I bought new running shoes last weekend. While talking to the physical therapist who owns the specialty running shop I go to and telling him I was working my way back to running with a trainer, he said “it’s all about the core.”

Naturally, I thought of using marketing automation. Here too, it’s all about the core. Your core for MA is best practices and metrics. If you don’t have that, all the running you do won’t get you the results you want!

In order to work on your MA core, focus on the following areas:

1) Best practice usage – it’s not just about using your MA platform. It’s about using the right features in the right places to get the ease of use and value from your investment. Make sure you’re not just using the platform in any old way, because they are strong and flexible tools, but that you are using all the best practices that are provided by the vendor, consultants, and partners. This way you’ll get the biggest bang from your buck!

2) Train your team right – In order to use the best practices, you need to provide your team with the skills and knowledge to put them in context and use them effectively. Invest in educating your team on the platform and in processes and strategies that will make the difference to your business and help you get ROI from your MA platform AND from your employees.

3) Focus on reporting from the start – if you have nothing to measure against and no measurable goals, you’ll never know if your investment is making a difference. If you’ve never done reporting, or haven’t really used it, start by taking some baseline measurements selecting a few simple metrics. Use those to compare future results against and make your reporting more and more sophisticated over time. You don’t have to have a ton of metrics to start making incremental changes so you can make good, metrics-driven marketing decisions for your budget and resources.

Before you get fancy, focus on your core. Once you’re running smoothly, you can train for more complex and sophisticated goals!