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How much does marketing automation actually cost?

3 mins read

We all like the idea of marketing automation. In simple terms, it's the equivalent of pieing off a portion of our workload and getting better results because of it. In theory, marketing automation makes us look better to our boss and gives us some time to sit back and relax (or if you're sensible, work on other, more important things).

It's no surprise many marketers are eager to know more about automation and involve it in their next campaign. But what about marketing automation cost? Can we afford to outsource our marketing tasks to an intelligent piece of software? And if we can, should we? 

Let's discuss the argument for automation, what it is and how much it costs. 

What is marketing automation? Does it work? 

Marketing automation is a broad term for managing marketing processes automatically by using a piece of purpose-built software. By automating menial marketing tasks, marketers don't need to do as much manual work, giving their teams more time to focus on high-level activities and the creative process.

In turn, the time it takes to complete a campaign is streamlined, providing a better marketing ROI as a result.

76% of companies that implement marketing automation generate an ROI within 12 months. 

Source: Marketo

Automation can extend to many marketing activities from email to social media and beyond. 

For example, marketing automation can be employed as part of the website navigation process. Using software, marketers can decide which user behaviours should trigger an action such as a discount code sent via e-mail or a pop-up appearing in their window.

Using automation to personalise website navigation drives conversion rate and gives teams the power to better qualify leads. 

Businesses that use marketing automation to nurture prospects experience a 451% increase in qualified leads. 

Source: Salesforce

All marketers and organisations can, in theory, benefit from marketing automation. After all, which team doesn't want increased efficiency, the opportunity to optimise lead conversion and gain a multichannel view of user behaviour? 

How much does marketing automation software cost? 

To experiment with automation, marketers need to invest in suitable software. 

Automation relies on data to provide accurate prompts to prospects and so the more comprehensive a marketing automation software is, the better automation will work for your organisation. 

There are many types of marketing software on the market with varying marketing automation costs.

Marketing automation cost isn't so simple to budget for as you can opt for specific software that only automates standalone marketing activities like email or more comprehensive, full-service systems that enable automation across the board. As such, marketing automation costs can stem from substantial annual investment to small sums paid as part of a monthly subscription. 

Companies spend, on average, 7% of their overall budgets on marketing automation. 

Source: MarketingSherpa

In an ideal world, every marketer would opt for the latter, adopting a full-service marketing and sales system like HubSpot, ranked #1 marketing automation software by Finances Online and awarded an impressive 99% user satisfaction rating.

All-in-one solutions offer automation across every digital touchpoint. With an intelligent, all-in-one solution, you can build an accurate picture of prospect behaviour and make the user experience seamless, no matter how and when individuals choose to interact with your organisation. 

In reality, not every marketing team can afford this. 

So, marketing automation cost is what you make it. You can get a taste of automation with a small but sweet investment or embrace all of its efficiency and conversion goodness by going all-in on automation.  

What do you need in marketing automation software? 

With so many different software offerings, it's hard to know which features are essential when it comes to automating marketing activities. And the truth is, it all depends on what you're using automation for and how much you're expecting automation to revolutionise the way your business works. 

However, there are some marketing automation musts we believe every software should offer to justify their marketing automation cost. Without these, automation just won't work. 

These are: 

  • Segmentation: The ability to segment contact databases and visitors depending on behaviour, data collection, demographic and history and in turn, personalise the journey each prospect takes. This is part and parcel of automation allowing marketers to move away from spreadsheets and the manual task of moving visitors into different stages of the buyer's journey
  • Lead nurturing: The opportunity to engage visitors depending on where they sit in the sales cycle. Lead nurturing is an intelligent way to inch a user one step closer to conversion
  • Lead scoring: The functionality to distinguish between SQLs and MQLs, understanding which automated action is suitable for which prospect and giving you a better, more accurate picture of your sales pipeline 
  • Marketing ROI measurement: The option to know how much a campaign has cost versus how much money it's generated. All automation systems should have the means to create campaigns and track spend, giving marketers and their managers an idea of ROI
  • Application integration: Software should integrate with existing apps for marketers to make the most of their purchase, thereby maximising their investment. Automation should support omnichannel marketing as well as data accuracy by allowing software to sync with other systems wherever possible 
  • Reporting and analytics: Without tangible results, automation is a bright idea, not a bonafide practice. Marketers need to know, not just assume, that automation is working, ensuring instant emails have the right impact and pop-ups pique the interest of users not putting them off. 

With this tick list, you can determine if a marketing automation offer is worthwhile, no matter how extensive or individual it is to your overall marketing. All-in-one solutions should empower you to gain full visibility and take control of campaigns as should standalone automated software. 

63% of marketers are thinking about increasing their marketing automation budgets soon. 

Source: Invesp

The most important thing in marketing automation is that it genuinely works. While we all like the idea of automation—doing less to gain more—it's only truly appealing if it succeeds in increasing conversions while decreasing your team's workload. 

Prove ROI with our conversion calculator

In short, marketing automation needs to provide marketing ROI. Otherwise, it's just another great idea that is too ahead of its time to implement. To track marketing ROI, relating to automation or any other activity for that matter, use our conversion calculator that's embedded with all the right equations to find out and forecast costs upfront. 

Try it now for free by clicking the link below.