Marketing automation continues to evolve, and it is becoming increasingly popular among businesses of all sizes. Marketing automation refers to technological platforms that enable marketers to more effectively deliver content to multiple media channels and automate as many tasks as possible. During 2016, marketing personnel will be more accountable than ever for generating sales results. This level of accountability involves deploying technological platforms that engage with old and new customers to increase lead generation and inbound traffic.
The Statistics Tell the Story
It’s clear that marketing automation software can dramatically increase leads and profit, and it also provides a greater return on investment in relation to conventional marketing platforms. According to Focus Research, marketing automation has seen the fastest growth of any CRM-related segment in the past five years. Additionally, Gartner research indicates that companies automating lead management typically see a 10 percent or greater increase in revenue in six to nine months.
Despite the complexity of marketing automation software, adoption has been fairly rapid and widespread. Additionally, recent research from MarketsandMarkets concludes there is still potential for further uptake. Marketing automation software revenues are expected to reach $5.5 billion on a worldwide basis in 2019, up from $3.65 billion in 2014.
The benefits of using marketing automation software are numerous. A March 2014 study by Regalix found that B2B marketers saw substantial benefits from automation, including better lead management and lead nurturing, measureable results, and enhanced targeting and personalization.
Service Providers Are Embracing the Opportunity
Scott Mallen, past-president of Spectrum Creative Services in Poughkeepsie, New York, purchased a struggling quick print franchise in 1995. In 1996, he exited the franchise, changed his company’s name to Spectrum Graphics & Print and created a new “one-stop shop” for local businesses. The company handled creative work, printing and mailing. It found early success by focusing on creative and strategic work for campaigns. Print cost became a non-issue because it was always bundled into the project. Mallen elaborates, “Our print prices were always higher than what larger printers were charging, but we made it easy for our customers to see the value of our offering — the entire project was handled by a single person.”
Over time, Spectrum came to realize that not all customers were created equal. Certain market segments were easier to do business with. As the company moved into the realm of cross-media services, it recognized an opportunity to position itself as a value-added services partner for educational institutions. Spectrum had already established relationships with a few universities that truly understood how cross-media communications and automation could drive enrollment and recruitment. The company has since reinvented its business to deliver expanded services to a targeted client base. Spectrum is now continually innovating in higher education recruitment, providing groundbreaking software and marketing solutions to colleges around the country.
One of Spectrum’s differentiators is that it leads with software. Mallen explains: “Most of our customers don't even realize that we print their materials in-house. We combine strategic higher education enrollment practices with a cutting-edge CRM marketing platform technology to create advanced admission programs, and we specialize in helping schools navigate ever-expanding media channels to reach students with timely and meaningful marketing. Software sales are now very profitable for us, but the integration of print into our CRM makes our offering unique to the higher education industry.”
Liaison International, a leader in admissions management solutions, saw the benefits of automating the recruiting and marketing process. In November 2014, Liaison announced that it had acquired Spectrum Edu Solutions for access to its CRM and marketing solutions for higher education institutions. With the addition of Spectrum, Liaison’s offerings now span the entire life cycle of enrollment management and student marketing to provide the most comprehensive solution on the market.
The enrollment marketing services created by Mallen and his team automate the entire process for the educational institution, from inquiry to enrollment. This increases yield and can assist universities with reaching their ambitious recruiting goals. The company’s Enrollment Marketing Program (EMP) is designed to help discover potential new students and target them with campaigns to nurture them across every step of the enrollment funnel. This systematic approach includes personalized collateral for each prospective student aligned with the university’s brand. EMP reinforces the message through print, email, text and voice messaging so that every campaign delivers high-touch, effective communications that are truly personalized.
Key elements that comprise the EMP offer include:
- Create search campaigns to introduce the institution to the students most likely to enroll.
- Track student behavior across all campaigns and assets to determine what strategies work best to drive inquiries.
- Uncover “stealth” candidates through requalification campaigns.
- Develop dynamic forms that drive cross-media nurture campaigns.
- Develop personalized calls-to-action that prompt meaningful engagement.
- Integrate social media, chat and text into nurture campaigns.
- Integrate events into cross-media campaigns.
- Create and launch personalized print and email campaigns to drive participation.
- Create “Apply Now” cross-media campaigns that prompt action.
- Create nurture campaigns for stealth applicants.
- Design campaigns targeting parents and other influencers.
- Create Personal Social Networks (PSNs) to keep accepted students on track to enroll.
- Design campaigns to drive participation in PSNs.
- Create campaigns to drive enrollment.
Mallen, now president of CRM Solutions at Liaison, says: “Many institutions struggle with having the right tools and enough resources to manage all the critical tasks throughout the admission process. It’s exciting to join the Liaison team because we can work together to offer a solution that addresses this need. From campaign management and personalized communications to customizable application forms and verification of student credentials, our combined software, services and data analytics platform sets the standard for best practices in enrollment management and allows admissions staff to focus on what’s most important — building lasting relationships with students.”
It's Time to Think About Automation
Marketing automation continues to advance at a rapid pace, leaving marketers and service providers with plenty of tools and features to explore. With technology advancing, providers will have even more offerings to look forward to in the future. A decade ago, the cross-media conversation was content-focused. Today’s marketers are seeking partners that can help strategically and automatically deploy a campaign comprising print, email, a website and social media that tracks prospects through the sales funnel. Service providers like Mallen have stepped up to this challenge, and it has yielded big benefits for his company and his clients. It’s time for service providers to build a strategy that helps customers automate their marketing processes and, in return, gain ongoing print and service revenue streams. There are many technologies from which to choose, including Act-On, EFI’s DirectSmile, HubSpot, Marketo, Oracle Eloqua, Ricoh’s Precision Marketing and XMPie. It is time to explore marketing automation and the effect that it could have on your business.