Preparing for a marketing automation (MA) launch is a difficult task. Companies often struggle with how to prepare for the launch, and how to bring the organization together to make it a success.
Planning a successful launch requires several preparation tasks, including:
- Systems integrations
- Changes to websites
- Data analysis
- Content creation
…just to name a few. Developing a plan that integrates all of these pieces from the start is crucial to the success of the launch, and long term success of MA. Assuming you have found a marketing automation software (MAS) solution that meets your business objectives, you are very close to seeing returns on your investment.
Here are three tips to help make the launch go as smooth as possible:
1. Set goals and align the business before implementation
Marketing automation adoption is a costly, time consuming undertaking that will require alignment across the business. A key factor in making it a success is establishing attainable goals and objectives that align with the strategic direction of the business.
Implementing MA will require participation from groups throughout the organization at different times. It is important to build a strategy with input from all stakeholders, as that strategy must align with their timelines and goals. Each organization varies, but it is important to identify the teams that will be impacted.
We typically include sales management, sales operations, the CRM administrator, IT staff, and a webmaster or digital team to have in alignment with goals and timelines.
By setting up goals and aligning necessary teams, you can help to decrease the burden it may have on your organization.
Aligning sales and marketing with your marketing automation efforts is key in the early stages of implementation. Oftentimes, you may gain valuable insights early in the process that can save time, and prevent headaches, down the road. Getting frontline feedback can help shape the scope of your initial marketing campaigns, and help to prioritize your campaigns by taking advantage of potential low hanging fruit.
2. Know who you’re working with
To launch marketing automation, you need to have the right people in place to make it happen. It is critical to know who is on your team, where you may have weaknesses, and what you may need to budget in order to get the right people in place to make it a successful launch.
According to Redeye & TFM&A’s 2014 MA report, 13% of the marketers said that a lack of technical proficiency in their team was stopping them from adopting marketing automation. A lack of understanding of benefits is holding back 12%.
Marketing automation is truly a team sport, and putting the right team together will impact your results.
Here are two factors to consider:
1. Managing Your Marketing Automation Strategy
This requires someone, either internally or externally, that has a fairly specific skillset to manage campaigns, report on results, build out new campaigns, and create landing pages and emails. This person will also need to have a strong understanding of the business sales cycle and strategic direction. Knowledge and experience in these areas are important. It is this position which will be building out this process with MA over time, which is vital in integrating it into the sales process.
There are pros and cons to going in either direction of having an internal vs. an external hire. It can be hard for companies looking to bring in someone to fulfill this positon, as there may be a lack of certified professionals for their platform and a lack of experience with their customer relationship manager (CRM). Outsourcing the work can help to decrease the time it takes to launch, however it can be hard to get outside resources familiar with the sales cycles and small details that someone in-house may be more familiar with.
Working with agencies who have experience in managing MAS can help to ensure the greatest ROI (return on investment), because they usually have teams of subject matter experts to maximize your investment. Marketo and Ascend2 (2015) reported that 75% of very successful users outsource all, or part, of their marketing automation strategy planning to benefit from specialized expertise.
2. Content Creation
Marketing automation can do very little for a business without proper content. Because of this, content strategy, creation, and development will take up valuable resources which many businesses don’t readily have available. The most challenging obstacles to success are lack of quality content (40%), budget constraints (38%) and the lack of an effective marketing automation strategy (38%).
It’s important to determine how content will be created throughout the duration of the project. Whether it will be done internally or through outside agencies, creating content is vital.
Many times companies struggle to find all the necessary skills internally. These positions typically include a graphic designer, web developer, content strategist, and copywriter. Depending on the goals of your business, and the amount of content required to achieve those goals, having a mix of talents can greatly enhance the overall success of the campaigns.
3. Find the low hanging fruit
The possibilities are truly endless if you choose the best MA for your business needs. With all of these possibilities, it’s easy for teams to lose sight of short term goals. Let the creative juices flow as you begin to think about how to integrate the system with your strategic plan.
However, it is important to keep the short term goals in front of you at all times. When implementing MA with a new client, we focus heavily on finding the low hanging fruit. The reason being that we want our clients to quickly begin seeing a return on their investment. These early wins are part of the larger scope, but enable us to leverage current processes to build out the initial campaigns.
When you finally sit down to begin looking at building out campaigns, look for low hanging fruit.
Low hanging fruit doesn’t always mean find the easiest campaign and build it out. Doing that will more than likely lead to minimal results and won’t drive the buzz you need. Focus on finding the biggest bang for your buck, rather than an easy win.
We often find these campaigns in areas that have been pain points in the past, whether that is in sales or operations. Finding these can help point your team towards a possible solution and increase internal buy-in. This is also a great time to think a little outside of the box.
One example would be looking at how your MA can aid in onboarding new leads internally. Could setting up email alerts to sales help increase their engagement with new leads? Are there fields that could be prepopulated with demographic or behavioral data to help shed insights on the type of lead? This type of thinking early in the process can help gain internal support.
According to Redeye & TFM&A, 36% of marketers that have adopted MA say the main benefits of marketing automation are taking repetitive tasks out of marketers’ hands, and allowing focus on new/more exciting projects.
Launching marketing automation is just the beginning to realizing the ROI it can have for your business. To gain the full benefits MA has to offer, it is important to keep the evolution moving forward. Defining the next phase of MA is just as important as the launch. This will take time and resources, and the tips outlined above.
Marketo & Ascend2’s report shows that 63% of companies experiencing success with marketing automation plan to increase their marketing automation budget.
The companies with successful marketing automation programs will invest in further success in the coming year.
To be effective marketers, you also need to anticipate some of the problems you may face. HeinzMarketing’s 2014 Marketing Effectiveness Survey revealed the biggest problem areas when using marketing automation for less than two years are pipeline reporting, measuring marketing campaign effectiveness, and increasing sales.
RedEye & TFM&A Insights “The Marketing Automation Report 2014” (2014)
B2Bmarketing.net & Circle Research “Benchmarking Report Marketing Automation” (2015)
Marketo & Ascend2 “Marketing Automation Strategies for Sustaining Success” (2015)
Regalix “The State of Marketing Automation” (2014)
HeinzMarketing & Ontarget “Marketing Automation Effectiveness and Performance Survey” (2014)