Marketing automation isn’t magic, and it doesn’t happen on its own. Teams have to intentionally incorporate automation into their marketing programs across channels and throughout the entire customer journey, crafting an experience designed to target the right audience members with the right messages at the right time. However, according to our 2022 State of Marketing Automation report, it doesn’t always work out this way. In fact, only one in five B2B marketers said they were utilizing their automation tech to its fullest potential. With this in mind, do you need to evaluate your marketing automation maturity?
Using a Marketing Automation Maturity Framework
One approach to improving your use of automation technology is to evaluate your progress using a marketing automation maturity framework.
Marketing maturity models are applied across industries to look at the specific technology, data, and tactics used by an organization to get a sense of where the company falls on the spectrum of marketing sophistication. Regardless of company size or employee count, maturity frameworks can help teams understand where they stand and where they need to improve.
By focusing specifically on marketing automation maturity, you can identify opportunities in your automation programs like integrating new data sources, automating campaigns across multiple channels, or more advanced segmentation tactics. This allows you to chart a clear path and set concrete goals that will help you progress to the next level of marketing automation.
The Four Levels of Marketing Automation Maturity
Let’s start by exploring four levels of marketing automation maturity, each broken down into four general categories: channels; data, analytics, and reporting; personalization and segmentation; and automation.
Level 1: Just Getting Started, but Struggling with Silos
At this very early stage of marketing automation maturity, your team is usually focused on a single channel and working hard to produce results. At the same time, your team is probably spending too much time on manual processes. Let’s explore each element.
Channels: If your team is at level one, you’re typically focused on email as your primary marketing channel, maybe with some events or the bare minimum of social media posting sprinkled in. If multiple channels are in play, they tend to be siloed rather than orchestrated around specific campaigns. Any collaboration that does take place requires a lot of manual coordination across teams.
Data, analytics, & reporting: You’re still wrangling your data manually, uploading lists to your CRM and dealing with duplicative and out-of-date records across your tech stack. Reporting tends to be ad-hoc, whenever someone asks for it, and you may not be totally confident in your marketing automation data.
Personalization & segmentation: Segmentation is either nonexistent or limited to basic demographics, such as age, gender, or geolocation. Personalization is limited to inserting your prospect’s first name into an email greeting or subject line, for example.
Automation: You may be starting to plan some basic automated campaigns, but the majority of your emails are sent as one-off blasts, like promoting an upcoming webinar or sharing a new piece of content. At this point, your tech may be limited to an email service provider, but you’re considering how to get started with marketing automation software.
Level 2: Exploring Email Automation
Advancing in marketing automation maturity is an exciting time, because your team begins to see the potential of personalized, automated campaigns.
Channels: At level two, while email marketing probably remains your primary focus, you’re beginning to consistently support your efforts with coordinated campaigns on social media and maybe paid advertising.
Data, analytics, & reporting: You may not have all your data sources flowing seamlessly just yet, but integrating your CRM and your automation platform has opened up a lot of possibilities. You’ve introduced progressive profiling with dynamic forms, allowing you to capture more customer data that powers better personalization. Now you consistently run A/B tests on emails, and regularly produce campaign-level reporting on past success to inform your future strategy.
Personalization & segmentation: You’ve introduced more segmentation, and are beginning to incorporate behavioral data like email opens and clicks, form fills, and content downloads. This means you can personalize content in your campaigns to deliver a more relevant experience to your prospects.
Automation: At this stage, you’ve adopted marketing automation software and implemented nurture campaigns based on basic triggers. Your automation strategy is focused mostly on email, but you’re starting to experiment with automated social media marketing and other channels.
Level 3: Scaling to Strategic Engagement
When you reach level three, your team begins to hum along like a well-oiled machine. You know you still have room to improve, but you’re seeing consistent results from your strategic investment in automation.
Channels: Your digital channels are working together seamlessly, with integrated campaigns coming to life across email, social media, SMS messaging, chatbots, PPC, and display ads. Teams collaborate consistently thanks to coordinated workflows and shared tools.
Data, analytics, & reporting: You’ve now integrated multiple data sources, including your CRM, e-commerce, loyalty management, and webinar platforms. By implementing social media listening, you’re able to glean more insights from a wider audience and apply your learnings to your content and customer acquisition strategies. Your testing program has evolved to include social media and landing pages as well as email. With real-time analytics, you can make changes faster to improve campaign performance. Reporting also happens on the program level, giving you a deeper understanding of how channels, campaigns, and teams are performing against your KPIs.
Personalization & segmentation: Customer behaviors across channels are tracked and used to achieve more advanced segmentation and provide more personalized experiences. In addition to website and email behaviors, you understand how your customers are engaging on other platforms like social media and SMS. You’re now able to personalize website content and landing pages as well as emails. Your teams are also using account-based marketing (ABM) tactics to segment and target specific companies that fit within your ideal customer profiles.
Automation: Time is money, and you’re seeing significant returns from using workflow builders to automate manual tasks. With all the data you’re tracking and consolidating, your email nurture campaigns have become extremely targeted, and you’re using automated lead scoring to map content according to your prospects’ stage along the customer journey. Enhanced automation is now the norm across every digital channel, from email to SMS to social media to chatbots.
Level 4: Fully Optimized and Intelligent
At the highest level of marketing automation maturity, you’re now a case study on how to fully optimize your marketing automation programs, and your marketing organization is the envy of your industry. Well done!
Channels: Your multi-channel campaigns deliver consistent messaging and experiences across every channel, from digital to direct mail to out-of-home advertising.
Data, analytics, & reporting: Your comprehensive analytics program pulls high-quality data from all channels into one holistic view with database automation tools. You understand how every campaign, channel, and program ladder up to drive revenue, and your business intelligence platform uses this data to forecast campaign success and marketing KPIs. As you adopt machine learning and AI, you can use behavioral data and predictive analytics to optimize campaign performance in real-time.
Personalization & segmentation: Your strategy has moved beyond audience segmentation to highly advanced personalization, with one-on-one individualized communication to every prospect and customer across their lifecycle.
Automation: Your sophisticated program leverages automated customer journeys that nurture every audience member throughout their lifecycle, from capturing leads to onboarding to brand advocacy.
Making Strides in Your Marketing Automation Maturity
Taking a hard look at the sophistication of your marketing programs may not be easy, but remember: knowledge is power. Evaluating your marketing automation maturity level is the first step toward raising it.
By measuring your current state against a marketing automation maturity model, you should get a much clearer picture of where you’re doing well and where you can improve. This understanding will help you create concrete goals for moving forward.
For example, you may recognize your organization as showing Level 1 competencies in channels, but already achieving Level 2 success with personalization based on behavioral data. In that case, begin looking at how to expand your efforts across channels and level up with coordinated campaigns to see greater results from the data you’re already collecting.
Achieving marketing maturity happens over time as you layer more channels, more data, more personalization, and more automation into your programs. Know that wherever you sit on the marketing automation spectrum today, there are actionable steps you can take to grow more intentional and sophisticated in your programs.Want to learn more? If you’re in the early stages of your journey, check out our Marketing Automation Quickstart Guide to discover how to build a strong foundation. And if you need some more nuanced support, talk with one of our marketing automation experts about your next steps.