The following is a guest post by Joby Blume, Managing Consultant at BrightCarbon. In it, he shares some of the lessons he has learned about what is required for a successful marketing automation implementation.
Define Your Marketing Process
If you don’t have a marketing process, marketing automation won’t get you one. It will make it more obvious that you have a need, and it might make defining a process more urgent – but you need to process to automate.
When do you send a newsletter? What do you do with webinar sign-ups? How do you follow-up from a trade-show? For starters, you need answers to these tactical questions. Better yet, you need an overall B2B marketing process – so that you understand how to interact with sales leads as they progress through the sales funnel.
Have Leads, or a Plan to Get Them
Some companies have too many leads, and need to score them, before handing over only the highest-quality sales-ready leads. Other companies don’t have enough sales leads. Marketing automation can help leads flow through the funnel more efficiently, and done right it can nurture leads to make them sales-ready. But if you have nothing coming into the top of your funnel, you will have nothing to nurture.
Create High-Value Content
If you don’t have a huge list of names already, you need a way to get them. That means offering things that people want enough that they’ll give up their anonymity. A blog post isn’t going to cut-it – however well-written. A selection of blog posts, compiled into a ‘Best Practice Guide’ or ‘Whitepaper’ or ‘Success Pack’ just might. If you have content, think about how you can repackage it to increase the perceived value; invest in animations and graphics to sell what you have. If you don’t have much valuable content, you are going to need some to help turn traffic into sales leads.
Allocate Responsibility for Creating Content
If you don’t have enough sales leads, you might need to create great content to attract website visitors and get people to provide their contact details. Who is going to create this content? Is it marketing? Which individuals within the marketing department? Is it only marketing? Do your marketing people have the technical expertise to create content that your prospects are looking for, or will you need help from elsewhere in the business? If creating content is everybody’s job, it can quickly become nobody’s job.
Have Marketing Staff Capacity
Marketing automation allows you to support your marketing department by performing tasks that otherwise might be left to individuals – sending emails, adding and removing names from lists, and so on. But don’t think that marketing automation, at first, is going to make up for a lack of resources. It takes an investment of time to make it work. This is particularly true if you don’t have a B2B marketing process, if you don’t have enough leads, or you don’t have attractive content. Learning how to use a platform such as Marketo isn’t hard – making it work well does take time though.
Consider Seeking Agency Help
There are plenty of agencies around who specialize in supporting companies with their marketing automation efforts. For a smaller business with a limited budget, outside help might not be an option. For a larger marketing department getting support with marketing processes, marketing automation set-up, and content can be a good way to get started quickly.
At the risk of stating the obvious, remember that managing a marketing automation agency still takes time, and that you will probably want to build internal capacity given the strategic importance of your marketing efforts.
Gain Sales and Marketing Alignment
Everybody is talking about sales and marketing alignment. You know that you need agreement around what a suitable lead looks like. You might not know that you also need agreement over which messages should be communicated by marketing to nurture leads, and which ought to be saved as punch-lines for sales to use to close. If your sales people don’t have enough leads, you also need to realize that attempts to hold on to leads for longer (to nurture them before passing them to sales) might not settle well. You’ll need executive support to resist sales people who think you are preventing them from reaching quota today, even if it might increase revenue tomorrow.
Look Beyond Email
Email is great, but it’s not the only way to connect with leads. It’s quick, easy, friction-less – but getting emails read can be hard, even with the best subject-line optimization. Don’t forget that there are other ways to connect with prospects – online and offline. Want to stand out? Send something in the mail.
Use Marketing Automation on Customers
Marketing automation can be used to communicate with existing and ex-customers, to identify and create up-sell and cross-sell opportunities, and for project follow-up. Don’t limit your thinking to new business.
Start and Refine
Once starting with marketing automation, it’s tempting to try to get everything “just so” before pushing the button. It doesn’t make sense to send emails that don’t get read, or use landing pages that don’t convert. With marketing automation, you are able to test and refine. Instead of delaying and doing nothing – do something, try to improve it, and then keep going.
I hope that some of these tips are useful. If anybody has more success with marketing automation as a result of reading this then sharing was worthwhile.