Why Marketing Automation Matters for 2012

by | Nov 18, 2011 | Blog, Blog Archive, Distributed Marketing, Multi-Channel Marketing | 0 comments

By Edgar Rodriguez, EVP Marketing, Distribion, Inc.

Marketing automation isn’t a new idea. Software platforms that enable marketing and sales departments to increase lead conversion by leveraging captured data to automate and streamline communications and audience segmentation have been around in various forms for almost two decades.

Distributed marketing platforms are a bit newer – they’ve been around about five years. These advanced systems provide an integrated set of online tools so that local users can easily search, find, select, assemble, customize, distribute and track campaign assets across multiple channels at the local level while allowing central or corporate marketing to manage brand and regulatory compliance.

A robust, well-managed distributed marketing platform gives local producers – the field or local staff members who make most of the sales – an easy-to-use system with great creative and all the tools they need to manage digital and print marketing with just a few mouse clicks. Corporate marketing eliminates the compliance headaches of unmanaged local sales campaigns created by dozens (or thousands) of local branches – and they get closed loop reporting that gives them real time data to show what works, and what needs to be adjusted.

Sounds nice, right? But if you’re like me, putting together the 2012 budget meant taking a hard look at every dollar you spend. So why is automating your distributed marketing program a high priority? Because that’s how to deliver the results that management wants. A distributed marketing platform can

But don’t take my word for it. Here’s some hard data we collected from our customers in the property & casualty, life, annuity and financial services industries. After a full year of harnessing the power of the Distribion DMP, the results showed:

• 25% increase in marketing efficiency

• 15% reduction in compliance costs

• 10% reduction in support & maintenance costs for legacy, point solutions

• 10% increase in sales conversions

You were waiting for that last one, right? Because that’s the one that makes my pulse race. I know as well as you do that you can’t cut your way to more revenue – you have to increase the number of leads that convert into sales. How does automation help with that?

To put it simply, closed loop reporting and consistent messaging let you gather the data for more targeted lead based marketing with a lot less effort and fewer people. I’ll admit it – I used to be guilty of the batch-and-blast approach to email marketing. But with real time access to the two kinds of behavioral data that lets me score and segment leads, I don’t need to fall back on that approach any more.

My distributed marketing platform lets me track both implied and explicit behavior from my target audiences. Implied behavior takes data such as how often a prospect visited a microsite, what pages they viewed, how much time they spent on a page, and what product messages they responded to, and allows me to target future messages to those prospects. Explicit behavior, such as filling in forms, requesting information, and attempting or making an online purchase, gives me the priority I need to decide how “hot” a lead is and assign it to the right follow-up method.

It also allows my marketing team to refine and tweak campaigns, messages, and graphics faster than ever before, because we can tell quickly what messages are resonating with our audiences. I thank that without real-time data on every campaign and every message, regardless of whether the message originates in corporate marketing or a field office somewhere else, you’re missing out on the most powerful weapon in your marketing arsenal.

David Meerman Scott, author of the best-seller, The New Rules of Social Media, says that the fundamentals of business to business (B2B) marketing are the same today as they were 50 years ago. It’s still about relationships, although today we have new tools and techniques at our disposal. Are you using all the tools at your disposal? If not, make 2012 the year that you start.

If you’re an insurance or financial services marketer with a distributed marketing network of general agencies, independent broker dealers, and captive or independent local agents, and you’re still working on your 2012 marketing budget, click here for my guide to building a rock-solid business case for adding a distributed marketing automation transformation program to your 2012 budget.