The monster in the closet called marketing automation.
Marketing automation is an awesome tool for achieving marketing and sales goals. But truth be told, it can also be quite overwhelming. A monster in the closet so to speak. You know it’s there (and actually it’s quite fluffy and cuddly), but you’d rather not open that door before you’re sure you can handle it. So how exactly do you tame this beast? The solution is easier than you think…
Change is always challenging, and embracing marketing automation within your organisation is a change and a half. With calendars already full to bursting, it can be a mammoth task to find the time to spend reviewing the set up and function of your marketing automation platform. However, marketing automation tools are only as good as the processes behind them, so communication and collaboration between different departments is key.
It’s a sobering reality, but failure here means that the vast majority of organisations aren’t getting the most out of their initial investment. To illustrate: a large chunk of these companies are using marketing automation solely for lead generation instead of nurturing existing clients as well. And let’s be honest – those are the clients that help you bring home the bacon, right?!
Recognise yourself or your organisation in any of the above? No worries! Just act cool, put on your confident face and impress your manager with a basic yet handy step-by-step ‘how do we get the most out of our marketing automation platform’ roadmap. Which (hurrah!) is here for the taking:
1. Getting everybody on the same page.
Get marketing, sales, client services, the guys and gals from IT and a big box of donuts in one room and make clear agreements about your way of working. Trust me… Planning and thinking ahead together is essential for marketing automation to work! So, do whatever it takes to make the impossible possible (even if it takes sprinkled, jelly-filled donuts) and:
- Decide on a universal naming convention for assets.
- Set up an unambiguous data management and opt-in process.
- Document which lead comes from which channel.
- Agree on the characteristics which define both a sales accepted lead and a sales qualified lead.
- Preferably integrate your neatly maintained CRM system with your automation platform straight from the start (or as soon as possible if this is water under the bridge).
2. From gut feeling to good insight.
When you have the magic powers of marketing automation at your disposal, you can start using data instead of just relying on your gut feeling. There are presumably plenty of examples in your life where your intuition turned out to not be the most trustworthy partner…especially when alcohol was in play…
Anyway, this is your chance to actually measure what your target audience wants, does and needs. Set up a benchmark for the assets you want to measure and record variables like open ratios, click through ratios, conversion rates and churn rates. Now you can set substantiated KPI’s and even calculate bottom-up what you need to reach those goals via your pipeline. A (very) simple example: if you have a specific revenue target set, you can determine how many deals are needed to get there.; and how many leads are needed to get those deals.; and how large your target audience must be to get those leads; and… Well, you get the idea.
3. Create your own playground.
Put on your lab coat, develop your very own evil laugh and start experimenting with your marketing automation platform. Don’t be afraid to make forgivable mistakes and learn from success and failure. It takes practice to reach perfection. If you are relatively new to marketing automation then start with a simple campaign and expand your activities from there. You will never forget the moment your first multi-touch campaign went live. Gradually you can improve your campaign results with:
- Advanced customer segmentation. Make use of demographic information, buying behavior and history or real-time behavior information.
- A/B testing or even A/B/C/D and E testing if you will. Compare emails, webpages and every other nook and cranny of your campaigns to discover which elements get you the best results based on good old trustworthy data.
- Send time optimisation. Not every receiver opens your email at the same time. Almost every marketing automation platform can measure at an individual level when most emails are opened…which is probably during commercial breaks, boring meetings or toilet time.
- Lead and contact scoring. Defining the quality and involvement of a lead or contact allows you to adjust your communication effectively. It also makes it possible to give the sales department a heads up when somebody reaches a certain score which means he or she is in the market for a purchase.
- Creating dynamic content. Make sure you are providing your contacts with tailor-made content, not only with regard to copy, but images too.
- Mobile marketing. Text messages, app push notifications and mobile optimised emails make it even easier to reach your target audiences at the right moment.
4. Taking it to the next level.
Although technically we’ve already accomplished this with steps 1, 2 and 3, there is always room for improvement! Ultimately, marketing automation is all about delivering the right content to the right audience at the right time and place. You might even call it communication automation.
So, set up some serious buyer personas, map corresponding customer journeys and create relevant content within the right context. Link this content to the right phases within your buyer journeys and bear in mind that this is a dynamic and ongoing process. It is essential to understand and to be able to adapt to the shifting motives of potential customers, as well as responding to their questions along the way. Actually, if you don’t aim to think and breathe this way, you might as well put your marketing automation platform and tools back in their box and return to sender…and then hope you don’t get refunded in vouchers.
As preached, marketing automation is a great way for you to analyse your campaigns and activities, to generate reports and to get insights on results. Make good use of this marketing goldmine and cherish your database. A small, active and well-maintained database is much more valuable than a big, inactive database with smelly old data.
Of course, not every organisation is the same. So think of this roadmap as a rough guide and put your own spin on it. After all, you know best where improvement is possible. Now open that closet door and go get em’ tiger!