When a brand seeks to harness the power of marketing automation, it’s easy to be distracted by expecting dramatic results right away. You’re ready to see an exponential increase in click-throughs on your emails, registrations for your webinars, and number of leads generated from every marketing campaign. But sales and marketing professionals alike need to remember that in order to get the most out of their investment in marketing automation, thoughtful implementation doesn’t end once the tool goes live.
Here are three non-negotiable actions that must be taken in order to unlock the full potential of marketing automation.
It can be tempting to make a rapid switch from old, dated email systems to a shiny new marketing automation platform. But even with the most agile team, it’s best to adopt an incremental approach. True – keeping old systems in place while you transition over to marketing automation can involve a slightly longer timeline to complete alignment. But this approach gives your team a chance to learn your new solution as thoroughly as possible without worrying that they don’t have a safety net of something they know while mastering new marketing automation skills.
Companies rarely benchmark like they should, and end up abandoning their old platform so they can begin from scratch. But success can’t be defined if you don’t know where you started, so aim to pull at least the following three key metrics before you trash the old system:
- Lead Velocity w/in the Full Revenue Model
- Cost per Net New Lead Acquisition by channel
- MQL to SQL conversion rates
If you have these three, you have something to work with. If you can’t pull these currently, make sure you know how you will capture them in the new process you devise.
When transitioning your campaigns, start with improvements that are simple and easy to measure. If you would previously have conducted a generic blast campaign, create two or three targeted messages for a few defined segments. Try switching elements to utilize different system features like landing pages, or test out enhancements for a lead nurturing campaign. By making strategic changes at regular intervals, your data will begin to tell a meaningful story about your customers.
Once you’re ready to move on from the basics, completing more challenging tasks will begin to show the true rewards of choosing to graduate to marketing automation. Start with smaller efforts within the marketing department, such as lead lifecycle development or process improvement. Once you’re confident with those, you can begin to tap into the more complex features that boast even more power like lead scoring, nurture programs and revenue analysis. Once you get cozy with these pieces, you’ll already feel like an expert when you introduce them to other departments.
One of the most vital steps in a successful implementation is being committed to training your entire team. It’s not just marketers who will use and interact with the tool and its results, so everyone from C-suite to sales needs a confident understanding of Marketo and its potential.
Invest in training and tutorials right from the start. It’s obvious that everyone who interacts with the tool will need to understand its functions, but make sure you consider the original goals agreed upon by your marketing, sales and executives teams when you selected marketing automation. What customer communication barriers were you hoping to overcome? Are you looking to improve the alignment between marketing and sales? Or are you most interested in getting maximum use out of a CRM integration? Seek out training that will directly address how marketing automation deals with your unique business concerns.
As each team member needs training specific to their function, it’s not efficient to only train senior team members, as they won’t have the correct knowledge for how other associates will need to interface with the product. Be sure to take advantage of the implementation services provided by your marketing automation solution and consultancies well versed in the platform, and tailor that training to your business. Make the most of the customer support agreements in your contract.
Beyond the traditional webinars and coaching sessions, see if your chosen marketing solution has a community. You and your team can talk with other users at the same point in deployment, as well as those with a little more experience. You also have the option of seeking a consultant who specializes in helping companies see the most from their investment. These experienced professionals can offer innovative practices and insights that come from working with dozens of other companies who have already seen dramatic ROI on their marketing automation decision.
Once you start to see the results of all these steps, don’t be tempted to think you’re finished strategizing. This is a critical time to evaluate your processes, ensure they’re yielding the desired results, and identify where you can further optimize your marketing automation solution. As a test, examine your lead scoring model. What changes can you make to increase your close rate?
When making these changes, be sure to follow a complete plan that will produce accurate metrics to guide future investment and training. Are you meeting your initial milestones? Replicate strategies that worked, and try not to repeat those that didn’t. Schedule a cross-department assessment across teams to get a full overview of the results.
To really get the most out of your investment, a thoughtful and strategic approach will deliver much more reliable results while eliminating potentially expensive mistakes. Marketing automation is a powerful tool, but marketers and executives both must remember to be patient and realistic in their post-deployment expectations.