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10 Tips for Successfully Implementing Marketing Automation

By Patti Soldavini, Global Marketing Director, SGK

Patti Soldavini, Global Marketing Director, SGK

While marketing automation is beginning to approach critical mass, implementing it successfully is still something many companies struggle with. Here are 10 of the most important things you can do to implement MAS successfully.

1. Define Success

Marketing automation is a big investment. Know exactly what your organization is hoping to accomplish and make sure you understand the total cost of ownership (TCO). “77% of CMOs at top-performing companies indicate their most compelling reason for implementing marketing automation is to grow revenue.” Marketing automation is capable of driving revenue and doing much more.

2. Align With Business Strategy

Not enough can be said about aligning very closely with business strategy long before you to attempt to implement an MAS. Depending on the size and complexity of your organization, preparing adequately could take 12+ months. Marketing, Sales, IT and Customer Service must be unified philosophically, strategically and operationally around your organization’s business strategy to fully leverage the power of marketing automation. If your business still operates in silos, alignment will be more challenging.

3. Don’t Underestimate The TCO

The annual subscription fee is just one part of the total cost of ownership. Even if you have very skilled talent to manage your MAS, you will incur costs with other external vendors. Reserve a pool of funds for project-based consulting from your MAS partner to use as needed. Highly skilled MAS talent is still hard to findand even vendor-certified experts may still need to lean on the consulting expertise of your partner, especially during the first year of implementation.

"Marketing automation systems are very hungry beasts. Collect all your branded content then perform an audit and content analysis to determine what’s valuable and current and what gaps you need to fill need to create nurture streams"

4. Don’t Underestimate Content Requirements

Underestimating how much content you’ll require to take full advantage of your MAS is easy to do. Marketing automation systems are very hungry beasts. Collect all your branded content then perform an audit and content analysis to determine what’s valuable and current and what gaps you need to fill need to create nurture streams. It helps to view the audit process from a forensic perspective and not as a simple content “dump.”

5. Drive For Content Production Efficiency

Assuming you have a clear content strategy in place, you’ll need to figure out how to constantly produce a ton of content. Consider personas, customer journey, products/topics and nurture stage. Even with basic analytics, you should have some idea of which content is resonating most strongly. Which delivers the greatest ROI? A hyper-efficient content production engine can help you unlock funds that can be reinvested in more valuable activities.

6. Agree On Lead Scoring Criteria

Gaining the confidence of Sales is usually easy when they understand that Marketing is seeking to deliver more qualified, sales-ready leads as opposed to just more leads. Doing this requires establishing lead scoring criteria that both groups agree to. Score for “fitness” (demographics) and “engagement” (behaviors). Leads that don’t meet the fitness criteria may be dealt with in any number of ways that don’t require the attention of Sales. Marketing qualified leads (MQLs) that are not considered sales-ready by your Sales team can be placed into a lead nurturing stream and nurtured automatically with specific content until they are ready to buy. Industry sources estimate that “businesses that use marketing automation to nurture prospects see a 451% increase in qualified leads.”

7. Sync With Your CRM To Drive Value

While your MAS provides data-based insights into marketing activities and results, you’ll need to sync it with your CRM to close the loop on Marketing’s influence in creating new revenue/growth opportunities. If you don’t, you’ll never derive true value out of either. Involve your CRM administrators at the earliest stage of marketing automation discussions. They’ll play a key role in helping you close the loop and maintain data integrity. Evaluate the current state of CRM data hygiene and your back-end lead management processes, determining how leads are assigned and how this data gets appended to your CRM records. Take any steps required to ensure compliance with processes to avoid losing out on potential revenue opportunities due to process cloudiness.

8. Make The Most Of Your Discovery Workshop

If you haven’t yet implemented an MAS, you cannot overprepare for the discovery workshop session. This will require the full and active participation of Marketing, Sales, Web and Customer Success Teams, your CRM admin and IT. Provide all the details regarding your business strategy, marketing strategy, organizational structure, processes, roles and responsibilities and CRM system. Be fully transparent so your MASpartner can establish an effective implementation strategy and project plan. In the more idealized world of technology, this is where many companies are forced to confront legacy back-end processes that impede implementation progress. This presents an opportunity to reset these processes.

9. Know Your Needs

Successful implementation starts with selecting the system that’s right for your organization. It’s very easy to overbuy. Research studies show that “almost 60 percent of companies that have adopted marketing tech do not fully utilize the tools they’ve implemented.” There are a few reasons for this: (1) overconfidence surrounding implementation, (2) little or no comparative historical information within the organization, (3) underestimating the specialized hybrid talent required, (4) underestimating the volume of content required, and (5) a complex user interface that impedes adoption. All things being equal, choose the system most intuitive to your Marketing and Sales teams. Even the most advanced, feature-rich system has no value if your teams struggle to use it.

10. Review. Refine. Reset.

The unfortunate use of the word “automation, suggests that you can “set it and forget it,” when it comes to marketing automation, and nothing could be further from the truth. We live and work in a near-constant state of disruption. Periodically review the rules and processes you’ve set up. Refine and reset criteria based on learnings over time. Check with your stakeholders regularly to make sure you remain aligned. Changes in growth strategy, organizational structure, management, people and your CRM typically necessitate a re-evaluation of rules and processes, the scope of which is determined by the scope of the change to the business.

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