Building a Business Case for Marketing Automation

We delve into the specific efficiency and effectiveness gains you can enjoy from a truly automated campaign.

Before making a decision to invest in a new marketing automation platform, marketers should be clear about the benefits. This article outlines the key business drivers to underpin your investment in building up a marketing technology infrastructure that supports your customer-centric communication strategy.

Fundamentally there are two main drivers behind marketing automation:

  1. Efficiency savings
  2. Gains in marketing effectiveness

Being effective is about doing the right things to achieve a given goal, while being efficient is about doing things right with the least waste of time and effort.

Efficiency savings are probably going to be the most immediate benefit you experience, and this in turn will allow you to free up the time to focus on getting better at your customer-centric marketing.

Let’s take a look at the campaign communication process in more detail and identify some of the specific benefits you should be looking out for.

WHO

Every campaign starts with a target audience. Whom do I want to communicate with? 

Efficiency

In practical terms, this usually involves a process of selecting individual target groups from your marketing database and running deduplication and volume constraints. This can be a very inefficient process, hampered by poor access to your data, availability of IT resources, and manually constructed and time-consuming SQL database queries.

Ask yourself questions such as:

  • How many campaigns do you run per year?
  • How long does it take to select target groups for each campaign?
  • What would be the reduction in time via use of marketing automation software? 

This could easily add up to thousands of hours of time savings for a mid-sized business.

Effectiveness

By using predictive analytics and scoring algorithms on your database as part of your campaign planning, it should be possible to only target those who have a higher chance of responding. This leads to higher conversion rates and ROI, as well as cost savings by cutting down your communication volumes for low probability responders. 

Also think about less tangible benefits such as using frequency capping rules to reduce over-communicating with customers and the positive benefits of this on your brand.

WHEN

When is the best time to send your campaign out or to include individuals in a campaign?

Efficiency

By setting up clear rules, whether they be recurring scheduled campaigns, event-triggered ones or manually triggered, you can save time and effort with automation.

Effectiveness

Reflect the Customer Journey in your campaigns by making sure each communication goes out at just the right time. This could result in a series of communications, with event triggers between multiple steps of the campaign e.g. email, click, wait, email, store visit, purchase, wait, thank you email. Or by analysing the historic purchase transaction patterns only communicate with people when they enter a time ‘window’ for their next purchase.

WHAT

The content and specific offers for each individual will have a direct bearing on campaign success.

Efficiency 

How long does it take to set up all your content combinations and then to make sure each sub-segment of your target groups gets the correct content? This should be a fully automated process with significant time savings.

Effectiveness

It has been proven beyond doubt that personalisation of content can drive up response rates and ultimately your revenues. For example, McKinsey quotes revenue uplift of 10% or more

Use of automated A/B Tests, for example, also allow you to test content combinations at scale to get the best results. On a similar note, Next Best Offer allows you to recommend the most relevant offer based on historic purchases made.

HOW

The choice of your communication channel makes sure you reach your audience in the most efficient and effective way.

Efficiency 

Can channels easily be swapped in or out of your campaigns with minimal manual effort? Are layouts and interfaces fully automated at the touch of a button?

If not, you could be losing time and holding yourself back from the benefits of multichannel communication, as well as the cost savings from matching the right channel to the right customer group. For example, you may wish to contact your High Lifetime Value clients by phone (more expensive but more personal) and contact your Low Value clients by email (cheaper but with potentially less cut-through).

Effectiveness

By tracking the Customer Journey via different channels to match your customers’ preferences and taking into account specific customer context, you’ll win more loyal fans. The automated use of control groups will allow you to judge the overall effectiveness of your campaign.

HOW MANY

The campaign doesn’t end with the communication. It’s essential to track and measure responses in order to evaluate campaign success.

Efficiency 

What is the effort required to define, collect and measure responses to your campaigns, especially when you may have different measures of success (e.g. purchases, event registrations, engagement)? Does it happen in a timely way without eating up valuable resources?

Effectiveness

By systematically measuring all elements of your campaign, you can optimise your future campaigns and ensure you’re learning from the past. All too often, marketers fail to implement this critical last step and end up repeating the sub-optimised campaigns again and again.

While there may well be other less tangible benefits to consider, it should be possible to quantify as many of the above efficiency savings (i.e. cost reduction) and effectiveness gains (increased revenues) to build your business case.

Remember the timing as well: efficiency gains will probably come through faster than increased revenues. This needs to be offset by the investment you’ll need to make in your marketing automation infrastructure.

At a high level, investment falls into one-off costs such as the implementation of your new technology platform and migration of existing data, as well as things like training and onboarding. Then there will be recurring costs to consider, such as software licences, hosting fees, management, and technical support.

Bringing these elements together will result in your overall marketing automation business for senior managers to sign-off on.

Being explicit about where exactly the savings and gains will be made before you embark on a marketing automation project will allow you to keep focused on the business objectives of your project as it progresses and will make sure you don’t get blindsided by the technology itself.

It will also allow you to revisit your goals a year or so down the line to see whether what you planned was actually achieved and, if not, what needs to be done to fully benefit from what the technology has to offer.

Martin Clark's picture

Martin Clark

Martin Clark is an expert in data-driven marketing with more than 20 years of experience in the data, technology and marketing environments. As Managing Director of Apteco GmbH, he is responsible for the expansion into the DACH region and is based in Frankfurt am Main. His motivation: "To work long-term with established partners, to inspire customers to use the Apteco Marketing Suite and to lead them to success."