Marketing Automation & Its Role in Organizational Change

There are many ways in which organizations change, and if you’re familiar with change, you may be familiar with the concept of evolutionary vs revolutionary. Evolutionary change is the gradual sort. According to Gareth R. Jones & Jennifer M. George, who wrote a book called Contemporary Management, evolutionary change is a slow, constant effort to improve—it doesn’t happen overnight.

If you’re a digital marketer, this type of change is almost comical. Nothing about the digital marketing industry is gradual and slow. Companies who don’t adapt quickly to the ever-changing environment lose market share to the innovators—the “revolutionary” companies.

If you’re a revolutionary company, then you know that revolutionary change is rapid, dramatic and bold. According to George and Jones, revolutionary change is often due to a new technological advancement bursting onto the scene—one that is integral to the function of the organization. When you hear this, do you think of marketing automation? If not, you should.

Marketing automation platforms are the new technology that’s shaking up organizational structure. Over the past year, this industry has exploded, and it’s expected to experience double digit growth through 2014. What does double digital growth look like? Some analysts have predicted that the marketing automation industry will reach $4.8 billion in 2014, as marketers begin to understand how to implement and improve marketing automation strategies.

Early adopters are jumping on the marketing automation bandwagon, and it’s estimated that about 50% of all companies will by 2015. Before doing so, you should consider the ways this new platform may change your organization.

Sales & Marketing Alignment

Marketing automation has inspired a shift in the way many organizations view their marketing departments. Marketing spend can now be accurately tracked back to leads, and all efforts (online and offline) can be tied to revenue. The ability to hold marketing dollars accountable is a massive shift from the days of John Wanamaker, who is famous for admitting that marketing worked, but he didn’t know which half of his budget was driving the results.

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With marketing taking a larger role in lead generation & new business, a need to work even more closely with sales has arrived. It’s become very important for marketing to qualify leads before sending them to sales, and for the sales team to actively take a role in setting up a scoring model. The line between ownership of leads has become blurry, and a clear strategy for nurturing leads has become critical to avoiding duplication of efforts among sales and marketing members.

Understanding the ways that marketing automation will affect your company’s marketing and sales processes is key to determining the best structure for these departments.

Quest for Clean Data

Marketing automation introduces the ability to track leads throughout the digital funnel, from acquisition to conversion. However, to have a true understanding of lead statuses, quantities and quality metrics, you need to have clean data. And clean data is not easy to come by. This requires all members of your organization to abide by rules when adding new contacts to Salesforce or another CRM. It requires the same naming conventions and values to be used when setting up new marketing programs. It requires data to be updated frequently, and each member of your team to take accountability for the metrics that they impact.

In terms of organizational change, the need for clean data is sparking a need for new departments or resources dedicated to this effort. Companies are beginning to hire employees specifically to manage their CRM and marketing automation platforms, when years ago this position might not have existed. Marketing automation offers simplicity in many ways, but is also a complex beast itself—hiring the right resources to control the processes around data entry and management is a smart move.

Increasing Efficiency through Consolidation

Consolidating tools and resources is one of the biggest benefits to signing up with a marketing automation platform. Currently, companies spend a lot of time and resources managing tens and hundreds of tools that are supposed to make life easier. In all realty, having disparate sources from which to pull data makes life a lot more difficult. Marketing automation platforms are to marketing teams what Salesforce is to sales teams – which is essentially one hub that houses all pertinent data from which to make decisions.

If your organization has a chance to consolidate tools and resources, imagine how much money and time you would have to spend on other efforts. There’s not one marketer out there who would hate having more time and money to do awesome things!

Open Dialogue and Transparency

open dialogueMany companies these days, especially those in the tech industry, are shifting to organizational models that focus on open dialogue and transparency. It’s been helpful in retaining and motivating employees, and in communicating differentiators and brand promises with potential clients and customers. It’s also helpful when utilizing marketing automation systems.  In order to effectively manage these platforms, companies need to be transparent about the effectiveness of campaigns and maintain an open dialogue among all departments regarding performance metrics.

Open dialogue fosters an environment where quick changes can easily be made. Being able to make quick changes is very important when nurturing leads and delivering effective messaging strategies with the goal of closing more business.

Marketing automation offers companies an exciting opportunity to embrace change. Whether you’re adopting the evolutionary or revolutionary method of change, it’s important to keep an eye on new technologies that will be organizational game changers. These technologies can help dictate the structure of your organization in the future.

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5 Comments

  • Great post Jenni. I would imagine that implementing marketing automation and achieving the kinds of “organizational change” you speak of and results a business owner/manager would like to see takes time. I assume there are steep learning curves for most businesses, but probably dependent on size, ability, time (as mentioned), and other underlying factors?

  • Nice post Jenni. I really appreciate how you emphasize clean data. Content and clean data are the most overlooked pieces of a marketing automation initiative, in my opinion. Without either, demand gen won’t get off the ground no matter what platform you’re using! Communication and transparency are huge enablers to org change and alignment. Marketing and Sales teams are still divided in many orgs. Those that collaborate more effectively will have a distinct advantage!

    Cheers,
    Brian
    Tw @RemarkMarketing

  • Thanks guys! There are definitely steep learning curves when first integrating a marketing automation platform – it obviously helps to have a resource dedicated to the project, since it’s a big one, but not all companies are fortunate enough to have those resources. I’d say companies – large or small – that make the investment in a dedicated resource up front will see the best and fastest returns. And as Brian said, the more aligned sales and marketing teams can be, the more advantage a company will realize! Team work makes the dream work 🙂

  • Joe M says:

    Great post, Jenni. Have you observed enough implementations of Marketing automation to describe the typical roles in a dedicated team? Also, organizations will need to spend time considering their implementation strategy – some are moving from manual processes to automated ones, and others have no existing prospect nurturing processes in place.

    Preparing enough targeted content to feed the Marketing automation ecosystem is essential too. existing content may have to be modified, and new pieces designed to work optimally for its purpose in the process.

    Great work – keep it coming!

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