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.