Marketing Automation implementation: are you prepared?

Some ideas from the Marketing Nation Summit 2015 in San Francisco. In the practical part of the Marketing Nation Summit 2015 medium-sized and large enterprises shared their experience with the implementation of marketing automation platforms. Let me highlight a few points that were of particular importance to many users.

7 Marketing Automation implementation tips

Provide enough resources for change management

When introducing marketing automation in your company, it is not sufficient to simply set up the software and adapt it to your needs. Marketing automation requires change management in your organization. In other words, responsibilities need to be redefined, and training and coaching becomes essential.

Often, when there is a lack of qualification within the team, some “outside assistance” is a good option to bridge bottlenecks on a short-term or even long-term basis. The implementation of marketing automation always goes hand in hand with an investment in internal and external resources. It is recommended to budget for these costs in a timely manner, so that you don’t have to stop halfway through. Similarly you should include budget approval timeframes in your project planning in order to avoid unexpected delays which can occur very rapidly.

Ensure and monitor data quality

In fact, the effort and cost required for regular data quality monitoring is often underestimated. Therefore it is advisable to appoint a data analyst who ensures that data imports follow predefined rules and naming conventions, duplicates are regularly synchronized (through upload or from the CRM system), invalid email addresses get additional qualification, and, where applicable, incomplete data fields are supplemented with external data sources, nurturing programs or qualification by telephone.
If no one really feels responsible for the quality of your database, this will lead to declining delivery rates, faulty assignments to target segments, and finally, unsatisfactory campaign and nurturing program results.

Manage expectations and have patience

Success with your marketing automation platform does not happen overnight. In the first year of implementation do not expect more than simply being able to successfully execute campaigns through the marketing automation platform. In the second year you can already deal with a number of MQLs (Marketing Qualified Leads) and from the third year on, marketing’s revenue share becomes visible.

This is because you need to build opt-in lists, implement and optimize processes and clean your data, which all cost time and lead to no obvious or immediate results. “Please don’t ever tell me again that implementing marketing automation is an easy and quick exercise!“, that was the unanimous user feedback to product suppliers, while at the same time they were asking to promote understanding on the part of executive management, who would rather see a significant marketing-influenced increase in sales within a few months.

Specify central templates for regional use

The scaling factor of central templates for the regional deployment of a marketing automation platform is all too often undervalued. A simple training does not suffice here. But through a number of central templates you not only ensure consistent branding, but also facilitate the platform use considerably, mainly because the mere adaptation of these templates puts regional marketing managers to the test, especially, when they are not used to working with CRM or ERP software. In the beginning, the creation of your own campaigns can be overwhelming. Providing these templates as an “option” for the regions has proven quite successful. They can choose, translate, adapt and send out whenever it makes sense for them. The regional marketing manager fully controls target group and send-out, while central marketing retains full control over content and design.

Make sure to exchange ideas internally

Platforms like Yammer are ideal for exchanging ideas among or between teams, and in addition they serve as distribution channel for information on new functionalities and templates. Through the exchange, one gets a good overview on who is a specialist on a particular topic and can possibly support with expertise and new ideas. Many benefit from expert advice and templates made available through this channel.

A/B testing

The perceived effects of design and text in marketing normally are quite subjective, therefore you get as many different opinions on an email template as you have members on your team. Objective assessments are only possible with A/B testing. You should test the subject line and email text, but also the position and number of buttons and forms. Often users are prepared to submit a lot of information in return for compelling content, but sometimes they’re not.

A button for instance, might be well used above the text, or even below, if the context necessitates it. Sometimes it is good to have several calls-to-action to allow for prospect segmentation, sometimes one single activity is more effective.

All of this can be assessed through testing. Many marketing automation platforms include standard functionalities allowing to relatively simply build and evaluate such tests (e.g.: Marketo or Oracle). It is important though to have a minimum amount of data to draw any meaningful conclusions. A/B testing makes little sense, if your overall target group is less than 1,000 contacts.

Great content: “Educate & Entertain“

As the boundaries between work and private life are gradually disappearing, marketing with its messaging competes for their target person’s attention not only from 9 to 5, but also outside these times. Consequently, if you want to reach your potential customers permanently, you need to make sure they feel the relevance for their core business and receive added value when reading the subject line of your email message. Particularly suitable is content, which is educating and entertaining at the same time. Inspiration can be drawn from marketing automation suppliers or content management platforms who perform exemplary content marketing.

Our experts will gladly assist you with the implementation of marketing automation in your company. We share our customer experience and help you apply best practices. Our approach enables you to avoid the typical stumbling blocks, save unnecessary detours and to quickly achieve your true objective: Make marketing’s revenue share visible and measurable.