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2nd April 2013

Marketing automation – a recipe for success

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So once you have bought into the vision for marketing automation; enhanced lead qualification and follow up to boost conversion rates, the capability to progress and maintain relationships with relevant and timely communications to increase retention, sales and marketing teams working in perfect harmony…how can you guarantee success?

It will come as no surprise that the first piece of advice when embarking on marketing automation is to plan your strategy.  Our experience is largely based on using Marketo with salesforce.com but these tips apply whatever application you have selected.

If you jump in head first and start setting up automated campaigns without taking a step back to consider your strategy, it is very easy to lose focus and end up in a mess.  There is also a real risk that you will lose support from internal sceptics so it’s important to get it right.

There are some key ingredients which have a substantial impact on marketing automation success:-

Targeting strategy

First think about how are you going to segment your market and your audiences.  This will not only determine the grouping criteria for your lead database but will also provide a framework for your communication planning.  There may be several levels of targeting, for example by geography or by product/service each with relevant messages, timings and channels.

Data strategy

Is your database structured to deliver your targeting strategy?  Don’t make any assumptions – check what information your automation application can access.  Make sure that you also consider data quality (missing key information, duplicates).  When will lead data be synchronised into your CRM database and when should certain users have visibility?

Organisation structure

Establish (and stick to) a common naming convention for your folders, design assets and campaigns.  You also need to decide which users will need access to perform certain functions, manage approvals, create and delete records etc – too much power is dangerous but too little can cause bottlenecks and management frustration.

Engaging content

Unfortunately, marketing automation technology doesn’t magically generate a continuous source of appealing and relevant content – this is our job as marketers.  You need to think about how you will keep content fresh and what existing sources you can adapt to different audiences and different stages of engagement.

Executive champion

The introduction of marketing automation can represent a huge change in culture for both sales and marketing.  Support from senior management helps to encourage adoption of new concepts such as lead nurturing, lead scoring and recycling, particularly when follow up and campaign success are linked to KPIs.

Sales input

The ongoing development marketing automation processes is the perfect opportunity for marketing and sales to work together.   Sales can provide vital information on the typical demographics and behaviour of a prospect or customer is at various stages in the buying cycle.  The lead scoring model is rarely right first time but sales are less likely to dismiss its effectiveness if they are involved in the fine-tuning.

Marketing resource commitment

Marketing automation is for life, not just for launch!  Don’t underestimate the level of marketing resource required to make your marketing automation a success.  It should become a key part of specific marketer’s role/s to set up, manage, monitor, tweak and evolve.  It’s important that users receive proper training so that they understand the technical side of campaign management.

Measurement of success

It is important that you define up front how you will measure the success of your marketing automation programmes.  From a pure marketing perspective, you will want to evaluate how your leads and contacts engage across different channels so this may mean email open rates, webinar attendance, web form completions.  From a business perspective, you will want to evaluate lead conversions, ROI and the influence of campaigns on sales opportunities won.  Make sure that your have the processes in place to deliver these metrics.

If you can suggest other ingredients for success or you need a fresh perspective on your marketing automation strategy, we would love to hear from you.

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