Many businesses are turning to marketing automation for a modern and more efficient way to communicate with their existing and potential clients. And, it’s for a good reason too. Marketing automation platforms are loaded with great tools that help you track visitors, manage content and easily stay in touch with your customers. However, these platforms are not cheap and the implementation can be even more expensive than the ongoing SaaS investment.
One issue that often appears is that the success of the marketing automation platform greatly depends on the quality of the implementation. As you will learn from this article, the process of implementing a comprehensive marketing automation platform is not straightforward and will require a few people with a diverse set of skills.
There are many different marketing automation tools on the market that range from $30 per month up to several thousand dollars per month. For some businesses, it will be sufficient to have a relatively simple newsletter service such as MailChimp or AWeber. Other more sophisticated marketing operations will use Eloqua, Marketo or Pardot that certainly cost more than $1,000 per month for an entry level offering. To make the leap from limited or no Internet based marketing, to a fully functional marketing platform requires significant time and energy. Here are some of the important steps.
Step 1 – Have a clear understanding of the ideal sales process
Understanding the various touch points of your current and potential customers will help in determining what the right marketing automation platform is. Do you target customers via email, make cold calls or pay to attract visitors to your website? The answer to this question mostly lies in the product or service that you offer. Is the knowledge of the customer sufficient enough to be able to make a fast purchase decision or is there a step-by-step education process? Having a clear understanding of the sales process will help in determining the right platform.
Step 2 – Document the sales process
Not every sale is the same. Sometimes, the sale can be a competitor take out. On other occasions, the process involves educating the prospect gradually in order not to overwhelm them with information. Other sales are often made sometime after the initial contact, whereby the customer begins gathering information from various suppliers, choosing a preferred supplier list and receiving offers some time after the initial contact.
Step 3 – Choose the right platform
This will vary from business to business and will greatly depend on many factors such as budget, requirements, internal resources and business focus. However, it is important to understand and keep in the back of your mind, that the implementation will be greater in cost and resources than the software purchase. Concurrently, there is some technical software configuration required too. If you choose one of the more advanced systems, it will have features such as content management, visitor tracking, lead scoring and lead nurturing. In order to track visitors, it will be necessary to alter the DNS configuration on the web domain. This will probably need the involvement of your ISP. Best make sure that they know what to do and your ISP is prepared to make the DNS modifications before you purchase the service.
Step 4 – Implement the automation solution
Assigning a dedicated resource will be essential. The internal marketing automation resource will first need to learn how to use the software before the first campaign is launched. Secondly, all the hard work that was involved in documenting the ideal sales process will now become useful, as you will be able to configure the ideal process in the marketing automation program via drip campaigns. Thirdly, not all leads are going to be good. With the advanced platforms, they are going to come with lead and grade scoring systems that enable you to determine a good lead from a bad one. For example, it is unlikely that a plumbing service in Australia will have much success from a contact made from overseas. It would probably be classed as a low-grade lead. The scoring system automatically assigns points to activities of the existing or potential customers. Lastly, the advanced marketing automation platforms often come with preconfigured API’s to third party applications. Typical examples are integrations to leading CRM, chat or Google applications.
Step 5 – Create a campaign
Content is the key. Email templates, white papers, newsletters and follow up emails are going to take time to develop. Once you have great content, the marketing automation tool will support your marketing plan. Sending out non-unique content is spam and sending out the same message over and over just won’t work. With great content, it’s possible to respond to your target audience with tailored messages.
Step 6 – Ongoing management
A marketing automation system is not a magical application where you start creating better leads instantly, but rather it’s a system designed to support your marketing operations. Someone will need to be responsible for managing the marketing automation system and someone will need to manage the leads and distribute them to the right person in the company. Equally, someone is going to have to continuously create new content.
Marketing automation is not as simple as selecting a platform or a tool and forgetting about it. Ultimately, the success of marketing automation will depend on the people you choose to operate it and the process you design around it. Even the greatest tools are only as good as the people who implement them and the system they build around it. If you are considering implementing a marketing automation solution, a well-defined process, people to support your growth and content are the key to success.♦ End