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One Weird Trick to Succeed With Marketing Automation

Prepare to be shocked!

Marketing automation can have huge benefits for your company and make your life a lot easier. But only if you put in the hard work first. As marketers, we know how tempting shiny object syndrome can be.

Ever since marketing automation screamed onto the scene five years ago, marketers have been trying just about everything to get it to work for them. Often, a few email blasts are sent out with mixed results. Then, it’s relegated to the “formerly shiny new software” heap.

If you’re one of those marketers who got excited during the demo and reached for the credit card, without a thought as to what kind of goals you should be working toward, relax! We’ve got your back.

The first step on the journey to success is to think of marketing automation is a blank slate: You tell it what to do and something comes out the other end. It’s more work-flow engine than a magical entity that spits out leads.

So then, what’s the big secret to marketing automation success? It’s simple: know what success looks like, then work backwards to achieve it.

OK sure, you say. That sounds cool, but how can I get there? Here are two steps.

1. Define what success looks like

Developing successful processes is easier than you’d think. All you have to do is know what you’re trying to achieve, then work backwards to create processes that will get you there. Put your thinking cap on!

Let’s say you’re setting out achieve the goal of getting new customers, for example. Who doesn’t want more customers? If this is your goal, your next step would be to build a report that shows just how many new customers you gained based on the activities you’re performing, or plan to perform.

From there, you can determine:

  • What are the activities going to consist of? Is it SEO, PPC, content syndication?
  • How often will you perform those activities?
  • Who will be the target of these activities?

With this approach, your efforts will become much more focused. You’ll are operating with the knowledge that revenue dollars from new customers is going to be your number one metric.

If you just work backwards from there, and do a regression on what data points are going to be required to create that report, you’ll be setting yourself up for success. Then, you can work on more advanced tactics, like determining what the opportunity pipeline looks like, what each deal is worth, and most importantly: which individual you’ll be looking to work with on that deal.

2. Design processes to get you there

For us, if we’re talking to our standard prospect, we hear things along the lines of “Well, our sales team just isn’t using contact roles and opportunities.” The question then becomes: who rolled out CRM without teaching them the most important aspects? The data will set you free!

It’s important to remember: an opportunity doesn’t sign a contract, a company doesn’t sign a contact, a person signs a contract. A person performs actions, and for marketing automation to succeed, all of those elements need to be accounted for and measured. Think of it this way: how are you relating that sales opportunity to a particular individual, so you can measure success?

You can take any report and work with it. Even something as simple as Google Analytics, you can see how much traffic is coming to your site. Taken without any context that’s a really a flat, terrible report. But what can make it useful is if you create ways to measure on on your site, based on actions you want people to perform.

What determines a successful visit to your website? Is it a link click, or a user viewing more than one page? Whatever it may be, be sure build those definitions of success into your process. Don’t just roll out a fancy light box widget that works within a form to send out a thank you. If it can’t be managed and tracked, it’s not a conversion.

Bonus tip: Don’t be a victim of your own process

You’d be surprised how many clients we see that are victims of their own processes.

We dealt with one client where over 40% of their business comes in through partner channels. But the way their website is structured, they can’t natively capture which partner channel a given referral came from.

This lead to a huge workaround involving many dollars. Who created this site? If you can’t capture such an important element, you’re dead in the water. Instead, the goal should have been identified, then the process should have been designed around it.

Instead, countless hours were spent cooking up a workaround, after the fact. All it would have taken was someone in the beginning to say, “Hey, our number one priority for this site is capturing which partner submitted a given lead. So, we should pass it into a campaign, then be able to track it from an attribution standpoint.”

But no one was thinking of what success looked like. So now, they are rolling out Marketo, and that requires yet another fix. Even more time and money.

Above all else, know what success looks like before you start down any new path.

At LeadMD, we start every customer engagement with this question: “In six months, what will we all be celebrating?” That’s because we want a unified goal for both us and the client to work toward.

It simply wouldn’t pass muster for us to achieve everything in an SOW, only for the client to not see success because they didn’t get any new leads, for example. If they want to boost new leads, we want to know that at the outset.

Bottom line: Once you know what success looks like, then work backwards to achieve it, you’ll find success with marketing automation. And that’s one thing that no one will hate.

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