So you’ve identified the need for marketing automation and are ready to make the investment in a tool that works for you. But now what? It’s time to hit the ground running … almost.
When we think about marketing automation, the first thing that comes to mind is technology. But the truth is, there’s a lot more that goes into marketing automation success than just having the right platform, especially in the first month.
7 Steps to a Successful First Month with Marketing Automation
1. Set your goals and create a plan.
Ask yourself what it is you want marketing automation to achieve for you by identifying the key problems you’re trying to solve. Dig out that marketing plan (or write one if you haven’t done so already). There are a few basic marketing automation goals you should have on your list:
- Identify prospects who are interested and qualified
- Target and automate your communication process with customers and opportunities
- Establish consistent communication between sales and marketing
- Measure and refine your marketing process
2. Clean up your current data, centralize, and organize your contacts.
Knowing you need to keep your marketing database clean is one thing, actually keeping clean is yet another. And when you’re implementing new technology, you surely don’t want to go in with a mess of a database. There are 4 critical focus areas to focus on when cleaning up:
- Ensure email quality and relevance.
- Align formatting to standards.
- Map data fields and inputs to use cases.
- Introduce a cleaning schedule.
For more details on what to do in each step to ensure a clean database, check out this blog post.
3. Use your vendor’s resources.
All marketing automation companies should have people dedicated to helping you use their tools most effectively. Before you commit to one vendor, make sure you know details like:
- What support they offer and for how long
- What training materials they offer, knowledgebase articles, how-to videos, best practices content, webinars, etc.
If you don’t have the necessary time and resources right away to invest in a platform but you know you need one, check to see if your vendor offers a package to help you get started. Many technology vendors (marketing and not) offer much more than technology–many also offer managed services to help manage activities associated with their technologies. For example, a marketing automation vendor might offer managed services like designing email and landing page templates, building and executing nurture campaigns, developing and implementing lead scoring profiles, building and managing events, performing A/B testing and creating and managing campaign reports, all while working in tandem with your team to align these activities to your marketing strategy and objectives.
4. Integrate with other tools.
The single most important criteria for sales and marketing success is the alignment of the two teams. Companies can drive 5-36% growth simply through alignment (SiriusDecisions). To facilitate the alignment, it is essential for marketing automation platforms to be integrated with the sales CRM. Without this integration, it is difficult to create a consistent experience for prospects and too much time and too many resources will be drained trying to coordinate activities to ensure leads don’t fall through the cracks.
Another marketing tool to look at integration with is social media. Gone are the days where social media presence is just another marketing option. Now it’s a necessity. One benefit with most MAPs is the ability to tie your social profiles into emails and website pages, increasing traffic to these sites and allowing you to track customer and lead engagement.
5. Get to know your visitors.
It’s important to gain a deeper understanding of your audience and how you can most effectively reach them. There are several metrics you can track from the beginning including demographics, interests, geography, and technology. In addition to looking at the data your customers are willingly entering into forms, you can also simply get on the phone and listen. Ask them their needs and priorities and understand that there’s a lot to gain from a quick phone call. All of the customer information you can gather will help you build buyer personas and establish a more targeted, account-based marketing strategy.
6. Adjust, add, and refine your marketing automation strategy as you go.
It’s important to remember that when you’re getting started with marketing automation, it doesn’t have to happen all at once. Start with automating one process, like an email marketing workflow. The most important thing to remember with marketing automation implementation is to keep moving forward. There may be bumps along the way but the more data-based adjustments and refinements you complete over time, the more effective your marketing automation strategy will be.
7. Ongoing education and training.
As with any software implementation, no matter how easy the first month goes, you’re bound to have questions. Marketing automation has a number of options, programs, campaigns, and integrations to choose from. How do you know which to use and where your focus should be? Be sure you attend training sessions, live user events, and other resources that are available to you.
Here’s a Recap
Some marketing automation solutions are complex and can take months to implement. Others, like Sugar Market, are faster to implement, have more integration options, and easier to start using from the get-go. Either way, make sure you are aware of every step along the way and use these seven methods to have an easy start to your marketing automation journey.