Today, firms in all industries are under pressure to reduce costs while sustaining or even growing their top line. The firms that have successfully met these goals are increasingly focusing on automation, which has helped them increase efficiency in business processes. Especially, Sales and Marketing has significant potential for automation in the coming years (see here and here). Automation in Sales and Marketing has a direct, measurable business impact both on the top line and bottom line, and as a result, investments in automation are often highly profitable.
To make the road in automation easier, we collected a list of the 60 most typical sales and marketing tasks that can be automated today. We hope that the list can help you to identify opportunities for automation and prioritise investments. With this, you can boost operational efficiency and also improve top-line performance. We categorised the tasks under seven Sales and Marketing functions:
- Planning and management
- Data management
- Analytics and Insights
- Content production
- Marketing operations
- Sales development
- Customer service
Planning and Management
There is often a false belief that automation can’t support in areas such as yearly budgeting, competitive landscape analysis or project progress reporting. In reality, as you can see from the list below, there are many examples of such tasks in which automation can support the work processes. Automation in Planning and management will transform daily tasks in your organisation, which has efficiency benefits in all parts of the business. Also, visible changes in work tasks can help build a data-driven organisational culture, which is essential for long-term success.
Today 80% of data scientists time is wasted in data preparation and management for analyses and other purposes; according to Forbes, at the same time, there are many tools and techniques available to reduce manual work. Therefore, introducing these technologies can greatly improve your data management processes’ efficiency and help your team focus on value-adding activities. For example, manual creation of target groups and data monitoring and distribution can be easily automated. The list below provides further examples of how Data management can be automated.
Analytics and Insights
Today, analytics teams are often well equipped with analytics tools, but producing analysis and insights is inefficient. Most analysts waste a lot of time on tasks, such as manual data collection, data cleansing and reporting, that make little value for the time and money invested. Luckily, as our list below describes, much of these workflows can be automated.
Another problem is that the lack of automation and structured workflows is easily replaced with gut-feeling based speculation, which hinders the utilisation of analytics in the whole organisation. Still, many successful firms show that automated data-driven analytics can bring efficiency gains and new revenue opportunities throughout the organisation. This requires careful planning and execution, and the list below can help you plan your automation activities.
Content production is the area within Sales and Marketing that most likely eats the largest piece of your budget. Read more on how to improve your content process. Therefore, it also has the biggest potential for cost-saving. Our list below provides examples of tasks where new technologies, such as AI, can be of great help. One example is that images are often manually created and re-sized for different advertising channels, but today this task can easily be automated. Another example is that 1:1 content personalisation requires many content versions, which implies a higher automation level as manual production can’t keep up with the demand.
To plan for automation, as the first step, you should audit your current content production and management processes to identify key productivity blockers and opportunities to increase automation. Second, automation of content production will require strong leadership towards your external content agencies, because to be honest, their business model is vulnerable to increased automation. But for you, automation can bring great benefits to content production. Content agencies should create the master assets for your brand and customer experience concepts, while the rendering of those assets will be highly adjusted with technology.
The concept of “marketing automation” has been popular already for over 10 years. By now, we should understand that it’s not merely about automating email send-outs or A/B tests, but it is rather about taking a holistic approach to automation within all areas of marketing.
Yet, most marketing departments put the majority of their efforts into producing case-by-case marketing campaigns, implying few synergies between the campaigns. Also, an excessive focus on marketing campaigns supersedes the focus on managing the overall customer experience, which should be a far more important goal in marketing. Mass campaigns often fail to fulfil the customers’ expectations, as well as the cost-saving targets.
Instead, the focus should be on marketing automation that is the tool to orchestrate the touch-points with your prospects and customers across channels. With this approach, you can ensure that the customer experiences are relevant and genuinely engaging.
Today, the sales teams embrace digitalisation and automation with a higher sense of urgency and commitment than ever before. For example, cold calling, early-stage lead qualification and manual research on prospects are tasks where automation can play a big role in boosting the sales process. Overall, automation increases internal effectiveness and enables the sales reps to focus on more important tasks – those that bring value to the company. Below we list many tasks in Sales development that automation can help with.
Service functions have a long history of utilising automation, but the processes are still not nearly as fine-tuned as possible. Further, automation in customer service can positively impact your bottom- and top-line performance. For example, up-and cross-sell opportunities are often wasted, as service reps don’t have adequate information on the customer preferences in the service situation.
Instead of guessing what the best-suited product or service for the customer could be, an AI-powered service system can provide customer-specific recommendations, which helps the service reps to give better-informed advice. Also, much of the service personnel time could be saved by automating tasks, such as collecting customer feedback and reviews or increasing self-service with chatbots and intelligent authentication. Our list below provides coverage of tasks that are easy to fix with the latest automation technologies to guide you forward.
The Success Factor in Automation is to Focus on the People as Much as on the Technology
We see that future success in Sales and Marketing depends on how well an organisation can automate the tasks mentioned above. This is so because the benefits of automation are well documented, and the latest technologies enable a new wave of automation in all industries. Increasing automation is not anymore a source of competitive advantage but rather a license to operate in the future.
What then makes an organisation good at automating Sales and Marketing tasks? Is your organisation actively leading a process to increase automation levels?
First, we believe that automation doesn’t just happen by accident, on the side of everyday operations. Instead, it needs systematic development with clear business goals and KPIs. Second, a success factor in automation is to focus on the people as much as the technology.
This implies that technology should be seen as a contributor to your company’s success and that your success will depend on how well your team can work together with automation. Therefore, it all comes down to managing the Sales and Marketing processes in new ways, which requires constant learning and development (Gartner, 2021).
Watch our Avaus Expert Talks on the 24th of March to hear more on:
- How to systematically increase automation levels in all areas of sales and marketing?
- What increase in automation level by 100x will require from your organisational design and operating model?
- What competencies do you need in the future when data and automation do more of your Marketing and Sales tasks?
Written by Ilona Vigren
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