21 Oct Marketing Automation Software: Good Investment or Pipe Dream?
Marketing automation software is EVERYWHERE. Dozens of competitors now compete to make marketing easier, boost social engagement, prove ROI, and provide actionable data. Generally, these are not small purchases. Ranging from a couple hundred bucks per month to over a thousand dollars per month, with most coming in around $500-$700, marketing automation software is a substantial investment for small to medium sized businesses. Is it worth it?
Let’s take a step back. Another software product that’s been around for many years is similar in its value proposition. Quickbooks is a preeminent player in the small business accounting platform. If you know how to use Quickbooks at an advanced level, it can probably accomplish nearly every accounting and tax task that a typical business owner would ever have. We wouldn’t know. After buying Quickbooks 3 years ago, we have yet to open the file, have no idea how to enter information, would rather chew our arms off than learn accounting, and become physically ill when thinking of credits and debits. In our case, we find it a much better investment to pay a professional to do bookkeeping…thus, we keep both arms in tact.
When we made the purchase we were sure we were going to be accounting geniuses. “New leaf, guys! We’re organized now!” The online video demo looked so easy! The box had green check marks next to all the stuff we needed! Where did we go wrong? Why are we not accountants?
The reason we are not accountants is the same reason marketing automation software will likely not make a very busy business owner an expert marketer. As much as we like the idea of “buying” expertise from a box or on a subscription basis, we have yet to find the silver bullet so often promised in clever headlines, catchy marketing videos, and theoretical philosophy. We’ve tried a number of them. We’ve partnered with a few. We’ve manipulated several. The result: marketing takes work!
Regardless of the slick interface or the buzzword promises, at the end of the day, marketing takes work. Marketing a company is a constant grind. It’s an everyday commitment to creating a brand and appealing to target markets. Unfortunately, it cannot be put on autopilot with software alone. Marketing automation software can enhance an already well built marketing plan. Marketing automation software can certainly speed up tasks and increase efficiency of your marketing department or marketing agency. However, if you lack the time or the expertise to effectively market your company now, this will not change regardless of what software platform you buy. The only thing that will change is your profit and loss statement (and not for the better).
“But, Iconic, the software provider showed me incredibly staggering numbers about how they use it in their own business and have driven lead generation costs down by 62%! Surely there is some sort of magic bullet available.” At least one of the biggest companies in this space generated $65 million dollars in initial venture capitalist investments and spent 5 years developing that expertise with hundreds of people on staff. If that’s your reality, then it is unlikely you blink an eye at $700 a month in software costs, so please disregard this post.
For the rest of us, try talking to an agency that specializes in marketing. Many exist aside from Iconic Digital Agency. A reputable marketing firm will likely help you understand what can and can’t be accomplished by marketing automation software. In the end, a quick free 45 min marketing consultation could save you thousands of unnecessary expense or give you the confidence of knowing you are making the right decision.