Marketing Automation: Your First 5 Steps to Get Started

Marketing automation is no longer a luxury that is reserved for the largest companies. Startups and microbusinesses need to take advantage of this as well. Here’s why.

Insight: Businesses need to deliver relevant and personalised communications to take their target buyers from awareness to action.

Data: McKinsey Global Institute notes that across industries, over 30% of the tasks that make up 60% of today’s jobs can potentially be automated.

Key Action Point: Use marketing automation to scale outreach and conversions without scaling expenses alongside them.

Regardless of the size of your company or the scale of your needs, here are the best practices to get started implementing marketing automation into your martech stack.

  1. Know Your Goals
  2. Identify the Marketing Activities You Want to Automate
  3. Get C-Suite Buy-In
  4. Research What Platform Works Best for Your Needs
  5. Test, Optimise, Improve

 

Know Your Goals

The first step of implementing a proper marketing automation program is to understand why it is being implemented.

You must set the proper KPIs in order to ensure that its automation efforts measure the relevant data.

 

The first step of implementing a proper marketing automation program is to understand why it is being implemented.
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Knowing your goals is also a great way to ensure that the chief decision makers in your company go along with automation as well. Marketing automation has the ability to bolster your resource management, social marketing, lead management, email marketing and analytics, among many other things. It is usually best to pick one or two of these as an initial goal and focus on them at first.

If you are unsure of the specific goals to focus on and present to the C-suite, start by focusing on a metric.

Is the business less efficient than it could be in certain areas because people do not have time to focus on their core competencies?

Is the business falling behind because of a knowledge gap in R&D or industry research?

Does the business suffer from revenue bottlenecks?

Focusing on time, research or money will usually direct your efforts to the KPIs that are most relevant to your company, which will determine how to best direct your marketing automation efforts.

 

Identify the Marketing Activities You Want to Automate

Big picture goals must be drilled down into individual marketing activities in order to be most effective. Now that the company has a direction, it can focus on specific functions.

The effects of marketing automation are cross-departmental in nature, and it is easier to include all department heads from the beginning of the process.

Keep in mind that automating one marketing activity will likely affect other marketing activities as well. If your company creates a more effective lead generation process, then your conversion rates will likely be higher.

What is most important is that you analyse what is working and what is not. With automation in place, your company will have the ability to continuously improve its processes.

 

With automation in place, your company will have the ability to continuously improve its processes.
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Get C-Suite Buy-In

Because automation requires the implementation of fairly sophisticated systems into a company’s infrastructure, the blessing for it usually comes from the top and trickles down.

One of the best ways to sell marketing automation to the executive suite is to showcase the quantitative value that automation adds to every other element of the marketing and sales process.

 

To sell marketing automation to the C-suite, showcase the quantitative value that automation adds to every other element of the marketing and sales process. 
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C-suite executives outside of the marketing discipline often see marketing as a “gut instinct” discipline that relies on personal talent or sheer luck in order to succeed.

Marketing automation takes the guesswork away from the marketing process.

Statistics show that buyers are committing themselves to a more quantitative process throughout the sales funnel.

Modern buyers are also engaged in a much longer funnel, on average. The customer-centric world of today puts the power squarely in their hands, and companies must have the structure to study the audience.

Marketing automation also helps to put companies in the right place at the right time. It is easier to tell when a prospect is ready to buy using freely available data.

Automation can be the tool that puts a company in front of that prospect at the right moment, improving the chances of a conversion. The chance of that conversion can also be measured. All of these points are measurable and easily presentable, and this will be helpful in reporting the results to the C-suites or Board.

In general, the C-suite understands more leads in the pipeline, higher productivity on the sales floor and an upward trend in revenues. Do not focus on technical features of marketing automation. Do not talk to your executive suite about Facebook likes, retweets and website hits. Explain to your decision makers how those features and statistics will positively affect the key performance metrics that your company is most interested in. Tap into their appreciation for data and metrics, and how this ties into revenue, growth and profit.

As a secondary measure, you might present the fact that marketing automation is being implemented with greater numbers across the board. 51% of companies are currently using marketing automation technology. The industry is growing at a 30% clip year over year. More than 50% of marketers think that the industry as a whole is outpacing their company’s use of marketing automation.

Recommended reading: Reporting on Digital Performance to the Board

 

Research What Platform Works Best for Your Needs

Different marketing automation platforms work for different goals. Some are geared towards the beginning of the sales funnel, and others are made to analyse the endgame.

Take a look at the aspects of your marketing that each platform advertises. Look over the client lists of these platforms and use free analytics platforms like Spyfu to see if these programs have made a difference.

Keep in mind that no matter what platform you choose for what reason, you should give it anywhere from six to 12 months to take effect. You will be able to see changes internally almost immediately when you have the right platform in place — efficiency should improve, and your employees should find their time more open for their core competencies.

However, your key metrics may not change significantly for six months or so. There is simply too much competition for any program, no matter how powerful, to guarantee a breakthrough in a short period of time.

Any platform that guarantees this may be using methods that will get your website blocked on the major search engines or targeted by regulations. This is especially important to consider if you are doing business internationally.

 

Test, Optimise, Improve

Marketing automation brings with it a philosophy of continuous improvement. Continuous improvement means that the company is constantly learning with each new data point it gathers.

With the right automation in place, big data becomes a consistent feeder for tweaks in the marketing program.

 

Marketing Automation Is All about the Customer

At its core, marketing automation is always a customer-facing improvement. Regardless of the aspects of business you are focusing on, your end goal should always be targeting more relevant prospects and offering them value in a more efficient way.

Remember the most important reasons to implement marketing automation into your infrastructure: boosting efficiency, creating targeted communications, improving data collection efforts, reducing lead conversion time, and improving sales KPIs.

The return that you get on your time, sales efforts, and infrastructure should go up as well.

The technology of marketing automation is always changing, so keep your ear to the street for upgrades. By definition, automation is made to accelerate business. If your business is to stay ahead of the curve, then you must stay abreast of the latest technologies being created in this sector.

 

Should you adopt marketing automation in your business? Read about the reasons  why you should.

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