Marketing Automation is Ready, Are you? Part II

Marketing automation is not the solution, but it is the seed that needs to be watered, fertilized, and nursed in order to become the solution
Marketing Automation Success Factors

While it is reasonable to assume that many of the top marketing automation solutions are comprehensive enough for most small to medium organizations, it would be incorrect to assume that selecting the right marketing automation solution will automatically lead to the desired outcomes. So, what are the success factors (other than selecting the right solution):

Customer Journey
You need to build a detailed mapping of your various customer journeys. Ask your team many questions, for example; what happens when the customer drops out in the middle of the journey, do we take him through a different kind of journey, am I trying to sell a product online or ultimately need to connect the buyer with a sales person, what lead qualifications do we have to apply, what is the meaningful time between each step of the journey and the next one, how frequently should we be sending reminders, when do we know that the customer has lost interest (at least for now) and stop sending messages and how do we know that one customer prefers email and the other prefers or responds better to retargeting on social media. Based on the answers to these questions you can fully map out your customer journeys. These maps are essential to developing the marketing automation flows and granted you will learn later that all journeys can be further tuned, and that your assumptions may not have been spot on but starting your marketing automation project without mapping the journeys is not a good idea.

Implementing marketing automation involves a non-trivial amount of integration work with your website, ecommerce platform, CRM, social media pages etc. Selecting the depth of such integrations is crucial to the future success of the project. For instance, many marketing automation solutions have comprehensive readymade interfaces that work with WordPress or WooCommerce that enables the marketing automation solution to ‘understand’ the navigation history of your website visitors and hence execute your pre-defined actions like showing a popup or retargeting such visitors later on Facebook. On the other hand, a custom-built interface may or may not meet all such requirements.

Culture and Training
Organizational culture and the willingness of your team to take full advantage of new technology will probably be one of the key success factors. A marketing organization that is full of ‘free spirits’ who lack discipline will undoubtedly fail to benefit from a primarily structured solution like marketing automation. While most would expect that user training is key, it is imperative to understand that training and handholding will be an ongoing exercise since marketing automation solutions tend to acquire new features and capabilities at a very high speed.

Analytical Approach
As much as marketing automation relieves your team from many tasks it also creates and accumulates a wealth of actionable information that must be regularly examined and analyzed in order to be able to tweak your setup, do lots of A/B testing, adjust the pre-defined customer journeys, tighten down your lead qualification process, and improve outcomes.

Setting Expectations
Just like ERP, marketing automation implementation and roll out may be exhaustive but it is important to understand that once the implementation is declared ‘complete’ a new journey begins, one that may be less exhaustive but more exhilarating, it is a journey of discovery, learning, A/B testing and tweaking. This new journey does not have a finish line so get ready for continuous improvement via analyzing and acting on the wealth of intelligent reports and queries offered by marketing automation.

Your Best People
Marketing automation is where your best people should be engaged, those who deeply understand your messaging hierarchy, customer journeys and analytics. Do not hesitate to assign your best people to this project as they are the ones that can bring it to life.

The Role of External Agencies
There is no shortage of great, not so great agencies and consulting firms that can help you with your project, but many agencies will a) want you to develop a perpetual dependency on them and b) strongly advise you to keep everything very centralized so that they can manage your account by working with a few people in your headquarters. Whether these are right for you or not is something you are going to have to decide for yourself. It is highly recommended that you talk with your peers in similar organizations and learn from their experiences before you make your agency choice and keep the two points above in mind while selecting your potential agencies or consulting firms.

Strategic Fit
In closing it is important to understand that missing on any of these success factors is often a sure recipe for failure. So, if you feel your website is not in order. your organization is only interested in a quick fix, lacks the skills or isn’t accustomed to follow a discipline you may want to work on these areas first.

In closing, do make sure to choose the time and the team most suitable to make this work.

Read Part I