Creating and implementing a marketing automation strategy requires planning and investment, but the benefits are clear.
From helping teams work more efficiently to having a much clearer picture of how and when your customers and prospects interact with your business, shortening sales cycles and increasing average deal size.
Many of the benefits are tangible and have a positive impact on the bottom line.
There are some key areas to consider with marketing automation that should form part of your strategy.
Start with clear goals
Thinking about why you want to implement marketing automation and what you want to achieve can help keep things focused on outcomes as well as prove its effectiveness further down the line.
A strategy that saves the sales team time by ensuring they are only reaching out to the most engaged leads might look very different from an approach that is built around increasing the volume of leads coming in to the business.
Knowing your core objectives, and how these align with overall business objectives, will potentially save budget and help you choose the right technology to help deliver the strategy.
As with most marketing activities, having a clear plan can help get your marketing automation set up more efficiently with fewer delays.
Understand who else within the business needs to be involved in helping get marketing automation off the ground. You might need support from developers, designers, CRM, PR, Marketing and Sales.
The people involved in these departments will need to allocate additional time and getting their buy-in could mean the difference between success and failure.
When reviewing marketing automation technology providers, it’s beneficial to consider the various integration points with your existing systems as well as the people needed to facilitate the implementation.
Implement the right technology
The rise in popularity of inbound marketing has brought about an increase in marketing automation solutions.
From email marketing platforms adding additional functionality to their suite of tools, to standalone platforms developed for the purpose of delivering inbound marketing.
The options are extensive and it’s important to know how to narrow down your choice and only take a deeper look at the solutions that best fit with your objectives (another reason to thoroughly plan!).
The following are considered marketing automation platforms, but there are some differences in their features and integration capabilities.
It’s worth thinking carefully about the various features you’d like included to enable you to roll out your plan effectively and in the most efficient way within budget.
For example, is the ability to share social media posts and record those metrics within the platform important?
Does your marketing or sales team need to be able to manage activity on the go, meaning a platform with an app would be beneficial?
Do you want to be able to integrate paid ads?
There may be a number of existing tools you use across the business to manage marketing and sales that could integrate with or even be replaced by a marketing automation platform.
Another important consideration is your businesses’ existing technology setup as this may offer a logical starting point for platform selection.
For example, if your business already uses Salesforce, it might be worth exploring Pardot as a solution.
However it’s important to consider that an add-on to an existing platform may not necessarily be right for your objectives, skills or the resources you have available and could actually end up being more of a hindrance than an enabler.
Consider what resources are needed
Getting going with marketing automation is likely to involve a lot of work.
Thinking carefully about what is required both internally and externally to your business is key.
See if your chosen provider supplies project plans, checklists and 1-to-1 support to help you fully understand what’s needed before you commit.
Some platform integrations and setups are very intuitive and simple, whereas others can be far more technical.
If your business is an SME it is very likely you will need support, expertise and ongoing resource from an external agency to help you get the platform integrated and set up and then to manage ongoing campaigns.
Some important ongoing activities to consider from a resourcing perspective are:
- Copy and content production
- Email templates and sequences
- Design work for whitepapers and eBooks
- Lead capture mechanisms
- CRM management
- Reporting and analytics
It may be that you don’t have all the skillsets or resources you need internally to properly deliver your marketing automation campaigns.
Carrying out marketing automation holistically and strategically is the key to success.