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The amount of technology a modern business has to deal with, even a small one, is becoming overwhelming. The ability to connect to your customers and complete sales online means that suddenly your potential customer base goes from the few thousand people near where your business was founded to millions of people around the world who may be interested in your products or services. While the entire world may be the oyster for your marketing team, this also means that they have millions of potential leads to consider. Who will be responsive? What will create conversions? These are no longer private tasks for individuals but huge ones involving reams of data that only a computer could process and make decisions from effectively.

That’s where marketing automation comes in. Just as the financial department has special software to keep track of the thousands of business transactions each year, now your marketing team can focus on improving the quality of your sales funnel or building a new campaign rather than the long and tedious tasks of analyzing lead and customer information to try and determine the perfect promotions. Instead, a marketing automation program will happily chew through thousands of files and produce helpful conclusion data on which leads are most likely to convert and what your customers are really looking for. The key to making the most of your marketing automation is to know exactly what is being processed, what you’ll get out, and how to use it.

1) Start Small

When you’re first starting to implement marketing automation into your normal marketing work process, don’t go all-out right at first. Instead, start automating little things first. Choose tasks that your marketing staff already find tedious and troublesome and that can be easily handled simply by analyzing data and looking for patterns. If, for instance, you need to know what color is the most popular with customers this season, you can run your recent sales data through the automation program to sort out this information. Once you understand how to use your marketing automation software, you can expand what is automated and improve the results you get in return.

2) Let Automation Guide Human Decisions

One of the biggest mistakes companies make when trying to implement marketing automation is to simply let it run and trust the software to know what’s best. Marketing automation is incredibly powerful when used correctly, but it’s not a trained marketing professional, or even a person, so it cannot take the place of your marketing management or planning sessions. Use the data you get from the marketing automation software to guide decisions, not to make them.

3) Check Solutions Before Implementing

Optimizing your marketing automation software to produce the results you’re looking for may take time and in many cases, a marketing team needs to get used to the software before they know how to work with it effectively. When your marketing automation program comes up with a solution or suggestion based on data analysis, use this as a tool rather than a definitive decision. Discuss what the data or suggestion means, how it can be used in your current marketing campaign or lead conversion plans, and move forward from there.

Automation is an important part of almost any modern business career. From accountants with handy scripts that can calculate large sets of numbers all at once to chat tech support using macros to quick-copy common phrases, automation is simply a matter of fact today. This means that your marketing strategies won’t just benefit from marketing automation, but the automation itself will make your task of managing media pushes all that much easier. Of course, this is only the first half of our two-part article. Join us next time for the second half where we’ll cover credit for your work, getting overwhelmed, planning for the future and adding a personal touch.