3 Simple Questions To Help You Prepare for Marketing Automation
Marketing automation is a revolutionary technology that helps B2B marketers get improved results.
It’s not yet another marcomms channel but integrates several channels, allowing for a better customer experience and giving marketing teams the ability to manage and track all their marketing efforts and results in one place – saving time and giving much more accurate reporting.
This in turn allows teams to fine tune what works and what doesn’t, and scale these efforts much further than previously possible – without an increase in head count.
But before you go ahead and implement any old solution you need to be able to answer three key questions.
- Exactly how will it benefit the business?
- What about data?
- What about content?
Answering these will not only help you to choose a solution that’s right for your company, but also give clarity and direction to the initiative as a whole.
1. Exactly how will marketing automation benefit the business?
For organisations that have yet to invest in marketing automation, lack of senior management support and funding is one of the top challenges. Even the CMO may have to be convinced of the benefits before taking the initiative further – and then CMOs must convince their colleagues at the senior level, including the CFO, CEO, CIO, and VP of Sales.
That means answering questions like:
- How is this different from what we are already doing?
- How much commitment will this take from current resources?
- Why not put the money toward more lead generation activities?
- How will this be different from the last marketing technology we invested in that fell flat on its face?
- How much will it cost to support the system?
- Are we going to divest of other systems? If so, how do we migrate our historical data?
Essentially, there must be a strategic benefit for the business for the senior management team to support the plan; many companies struggle to generate enough suitable leads for the sales team, some want to drive cost from their marketing processes, and others might use marketing automation to optimise the customer experience and thus improve trust.
Understanding their collective and individual goals and pain points will help you present a case that meets your company’s needs.
2. What about data?
Good clean data is the lifeblood of Sales and Marketing. It is critical for prospecting and required for data analysis. So before you implement a marketing automation solution you need to have a clear understanding of what data needs to be cleaned, where in the corporate systems this data is held, and how it will be consolidated into the Marketing Automation Platform.
Not all data elements (e.g. middle name and suffix) will contribute to your objectives, and collection and management of perfect data is time consuming and expensive. So know exactly what fields you need to clean and keep up to date before you start!
Once you have cleaned your data you need to keep it this way – marketing automation platforms generally have a number of features that make this process easier. But remember, cleaning your database once does not guarantee that it will stay clean and if left for too long it becomes a major chore! Make sure you have a data management policy in place and add an eyeball process to sanity check new data – the more frequently this happens the less of a chore it becomes.
3. What about content?
In order to prepare for marketing automation you need a clear understanding of all the stages in your buying funnel.
At its simplest you will probably need to consider at least 4 stages for each market segment that you need to deal with, for example:
At each stage you will need to consider what content a buyer would expect to consume. You will also need to consider how frequently to deliver that content and through what channel.
As a basic guideline you will need to come up with at least enough content to create a nurture program, or drip campaign, for each market segment at each stage of the funnel.
With the information gleaned from the above questions you need to create a the roadmap for your marketing automation project. Articulate the answers to the three questions; present this as a plan and assess the “gaps” which must be addressed.
Once you know where you are along your journey to marketing automation success you can prioritise activity to get their faster.
In this case the old adage of 5 Ps (some have a sixth rude word at the front) is very important.
Piss Poor Planning Produces Poor Performance.
With so much planning to cover its no wonder that many companies seek help from the limited supply of MA practitioners to challenge and guide the process much more quickly than can be done in house.
Stampwood are independent marketing automation specialists offering marketing automation design, delivery and support to medium sized companies. For more in depth information about planning for marketing automation download our free 8 Steps to Marketing Automation Success White Paper by clicking on the link.