There are three core foundational steps to getting started with marketing automation. If you prepare your team and your data, keep your objectives in sight (literally), and research options for marketing automation tools, you’ll be on your way to getting the process going. Here’s a deeper look at the steps.

1. Establish Data Quality

Having accessible, quality information about your leads, contacts, opportunities, and customers is a major part of building a scalable marketing automation program. Managing how your data comes in and out of the tool is critical.

The first step to data quality is setting up a committee. I would recommend having at least three people acting as your DQM team, or Data Quality Management team.

Every decision to change data (update, add/delete, or create a field), should go through the DQM team. I’ve seen teams comprised of marketing automation managers, sales operations or CRM managers, engineers (for SaaS companies), or a director from the sales or marketing team. If you have the capacity, more is better, but never have more than one person from every department.

Your DQM team should know how every point of data is being used, and the impact it will have on the business.

The next step to having quality data is setting up regular health checks. Build out a health score card for your company and your DQM team can use it to answer the following questions:

  • How many duplicate contacts/leads exist?
  • How many records have empty fields for the key points of data your business needs? (If you care about email address, and industry, how many records don’t have an email address? How many don’t have an industry?)

Once you have the answers to these questions, ensure your team is prepared to take steps to make your database healthier. With quality data and good management in place, you’ll be able to build more targeted campaigns, with more targeted language. For instance, if you know the majority of your leads are from a particular industry, you’ll be able to build a campaign targeted to that audience.

Learn more about data quality tools for marketing automation here.

2. Focus On Objectives

One of the biggest challenges with marketing automation is the plethora of functionality in every product. Deciding to purchase a platform is often driven by a feature or functionality that caters to your business objectives. This usually means your company has some requirements when evaluating different vendors. I want you to pause for a moment and do these four things:

  1. Pull out the requirements document.
  2. Find the objectives you wished to accomplish with marketing automation.
  3. Write down the top three things you wanted to do.
  4. Put it somewhere highly visible — as in, you’ll see it every day visible.

If you don’t have this document handy, then I encourage you to spend a little time evaluating exactly why you purchased (or wish to purchase) your tool and write down the top three reasons why you want to use the marketing automation platform.

Use your requirements list to make sure every marketing automation activity is helping you accomplish one or more of your objectives. While your objectives won’t be the same if you’ve been using marketing automation for a long time, you can still go through this exercise in regular intervals (monthly, quarterly, yearly, etc.) and adjust your objectives based on the capabilities of your marketing automation platform.

3. Review Your Choices

Hopefully you have already decided on which marketing automation platform is right for your business. If you haven’t, I highly recommend researching your choices on G2 | Crowd, where you’ll find a whole host of solutions to read about, such as Pardot, HubSpot, Marketo, Eloqua, Act-On, InfusionSoft, OutMarket, and more.

If G2 | Crowd hasn’t been enough to help you decide which solution is right for your business, there are a lot of great resources to help you make a more informed decision. Here are a few of my favorites:

Whether it’s your first time or you’re starting fresh, setting up your marketing automation system can be a daunting project. I hope to have helped prepare you for the task, or left you with some ideas on how to improve your data and stay focused on your objectives. Let me know in the comments below.

Learn more about marketing automation in this free ebook.