For many marketing organizations, a marketing automation project involves being shown a fully-functioning email marketing, lead nurturing and development system, with very little emphasis on what is truly needed to prepare for it.
Here are five basic requirements that should be fulfilled before embarking on a marketing automation implementation.
Mapping out your current communication touch points to your subscribers, along with desired areas of expansion for the future, including any impacts to your current production process.
Marketing automation is actually more about the efficient and timely distribution of content than it is about making life easier for the marketing team. If anything, it will require an increased effort from your marketing team (design, copywriting, approving). The good news is that content can certainly be re-purposed for use across lead generation campaigns, nurturing, web marketing and social media. However, the production process will likely be slightly different for each one.
Some companies have been led to believe that marketing automation tools somehow automate the content creation process, when in reality they automate the communication and publishing process. This usually means that more content is needed (not less), so really plan out how that will affect your team and processes.
Work with sales on identifying communication gaps in your lead funnel to determine opportunities to apply automation.
Because most companies already do email marketing, marketing automation tools - with their fancy bells and whistles - practically sell themselves. This makes them easy to justify, but without a set of programs already defined, the implementation will fall short of executive expectations. For this reason, knowing exactly how you plan to utilize automated communications (and what communications problems/gaps will it address) is an important step that must be taken early in the planning process.
If you are unsure of where to start, take a look at your inside sales representatives who do prospecting on behalf of your company. What emails are they sending in between calls? There’s no reason not to start with developing a program based on what they are already doing. That type of program could even be plain text or rich text, rather than HTML, providing a great first campaign for learning a new marketing automation tool.
Work with your sales team to identify different buyer types and buying lifecycles, and discuss with them what types of information is helpful to the buying process at each stage, and for each type. A better understanding of these elements will be critical in automating the communication flow so that the right information is delivered at the right pace/time.