Marketing Automation has grown at an astonishing rate in the past few years to become an indispensable tool for modern marketing teams. But it can be daunting to get started, it’s tech-oriented, data-driven and also very strategic.
Are your Marketing Automation ready? Make sure to address the following business, sales and marketing questions before your embark on your marketing automation journey and you’ll be on your way to success.
1. Talk business before marketing
If done right, marketing automation allows to connect with your audience in a personalised way throughout the entire marketing funnel, from website visitor, to lead to repeat customer. So you need to be clear on who your customers are, where they spend their time, what their buying decision process is. It’s not just a tool – marketing automation forces you to rethink your business strategy and the way you market. Have a look at your current situation by doing a digital marketing audit.
2. Review your lead management processes
The first rule of any technology used in a business is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency.
The second is that automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency.
– Bill Gates
Focus on processes first: how does marketing currently manage lead generation, segmentation, qualification and sales hand-off? Automating broken processes will only result in chaos, be sure to review and document your marketing and sales processes and how they will be automated (where appropriate), but also look at your current marketing activities, and what needs to be fixed/improved to be ready for automation.
3. Is your data gold or garbage?
You heard the saying « garbage in, garbage out » ? Well that’s what awaits any platform like CRM or marketing automation if you have bad data and gaps in your data management processes.
Marketing automation allows to create sophisticated personalised campaigns, but everything you do depends on data. Its role is critical for proper execution, from segmentation, to personalisation, and everything in between. A bad email address means your message never makes it as intended (well, this might be outside of your control when people provide bogus emails), wrong/missing data means no or poor email personalisation (like a bogus name, or a First Name entirely capitalised), and outdated information is a sure way to ruin your segmentation needs. Clean data, and clear processes around data management is the foundation of marketing automation success.
Take a close look at the state of your data and answer the following questions:
- Current customer databases: Where does your data live?
- Size: how many total contacts do you have?
- Validity: how old are the contact records?
- Quality: do you have any duplicates, and bad or incomplete data?
- Data management processes: what processes will you put in place to flag dirty data, clean it up and make sure you use clean and standardised data ?
4. Involve your sales team and other customer-facing teams
Your sales team probably isn’t saying they want marketing automation (they don’t know yet they need it), but they are asking for more information about leads, what they’re doing on your website, and what content they’re reading and downloading.
Marketing Automation is a win-win for both the sales and marketing teams (and the entire organisation) – it helps marketing provide better leads to sales, and it helps the sales team better qualify leads these good leads, meaning more closed deals. It’s therefore critical to involve your sales team and determine or refine the following:
- Agree on terminology and definitions by establishing a universal definition for the key terms you use to track sales and marketing pipeline. What is a Lead? A MQL, a SQL? Which demographics and activities make for a qualified lead?
- Review your sales and marketing process, fix and automate where possible: how and at what stage will leads be handed over to sales? How quickly should the sales team follow up assigned leads?
- Define a lead scoring framework based on digital body language and buying signals (online interactions, website activity) and demographic factors.
5. Review or develop your buyer personas and map your customer journey
Developing buyer personas is critical when it comes to marketing and automation, it allows you to align your marketing – from positioning and messaging through content, nurturing and sales enablement – with your buyer’s expectations. Have you developed them?
You’ll also want to determine your Customer Journey and lead lifecycle to get a a clear understanding of your customer lifecycle and their stages, and develop your customer journey by looking at how customers are interacting with you, mapping out touchpoints, and identifying key content and calls-to-action to move them through their journey.
6. Review your content strategy and content creation processes
The old saying « Marketing automation is a rocket and content is its fuel » is so true.
To ensure your content is ready for automation and lead nurturing, and to feed the content beast over time, you’ll want to answer the following :
- What is the state of your content library? Review your content inventory, as well as the quality and quantity of your content. Is your content aligned to your personas and their journey, and mapped to the appropriate buying stage? You’ll need that for your nurturing content to ensure it meets a customer’s needs along the way.
- What are your content gaps? What content do you need to create in order to get the leads to the next stage? Identify these content development opportunities, and create the content needed to support your nurturing campaigns.
- Do you have gated content (content that lives behind a form), a blog, and/or evergreen content that you can use as you get started with automation ?
7. Start small, think big
The stats are pretty high when it comes to marketing automation failures. Its amazing capabilities can be daunting, and it takes time (the time to value for marketing automation, as per many studies is usually 6 to 12 months) but with small steps, you’ll ensure you build your skills and don’t get overwhelmed.
Get started with a welcome email, or a reminder campaign. Whilst simple, the automation around it can be done on the tagging and segmentation of your contacts.
How did you get started with marketing automation? Need an expert hand? Let’s chat about your project.