What determines the success (or failure) of marketing automation? The technological features of a platform are critical, no doubt, but success has a lot more to do with your people and processes than you might think.
Here are four simple questions that will help you evaluate your practices and readiness for marketing automation, and ultimately pave the way for success.
1) Are you prepared to automate?
At the end of the day, marketing automation solutions are only tools. Purchasing and implementing an automation solution — even the best one available — will only provide value if other parts fall into in place.
Obviously, not all pieces of the puzzle need to be perfect, but before you can automate, you need to know a few key bits of information, including “your product’s value proposition, your customer buying cycle, what constitutes a sales-ready lead, and how you want to communicate the status of leads to your sales team.”
Knowing what you hope to achieve with your platform and how you’ll measure ROI will help you assess your readiness for behavioral marketing automation.
2) How effectively are your marketing and sales groups aligned?
SiriusDecisions estimates that prospects only connect with sales when they’ve made it through 60 percent to 70 percent of their buying cycle. This means that both your demand generation and sales teams must clearly understand buyer paths leading to engagement and be fully synchronized around common definitions of an MQL, SAL, and so on. Together, they can act fast to take advantage of those critical moments when buyers are finally ready to connect.
Educating your sales reps to properly use marketing automation data in the sales process is critical for marketing automation success. When reps are aware of a prospect’s past behavior, they can engage in the most effective ways to close a sale.
For example, a rep who doesn’t fully understand a prospect’s engagement path might contact that person and only say, “I see you’ve been all over our website. What are you interested in?” A more insightful rep, on the other hand, will use the prospect’s path information in a much more advantageous way by saying, “I see you’ve been engaging in content around automation software. It looks like you’re trying to figure out how automation might help your business. I would be happy to spend some time with you talking about how our tool could benefit your organization.”
The latter interaction clearly communicates a higher level of confidence and customer service, bettering the rep’s chances of closing the sale.
3) Can you generate enough content?
Marketing automation is a beast that feeds on content, functioning best when it has enough content to lead customers through the sales funnel. Companies that don’t have a “content factory” are sometimes hesitant to move forward with marketing automation, but they shouldn’t be, because there are many ways to repurpose existing content to nourish the system: A white paper can be turned into a series of blog posts; speaking engagement presentations can be uploaded to Slideshare and then shared using social media; Q&As from Webinars can be transformed into blog posts; and more.
If you don’t think you have sufficient internal resources to produce the content you need, consider outsourcing as a cost-effective alternative. You’ll be among 52 percent of marketers who did so in 2013.
4) Do you have the bandwidth for ongoing improvements?
Successful companies continually invest in improving their marketing automation — tweaking and optimizing campaigns to get the best results. Your marketing automation solution will provide insight into prospect behavior and automate lead nurturing, but there’s a manual component. Before you can achieve bottom-line results, be ready to invest in ongoing optimizations, process fine-tuning and content repackaging.
With the right elements in place, marketing automation can help you drive big-time revenue — taking into account that it could take a few months of building programs and tweaking before you see results. Business consulting and technology company TekStream, for example, saw a 200 percent pipeline increase, 105 percent lead conversion boost and 75 percent revenue jump after deploying a new automation strategy.
In the process of adopting marketing automation, it’s natural to quickly jump into a meticulous evaluation of technological platforms. But before doing that, take a close look at your people, processes and interactions. Doing so will affect your marketing automation success much more than you might think.
1) Marketing Automation Ebook: “Best Practices for Marketing Excellence and Operational Efficiency”
2) Tip Sheet: “10 Ways to Make the Case for Marketing Automation”
3) Blog: “Use Marketing Automation to Get Your Email Program Organized”