One of the interesting things about working in marketing automation is that there’s never a shortage of new tools being marketed to you. Each one promises better efficiencies, intelligent insights, and improved revenue results. In a market with seemingly limitless problems (and solutions!), how do you prioritize the next step?
Note: this post is for those of us who already have a marketing automation platform, but might not be getting the most out of their investment. If you are currently looking to adopt an automation platform or are thinking about making a change, read How to Grow with Marketing Automation for guidance on selecting the right platform for you.
Today, I’m sharing our favourite three-step process for achieving marketing automation success. We love it so much we based our services around it.
Lay your foundations
Data forms the foundation of your marketing automation. Strip away the purple/blue/orange interfaces and what you have is tables and tables of data. Many of you won’t be starting with a new and empty instance, so many decisions around data have already been made. However, there is always room to improve your data hygiene – cleanliness, completeness, and duplicates.
Why is data so important that it’s number 1 in the process?
Reliable, clean data is what enables you to identify and engage with a prospect, score an MQL, and even ensure legal compliance. Cleaning and normalizing data make it more usable. Fixing broken email addresses immediately adds to your marketable database, returning previously lost leads back into a pool with ROI potential. Bringing consistency to geography and contact fields makes targeting much more effective and less time-consuming. (Shout out to all my fellow marketers who have ever typed the string ‘USA OR U.S.A. OR United States OR United States of America OR America OR USofA OR US OR U.S.’)
#Data is the foundation of #marketingautomation & reliable data is what enables you to identify, target, and engage prospects.Click To Tweet
Duplicate fields and records are even more problematic. There’s something almost insidious about duplicate fields like they exist just to trick you. Nothing is quite as upsetting as realizing you have a duplicate field in your system. That it’s been used in a form, and that none of the data you needed was synced to your CRM.
Duplicate records seem less ‘tricky’ but are no less hazardous to success. Not only are they very costly (database limits anyone?), but having multiple versions of one person or account means we lose the complete picture and sometimes, that means losing the opportunity. Scoring, lead management, consent, and unsubscribe all rely on having one version of a record to function effectively.
This is why we prioritize data and it’s essential for you to do the same. Need help with data cleanup or complex data projects? Learn more on how to leverage your data more effectively.
Engage your Audience
At DemandLab, we’ve engaged with many clients and businesses. Most are organized into reasonably consistent, and logical ways, with marketing, marketing ops, and sales working closely together. What often surprises me is how far the content teams sit from the marketing operations teams. We sometimes have to go three or four layers up the hierarchy to find a common reporting line – on occasion, astonishingly, this common link is the CEO.
As with data, most of us already have some form of content to work with, and some content decisions will have already been made for us. But that’s not to say we can’t make better use of what we have. All content can be more effective if it is properly targeted and refreshed regularly. Even evergreen content can be updated using new design elements, new dates, and contemporary references. Thought leadership pieces can be used for top of funnel engagement, while solutions, product comparisons and, pricing sheets can be reserved for those further down the pipeline.
But, to be truly successful in marketing automation (or just marketing in general), you need good content and a good content strategy. Content strategists start with identifying your ideal customer and distill those qualities down to practical, searchable terms. They then tailor channels and content assets to each of your personas, industry segments, and engagement stages, weaving a narrative that ultimately guides towards a purchase decision.
Marketing ops might lead a horse to water, but it’s content that persuades the most stubborn among us to take a drink.
#MarketingOps might lead a horse to water, but it’s content that persuades the most stubborn among us to take a drink. #contentstrategyClick To Tweet
Our lovely Hayden Jackson recently wrote about how to jump-start your content strategy. Read her much better-written post here which simplifies content strategy and outlines the essential elements needed to build your own.
Divide and Conquer
Finally, we get to the tools and technologies which have promised us less work and more leads (well, at least less work per lead). The theory is that the programming takes our data and content input and pops out qualified, prioritized leads for sales to tackle. Sounds easy, right? This is usually the point in time when we discover marketing and sales don’t agree on what constitutes a qualified lead, or on how they should be prioritized. As it turns out, tools are only as good as the instructions we give them.
Ultimately, successful marketing automation isn’t just about tools, (although tools do make it easier). It’s about strategy and alignment. What your ideal customer looks like determines firmographic scoring; understanding how decisions are made by your target personas buckets them for nurture campaigns, and getting aligned with Sales on MQL means everyone works more efficiently.
Marketing automation helps us divide our databases into smaller, more precise, target markets and allows us to influence and manage each grouping to the next stage. Personas, industry segments, scoring, lead lifecycle, and nurturing, all add up to the ultimate divide and conquer.
This three-step process is no easy task. Each one requires time, strategy and a number of different talents and resources. It’s such a big mountain, it might even start to look like something you are willing to live without. But, remember what we are trying to achieve. This is the work that frees us from the batch and blast treadmill, that enables us to take advantage of the data and computing now available to us, that makes marketing truly automated.
Ready to conquer and need a special forces team? Reach out to find out more about how DemandLab helps bring together your marketing technology, content, and data to drive success.
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