the adoption rate.

More often than not, businesses invest in a solution without questioning either the skill level of their marketing team or the processes.

Naturally, if your team isn’t up to speed with the new technology they will regress into old patterns.

You know what they say – email blasting is the same whether you do it from a platform that costs $50 per month or one that costs $2000.

To overcome this common challenge, you will have to establish a communication stream within your different departments.

Each department has different processes that they perform every day, and without their input, you may be heading for an ROI wall.

The impact of scale on your marketing automation ROI

The core premise of a good marketing automation solution is that it will save you time. Therefore, it will save you money too.

But what most marketers forget is that marketing automation doesn’t only include advertising, PPC, Facebook Ads and similar.

It’s a more holistic process that encompasses processes from demand generation, first contact to account management.

Today, we see evidence of the impact of marketing automation on business through the rising trend for ABM and alignment with the sales department becoming integral.

This is why we need to move away from the limitations of marketing automation and view it as automation that can scale across the entire business operations.

Marketing automation can be used (among other things) in:

  • Account-based marketing
  • Sales and marketing alignment
  • Contact management
  • New client automation
  • The hiring process
  • Debt collection

The time at which you scale your platform to different departments is when you will see the highest ROI in your business.

Once you implement processes that benefit your business as a whole, marketing automation multiplies its value.

Because at the end of the day – it’s all about the automation. No matter the prefix.

 

How to secure a high marketing automation ROI

The first rule when it comes to winning big with marketing automation is knowing what you want out of it.

In the sea of technology that we witness today, we forget to question our needs. This can lead to some significant disappointments.

In case you are still browsing for solutions, remember this:

If you don’t know how to clearly explain what you are trying to achieve with your platform – to yourself or anybody involved – don’t go shopping just yet.

The same way you don’t go shopping when hungry.

However, if you have already purchased a solution and are now trying to prove the ROI, keep reading.

We will talk about the steps that will help you in your quest for a high ROI.

Want to know more about How We help Leverage your Marketing Automation Platform To Increase Sales?

1. Know your company

Remember when we talked about the possible scale of your marketing automation? Moreover, how it can help you increase the ROI?

Well, it comes from knowing your company.

Every department has a set of processes that they perform daily, and a lot of them will be ripe for automation.

However, there’s not much you can do if you don’t understand your current situation.

Also, you don’t want to end up automating a process that has no value to the business and its future.

Remember – you will be creating the systematic process for human actions.

That’s why technology doesn’t matter much. If your processes are different from the features on the platform, there isn’t much you can do about it.

Questions to guide your marketing automation justification:

  • What is your business about?
  • What are you selling?
  • How are you selling it?
  • What is the experience you would like to provide for your customers?
  • What is the ideal process everybody would get on board with?
  • How can you optimise your workforce, so everybody is happy?
  • What are you trying to accomplish in your business at the moment?

Sometimes we want to plan for the future as well. Maybe even make a five-year plan and choose our marketing system support that way.

This is a solid preparation route. You want to know you will be able to support your growth.

However, most martech technology is evolving at a rapid pace. And all providers learn from their users and then adjust the product if necessary.

That is why it’s not about who gets there first any more. It’s about who uses it best.

If your business is operating in a highly competitive market, then the logical conclusion is to stand out with a personalised customer journey.

Also, the ROI of marketing automation doesn’t always equate to an exact linear relationship with a dollar amount.

Depending on a company’s or team’s goals, the return on the investment may include intangibles like increased efficiency, brand awareness and better communication overall.

For instance, invite and stationery specialist PaperStyle.com used marketing automation to set up a series of emails tailored to customers planning a wedding.

Paper Style was able to follow each bride through the various stages of wedding planning and offer relevant products to match their needs.

The programme saw the following results:

  • 244% higher open rate than average
  • 330% increase in revenue per mailing.

To maximise your marketing automation ROI you must know your business. It’s the best way to optimise your business and save money while doing it.

2. Be clear on the outcome

You wouldn’t go chasing a personal goal if you weren’t sure it would positively impact your life, right?

It’s the same with marketing automation.

However, it’s not enough to simply be clear on the outcome. That’s only the first step.

Once you are absolutely clear on the outcome you want – go and make a plan on how to achieve it.

Also, when it comes to the use of marketing automation – you can’t implement an idea.

You need steps, elements and best practices.

And you cannot succeed in your planning process if you don’t understand your company and the current processes.

One doesn’t work without the other.

For example, like many other organisations that are rapidly growing, Thomson Reuters was also failing to align sales and marketers.

In their case, email marketing was producing a high number of leads but not all were of the highest quality. Naturally, the sales department began running its own lead generation activities.

A marketing automation platform enabled Thomson Reuters to realign its sales and marketing teams. With this new alignment, they were able to improve segmentation and targeting through a system of lead scoring and create ideal customer profiles.

As a result of using the new software:

  • The number of leads sent to sales increased by 23%
  • Lead conversion time dropped by 72%
  • The amount of revenue attributed to marketing leads increased by 175%.

Now, your story doesn’t have to be the same as the Thomas Reuters story. But it would be best if you learned the lesson.

If you know the outcome you want, you can work backwards and implement the steps to achieve it.

Final words

A majority of companies think that marketing automation is worth the price.

Which means the majority of companies obtain some return on their investment.

In any case, marketing automation is the future.

The only thing you need to be clear on is – what kind of future do you want for your business?

It’s the ground rule for choosing the automation software and the starting point for proving the ROI you gain from it.

To sum up, start with what are you trying to accomplish with your marketing automation tool and the outcome you desire.

Take the simple steps of knowing your processes and automating them as you go.

With marketing automation (the same as for its ROI), the bottom line is that you must always be improving it.

You’ll know if you are realising the value of it by your workforce satisfaction rate, departmental collaboration, customer experience improvements and, ultimately, increases in revenue.

If you need any additional guidance – reach out to our team of marketing automation experts.

We can help you get clarity on your goals and therefore improve your marketing automation ROI!

Want to talk specifics?

Click on the button below to book a FREE discovery call!
We are an omnichannel strategy consulting firm and would love to see you succeed in your omnichannel marketing initiatives.

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