marketing | 7 min read

The Importance of Marketing Automation in Lead Generation for 2022

Published by Khyati Badiyani on 20-Oct-2021

Despite the dynamic nature of marketing, it’s core value has more or less stayed the same - i.e. “make sales easier”. But how we get there has undoubtedly changed, credits to marketing automation. After all, customers are evolving, and their rising expectations should consume our time rather than spending time manually sending out emails or filtering the good leads. And that’s the thing, isn’t it? We’re constantly looking for ways to optimize our workflows. And the introduction of marketing automation has made that possible. 

What is Marketing Automation?

HubSpot defines marketing automation as “all about using software to automate marketing activities.” The simplest way to understand the role of marketing automation is a bunch of tools that make a marketer’s job easier while also saving time. But by working in marketing for years, we can definitely say that marketing automation doesn’t just make marketing easy but also better. If you’re thinking about adopting marketing automation, you shouldn’t have the thought that “I can do this manually.” The whole point of automation is to scale. Scale your conversions on site, scale your lead generation, scale your email marketing, and so on. 

Some of the top areas where businesses predominantly use marketing automation are:

  • Lead generation and nurturing. 

  • Drip email campaigns.

  • Social media posts scheduling.

  • Analytics and reporting.

  • SEO, paid media, and digital advertising.

Recently, marketing automation has become a standalone field in the digital space, and rightfully so. Research suggests that Marketing Automation will be a $7.63 billion industry by 2025

Importance of Marketing Automation in Lead Generation 

Most marketing campaigns are centered around the goal of generating more leads, which means more opportunities and, ultimately, more customers. From gathering contact details to designing strategic marketing campaigns, lead generation as a whole is a crucial process but also a time-consuming one. The efforts can easily turn futile if these leads aren’t nurtured. 

At WotNot, we believe in the rule of the 10:3:1 ratio with the sales team. What this means is you generate 10 leads; out of that, 3 will show a genuine interest and speak with your sales team, and ultimately one of them becomes a paying customer. We or perhaps we can speak for most businesses that having a higher lead volume doesn't guarantee more customers. Having said that, I’m not saying that numbers aren’t crucial while generating leads. They are. But generating a good amount of leads shouldn’t require intensive human efforts and time. This is a process that can be and should be automated, which is why marketing automation makes its presence felt the most in the lead generation process. 

To understand this better, let’s take a detailed look at marketing automation benefits for lead generation.

Generating high-volume leads 

The Problem 

Going back to the 10:3:1 ratio, the catch is first to achieve the ten to achieve the three and one. But generating high-volume leads manually is a time-consuming and challenging task. There is also the pressure to do more in less time - to achieve a target, grow by a certain percentage, and generate more revenue. It can often become overwhelming and harm team morale, especially when teams spend time on leads that don’t convert or a hot lead turning cold because of an untimely response. 

How does Marketing Automation help?

Marketing automation significantly helps in the numbers game. Tools like automated chat tools, and email marketing software frees marketing teams from repetitive tasks that consumes time and allows them to focus on strategic tasks. According to VentureBeat, 80% of the marketers that use lead generation tools witnessed an increase in leads generated. Automation tools also give us data that becomes difficult to fetch manually.

Example: Symphony Limited 

Symphony Limited is one of the world’s leading evaporative air cooling companies, and it operates on a massive scale with more than 30,000 retailers and a presence across 60 countries. With millions of existing customers and hundreds of different products, the company experienced high traffic. Still, it didn’t have any automation to address the traffic and convert them into leads. 

They did some research to find a solution and came across bots as a leading trend in companies adopting marketing automation and started off with a pilot.

It built and deployed bots based on their use-cases on their website with the primary goal of generating leads from site visitors. The bot greeted web visitors, and acted as a new channel for their marketing and sales team, as the bot was regularly generating steady SQLs. These SQLs were instantaneously sent to relevant departments. Following the implementation, Symphony limited generated more than 50k leads and generated $3.2 million in revenue! 

Improved Alignment between Sales and Marketing 

The Problem  

The constant tension between marketing and sales is prevalent in many organizations, but it isn’t necessarily the fault of one or the other. The reasons for this fraction can range from misalignment of goals to lack of coordination of workflows or too many unqualified leads forwarded to the sales team. This can often result in missing opportunities to optimize the sales funnel, reach target lead generation goals, and acquire new customers. 

How does Marketing Automation help? 

Contrary to what many think, marketing automation isn’t just for the marketing team. It requires equal dedication and involvement of the sales team as well. Research shows that if sales and marketing are collaborative, it results in 36% higher customer retention rates and 38% higher conversion rates. Marketing automation enables marketing and sales to be on the same page about a particular lead and allows them to customize workflows for both teams. 

Overall, the sales team knows where the prospect is in the buyer’s journey and when the leader needs attention. It can receive automatic notifications and alerts and get a detailed buyer timeline, thereby improving the coordination with the marketing team. There are tools for segmenting the right audience and sending targeted email campaigns which resonate with what they look for to send qualified leads to sales. There are also tools for scoring leads that help marketing determine future actions. If the lead has a lower score, it gets educational content but leads with high score are given more actionable campaigns like a free trial, demo, etc.

Example: Propelics

Propelics is a company that delivers enterprise-class mobile communication strategies for brands. Its core reason for adopting marketing automation was to bridge the gap between sales and lead generation campaigns. The company was not new to marketing automation. It had numerous tools that performed certain tasks for them. 

However, most companies make this mistake while deploying marketing automation that the tools are either not integrated properly or are disconnected from the rest of the processes. Propelics was on the same boat. Even their SugarCRM was severely underutilized, and the sales and marketing teams had to create, measure, and follow up on campaigns manually. 

Propelics adopted Act-on which provided an end-to-end solution for sales and marketing lead management. It deployed a visitor web tracking mechanism through which it got a 360-degree view of prospect interest. 

With this marketing automation, Propelics could integrate its CRM to get a holistic view of the leads. They were also able to enhance leads’ visibility, improve transparency between marketing and sales, and streamline the communication between the two departments. They improved the collaboration between sales and marketing by 100% and revenue by 800%.

Lead Nurturing 

The Problem 

When you finally close a sale, you get a feeling of contentment, knowing all your efforts in gaining a customer were worth it. But what about the ones that don’t convert? It's a valuable time lost. Consider this: 96% of the website visitors come unprepared to buy. Even if you get leads using CTAs and forms, this does not guarantee that lead is at the stage where they would purchase your product. 

Sales always expect marketing to pass on leads that are ready to purchase but it’s easier said than done. From what we experience, we can for sure say that the majority of leads you get requires a lot of nurturing which falls under the marketing’s bucket. For a small business, it gets even more challenging. Even when you know your leads are qualified, it’s nearly impossible to do everything at once with a small team- from being available at any given time to anticipate the customer needs and provide them with a personalized experience. But regardless of the challenges, this process cannot be overlooked. Studies have shown that nurtured leads also make purchases that are 47% larger on average than the non-nurtured ones. 

How does Marketing Automation help? 

Marketing automation helps with segmenting leads and designing a tailor-made approach to connect with them. Sending drip campaigns is the most popular way of nurturing leads through marketing automation. Drip campaigns are an automated sequence of emails sent to a defined segment of audience. Some other shoes marketing automation fills in lead nurturing are:

  • Automate messaging for 24/7 availability. 

  • Aligning your CRM with marketing automation to increase transparency between marketing and sales for better lead nurturing.

  • Provide relevant data to nurture leads based on their persona.

Example: WotNot

WotNot is a no-code bot building platform offering bot and live-chat solutions across business verticals. It follows a freemium strategy which is a common pricing strategy in the SaaS framework where multiple pricing options (including free) are offered to the customers depending on their access to its features. WotNot receives around 500 signups every month and these signups are segmented into their account activity and their pricing plans

For nurturing the leads, WotNot uses ActiveCampaign to send targeted emails to different customer segments. The segmenting is done based on their account activity, their pricing plans, etc.  Customers that have built the bot at least once are in segment A and customers who haven’t yet explored the product at all fall under segment B. The drip campaign of WotNot for lead nurturing of the free signups looks like this.

Similarly, WotNot nurtures all the leads based on the activity they perform. For example, WotNot uses separate campaigns to nurture leads coming from the ‘Contact Us’ CTA and separate campaigns for visitors from pop-ups and enterprise pricing plans, etc. 

Increased User Engagement

The Problem 

Before improving lead generation comes improving visitor engagement. Building connections with your audience is the best way to start engagement. But to do so, you need to make visitors feel special. Impersonal lead generation campaigns like mass emails or forms cannot do that. So how do you personalize your approach yet achieve scalable engagement? Furthermore, let’s say you do your work of creating an appealing website, writing relevant content, and running campaigns, but do you even know if your visitors are responding to your activities?

How does Marketing Automation help? 

Marketing automation takes into account unique visitor characteristics to develop personalized communication strategies. Most of these tools help connect with visitors more personally, paving the way for building stronger relationships with potential customers. The real benefit of automated customer engagement lies in how it keeps the customer engaged even in your absence while all you need to do is set things in motion. 

Take a social listening and brand monitoring platform for instance. Tools like Feedhive allow you to draft, schedule, and receive notifications for your social media posts. It makes social media engagement easy by automating responses to complaints, and reply to comments allowing real-time interaction with prospects which is so critical in user engagement. They can also deliver an excellent customer service experience, without having a customer service representative behind the desk 24/7. 

Example: The Expert Institute 

The Expert Institute is an online legal platform and a meet place for attorneys and investment banks with experts in their database. Since the firm was growing, it decided to adopt marketing automation to organize and simplify its email campaigns. They started with one email campaign to encourage a one-on-one experience to the subscribers, and the goal was to generate engagement and eventually more revenue. 

They first sent personalized emails from the vice president of client relations of The Expert Institute. They even ensured that the subject line and the greetings had the subscriber names. It also concluded that the subscribers were on different levels of engagement. Hence, they segmented their messages accordingly. The most engaged lot had the most personalization. They then tracked the engagement metrics. 

For example, if the subscriber is opening the emails 30% of the time over six months, they are segmented into the most engaged group. They then followed up with another email since many subscribers responded and organized all the responses in a Google Spreadsheet. The campaign was a huge success, generating the following numbers:

  • 200% increase in conversions

  • 60% open rate

  • 20% clickthrough rate

  • 3% conversion rate

Ongoing trends in Marketing Automation to generate leads

Account-Based Marketing 

Data from Gartner shows that 44% of the marketing technology budget is spent on designing personalized marketing campaigns. Although personalization has always been an integral part of marketing, marketing automation tools help do it more effectively to provide value-driven experiences to customers. This trend will be led by Account-based marketing, which “is a focused growth strategy in which Marketing and Sales collaborate to create personalized buying experiences for a mutually-identified set of high-value accounts.” ABM will primarily help optimize ROI by defining leads based on the value they will bring to your business. Instead of focusing on generating a high number of leads, you’re focusing on generating more profitable leads. 

Engaging visitors with Chatbots

Chatbots continue to be the most popular lead generation tool in the conversational marketing spectrum. With the widespread adoption of AI, the ability to have customer-centric conversations with visitors on sites and other platforms has become possible with chatbots. Furthermore, with COVID-19, every business is moving towards a digital way of talking. Chatbots can take over the entire initial lead generation process. Before the sales team speaks with the prospects, bots can answer common questions of prospects, qualify them through a series of questions, and maintain the element of empathy that we are so used to while interacting with a human rep. 

Tracking multichannel journeys

Today’s customers are becoming smarter, tech-savvy, and prefer having multiple touchpoints for brand communication. So it’s simple, a customer’s growing multichannel presence means the brand’s growing multi-channel presence. In fact, a multichannel presence isn’t just for getting more eyeballs. Research shows that brands can see a 15 to 35 percent increase in revenue and a 49 percent increase in conversion. Marketing automation will continue to leave a mark on multichannel lead generation for brands. Be it bots on social media handles, automating lead generation from ad campaigns, integrating data from every online presence; automated lead generation tools will enable marketers to execute targeted campaigns across their channels. 

Maximizing Customer Lifetime Value

Tools have made it possible to measure the leads’ authenticity and give teams an opportunity to nurture relationships and urge them to buy from you again in the future. Marketing automation will help you provide a wholesome picture of the lead journey to design customer retention campaigns. You know which leads have a high Customer Lifetime Value (LTV) and prioritize those to boost ROI. 

Finishing thoughts 

2022 will be the year where everything tried and tested in the pandemic will either flourish or disappear entirely from the business facade. It will also be a year of opportunities, growth, and recovery. There will never be a better time to embrace technology and integrate it into the lead generation process. Marketing automation can also become a growth-hacking tool for SaaS in itself, allowing you to get a competitive edge through faster processes and cost-effective workflows. 

As marketers, we’re constantly trying to experiment, track, test, and progress our tasks. If done right, marketing automation generates numbers- in leads and revenue. The examples are a testimony of that. But more importantly, marketing automation brings about a purpose to marketing and sales efforts and helps you work more efficiently, knowing that your hard work is getting paid off. 

And do not confine yourself to these trends. There are so many other lead generation trends out there. However, it still doesn’t guarantee that you’ll have a refined lead generation process. Ultimately, it will always be your ability to innovate and thoughtfulness that will fetch you astounding results that you can brag about! 

Good luck!

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