A Budget For Marketing Automation Software

Marketing budgets are rising in organisations across the UK, but with greater spending power comes heightened expectations and a closer eye on ROI. Deciding exactly what budget is required for marketing automation applications is therefore far from simple. There is the first ‘price tag’ to think about, of course, but the true ‘cost’ of marketing automation isn’t only the fee for the stage itself. If the tech is clunky, time-consuming or difficult to utilize, by way of instance, it will be turned into a burden instead of a value-adding asset. But when the system is slick, intuitive and supported by a group of local marketing specialists, a return will soon be recouped.

SLAs also offer an investment security net as they provide a warranty concerning the access to the platform and its reporting capabilities. The last thing a marketing team needs is to invest in a platform that’s always offline! In other words, as the age-old proverb goes, if you buy cheap, you frequently buy double. But how much should be spent on marketing automation? Of course what’s affordable for one organisation might appear much too expensive for the following with poor network performance management, so decisions need to be made on a case-by-case foundation.

There are a number of ‘free’ automation solutions available in the market, which perhaps provide some support to microbusinesses that are dipping their feet in the water when it comes to lead nurturing.

These solutions can seem attractive at first glance because there’s no initial charge for their use of their core services or products. However, these ‘freemium’ versions can soon become very costly since the basic operation is often quite limited – after all, these aren’t marketing charities. When advertising teams seek the additional tools they really need, the prices soon escalate as the ‘add ons’ are commonly billed at a premium cost. What was an inexpensive alternative at the beginning can become far from cheap in the long term.

Whilst certainly not ‘free’, you will find some more complex marketing automation platforms available on transparent ‘pay as you go’ pricing arrangements which lay out the menu of prices from day one. First set-up fees are often incurred for these solutions but with prices as low as $600 and competitive prices on email sends, such pricing models enable marketing teams to plan for – and stick to – the budgets they set.

There are also tiered options available, which reflect the depth of operation bought, with added elements able to be bolted on based on whether they are or are not required or whether further software testing is required. This means a company pays only for what they want, and just when the technology is perspiration – not when it is not! Such market variances can make it difficult to compare various quotes on a like-for-like basis. Many companies claim to provide marketing automation by way of instance, but their offering is little more than email distribution.

The overall advice? Explore the market with an open mind, ask questions specific to the action and aims of the brand concerned, and stay focused on these objectives. Fancy bells and whistles might seem attractive but the technology ought to be rated, pound for pound, contrary to the use case. If in any doubt, ask the seller to build a business case which will ensure ROI stays in sharp focus. This way, the investment is made out of total costs and value in mind, not just the initial outlay. Marketing your business, whether off or online, is a time intensive procedure. As your company grows, managing direct capture, nurturing, converting and connection management become too large to manage manually, which is the reason why small business owners turn to marketing automation applications or IT consultant companies to control the load.

Generally speaking, automation brings many benefits to your small business including: rate; lower prices; and time savings. But as the advertising, selling, and relationship management procedures involve so many steps, many of which are replicated for each client, promotion is very suited to automation. And that is where marketing automation applications and other agile and automated software for testing managed services comes in.

Marketing Automation Software

Thankfully, there are many advertising automation software alternatives for small businesses. These solutions can take care of a few, or all types, of automated advertising techniques. In other words, they comprise various automation features such as:

  • Types and landing pages,
  • Automated email campaigns,
  • Trigger emails based on custom or set rules,
  • Constructed eCommerce performance or integration with eCommerce platforms,
  • Lead scoring,
  • Constructed CRM or CRM integration,
  • Smarter segmentation and
  • Website behaviour monitoring.

Note: Not all options provide every feature.

While you may be reluctant to try one because of price or learning curve, you must be aware that many marketing automation software vendors:

  • Charge based On use (number of consumers, features used, etc.) so the price scales, and is manageable, as you grow; and
  • Offer solid Help as you learn how to use their tool such as free training, client Support representatives, thorough documentation and a supportive user community forum.

From that point, you’re ready to start making the most out of marketing automation applications.

What’s on at Melbourne’s Media and Marketing Summit

The event is set to be held in Melbourne CBD on the 2nd of August and is the first Media and Marketing Summit in Victoria, which follows on from the Sydney event in May, with a line up of new topics and world renowned speakers, the focus of the summit is designed to make media and marketing make more sense. The summit will hold speakers of companies such as Universal Music, ANZ Bank, Lenovo and of course, Holden General Motors to name a few of the big brands in attendance. Also at the Melbourne Media and Marketing Summit will be:

Keynote: Redefining Holden

The keynote on redefining Holden will be presented by the director of marketing for the company, Mark Harland. The Australian born automobile brand is on the cusp of a phenomenal shift and Harland will delve into why the brand isn’t going to rely solely on TVCs and conventional marketing approaches, but will innovate to reflect the fact that Holden’s vehicles are more technologically advanced and safer than ever before. He’ll discuss the brand’s moves into ride-sharing technology and ways it is seeking to revolutionise the car buying experience and become business leaders in the motor industry.

Finding success in collapse

It takes a courageous marketer to acknowledge failure. But, those failures — whether it be likely failures, creative failures, or effort failures — will result in incredible learning experiences. We hear from some of those men and women who haven’t reached all their goals, and receive some business coaching in the form of a special insight into how failure changed their tactics and strategies forever.

Mark Ritson’s Nine Circles of Digital Hell

Described by an attendee in the Sydney Media and Marketing Summit as one of the best presentations they have ever seen, Professor Mark Ritson provides a finely tuned adventure through the electronic inferno.

 Brand Building in a Digital World

Has new brand building efforts been sacrificed in the name of electronic tactics? Are entrepreneurs overly worried about push messaging, rather than pulling from the hearts and minds of consumers? How is a brand cultivated and grown in a digital environment; what would be the best examples, and what could be learned from them?

 The New Face of Agencies

Whose game is it anyway? When a creative service can become a media service, a media service is a digital store, and manufacturer becomes a publisher nothing is black and white. With these blurred lines, it is tough to recall that the important thing is the outcome. How are agencies and customers reshaping what they do to provide superior outcomes and relationships – and what is working? A small business coaching program will be run to assess how we can raise revenue while maintaining and developing relationships with consumers.

Health and Wellbeing Session

The health and wellbeing presentation will be presented by Tonic Media. Most of us know that people are crucial to business success and excellent marketing, but it is getting ever more difficult to balance life in the fast-paced media world. In this well-being ‘psych-up’ session Matthew Johnstone, ambassador of Tonic Health Media, he will teach you stress management techniques for working in a busy media environment and help you and your teams build strength, find balance and develop mindfulness.

 

The Melbourne Media and Marketing Summit will run on the 2nd of August in the Australian Centre for the Moving Image, at the heart of Federation Square. You can purchase tickets now.

Creating A Marketing Plan

Whether you run an e-commerce store, have recently launched an online startup or you run a local service business that targets people who use the web to search for your services, you need an online marketing plan that sets out your activities.

First, you need to carry out an audit and analysis of your business and the marketing environment. That means you need to research your target markets and identify segments that are interested in your products or services and assess if you have the resources.

Your audit will also include analyzing your competitive forces to see how well resourced they are and if you can take them head on or use a flanking or guerrilla marketing strategy. Finally, you will look at the macro forces like technology, politics and social factors that are outside your control and that could impact your business.

So, here are 6 tips to help you create your marketing plan:

1. Create Marketing Objectives

From your audit, you will discover what is most important to your business and that will form the basis of your objectives. Your objectives are unique to your business and are statements of what you want to achieve.

They are short-term goals usually covering a period of 6-12 months and they should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-related (SMART). An example of a SMART Objective is:

“Increase organic traffic by 20% with Millennials by 31 December 2015”

Now that you’ve created your objectives, you will move on to the next stages of your online marketing plan and focus only on activities that help you achieve your objectives.

2. Know Your Customers

Your audit will help you identify potential segments that you can target with your products or services. Very few businesses have the financial and people resources to target all segments in the market, so you should pick the segments that you have identified as having the most potential.

A potential market is one that has the money to afford your products and is large enough for you to make sales to cover your operational costs and also make profits. So, to maximise your revenue or sales, you could opt for a multi-segment strategy that you target multiple groups with your products or services.

There are many online tools you can use to identify your target demographics and where they are based and some of these you can find in Google AdWords, such as the keyword and display planner tools. Also, you can use survey tools like Survey Monkey to understand the needs of your target markets.

3. Monitor Your Competitors

Having identified your competitors from the audit, now you need to pick three or four that you will monitor and benchmark against your business metrics. This is where your KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) become more relevant because you are comparing your progress against business rivals.

The web provides many tools to monitor competitors and one of the popular ones is Alexa. Another one is Compete and these tools and others provide you with details about your competitors’ visitor demographic and geographic data and how they are performing on metrics such as traffic volumes, time on site and popular keywords. Mobile data capture is another tool you can use to track what your clients are searching for.

For social media, a tool like Social Bakers is handy to assess and monitor your competitors’ performance in the social sphere, which is now more important than ever.

4. Decide On Your Promotional Strategy

The strategy section of your marketing plan is an in-depth section on how you reach your target markets with your offers. It covers your positioning in the market and marketing mix tactics like a product, price, place, promotion, people, process and physical evidence.

With promotion, for example, you will identify all the online channels and tools that are relevant in your industry and some popular ones include PPC advertising, SEO, affiliate marketing, blogging, email marketing, social media and so on.

The tactics you choose as part of your strategy will depend on what financial and people resources you have and this will feed into your budget.

5. Create An Effective Budget

Your marketing budget should be large enough to allow you to implement your strategy. If it’s not, then you should prioritize your tactics and activities and focus first on those that will help you achieve your objectives, while meeting customers’ needs.

Budget setting is a specialized skill and you should get assistance from a financial expert if you struggle to develop this part of your marketing plan.

6. Control Your Activities

Finally, your marketing plan should include details of how you monitor your progress towards achieving your mission and goals and what you will do if things go wrong. This is an interesting part of the plan because it lists all the activities and who will be assigned to what activity and what the cost will be.

Remember to get senior-level buy-in and ensure that everyone in your team understands what their roles and duties are. So, you should have a timeline or a reporting dashboard that lists all these activities and continue to change it as things progress.