This post below is a fictional account of a common situation experienced by many marketers when implementing marketing automation. This is written based off of what I have seen working as a senior consultant for Marketo.

We have had marketing automation for 6 months, and I know we are only using a fraction of what it is capable of. So I flew in my team, and engaged a marketing automation consultant for a 2 day onsite, in hopes that he can help get us up and running with some of the more advanced functionality. I am excited and nervous at the same time! And I know my team can’t wait to jump in and get started.

It’s 8:47am and I am waiting impatiently for our consultant to arrive. Relief washes over me as I finally get the call to come meet him on the 1st floor.

The beginning

Introductions and we are off. We jump right in with some discussion around our marketing automation sync with our CRM and through this discussion we realize that we should be using the campaign function in our CRM to track the success of our call campaigns. This will be consistent with our marketing automation platform and attribution in the future. First success!

Note to self – we are totally off agenda already but that doesn’t matter–we are getting stuff done!

Lead lifecycle moves from “blah blah blah” to reality in 1 hour

When we started with marketing automation our consultant mapped out our lead lifecycle. I have to admit that the lead lifecycle concept to me was “blah blah blah”, so we had not yet spent the time building it out. Our lead lifecycle folder in our marketing automation platform was empty this morning.

In seeing this, our consultant built out our lead lifecycle today and now I understand it for the first time. The core of lead lifecycle is moving leads along stages. For instance, moving leads to our telesales team when they hit 50 points after scoring. However, we decided not to turn on the lead lifecycle smart campaigns until tomorrow when we had a chance to confirm lead scoring with the sales team.

Luckily, we tested the lead lifecycle campaigns a bit and they did work properly when we manually made leads meet the criteria. I have to say we would not have figured out how to build the lead lifecycle on our own.

Core lists are a vital piece of infrastructure

There were some key lists we had not built yet so we built them on the spot – like a competitor list and employee list. When we rendered the competitor list we could instantly see a whole bunch of competitors in our database–there were some oooohs and aaaaahs from my team at that point. Our previous email marketing tool did not have the ability to dynamically slice the database like this.

Note to self–we will need to tweak the list of company names later. These lists can be used for a variety of purposes; for example to prevent communications from going to competitors or to prevent competitors from going to the telesales team. Sweet!

Oh I can count the ways to slice and dice the database!

We really need to upgrade our list practices. In many cases we had been uploading lists each time for various initiatives. What clicked in my head today is that we should really be building these lists in our marketing automation tool in the first place without an upload each time.

We are already pretty familiar with how to build lists, and now we are also looking at segmentations–there are basically 2 ways in our marketing automation tool to create this kind of dynamic list and both ways have pros and cons so we should understand both.

Discussion around segmentations was very theoretical until we actually created one today. Now I understand how it works and we have one in our instance so when we are ready to use it we have an example to look at. We will also use the creation of segmentations as a function to force the improvement of our data because our platform shows counts of different segments in a clear pie chart so we can easily see and investigate list counts.

We manually assigned leads to the right sales rep

Up to now leads had been given to the appropriate sales rep manually. The marketing automation consultant called this lead assignment and said our platform can do this–but he recommended that we do this in our CRM if possible because it would be more robust there. So we told our CRM admin to setup auto assignment rules. Once they were done we setup the lead lifecycle to ask for this assignment in our CRM, so now the lead lifecycle will automatically ask our CRM to make this assignment when we sync a new lead to-– slick!

We are movin’ on up!

I did not know you could import that

We have been using programs in our marketing automation tool but they were not necessarily structured as per best practices. They were using more of a survival technique to get the email out the door. Not the best plan.

OK this is blowing my mind. The marketing automation consultant just imported an event program lock-stock-and-barrel from some kind of program library. That is friggin cool!

When we looked at the program my creative guy said “that is beautiful.” OK whatever floats your boat…

Anyway, our team agreed to gradually create a set of program templates that meet our needs well and we can re-use.

Social masters

The consultant walked us through some key social features so we understand them better. Many of the features seem to be about sharing various types of content, encouraging shares, tracking shares well, and bringing new people into the fold.

Now that I know about all of the social media functionality I am very excited. However, it will take a miracle to get us beyond our boring content to something potential clients will really share. This will be quite the journey and if we can leverage our extended team this will actually be awesome. The key takeaway here is peer-to-peer marketing is key to extending our brand awareness and building relationships and trust with potential customers. And with peer-to-peer we can leverage connections (employee, customer, other).

Creative services spins the wheel!

Since our creative folks are here today we looked at any landing page and email build questions. There were not many. Pretty straight-forward.

Our marketing automation consultant (I will call him MAC for short) showed us how dynamic content (DC) works using the segmentation we created yesterday. Sweet! Basically DC is about having varying email versions without having to create a whole bunch of emails. The more versions you will have the more valuable this is.

Lead nurture session

Lead nurture is the marketing we should be doing. MAC showed us how to document a nurture to get all the parameters defined as a blueprint for building it out. I now know what nurture is and see how we can move from one-offs this year to more automated communications next year. The team seems visibly excited about this.

Turn on lead lifecycle

We have finally turned on lead lifecycle so as of today leads are being passed to the telesales team based on a score of 50. By the end of the day, 2 leads had been passed to telesales and we inspected those leads. My feeling is that they had not done enough to be deemed marketing qualified–so we will continue to monitor this, and likely will change the threshold value to be a bit higher.

Excitement ensues!

My team is excited. We need to keep this momentum. Man, it has been great to get everyone in the same room and get out of the weeds for 2 days. I think they are excited because this is real–there is a lot we can do–and now we are all on the same page now. A lot to be done but on the same page.

Final hour

OK so it is like 4:00 on day 2 and my brain is mush, but we got so much done! But let’s temper that enthusiasm–we don’t want this going to MACs head.

My tenure is secure for another quarter. Phew. Super excited to get back to the office and implement what I learned.