At BrightInfo we’re strong believers in automation. Our software automatically targets new anonymous visitors and we recently partnered with other world leading marketing automation brands such as HubSpot, Act-On, Marketo, Uberflip and Mailchimp.
We have no idea how come the chain wheel became the leading icon for marketing automation. But, we can cover the key ROI benefits of investing in automation technologies in your marketing.
Automation in general is focused on helping you achieve tasks with minimal or no efforts. It can be small things like installing add-ons to your WordPress site or getting regular updates to it or it can be a major commitment to a Marketing Automation Platform in order to better manage your relationships with your known prospects and customers. There are many options for automation out there and when you are considering them you need to make sure the ROI for adding another solution is positive enough for your specific business, for your use case and for the needed investment of time and effort.
One easy area of the ROI is time saving (if you don’t get how important that is, use your spare time to check out this Time Management InfoGraphics on Pinterest). For example if you are a content marketer and you now spend 1 hour a day on distributing content across your owned and earned media, and you can prove that you can eliminate this completely, you are creating an ROI of 22 hours per month or almost 3 more working days for you to focus on other tasks.
To make sure your ROI calculation is accurate though you need to take into account the time invested in implementing, training, configuring and managing the new technology. For example if this is a 2 weeks project (10 working days) you can get this time back in under 4 months with the time saved.
Ideally you also want to show to the business that your freed up time will be put to better use such as new initiatives, growing the business revenue or other valuable results.
Doing things you can’t do manually
Some tasks are hard or impossible to achieve without automation. Easy examples are sending email newsletters to your customer base or personalizing your online interactions with your audience. You can’t just send out emails to all your customers one by one and you also can’t be online all the time and monitor your audience actions on your site to respond with personal offers. So basically the ROI area here is achieving new capabilities and the upside is the business value in return. For the email newsletter example the ROI is around lead nurturing and maturing deals. For online personalization it will be higher online conversion rates and a bigger pipeline.
Replacing automation with automation (Upgrading)
Sometimes you start small or with the wrong vendor and once you get your experience you see that an area you already automated can be greatly improved with a new vendor in place. Examples can be switching from one marketing automation vendor to another for increased functionality or effectiveness, or in the real-time personalization space switching from a rule-based/segments-based real-time personalization to a truly individual personalization solution.
These moves can be costly in terms of time spent on research, pilots, training and ramp up so you want to make sure the business benefit post switch is positive and measurable. For example in the real-time personalization space if a rule-based solution successfully grew your online conversion by 10% and switching to an individual personalization solution can grow online conversion by another 20% that’s a great ROI already. On top of it a new solution may still free up more of your time (To our point #1 above) so make sure to take it into account as well in your automation ROI model
Delivering a better experience
While we always want simple, clear cut ROI, sometime we just want to do the right things because they feel right, and associating an ROI with them is difficult. Examples can span from investments in solution that deliver an personal online experience just because your business believes in treating individuals differently or investing in prospect and customer nurturing for long term relationship building. In some cases you just want to be the cool kid on the block and deliver the most advanced, leading online experience. The common thing for these is that measuring an ROI here may be difficult as they may not result in a clear return or the return may not be immediate, so should be measured long term. Like with other investments though, make sure you know what you’re getting into in terms of the complete understanding of all project investment areas – research time, implementation, training and ramp up, ongoing administration, license and maintenance costs, etc.
New insights into your business
Most online marketing solutions come with reporting and analytics. So if you bring a new solution on board, especially one that is new to your business and is replacing a manual effort or achieves new functionality for you (Our first two points above) there is an opportunity to learn more about an area of your business and further increase your ROI. For example with real-time personalization you can automatically target your anonymous visitors and increase online conversion substantially, lower lead/deal cost etc. However in the process you gain valuable analytics that help you know your anonymous audience better and improve your online marketing effectiveness for them in terms of new content created, website organization and optimization etc. So the new analytics can actually drive more ROI, depending on the specific area of functionality you’re considering.
To learn more about our efforts around automation of the marketing department see our recent partnership with Act-On Software at “PR: Act-On and BrightInfo launch integration, boosting conversions across owned & paid media”