As one of the last holdouts in the move toward digital technology, the asset management industry is fervently trying to play catch up. As many firms wade into the shallow end of the pool, some are being lured by the hype of marketing automation, which, as technologies go, is like diving into the deep end of the pool. While marketing automation is quickly becoming an essential component of an effective digital marketing strategy and should be pursued by any business with serious growth ambitions, it’s a major investment that may not pay off for firms who don’t understand its benefits and value – or who are simply not prepared to implement it.
Why Buy a Porsche if You Drive it Like a Hyundai?
We are seeing firms purchasing marketing automation platforms (MAPs), such as Pardot and Marketo, which can cost between $1,500 and $2,500 per month on a subscription basis with long-term commitments. Yet, many are using it like a $100 per month, no commitment MailChimp or Constant Contact program. That’ like buying a Porsche and driving it like it’s a Hyundai. Why spend the money if you don’t benefit from more utility?
According to research from the Annuitas Group, companies that effectively use marketing automation to nurture prospects see a 451% increase in qualified leads. A study by Nucleas Research reveals that, when implemented properly, marketing automation drives a 14.5% increase in sales productivity and a 12.2% reduction in marketing overhead. Yet, nearly 60% of companies that adopt marketing automation do not experience that level of ROI because they do not fully utilize the tools they’ve implemented. For asset management firms that have traditionally viewed marketing as an overhead expense, an underutilized MAP is not likely to change that view.
Tapping Marketing Automation’s Full Potential
As evidenced by the studies, marketing automation has the potential to turn marketing into a powerful ROI generator. With its ability to track and centralize turbocharged analytics across channels, identify and score qualified leads based on their engagement with your timely content, and improve sales efficiency, it can pay for itself many times over with measurable ROI. However, many firms barely scratch the potential of the MAP technology, making it no more useful than a glorified MailChimp.
Based on our experience, here’s what firms need to consider before making the investment in marketing automation.
Understand What’s Possible
It’s not uncommon for firms to purchase a MAP before understanding everything it can do. There are several layers to a MAP that can take you from basic automation for running simple campaigns (at a lower cost) on up to advanced automation with a robust toolset that allows for greater customization and flexibility (at a much higher cost). Studies show that the most commonly used marketing automation features are email marketing, nurturing, integrations with other digital channels (CRM, email, website, social media) for centralizing customer intelligence and cross-channel campaign management.
While most firms purchase MAPs to drive revenue, they need to understand its full potential for creating a more seamless and personalized customer experience, facilitating the buying process, shortening the sales cycle and providing insights that can inform everything from product development to sales strategies.
Know Your Needs
But your firm may not need or be able to fully utilize all these capabilities initially. At a minimum, your MAP should be able to link with your CRM and email to share data, set up campaigns and track engagement. Your system will teach you where you are driving your ROI, which enables you to concentrate your investment in the most productive areas. As you gain ROI, you can incrementally add layers to your MAP to continue to fill out its potential and have it grow with your goals. The key is to have a vision and a strategy for where you want your marketing to take you and then stick with the strategy.
Know Your Capabilities
Because many firms don’t have a vision or strategy, or a concept of how a MAP contributes to their overall marketing plan, they often don’t commit the personnel and resources needed to run a successful program. Using an intern or an operations person to run it usually doesn’t work well, even if they stay up nights and weekends watching YouTube videos to learn how to do it better. Whoever is tasked with managing it, won’t fully utilize something they don’t know and, because it’s powerful, they may be afraid to hit the send button.
At any level, a MAP requires a dedicated person or team, knowledgeable in digital marketing, to manage the platform properly. For firms that can’t afford to hire the dedicated talent, the best option is to hire a digital marketing coach to help you think through what’s possible and create an implementation plan to help you achieve it. You can also partner with a firm that can develop a strategy and implement the program for you.
With executive teams laser-focused on ROI, it’s easy for any marketing endeavor to be precipitously dismissed as yet another expense. And, because it requires that marketing, sales, IT and product development be unified around your firm’s business strategy to fully leverage the power of marketing automation, all it takes is one person who doesn’t understand the concept or its potential to send the project to the back burner.
Discussing the value and benefits of marketing automation is actually a great opportunity to break down the silos and align departments around the singular goal of driving more revenue. They just need to know how it serves their interests. Without that alignment and the full commitment of senior management to the long-term process of mastering marketing automation, it will have trouble getting off the ground.
Making marketing automation work is a continuous process, taking time and resources that should not be underestimated. Understanding that it is a step by step process, requiring patience, discipline, and commitment, it’s best to start small and go slowly to avoid the frustration of buying more technology that can be utilized.
Dan Sondhelm is CEO of Sondhelm Partners, a firm that helps asset managers, mutual funds, ETFs, wealth managers and fintech companies grow through marketing, public relations and sales programs. Click to read Dan’s latest Insight articles and to schedule a complimentary consultation.