9 Lessons for Marketing Automation Newbies

Shutterstock_176351081According to a report by Software Advice, 91% of marketing automation buyers were evaluating marketing automation for the first time in 2013. So if you're new to marketing automation, you're not alone, and there's help.

I teamed up with Josh Hill, marketing automation expert at Perkuto, to share best practices and insights for starting out in marketing automation in the ebook, The Newcomer's Guide to Marketing Automation. Check it out, but for the quick highlights, here are nine lessons from that ebook:

1. Marketing + Technology

Before you jump head first into a marketing automation roll out, it’s important to assess the skills required. Ideally, the project lead should have an equal blend of marketing and technology skills. They should be just as comfortable with database administration as they are with persona-building exercises and SEO.  

2. Automate More than Marketing

Marketing automation is somewhat of a misnomer, as the platform can (and usually does) automate many processes in addition to marketing. At RingLead, our marketing automation programs benefit multiple departments – sales, customer success, even billing/collections – so each department, especially Technology, IT and web teams, needs to understand how the system works.

3. Collaborate with Other Teams

Since this system will touch multiple departments, getting input and buy-in from each of them is an absolute must. As you begin to map out your implementation plan, make sure that you’re scheduling time with an experienced person from each department. There’s no need to try to compensate for their experience when you can, in a relatively short amount of time, download their thought process and incorporate their feedback into your planned system.

4. Create Process Visualizations

Instead of verbalizing your marketing automation workflow, create detailed diagrams which will help relay the big picture to your entire organization quickly and efficiently. Remember that a picture is worth a thousand words, and visualization allows for a quicker feedback loop. Suggested improvements can be discussed with these graphic aids and implemented faster than if you were to explain and re-explain the proposed system to each of the stakeholders.

5. Prepare for Database Segmentation

Segmentation of your database and personalization of automated messages is one of the key benefits of using a marketing automation solution. This is why you should start thinking about how your data is organized and categorized before you implement a marketing automation platform.

6. Put Data First

Data is the foundation upon which your CRM and marketing automation systems are built, so it is only logical that you pay just as much attention to the data that is in these systems as the processes and workflows that you’re building around them.

7. Prepare your Content Strategy

Nurture programs, one of the key features in marketing automation platforms, are meant to re-engage prospects who have gone cold. One of the requirements of a successful nurture program is interesting, unique and useful content that you can periodically send out to these prospects in order to get them thinking about the problem and your solution.

8. How to Choose a Marketing Automation Platform

When deciding on a marketing automation platform, keep in mind what has led to some of the best products and best user experiences. What do the iPhone, salesforce.com, and Pardot all have in common?  The products have a thriving marketplace of apps, allowing customers to customize and enhance the way that the products are used.

9. Plan for a Slow Roll Out

After reviewing this list, you may feel just a tiny bit overwhelmed. Well don’t sweat it, because the beauty of building a lot of these systems is that you can figure out ways to break up your launch into smaller chunks, allowing you to build a program or set of programs, take a breather, do some testing, and then move on to the next block of programs. Turning different aspects on incrementally is how all of the top-dollar marketing automation consulting firms do it, and you can too.

This post originally appeared on the RingLead Blog.

6a00e54ee3905b883301a511c15e16970c-120wiAmanda Nelson is Director of Marketing at RingLead where she leads the content marketing strategy and execution. She has spent the last three years in content marketing and community management at salesforce.com and Radian6, and has a background in account management for interactive and full service advertising agencies. Follow her on Twitter at @amandalnelson.

 


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