Lessons Learned: A Reflection on Marketing Automation
Expectations: Flash back two years. I was at my previous employer, a small high-tech company. With only two marketers, we were struggling to keep up with our growing database across multiple systems. We found that using our CRM to handle our lead management and reporting ended up creating more problems, such as duplication. We decided to explore marketing automation to help simplify our marketing efforts, namely in the areas of lead management, lead nurturing, and campaign tracking. We went forward with an entry-level automation solution, which we felt would let us do everything we needed.
New Expectations: Being a new user of marketing automation, my expectations were fairly low, as I was fixated on the potential it had to make marketing easier. I read marketing automation white papers, sat through marketing best practices webinars, and participated in community forums, trying to optimize my marketing automation know-how. Since I was the primary user of marketing automation, I developed a great understanding of features, capabilities, and limitations quite fast. It seemed the more I used and read, the more my expectations increased. Unfortunately, since my expectations were low at first, I wasn’t able to accurately foresee what my needs and limitations would be down the line. I was constantly developing new processes and workarounds as I went. The solution was not able to handle the requirements, nor my expectations.
Flash forward to today. With all my involvement in marketing automation, I felt my expertise could propel me to succeed with the marketing automation industry – which has led me to where I’m at now: a primary user of Marketo at Marketo.
Lessons Learned: As you research or freshly deploy marketing automation at your company, make a checklist of the short-term and long-term goals you look to accomplish with the software. Avoid the mistake I made in the past; instead of looking at what I’ll need in the long-run, I focused on the things I needed today. Be sure to consider your existing lead management processes and how they will evolve with marketing automation. There is no secret that marketing automation is an investment, so you want to make sure your processes precede the technology.
Ask yourself (and the vendor): Will the software allow me to accomplish my top needs now? Will it be able to handle my secondary needs later? What key features should I look for? How do I measure ROI benefits from marketing automation? What other factors should I consider? Here is a complete list of questions to ask before buying marketing automation.
Of course you’ll need some answers. Here are some resources that can help answer some of those questions: