Marketing automation: What you should know

According to a recent global study1, 79% of B2B marketers have invested in marketing automation in some form or another and this trend towards automation is influencing the way marketers are communicating with their target audiences. 

But what exactly is marketing automation and what are the benefits for you as a print service provider (PSP)?

What is marketing automation?

  • Marketing automation is a term that relates to the use of software to enable marketers to automate, streamline and measure repeatable marketing tasks and workflows, with the ultimate goal of driving revenue growth and increasing operational efficiencies
  • Marketers can use the software to gain access to powerful analytics and campaign tracking to score leads and nurture those not quite yet ready to purchase. 
  • The use of marketing automation typically encourages greater cooperation between marketing and sales activities to simplify the buyer journey and amalgamate the communications sent to the customer
  • Automated communications can help ensure that marketers are deploying highly personalised, contextual content to the right people via the right channels, driving increased revenues and improving customer retention
  • With careful measurement, marketing automation ensures a customer’s engagement with a company is recognised, but safeguards against them then being inundated with irrelevant communication that may have a negative impact on their perception of the brand. 

In summary, marketing automation is about helping to increase sales and win long-term custom. 

How can it benefit you as a PSP?

For PSPs, marketing automation is more than just helping to increase the effectiveness of print within a customers’ marketing campaign. 

Clearly there are commercial benefits to your business in generating additional print volumes, or in other services such as taking over your customers' repeatable marketing tasks to save them time and/or resource over the long-term. However, perhaps more importantly, the key benefits of offering marketing automation services lie in cultivating even stronger relationships with customers by offering consultancy on their multi-channel communications. This may be by helping them to develop more effective lead generation, obtaining insights into end-user behaviour that can help to inform a customer’s future marketing activities or helping them to differentiate themselves from competitors. 

Are you ready to explore offering it as a service to customers?

Do you… 

  • Already work in partnership with a client base that is receptive to new ideas or have existing customers already enquired about marketing automation services? 
  • Possess a good understanding of the digital media landscape and digital marketing?
  • Have a ‘beyond print’ approach to business?
  • Already offer web-to-print (W2P) or variable data printing (VDP) services?
  • Have access to creative resources such as in-house web design or web content development?

If you answered ‘yes’ to the above questions, then you may already be well placed to broaden your service offering via marketing automation. While everyone will be joining from a different starting point, as long as you have the core competencies in place and adopt the right way of thinking, it may be an area worth exploring. 

Where do you start?

As with most new services, it’s not just about buying software and expecting instant success – there has to be a strategy to integrate it into an existing business model. 

Essentially there are two tiers of investment: one for the software and another for training/recruitment to ensure that the operational skills required are in place to make the service a success. The former may include a solution such as DirectSmile, with which you can execute and monitor multi-channel marketing campaigns across different communication platforms and work with Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems to facilitate a better understanding of customer behaviours. The latter is more about having the right mind-set and/or data services experience (such as VDP or W2P) and creative capabilities (the people) in place from the outset.

How have others succeeded with this service to date?

Remo Martin, Managing Director of Switzerland-based PSP Rohner Spiller says:

Before investing in marketing automation, you have to ask yourself a number of important questions. Does it solve a problem for your client? If yes, then you must consider whether you have the skills and the manpower to manage websites, design marketing strategies and market these services. If the answer is ‘yes’ again and you have clear understanding of what you’re going to do, then you are on the right track.

Marketing automation enables us to deliver solutions that simplify and automate our customers’ workflows with minimal human intervention. We run our own projects involving personalised direct mail and web content and our customer campaigns are far more measurable. With this performance data, we’re able to refine and optimise future campaigns, winning us repeat business as well as new.

1 Regalix, State of B2B Marketing Automation, 2015

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