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Does Your Company Need a Full-Time Marketing Automation Team?

If you’ve recently rolled out a marketing automation platform (or are thinking of doing so), you’re probably wondering what kind of manpower it’ll take to keep your programs running and get the most revenue out of them. Can you assign a couple team members from within the department, or does it take more than that? If you a hire full-time staff, will the added expense be worth it?

As Director of Marketing, CMO, or whatever leadership your role is, these are questions you can’t afford to ignore. While companies of all sizes can be successful with marketing automation software, the best strategy is going to depend on your situation — how big your company is, how big your goals are, and the type of system you chose.

Defining a Full-Time Role

You can start by outlining your intentions. Based on the kind of programs you want to run, would a full-time role (or multiple full-time roles) be sustainable? Is the workload increase substantial enough to justify adding team members? If so, how many? Below is a list of some of the specific responsibilities marketing automation can involve in a larger team:

  • Building program components: The disparate components that, together, will form your program infrastructure, such as drip campaigns, landing pages, web forms, etc.
  • Content management: Maintaining a storehouse of relevant, up-to-date content assets to keep leads engaged; this will require close alignment with your content creation team (or guy)
  • Sales collaboration: In many cases, a marketing automation specialist will act as a liaison between the sales team and their target audience. The marketing/sales relationship will require consistency between workflows (e.g. as leads flow from programs into the CRM database) and between strategies (e.g. refining lead scoring rules).
  • Ongoing experimentation: Marketing automation specialists will need to constantly reimagine their approach, iterate, and improve. For example: A/B testing subject lines, email copy, and landing pages to maximize engagement and conversions.
  • Measuring results: Keeping track of conversions and revenue, as well as the deeper intangibles like easier sales follow-ups and time-saved through successful inbound programs.
  • Analytics: Someone will need to conduct higher-level assessments of programs to define long-term goals and areas of opportunity. Marketing analytics can trace the paths prospects follow to conversion (often referred to as “closed-loop” reporting), the way that readers engage with content, and larger demographic/firmographic trends.

Keep in mind, marketing automation is designed to bring disparate functions into a single system and automate tasks that might otherwise require hours of labor. In that sense, it makes lead generation just as attainable for smaller companies with limited manpower as it does for global enterprises.

Justifying Hiring Expenses and Salaries

One of the biggest questions in structuring your team is whether or not you can gain enough revenue through marketing automation to offset the cost of hiring new employees. Start with the quantifiable stuff: How much revenue would you need to hit in order to feel comfortable with a new hire, and how many leads per month would it take to hit that goal?

Luckily, marketing automation has a pretty solid track record of success, despite its youth. According to a widely-quoted study by Forrester Research, companies with excellent lead nurturing programs generate 50 percent more qualified leads at a third less the cost.

But there are also a handful of non-quantifiable benefits you should consider. Optimized lead scoring, for example, means your sales reps will waste less time on cold calls or follow ups with unqualified leads. Or how about a more intimate knowledge of your prospect audience through marketing analytics? How much is that worth?

Structuring Your Team

If you think a full-time team will best support your marketing automation goals, you’ll need to decide the optimal structure and responsibilities for that team. A lot of this decision will depend on the size of your business: a large enterprise might have a dozen or more salaried specialists running their programs. That’s because they have more leads to nurture, more follow-ups to automate, and more campaigns running at a given time. A small business or startup, on the other hand, might simply give the reigns to an existing employee.

TechnologyAdvice, for example, is a mid-sized company, so we rely on two dedicated marketing automation specialists, supported by various team members from other departments (design, content creation, IT, etc.).

Here are some common roles found in a larger team:

    • Operations manager/administrator: Overall supervisor, responsible for coordinating operations between different teams, setting goals, and making high-level strategy decisions
    • Program manager: defines specific parameters for programs across email, web, and social
    • Email/lead nurturing specialist: builds drip campaigns, schedules content for email programs
    • Content writer(s): research and write content assets for programs
    • Web designer(s): design and create landing pages, web forms, and other visual assets
    • Analytics specialist: manages program data analysis, closed-loop reporting, defines metrics for tracking ROI

Of course, this structure can vary widely between organizations of different sizes and skillsets. In many cases, a program or operations manager may assume multiple roles at once, such as program creation and analytics. Or, similarly, an email specialist may write some of their own content.

On a smaller team, marketing automation responsibilities may fall on the shoulders of one or two full-time employees. This is a perfectly valid approach, but it may mean you have to start small and prioritize the most important components — in many cases, this means capturing leads and feeding them into a nurturing campaign (email). Here’s how it might look:

  • Email specialist: Builds drip programs for new leads, writes content, and creates emails using basic templates, HTML editors
  • Data specialist: Delivers qualified leads to sales CRM via API, uses closed-loop reporting features and other analytics tools to map the prospect journey and track ROI

Closing Thoughts

Whether your company is big or small, whether you decide to build a dedicated team or get help from within the ranks, remember that marketing automation software doesn’t run itself (despite the word, “automation”). Not every company will need a full-time staff of marketing automation specialists, but every company should find at least one person to take ownership of the system, and make sure that person has the support network to run effective programs.

Kicking off marketing automation for the first time with a smaller team? Please check out our e-book 5 Ways to Grow Your Business with Marketing Automation.