There is a lot to consider regarding marketing automation and marketing automation platforms (MAP). While an important tool in your marketing strategy, it can be a time consuming and expensive (yet worthwhile) investment and should not be taken on lightly.
Whether you are just starting out in marketing automation, moving to a new platform, or a current user, marketers today are looking for advice to help them get the most out of their MAP.
One important piece of advice to heed when choosing and implementing MAP, can be summed up in one word: SCALE. By that we mean take stock of your current situation (strategic plan, finances, resources, etc.) and start with a MAP that fits your situation and is manageable in size and scope. When you and your team are ready to expand, you can add on more capabilities and features.
Perhaps you were thinking the obvious advice would have been start with “what is the best marketing automation solution?” But that can be tricky. Technology alone isn’t the answer to choosing a MAP. Picking a marketing automation solution purely on capabilities, the proverbial bells & whistles, that you may not ever use or have the resources to manage is a recipe for poor results and a waste of marketing budget.
If you are reviewing marketing automation platforms, it’s easy to be wooed by all the bells and whistles, without seeing the costs and resources required to manage them. Preserve your budget and your team, don’t get caught paying for fancy features that you may not use. Start with a plan. Makes sure you know what your goals are and the resources you have available.
After defining your needs, you can then find a vendor that matches those requirements, without being coerced to buy features you don’t need. The caveat to that is, make sure you can add features on later. Your vendor may even help you plan to scale up as your business and marketing program grows.
Now that you’ve selected your MAP and you’re getting started, what’s next? The same advice holds true: Scale
Campaigns can be complicated; workflows and lead scoring can be very complicated. Remember, success doesn’t need to be complicated. Don’t start complicated and add to stress. A simple campaign, well executed, can be as effective as a complex campaign. Become familiar with the capabilities first, then you can scale up the complexity.
Defining a workflow for your campaign will make sure it is focused prior to the first email being sent. Starting with the initial email, a workflow defines subsequent actions that are based on the recipient’s response, persona, and where they are in the buying cycle and profile. And, they can be very complicated.
When developing your workflow, be realistic about your resources and scale accordingly. To begin, offer content that is already available or easily produced. It is easy to want to offer all kinds of intricate assets, but make sure that your team can realistically produce them. A smaller offering of a few smart, well-targeted assets can be more effective than several mediocre pieces. As your resources expand, you can create more complex workflows and offer more content, remembering that it always needs to provide value to the prospect.
Once your marketing (and sales) team is comfortable with lead scoring, you can step to a more complex model that can be adjusted as you strengthen your lead scoring skills. For example, you could progress to more complex two-dimensional scoring or numeric scoring, which sets a maximum number of points and you determine the minimum amount of points needed to qualify as MQL (for example >75 out of a total of 100 points equals a MQL).
For more on lead scoring best practices, click here
An additional benefit of following the rule of SCALE is by allocating your budget wisely, and not spending it all on an expensive package, you can hire a partner to help implement your marketing automation.
Because of their extensive expertise in both the business and tools side of marketing automation, the right partner can help you strategize, build and launch your campaigns, as well as provide reporting and adjustment recommendations. They can also provide an adoption roadmap, keeping you from trying to do too much while learning a new platform.
Marketing automation is a valuable tool for any marketing strategy, yet feature overload and the tendency to try to do too much too soon can imped success. Using the rule of SCALE will help you save money, use your internal resources more effectively and make getting started less stressful.