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Why Isn’t Marketing Automation More Automatic?

Written on
Aug 12, 2011 
Author
Justin Gray  |

ADOTAS – What’s in a name? If you are talking about Marketing Automation (MA), the name equates to a lot of confusion. MA indicates a technology solution that’s as easy as “set it and forget it.” But, the industry is still finding itself and the term “revenue performance management” might be better suited to take over the category.

The truth is that MA represents an opportunity and the technology is simply the vehicle. It lets you use customer data to systematically deliver messages in a way that is meaningful, and will help drive customers to respond and act on marketing campaigns.

But, is it truly automatic? Not entirely. Here’s a look at how to make your company’s MA as automatic as possible and how to get the most out of your platform.

Customize Content for Specific Customers

Your buyers are unique and want different things. If you’re cranking out content and delivering the same stuff to every single prospect, you’re missing the boat. Buyers don’t want to be piled with more content that doesn’t matter to their interests.

If you are willing to put in some up-front time, your MA software can help you automate the delivery of unique content to each of your unique buyers. What’s up-front time look like? Segregating your buyers into categories and possibly creating content for each of them.

You may be pleasantly surprised to learn that you already have good content to segregate and share. Once you have clearly aggregated buyer groups, specific messaging and unique content for each, then creating new content and marketing to them starts to churn like clockwork.

Have the Skill Set, Not Just the Software

Marketing automation is currently a software sale, not a skill set sale. Your MA sales person didn’t ask if your organization has the expertise to leverage and integrate the platform. They sold you a piece of software, but it’s up to you to ensure you can make it sing.

How? One way is to make sure you have the right skills on staff that can properly devise a plan and best practices so your software purchase doesn’t turn out to be a waste of money, or worse, a black eye on your brands’ reputation by way of inappropriate usage.

It sounds elementary, but in order to get more out of your MA system, you have to collect data and prepare. Start by knowing campaign details such as lead scoring and nurturing, what your funnel looks like (including main point of entry, calls to action, follow up), as well as specifics of your revenue cycle.

To get your MA platform to drive without getting lost, you have to give it a map, which only the right people with the right skill set can do. If your marketing team doesn’t already posses this knowledge base, or is spread too thin to learn, consider outsourcing as you would other pieces of marketing.

Educate and Embrace Community

A “must” when it comes to making MA more automatic is to continually learn about your platform. With a solid education about MA, you’re not “guessing” anymore – you know what you need to leverage the system. Without understanding the best practices, you may find yourself with another tool that’s causing you more pain than anything.

Make sure everyone who touches MA in your organization has the baseline knowledge to make it work. Take advantage of the significant amount of educational information available, hold internal workshops and share information on best practices as you find it. Most important, embrace the community that your MA vendor has created. There’s no better way to advance your MA programs than to learn from those who have already done it.

This educational piece will also shed light on program holes that may exist. For instance, you may learn that you need more content to make the MA campaigns effective, causing you to hire someone or outsource to a firm that can take this piece. You may discover that your CRM hasn’t integrated properly with your MA software or you could find that the bridge between your sales and marketing could use some fixing.

Let Go of the Baggage

It may not sound like a tangible “to do” but it’s true – when you are implementing a technology, particularly one that that’s still in the early adopter phase – you have to let go of the ego. You must be willing to consider that what you’ve done in the past isn’t what you should do in the future.

Start by looking at your most important conversion point. How do things like lead scoring and lead nurturing impact your business? Figure out what’s truly significant, map out what you have done to date and what the pitfalls have been, so that you can figure out how to go forward successfully.

It’s Not Automatic, But It’s Getting Closer

Marketing isn’t meant to be a “set it and forget it” business. It’s got to be nimble and considerate. But, there are steps you can take to help your MA investment do as much as possible. Start with a solid plan. Get the right resources to support that plan, including the right people.

Make sure they are educated and that your vendor has a community of experts that can help guide you. And, last, but not least, leave the ego at the door so you are open to finding a new path. Do so and your marketing won’t be wholly automatic, but it will boost your bottom line and become an integral part of your growth.





Justin Gray is the CEO of LeadMD, the specialist in marketing automation services. He founded the company in 2009 with the vision of transforming traditional “grassroots” marketing efforts through the use of marketing automation and CRM solutions. With 13 years of experience in the industry, Gray has seen the potential for growth in this space and the willingness mid-size companies have to join the SaaS revolution as it pertains to their marketing processes. Gray has formed of a true Marketing-as-a-Service corporation, which specializes in outsourcing the core functions of a marketing department either through on-demand solutions, consulting or both. Since that time Gray has emerged as a strong voice for marketing automation and the content marketing industry.

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