Marketing Automation

Your Enterprise’s (Almost) Unfair Competitive Advantage


As an enterprise product marketer at Marketo, I spend a lot of time talking to enterprise executives about marketing automation. Often, I encounter hesitance to embrace the new paradigm. After all, change is hard, and ignoring a problem is easy—in the short term.

In the long term, while it might seem easier to stick with the marketing status quo, marketing automation gives enterprise marketers a competitive advantage so large that it seems unfair.

When your enterprise adopts marketing automation, it unleashes the power of marketing.  Use the below steps to accommodate these strategic shifts; the competitive advantage you’ll gain will be (almost) unfair.

Step One: Lock in Top-down Organizational Alignment

The first step to implementing a marketing automation solution is to create alignment with your key department stakeholders—your CEO, CFO, CIO, and others. Presenting your panel with a convincing case for marketing automation is the first step, but once you’ve got buy-in, it’s crucial to follow up your initial pitch with check-ins, making sure the leadership team is consistently aligned with the goal.

This sort of proactive air cover establishes a common definition of marketing success defined by key performance indicators (KPIs). Getting your company leadership to agree to exact KPIs ahead of time makes it easy to measure marketing automation’s success month by month. Of course, you may need to adjust your KPIs and your strategies as you learn from your marketing automation experience, but your new marketing solution will make this process transparent and easy.

Keeping your leadership bought into your marketing automation initiative engenders an enthusiastic, top-down adoption throughout your organization, so the important thing is to check in consistently. Consensus and quantifiable vision will fuel your automated marketing initiative.

Step Two: Shuffle Your Marketing Team

Once you have top-level buy-in, take a look at your marketing department. Hire, inspire, and retain the best talent to ensure your success! Marketing automation thrives under a team that possesses a balance of creativity and analytic skills. As you build your marketing automation team, seek out marketers who are savvy at learning new software, able to think strategically, and are quick to adapt to new paradigms.

The switch to marketing automation will require a little bit of technology training for most of your marketing organization. You can segregate your team into power users versus occasional users in order to train tactically. Your power users, obviously, must be enthusiastic technology adopters.

Under the new paradigm, you’ll need a leader devoted exclusively to your marketing automation efforts. That leader should be a smart, progressive technologist who also understands your CRM system. Can you shuffle your current talent, or do you need to recruit a visionary with experience in marketing automation?

Step Three: Start Small, Deliver Big

Change management can be intimidating, and adopting marketing automation is definitely a process. The best way to manage the transition is to be organized, proactive, and metrics-obsessed. Have a clear 30-, 60-, and 90-day plan. Pulling campaign analytics reports on Day 14 is unrealistic. Instead, create success metrics for each juncture, and hold your new marketing team accountable to those expectations.

Next, consistently report back to top-level executives to keep enthusiasm high—in emails, at all-team meetings, and quarterly reviews. Celebrate the small victories. Set expectations that success will be incremental. The important thing is to start now.

The marketing automation tool you choose should offer hands-on implementation support. Many marketing automation software companies offer to send tactical consultants into clients’ offices to help implement marketing automation one detail at a time. At Marketo, our consultants focus on the four most common pain points we hear from our Enterprise clients: marketing strategy, cross functional alignment, measuring and reporting, and systems and technology.

Case in Point: Bio-Rad Laboratories

These steps worked for Bio-Rad Laboratories, a life science research and clinical diagnostics company in California.  Before adopting marketing automation, the company made money through its online channels, but didn’t know how to harness these benefits— or how to ramp up the revenue stream. That was a problem, as the bio-tech industry was consolidating, and industry growth shrinking.

Bio-Rad recognized that they couldn’t afford to stall in an aggressive industry, so they got proactive. They hired marketer Shawnn Smark to commercialize their online direct contribution and tighten the customer acquisition pipeline. Shawnn recognized that if Bio-Rad’s marketing efforts were more digitally savvy, they would operate more competitively while spending less time and money to produce results. In a word, he evangelized the value of marketing automation.

To rally the company, Shawnn created buy-in with Bio-Rad’s C-level and identified expectations that would scale over time. He consolidated the marketing organization to communicate around hard metrics. Prospects, MQL’s, SQL’s and won opportunities were now watched globally, and marketing activities could be driven around these metrics.  Best of all, marketing’s contribution to revenue could now have a hard topline contribution.

Eighteen months after implementing Marketo’s solution, Bio-Rad has grown to be a marketing leader in its space. Instead of traditional batch and blast campaigns, 80% of campaign activity involves a nurture campaign with multiple steps, creating a first ever baseline for funnel conversions from prospect to closed/won opportunities. Making the switch to marketing automation was a big change for Bio-Rad, but that 18-month ramp-up was a small price to pay for the payoff.

Lastly, Know When to Ask for Help

There’s a real cost to staying tethered to the status quo in today’s market. When your enterprise is ready to start its marketing automation journey, it’s time to craft a business case, define key metrics to measure, create precise strategies, and set a delivery timetable. Then, hire the right services and support for implementation to set yourself up for the last mile of excellence.

Not sure how to get started? Check out our report, Developing a Business Case for Marketing Automation.