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Best Practices for Marketing Automation

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by: Ellen Valentine (@EllenValentine)
12 April 2012

Last fall, my colleague Loren McDonald outlined a modern framework for email marketing best practices. His article provides a robust road map for examining all your email strategies and techniques. My new eBook, “Best Practices for Marketing Excellence and Operational Efficiency,” builds on Loren’s approach and expands the scope to all aspects of B2B marketing automation. Within the guide, you’ll find comprehensive sections on landing pages and data collection, data management and integration, programs and campaign automation, scoring and routing, and reporting and analytics.

There’s also a section on email best practices. You’ll see many similarities with Loren’s article, but each of the recommendations has been reviewed and tailored for modern B2B email. This means that some practices are identical, some are brand new and some are slightly modified.

Some may ask why email is even discussed within an eBook on marketing automation. The answer is that email is still the core activity and central enabler of successful digital marketing. Without an effective email capability embedded within your marketing automation solution, you’ll be relegated to voice mail and in-person conversations. That’s why a comprehensive look at email best practices within the construct of your marketing automation program is provided in the eBook.

As you’re adopting various aspects of marketing automation, there are a few general guidelines that I recommend adhering to, which I discuss in the eBook introduction:

1) Assess the impact marketing automation could have for your company. Review all the capabilities and benefits that a marketing automation solution has to offer, and develop a preliminary road map of which aspects you’re going to implement and in which order.

2) Evaluate impact to processes and workflow. To successfully implement certain aspects of marketing automation, such as developing new ways to track and manage accounts in the sales funnel, you’ll need to get the demand generation team in alignment, which may take time. Others tactics, such as using landing pages, personalization and dynamic content, require less discussion and collaboration with other departments. Keep these considerations in mind as you’re determining where to focus.

3) Start with a few key features and gradually grow in sophistication over time. While marketing automation can drive a wide array of business optimizations, adopting them all at once could overwhelm your team and push out the time to launch and in turn require accompanying process changes. It may be wise to postpone implementing key sections of the software as you focus on increasing the efficiencies and effectiveness of other facets of your marketing automation installation.

To help guide you through the process, the eBook looks at each aspect of marketing automation and provides a series of suggestions broken down into foundational principles, recommended practices and better practices.

The eBook is designed to be a workbook that allows you to think, plan and record your progress in adapting to modern B2B approaches. Use the worksheets and logs to document what you’re doing and how you’d like to improve. Review each practice to see if it’s applicable to your environment, if you’re currently conforming to the approach and if it’s a recommendation you plan to implement. When used rigorously, the eBook should provide a practical road map to allow you to achieve excellence in B2B marketing automation.

As we all know, marketing automation is rapidly changing. New techniques are being developed and new technologies are continuously being introduced. Over time, this guide will be updated as implementation recommendations mature and foundational principles and practices emerge. It’s my hope that the eBook will serve as a road map to help you improve your capabilities, communicate marketing automation practices to your management team and increase your effectiveness.

As you dig into the eBook, please let us know your thoughts. Are there any other major categories to be considered? Additional practices to be added? And has this guide provided a useful road map for your organization? We’ll take your feedback into account as we update the eBook in the future.

Related Resources:
1) eBook: “Best Practices for Marketing Excellence and Operational Efficiency
2) Blog post: “The New Normal
3) White paper: “How Marketing Automation Improves Efficiency and the Buyer Experience


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