New to Marketing Automation? Your First 5 Moves

Marketing Automation


First, the facts: marketing experts, analysts, and hands-on practitioners have now embraced marketing automation across industries. The benefits are innumerable, and as technology continues to evolve, these benefits are constantly multiplying – leaving non-adopters in the dust. But as an Account Executive at Marketo, I work closely with our Customer Success and Support teams, where I’ve seen firsthand how marketers are sometimes hesitant to up-level their game.

To be clear, this isn’t because they don’t understand what marketing automation can do for their companies, and it isn’t because they’re afraid to try something new. Often, marketers simply (and reasonably) want a game plan before they get started. They want to know how the first few weeks with marketing automation will look for their company, and they want a proven strategy for getting the most from the gate.

So if you’re considering marketing automation, but aren’t sure how you’ll get started, or you’re a new user who’s ready to take your marketing automation for a spin, this blog post is for you. Here are the first five “moves” I recommend to new marketing automation users:

1) Launch an Awake the Dead Campaign

An “Awake the Dead Campaign” is often the first campaign marketers send using marketing automation. We all know the importance of a squeaky clean database, but even the best databases are prone to collecting dust. Marketing automation is great at managing preferences and unsubscribes, but first you’ve got to find out where you stand. An “Awake the Dead Campaign” is an easy way to set up tracking on the people who do want to engage with your brand, and clean out the people who want to unsubscribe.

Start out with establishing a broad message you’re comfortable sending to everyone in your database. This might be a company newsletter, an invitation to an upcoming event, or an announcement. Next, sit back and let the data stream in. Every response (or lack of thereof) to your database will give you valuable information. Your marketing automation can now start tracking the names you’ve sent to, unsubscribe anyone who asks to be removed, and report back on bounce rates, unsubscribe rates, and conversion rates.

2) Personalize Your Use Case

When your company originally considered marketing automation, what were the main reasons? Which processes were you trying to simplify? Which campaigns did you hope to expand or improve? With a consultant, walk through a scenario you commonly encounter in your marketing, and review how marketing automation would address it.

I recommend marketers start with a campaign that they already run. This is a low-risk way to get started, and get familiar with your platform in the process. For example, if you attend the same tradeshow every year, set that campaign up first – your emails and follow-ups, your advertising, your social promotions, etc. If your vendor allows you to “clone” entire programs, you’ll be able to re-use your work next year.

3) Get Stakeholders Involved

Marketing automation isn’t just about empowering marketers – by doing so, the technology aims to improve your entire organization. Getting aligned with the sales team is vital to marketing’s credibility, and it’s also vital to marketing automation success.

To make sure you’re setting up campaigns that will help the sales team win deals, get aligned as soon as you start using marketing automation. Come to an agreement about lead qualification and scoring, decide which buyer activities should be alerted to sales, and consider leveraging a Sales Development Team.

4) Become the Teacher’s Pet

You want to make the most of your marketing automation, and that means there are no stupid questions. Take advantage of any consulting hours your vendor offers, and get the information you need. Marketo offers unlimited “office hours” – set times during which you can dial in, ask an expert your question, and discuss their response with your peers. Even if you don’t have a specific question, you can still dial in to listen to other Marketo users ask questions – sometimes, the best questions are the ones you haven’t thought of yet.

The other part of being a teacher’s pet, of course, is doing your homework. Ideally, your vendor can provide you with a library of resources to read (or skim, if that’s more your style). I always recommend our own Definitive Guide to Marketing Automation as a place to get started – it covers everything from common features to deep-dive ROI. Once you’ve got that one down, check out The Essential 8: Top Reports Every Marketer Needs, or our Engaging Email Marketing Success Kit. We’ve also got cheat sheets, infographics, and worksheets for the “hands-on” learners out there.

5) Find Your Community

Plenty of other people adopted marketing automation before you, and that means there are plenty of people who were once in your shoes. Many vendors can provide you with a platform to connect with other users, and help you find similar companies to consult along the way. As valuable as consultants are, talking to your peers about their marketing automation is a whole different game.

The Marketo Community, which currently connects over 40,000 marketers, gives our users 24/7 access to help articles, documentation, training, and (most importantly) one another. I especially encourage new users to spend time with their peers, join groups, read up on best practices, and submit ideas to the Marketo product management team. New users can also hugely benefit from our mentor/mentee program, in which we connect new Marketo users to experienced pros.


So those are my recommended “first moves” with marketing automation – if you’re a seasoned user, what would you recommend? Have any questions? Something you wish I’d covered? Let me know in the comments section below!