5 Steps to building a marketing automation platform business case

When selecting a new marketing automation platform for the first time or looking to replace your existing platform, you will need to build a business case to justify the investment. This blog will help you in building the case, step by step.

Step 1: Involve your stakeholders and decision-making unit (DMU)

Because the marketing automation platform touches so many internal processes and people, you need to make sure to involve your stakeholder from the beginning. Keep in mind that they will not necessarily have the same goals and benefits of the system as you. Some of the stakeholders include:

  • The CMO: the CMO is probably the most important decision maker in your project.  Critical to the CMO are: 1) more revenue, 2) better brand awareness, and 3) proof of ROI of the marketing automation investments to the organization.
  • The CCO or CRO: depending on the organization, either a CCO or CRO will be responsible for sales. These are the people you’ll need to team up with to make your marketing automation investment payout. They are triggered by more and better leads, faster time-to-market, and shorter sales cycles.
  • The CFO: your project needs funding. Make sure you have talked to the CFO to secure the necessary budgets. Typically they are triggered by ROI calculations, cost-savings, and possible synergies.
  • The CTO: often overlooked is the CTO. Especially when your organization has a strict vendor policy, this is an important part of the DMU to involve from the beginning. Some organizations have a Microsoft-only, Salesforce-only, or Oracle-only policy, which means that you need to work with these solutions unless you can show and prove to them that these solutions are insufficiently filling your needs. You don’t want to get these questions at the end of your project.
  • The CEO: not always part of the DMU (depending on the size of your organization), but when they are they typically are interested in the goals and results formulated by the CCO and CFO.

Step 2: Set KPIs for your marketing automation business case

A very important step is to set your KPIs for the project. How is this project going to impact them and what goals are you setting? A few often-used KPIs when making the case for automation (replacement) include:

  • Customer lifetime value (CLV): Customer Lifetime Value is the total value of a customer over the period of their relationship. It’s an important metric as it costs less to keep existing customers than it does to acquire new ones, so increasing the value of your existing customers is a great way to drive growth (source: Qualtrics). Marketing automation will help you increase CLV because it will automate the process of giving the right message to the right people at the right time during the customer journey.
  • Cost-per-lead (CPL): many marketers don’t have this quantified currently. The Cost Per Lead metric measures how cost-effective your marketing campaigns are when it comes to generating new leads for your sales team. Marketing automation will enable you to really come to closed-loop reporting and visualize the CPL 100%. It will enable you to focus on lower CPL.
  • Customer Acquisition Costs (CAC): this is the cost related to acquiring a new customer. In other words, CAC refers to the resources and costs incurred to acquire an additional customer. Customer acquisition cost is a key business metric that is commonly used alongside the customer lifetime value (LTV) metric to measure the value generated by a new customer. Marketing automation helps you to lower CAC.
  • Time-to-market (TTM): these are synonyms describing the period of time it takes from the initial idea to the finished product – whether that is a marketing campaign, a product, or another operational process. Automating processes and workflows by using marketing automation will lead to faster TTM.
  • Share-of-wallet / up- and cross-selling: it’s harder to win new customers than maintaining your current ones! Marketing automation will help automate the processes of up-and cross-selling by using all kinds of flows that are personalized 100%. It will also help increase share-of wallet with a customer because of increased insights in customer data.

Step 3: Define planning based on the marketing automation maturity model

Don’t try to implement your new marketing automation platform using a big-bang approach. It’s better to plan ahead and use the maturity model which will help you to grow step-by-step over a 2-4 year period:

Step 4: Select your marketing automation platform

Now that you have taken the previous steps, you can select your new platform. this is a study on itself which you can perform yourself, for example by using our functionalities list in Excel that you can download here. You can also ask advice from an agnostic agency like Marketing Guys and we’ll take the following things into consideration:

  • Budget
  • Need for support
  • Your team and certifications
  • Legal requirements
  • Technical requirements
  • Needed integrations (CRM to start with)
  • Language

Step 5: List your total investment in your marketing automation platform

Now that you have selected the right platform, it’s time to make an overview of all the costs involved to finalize the business case. Costs that we typically include are:

  • Software licenses for the marketing automation platform
  • Implementation and migration costs
  • Training for your people
  • Support after implementation by an agency
  • People (FTE) in your team needed to run your marketing automation efforts

Typically the costs for the software are only around 10-20% of your total cost of ownership (TCO).

Must-do: Build a framework to measure results

As a final step, you need to have measurements in place. We recommend building a real-time dashboard for your key KPIs. The big advantage of a solution like this is that it not only helps you visualize results from your marketing automation platform, but it will enable you to combine data from other sources (like PPC, CRM, social, and SEO) as well to get to closed-loop-reporting:

We can help you to take your marketing automation to the next level

Whether it is helping you take your strategy & existing tooling to the next level, migrating your marketing automation platform or auditing your current martech stack, Marketing Guys is here to help.  Schedule a free 30-minute discovery here:


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