Top 10 things to do in preparation for Marketing Automation

Top 10 things to do in preparation for Marketing Automation


So – you’ve made a plan to get Marketing Automation (MA) technology. Yay! You’ve got the vision, heard about the benefits and researched the options – vendors like Marketo, Eloqua, Hubspot & Pardot.

Implementing MA properly does require a significant effort. The hard work is truly about to begin.

We’ve done over 275 implementations for organisations of all sizes and we’ve identified the key factors that have made installations successful.

In all cases, it comes down to preparation. Marketing Automation is the biggest thing to happen to Marketing in decades. This is not a small shift in the way you’ll do things. This isn’t merely an addition of a new shiny toy to the marketing teams’ toolbox. Done properly, you’ll need to changes business processes, reporting lines and relationships between marketing and rest of the business.

Don’t get me wrong – it IS possible to put Marketing Automation in without a ripple, track opened emails yourself, do lead scoring, pass on more qualified leads more often, track interaction with your social media, report on the results, track the revenue from the leads you’re passing and report back on the effectiveness of all your go-to-market channels … all without informing or involvement from other parts of the businesses.  You can certainly do it without anyone else knowing you’re doing it. But to truly grasp the value for your organisation, you should take a deep breath and educate the entire business. And I mean the entire business – not just sales.

In preparation, there are lots of things you need to do. I’ve tried to put a priority/timeline on the checklist below but really that’s hard ‘cos all organisations are different, have different levels of access to technical teams, and respond faster in some areas.

Now, when you read this list, I know that some of you will roll your eyes and think we’re telling you to suck eggs. But, the installation of Marketing Automation Software is a significant enough activity to make it an excellent time to pause, reflect and review. It’s so important that I’ll say it again – this sort of opportunity to Review, Re-load and Review again the way you do everything is just so awesome that you should take that chance and do it now.


What’s your Pain-chain?

If you don’t understand the value that your solutions/products/services add, or if they aren’t written down – now is a great time to do that. You’ll use this hugely in the later stages to determine priorities for campaigns.

Build Personas. Personas are imaginary people who buy your stuff. We even give ours names (most common is “Alan”, but that’s irrelevant 🙂 ), to truly define them. 

Determine the buying stages. Some people call this the buyer’s journey – what’s your best guess as to where your customers start and end up, and all the stages in-between. Once you’ve mapped out your best guess, then map in reality – go and ask one of your clients!

Develop the ‘perfect’ (imaginary) campaign. Imagine your ‘perfect’ campaign/lead gen activity. Now consider what you’d say to the lead at all the stages in this campaign. This will lead you to the identification of content at all the different drip stages

Develop the perfect dashboard, by role. Consider all the things you want to measure in the future. Then consider all the things you want to share with your peers. Marketing people want to measure the success of their campaigns, the revenue derived and how many campaigns they can execute. Sales Management wants time to lead and qualified lead and lead cycles. CEOs want to know if this is all working and where they’re best allocating their $ to be spent in the future. DO this NOW, before you get stuck too far into the detail – RMS calls this “start with the end in mind” – and you’ll make it.

Setup the internal comms plans. One of the major benefits of MA, when aligned with a CRM, is that Sales and Marketing get to talk more. I would say this ‘old chestnut’ description is so old that it’s passé. MA technology has the ability to blow this right out of the water – and you should be aiming for Marketing to be talking to ALL parts of the business – CEO, Product Management, Professional Services, Office management, and Operations alike – even the Accounting Department! Seriously, if all we’re shooting for is to get Sales and Marketing talking, then we’ve gotten almost nowhere.

Define what MQL -> SAL -> SQL looks like at your organisation. This is significant because these are the hand-over points for leads – it’s the cross-roads/Checkpoint Charlie for things to be passed from marketing to sales, and much like borders between countries, there needs to be processes for things to pass both ways.

Develop the process for how Marketing Automation and your CRM systems (if you have one) should talk.

We have seen significant challenges with one client (you know who you are!) where this was not well-defined. In fact, much of the issue was related to a personality clash. MA does a lot of things soooo much better than most CRM systems – let’s face it, if these CRM systems did this stuff, chances are you wouldn’t be undertaking this exercise. But the definition of roles and responsibilities, and defining which technology should be used for doing what – is vital so that confusion doesn’t set in.

Define the process of how CAMPAIGNs are conceived, nurtured and executed. This is one of the most significant changes in the process of putting MA in. We’ve found that by opening up the process for putting MA into the whole company, there has been great involvement in the conception of campaigns. In the past this was lacking as Marketing was often seen to be choosing where budget is spent, with the perception that marketing drove campaigns best-suited to them, and then passed leads to Sales, who might pick some of them up, with varying results because it just so happens that Sales had its own campaigns running too – and they’re just “so busy”. The adoption of MA is a once in a decade chance to review the process of Campaign Development, and break that cycle. Don’t waste that opportunity.

Content. Yes, you knew it was coming, didn’t you?  You’re going to need content. Lots of it. We have a huge number of ways to develop content, and to unlock your content for you. Ask us how!

  • Look at what others are doing. Consider commenting on their content (that’s a win for both of you and may encourage them to return the favour, increasing your traffic!). Consider the use of Infographics, Inspirations, Google trends and such. It doesn’t *all* have to come from you.
  • Shoot for the development of EBooks, at least 4 per year.
  • Consider putting together a creative development team – you’ll love us for this idea and develop a blog squad culture for varying content based on audience type.

Then there’s some of the creative stuff:

  • Email templates – a package of all the templates you’ll ever need in the first 6 months.
  • Landing page.
  • And much, much more than can be listed here.

Tech requirements. A short document to define what will be required of email (Tech, IT) manager & website manager (dkim/spf, cname, munchkin) and also your CRM manager.

Your campaigns. A list of your next 10 campaigns in defined in the style of a brief.

Your data. If it’s not ship-shape, then it needs to be. A misapprehension exists that you can fix up your data as you go – and your Marketing Automation tool will fix it. Although there’s some truth in this from an operational perspective – there’s a lot you can do NOW to:

  • fix up erroneous data;
  • remove bad data;
  • and, most importantly, add in missing data.

GET SOME HELP ! RMS has a extensive experience doing this stuff. We can help you through the myriad of discussions required. To maximise the impact of MA on your business, you’re going to be asking difficult questions of your peers. You’re going to be redefining business rules and processes. Sometimes, marketing folks find this hard to do, and that’s where an external consultant [that would be RMS] is worth it’s weight in gold.

If you need help, let us know.

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