9 Steps to Making a Bullet-Proof Business Case for Marketing Automation

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Marketing automation is a proven method for managing and optimizing the entire customer experience. This software can help you measure the metrics that matter most to your business, and demonstrate the effectiveness of your marketing team. But how to make the perfect business case for marketing automation?

In the past, the complex and often costly nature of marketing automation has meant that it has been available only to the biggest brands and global enterprises. These days, however, inexpensive, simplified solutions have made it possible for small and mid-sized businesses to get in on the action.

The marketing automation business case

More SMBs choose marketing automation software, and it’s easy to see why. When you have the ability to generate, nurture, score and qualify leads – and to do it in an automated way – you can gain a significant competitive advantage. Marketing automation can also help you drive increased sales using customized marketing communications, with messaging and offers based on each contact’s profile, demographics, level of interest, past behavior, and place in the buying process.

Marketers generally get it – they understand that this is powerful stuff. But getting upper management to sign off on a large technology platform can be a challenge, even when solutions are becoming increasingly affordable.

How to make the business case for marketing automation

Putting together a strong business case for marketing automation is the cornerstone to successfully get buy-in from your executive management. Here’s a list of important steps to take as you put together your business case.

  1. Create clear objectives for implementing marketing automation. This technology won’t solve every problem in your marketing and sales teams, but it can certainly resolve many big issues. What are the top three goals of adopting marketing automation? Make them measurable, and include a picture of what success looks like.
  2. Outline specific benefits of marketing automation adoption. Make sure you include the ways that these benefits map to your company objectives. Remember to continually focus on the specific issues that are unique to your organization. When you get precise about outcomes, you’ll have a better chance for success. If you make the goals too broad (like “improve conversion rates”), they cease to mean anything. Use a numerical performance indicator, like “increase conversion by 20%.” Use realistic, believable, achievable figures.
  3. Take account of the technological components and benefits. For example, are you recommending email, website visitor tracking, and social integration? If so, why? What about CRM integration and SEO auditing? For a stronger business case, prioritize the features that matter most to your company.
  4. List all known data sources and dependencies. Customized campaigns need data to drive them. Where will the information come from? Include any integrations with your CRM systems, website tracking, prospect and customer data, and campaign data.
  5. Plan out a budget and milestones. Create an outline of a real-world schedule and costs of implementation. This includes phases, technologies, and reasonable times/milestones for training, gaining proficiency, and determining the point where ROI can be realistically achieved.
  6. Develop analytics and reporting plans. Outline the needs for different teams and roles in your organization as well as the types of metrics that should be tracked in order to drive successful marketing campaigns.
  7. Include ROI projections. Calculate the potential return on your marketing automation investment, such as:
    • The volume of activity required to meet lead, quota, and revenue goals.
    • What sales and marketing activities cost now (without marketing automation).
    • Potential improvement in costs and results after implementing marketing automation.
    • Current and projected profit improvements.
    • The average lift of sales and marketing alignment in terms of lead generation, qualification, and enhanced cooperation, applied to your own numbers.
  8. Assess the risks. What are the dangers, if any, of adopting marketing automation? What are the risks of not doing so? Which teams have the largest stake, and how are they involved in the adoption processes? How will you manage and mitigate risk?
  9. Estimate timelines and target dates. Create an outline of the time it takes to adopt the technology, implement across relevant teams, and get up and running. Be sure to include any training and professional services that may be required.

Making the Business Case for Marketing Automation

Marketing automation can deliver a wide variety of benefits to your company, and solve a lot of challenges, too. It’s a winning combination, and one your leadership will love—but only if you get them on board first.

About Lisa Cannon


Lisa Cannon is a senior writer with Act-On Software, Inc., a marketing automation provider for small and mid-size companies.

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  • Nishant Manchanda

    Its a nice and clean direction for someone who is new to the marketing automation and aim to create a better and informative customer experience.