Why you need a marketing automation strategy

Too often, we see marketers implementing marketing automation platforms without really thinking through the marketing automation strategy and the impact on the business.

In most cases, it’s simply time – there’s an urgency to get going with the set-up and transfer of data into the new platform to ensure lead volumes aren’t lost.  But that’s like putting the cart before the horse, you don’t necessarily know what you need and why you need it – therefore the set-up can easily be incorrect, missing vital features or not aligned with the way the business is structured and organised.

The risk is that you end up with a glorified email dispatch and website tracking platform, where you’re not reaping the value of your investment – and you still can’t answer the big questions about revenue contribution or funnel performance that you thought you’d be able to.

As with most strategic investments, you need to take a step back and think about:

  • What is the strategic imperative for success from this platform?
  • Who are the key stakeholders who need to use or get value from it?
  • How will this platform integrate with our current processes – will it enhance them or supplement them?
  • What new processes or change will this bring?
  • How do we manage that change within our organisation and across our teams?
  • What is our roadmap for success?
  • How do we train and engage the relevant parties?

Even if you’re already on the path and have implemented your marketing automation platform you can always revisit these questions. In this post, I’ll cover them off in turn.

What is the strategic imperative for success from this platform?

Buying a marketing automation platform is a big investment, both in time and money.  At a high level, not only do you have the capability to do more, you need to feed the machine as well with cycles of content and communications to maximise the value.

But having a big old platform isn’t just about automating what the marketing team does on a day-to-day basis, it allows for better connectivity into the CRM and therefore into the business.  This enables more complex reporting methodologies, greater visibility and better control across disparate teams – especially if digital transformation and global alignment are key initiatives.

Who are the key stakeholders who need to use or get value from it?

There are always the obvious parties, such as marketers who will value a marketing automation platform. For them, it gives them greater control to create and produce marketing activities quickly without input from IT, as well as track performance more easily.

But there are other less obvious stakeholders too, such as the senior management team (SMT) looking to see gained efficiencies, better visibility and a return on their investment.

More often than not, new stakeholders join the party too. The implementation of such a platform brings outside support, and once implemented and teams are excelling, there’s scope to extend to business analysis teams and/or marketing analysts.

How will this platform integrate with our current processes – will it enhance them or supplement them?

The introduction of a new platform is often about transparency, consolidation, integration, security and/or control. When one of these changes, each brings new ways of working. In some instances, processes will be adapted or changed, and in others new processes created. Understanding the business impact from the introduction of a new systems is critical to the strategy.

The best and most practical way to start is look at the functionality of the platform and map existing processes to it, then evaluate what processes need to change, what new ones you need and how these might be implemented both from a technical point of view, but also from a behavioural perspective.

What new processes or change will this bring?

New platforms bring change. People need to learn the system, adapt or refine their processes and the way they work. Not everyone is up for that and often we see barriers, even though the benefit is obvious in the long term.

Start by looking at internal processes that will be transferred, or changed, by the system and evaluate the impact that might have. Then also look at the new processes needed to administer the system on a day-to-day basis.

Most people are happy to incorporate new ways of working if they can see the obvious value, but if they have to change what they do massively, then you’re asking for significant amount of learning – and some people won’t be up for it.

Consider the impact on your team of the solution you choose, how they adapt to change and how you might manage that change moving forward.

How do we manage that change within the organisation and across the teams?

Inherently, people don’t like change, but by getting them involved in the process it can often manage expectations and get early buy-in. Individual personalities and the organisational culture will also impact the success of the implementation, ease of onboarding and user adoption.

We’ve mentioned the need to identify and map the processes that might change, new processes coming in and then apply a governance model. We’d also strongly recommend an educational programme that helps stakeholders understand what’s going on, involves them in the thinking and provides a learning environment to develop and succeed with adopting the technology.

How do deliver a roadmap for success?

With all technology implementations, there’s a roadmap for success. Clear planning of intended outcomes, mapped out over time help provides the visibility needed for the business, management and key stakeholders who will benefit from the implementation.

Bringing the relevant stakeholders on board to ensure that the roll-out isn’t delayed is a critical path – especially since a marketing automation platform is so closely aligned with business systems including the CRM and business analytics systems.  That roadmap should be well thought through within your strategy and have the buy-in from information services, digital teams and management.

How do we train the relevant parties?

You won’t be successful without training and therefore it needs to be incorporated into the adoption strategy. The training should take different formats, including in-house training, one-to-one support, certifications from the vendor and an internal champion or advocacy programme. Thinking this through now will accelerate the success of the implementation and increase user adoption.

For now, these are the high-level strategic drivers behind the marketing automation strategy. There’s the deeper level too relating to how the demand generation will work, the role of lead management and how digital reporting will change – but this more about the implementation strategy and is unique to each and every business.

We’ll happily help shape your marketing automation strategy, why not talk to us today?

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