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3 Things to Consider Before Taking the Marketing Automation Plunge

Marketing automation is awesome. So it only makes sense that marketers get excited and want to make a big splash with their first implementation.

But instead of swimming laps, it’s easy to wind up only sending batch-and blast emails, which with marketing automation’s capabilities is basically just treading water in the shallow end. Then, panic sets in as the easy leads never begin to flow quite like the random guy at the conference told them they would.

We’re all about making good decisions here. So to help you get on the right path before you invest, here are three important things you need to fully consider when choosing and implementing a marketing automation system.

1. Metrics & Measurement & Marketing, Oh My!

Measurement capabilities are one of the most important things to consider when purchasing marketing automation. When used correctly, they will become a solid resource. But, because there is just so much stuff to measure, figuring out where to begin can be difficult.

One of most basic metrics is also one of the most important KPIs: source. Where do the best leads come from and how do they perform?

Then, you can move on to more advanced metrics. Think about how marketing will influence the entire sales pipeline, the entire customer lifecycle, lead quality, etc. Things like:

  • Lead volume
  • Close rate
  • Time to close
  • Cost per close
  • Revenue per new customer

To truly understand the success or failure of these metrics, you’ll first have to have to establish some benchmarks. From there, set some goals you can measure against. Otherwise, you won’t be able to know if you’re maximizing your marketing value.

Don’t just jump in with a “let’s see what happens” mentality. Do that, and 6 or 12 months down the road you’ll only be able to wonder how good your performance has really been, and where you could’ve improved along the way.

2. Never Stop Learning

Your marketing automation platform will run best if your team is educated and empowered. Be sure to budget in time and resources for ongoing training and education. Doing so will set the stage for success not only for you, but your team and your programs.

Companies generally take one of four approaches:

1. Create in-house experts by investing heavily in training
2. Outsource marketing automation to a third-party consultant or specialized agency – probably the best course for those new to marketing automation
3. Use vendor consultants – experts provided by the marketing automation technology vendor
4. Some combination of the above

Take a look at the depth of resources offered by the marketing automation systems you’re looking at. What types training events and resources do they have? Do they have a robust resource center? Hold regular webinars? What about a community—does one exist, and is it active?

These things are vital for success. With marketing automation, there will always be something you’d like to do better, a killer tactic that you’d like to try, or a new campaign idea you’ll want to test.

3. The End Is Only the Beginning

Sounds deep, doesn’t it? I’ve always said to go to wake up in utopia but go to bed in reality. But know this: in cold reality, Implementation is not the finish line.

At this point, the two of the most common mistakes to avoid are:

Haphazard implementation—Woe is the marketer who slaps stuff together without a plan. Would you approach any other marketing activity like that? Guaranteed not. Good implementation requires tons of thought, consideration, planning and strategy. Otherwise, your marketing automation program will become an expensive burden, rather than a sleek vehicle for success.

Set-it-and-forget-it mentality—Marketing automation must be filled and monitored frequently, like a pool in the Arizona summer. Of course all the decisions you make about campaigns, lead scoring or nurture sequences may make sense at the time.As the months pass they’ll often need to be tweaked and adjusted, or even replaced. Like everything in marketing, these elements are dynamic, not static. Successful marketing automation stays current with customer preferences, lead behavior and marketplace trends.

And there you have it — it’s time for you to go forth and take the plunge into marketing automation. It’s nice, warm, and full of massive ROI possibilities. Make a splash!

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