I have been reading a fair amount on industry blogs lately, about how one should implement an Inbound Marketing Automation System in one’s organization. Usually the advice given suggests that you start with one small piece of the puzzle and then take a step-by-step approach to implement a complete system.

It sounds logical and sensible, but for 2 reasons, I caution you against using this approach:

  1. You don’t build strong, complex structures by starting to dig a hole and then pouring in some concrete; you begin with a plan. You spend a bunch of time designing the building first, identifying all its pieces, and making sure that they all work together to produce the desired function and form. And then you begin building it according to your plan. One step at a time, but all orchestrated towards the common vision of what that building is going to be. In terms of your Sales and Marketing Automation system (or SAMA, as we call it), you start with a plan that shows which pieces you are going to automate, when each one will be tackled, how they will work together, and you specify precisely what each one will do to assist your people. How else can you design the overall process your company will need, to make use of the SAMA system efficiently?
  • The entire Inbound funnel requires automation because of the speed of response required and the sheer volume of information that has to be processed. Automating parts, but leaving others manual, guarantees failure in my opinion. So the implementation should be staged into a design phase, and then an execution one.

To implement a Sales and Inbound Marketing Automation solution, I would design the roadmap (the Project Plan), to take me from where I am today, to where I want to be with Inbound Marketing. My roadmap will need to deal with the following stages:

  1. Educating myself on the options, tools, and services out there so that I know which ones I need to implement.
  • Make a short list of these tools and evaluate them. Choose each tool and service. If you’d like to know more about doing this, read Choosing a SAMA System.
  • Design your online identity by selecting your keyword or keyword phrases.
  • Create content.
  • Align your content with your keyword identity.
  • Automate the process.
  • Train your users.
  • Promote (links).
  • Promote (social media).

These last two steps really drive up the volume, so you want to have the automation system in place by then.

Of course, your real SAMA Roadmap is going to contain more steps and much more detail than this, and you should not be surprised if the first 2 steps take a few months elapsed. There are indeed a great many tools and options available on the market and new ones are announced often. Once you know which tools you are going to use, you must then study their technical specifications (their Application Programming Interfaces (APIs)), to understand what you must do to make each tool or service work with the others. If necessary, design, build and then test any software you need to make it all work seamlessly.

Of course, you could also save yourself a great deal of time and money and hire an expert to help:

  1. Design your SAMA roadmap.
  • Agree on what measures and metrics will be considered a success.
  • Choose from among the available tools and services.
  • Specify any needed software connections between these tools.
  • Implement the tool set.
  • Train your people.
  • Set up the automated campaigns (drip mails).
  • Chair combined meetings of sales and marketing people to ensure the capture of your best practices regarding what makes a good lead, how to nurture leads, and how to sell the hot prospects.
  • Set up the scoring and grading rules.
  • Monitor the resulting processes and check the results against the desired objectives.

Any mix of the above services and help may be needed, it all depends on how technical you are and how much time you have to dedicate to the project.

Good luck with it all.

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