Marketing Automation

Just Bought Marketing Automation? 9 Pro Tips for Success


I’d been a marketer for 17 years when I joined Marketo. In my previous job, as a marketing director at another company, I’d inherited Marketo’s marketing automation platform. The power, functionality, and scalability was pretty exciting stuff, I have to say, for someone used to grappling with the limitations of Email Service Providers and Google Analytics.

So, although I wasn’t going to be my company’s primary Marketo user (we had a digital marketing manager for that), I decided to learn Marketo myself. After watching many hours of videos, and reading many articles, and building many test campaigns, I’d learned so much about marketing automation that when it was time to launch our first campaigns, I didn’t know where to start.

Eventually, I realized that if you want to get started quickly with marketing automation, the information you need to succeed is actually very simple. Today, I’m a Business Consultant at Marketo, and I speak to many new marketing automation buyers about their paths to success.

If you’ve just purchased marketing automation, and you aren’t sure where to begin, here are nine things to keep in mind. Some of these tips will help you from the get-go, others will help you succeed later on your path.

1. Install Tracking Codes

Tracking codes allow you to track visitors to your website, and also to cookie anonymous leads. If you don’t install tracking codes, you will be missing a huge opportunity for reporting on some key metrics: unknown leads and website performance.

2. Organize and Standardize

Organize all of your marketing automation activity in folders, and follow a standard naming convention. This may sound like (yawn) housekeeping, but it’s surprisingly easy to forget. Keeping everything standardized and organized will make your life much easier when it comes time to review activities and understand your reports.

3. Implement SPF and DKIM Protocols

Implementing Sender Policy Framework (SPF) and DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM) protocols will hugely improve your email deliverability. SPF systems prevent spam by verifying send IP addresses; DKIMs do the same by associating domain names with email messages. If you haven’t implemented the correct protocols, these two systems may prevent your messages from reaching their destinations.

4. Look at the Big Picture

Marketing automation works best when you have buy-in from the entire company – after all, the entire organization is going to benefit from the results. I would advise getting sales, marketing, and senior management together to agree on strategy for segmentation, align on lead definitions and handoffs, and decide when flags for follow-up should be sent to sales. Once you have a plan, periodically reconvene to review the results and tweak your approach.

5. Map the Buyer’s Journey

At Marketo, we map out the “journey” our leads take during purchase decisions. Set up your marketing automation system to track where people are in the process, and what triggers their progression towards fulfilling your call-to-action. To start mapping your own buyer’s journey, check out our cheat sheet here. These maps can be incredibly useful in improving your conversion rates.

6. Use Marketing Automation Yourself

Often, those in management positions are not the power users of your marketing automation, but that shouldn’t prevent you from getting to know the system yourself. I used to use it for my own internal bulletins, simply to keep my basic knowledge of the technology fresh (of course, it was also fun to measure and track what content engaged employees best). This also helped me to understand the results my power users got with our marketing automation, and made it easier for me to make smart suggestions.

7. Share Your Data.

Don’t keep your results to yourself – share reports with your executive and finance teams. If you regularly evaluate and demonstrate the value of your marketing activities, it will streamline the approval process for resources and budget going forward. This is another case for #5 – you’ll be much better at explaining those reports with other teams if you’re regularly inside of the platform yourself.

8. Consider Campaign Placement

When you first start building campaigns, you’ll want to start small and move quickly. But as you become more comfortable with these campaigns, consider the advantage of creating them within programs – rather than creating “orphan”  campaigns. Sometimes you just want to get a message out the door, and one quick smart campaign later you’re done.  But it’s much easier to report properly on ROI metrics if you are creating marketing campaigns that live inside of programs

9. Assign Costs

When you assign a cost to each marketing initiative, you can then compare several marketing initiatives against each other. Your company may decide that everything you do in your marketing automation system should have an assigned cost. Even with email campaigns, which don’t have a “cost” in the traditional sense, I suggest designating a standard cost for each email you send out, and logging it against those programs.

Those are the top nine tips like to share with new marketing automation users. Readers, what would you add? Share your thoughts (or questions about these tips) in the comments below!