Man loosing at the Casino

When you gamble with your marketing strategy, it’s like calling “hit” on 20 when the dealer is showing 16. You can barely even classify it as a gamble—it’s just stupid. Show me a company with bad marketing practices, and I’ll show you key leads in their lead database that are missed, some never so much as receiving one email.

The stakes are too high for you to place blind bets. Every move you make needs to be informed by the right data and insights, and you can do this using a marketing automation platform. It’s a smart investment that’s well worth its weight in gold, but to really reap the full benefits of it, you need to understand how to manage the inputs behind-the-scenes. So, steer clear of wild marketing gambles and let these insights help you start turning more prospects into loyal customers:

1. Don’t “Let It Ride” with Lists

The disparate data that you collect from thousands of different sources won’t magically shuffle itself up into a nice orderly package, nor is your marketing automation platform supposed to figure it out for you, although it will help you glean insights from the data. The onus is on you to get it right, which can be a problem if you haven’t normalized key values upon import.

Job titles can be an especially diverse set of data. You need a strategy for combining titles from different industries into one manageable package that makes sense. Some companies have “creative ninjas” and “marketing gurus”—how can you reach those folks with the same targeted messages you’d send to the graphic designers and VPs of Marketing of the world? Figure out a translation system that works for you (like simple keyword mapping), then standardize it within your marketing automation system so you can group job titles and industries appropriately.

And when it comes down to segmenting this data, take the time to get it right. Which data points are most relevant to your business? If you’re segmenting a list and you’ve done a good job of normalizing mismatched data, you’ll ensure that you’re targeting who you want each and every time.

2. Don’t Treat Your Lead Lifecycle Like a Slot Machine

Okay, so you’re bringing a thousand new leads a month into your database. What are you going to do with them? Who is going to be assigned to the lead if they’re qualified? How are you defining terms like “lead” and “qualified” anyway? Don’t get caught scrambling with your process; it’s a waste of time, resources, and ultimately money.

Think of your lead lifecycle process like an assembly line: a repeatable, trusted system that will make the most efficient use of the data you’ve done such a good job entering. Align your sales and marketing teams ahead of time so that each team knows where to assert themselves during the various stages of the customer journey to keep your leads engaged. If everyone on your side agrees on the process, you’ll know exactly how to handle growth and manage the human side of your data.

3. Go All In on Templated Designs

Another key factor in being an efficient marketer involves building the right templates, especially for email and landing pages. Customization is important, but if you’re always building from scratch for each new campaign, you’re wasting valuable time. You can still create a tailored piece to different groups on your list with the proper templates.

A complete marketing automation platform will have email templates that you can customize and easily visualize how the end product will look in real time. Once you’ve uploaded your content and written your all-important subject line (or several, to test which is most effective), you can then use if-then formulas to segment your email as wide or as nuanced as you want.

Once you’ve established your guidelines for email, the program takes over. You can even take advantage of its advanced A/B testing features to see how well your message is performing. That’s the beauty of knowing what you’re doing ahead of time—the system is designed to do the heavy lifting. Just make sure it’s lifting the right target audience.

There’s a time and a place for gambling, and it’s with the cold, hard cash you personally earned closing a big deal thanks to your marketing prowess. Your data is sacred, so treat it that way, and never gamble with your leads, your lists, or your messaging.

What other things can marketers not afford to gamble on? Comment your tips below!