Welcome to the second post in our marketing automation series. If you missed the first one – “Top 5 marketing automation mistakes you need to stop making now” – you can view it here .
Marketing Automation opens up a whole world of opportunity to marketers, but with all the features and functions it’s daunting to know where to start. Here’s some guidance to get you up and running smoothly.
Your new Marketing Automation (MA) platform has been integrated and you are primed to start firing out emails, launching campaigns and designing nurture tracks. In our experience, we see two things happen at this point; either marketers try (and fail) and fix all the problems at once, or the sheer level of functionality leaves users paralysed in procrastination. Neither is an optimum outcome for your first few days and weeks with your new system.
So how can you start to get up and running as quickly as possible to make the most of your MA platform?
1) Start with process and structure
You’ll be raring to get your first campaigns up and running, and get those MQLs flowing into the sales team, so this might seem like the most glamorous and exciting place to start. But establishing a solid folder structure from the get-go will stand you in good stead for all your other marketing endeavours. Not only will it make your instance a lot easier to navigate and make it quicker to locate various programmes and content, but it means new team members can jump straight in and make sense of the instance without the need for a lot of background info or training.
Your new, shiny instance may be tidy now, but five years without a folder structure or agreed naming conventions and it will be almost impossible to locate anything. Clean up also becomes a lot more time consuming at that point.
2) Sync to your CRM
One of the biggest benefits of an MA platform is the ability to sync it with your CRM system so that marketing and sales have a single picture of your customer data. Add or update a lead or contact in either system and both systems are updated in near real-time, meaning your sales team are always fully up to date on the status of their leads at any given time.
Most of the big automation and CRM platforms offer native integration, so the setup shouldn’t cause too many headaches, but it requires careful planning and execution across multiple departments within the business.
3) Get your templates in place
This is another area where planning ahead and investing time upfront will pay dividends. Building a set of modular templates that you can edit, reorder and turn on or off various sections takes a chunk of design and development time upfront. But this ultimately arms your team with a set of templates that can be tailored and repeatedly reused for a variety of campaigns.
Your team can pick and choose which sections they require and edit them accordingly, rather than creating a new template every time or squeezing their content into a not quite fit-for-purpose static template.
4) Don’t try and do it all
It’s tempting to dive straight in and start to execute campaigns, exploring all the features your platform has to offer. But starting small is the key to getting it right. Concentrate your efforts on the areas of your lead lifecycle that need the most attention and roll out a pilot campaign from there. Getting good results from a smaller number of programmes will build greater trust in the system throughout the business. This is especially important for the sales team, whose buy-in to marketing initiatives is notoriously hard to gain. It will also demonstrate success higher up the stakeholder ladder and give you more scope to try bigger, more adventurous campaigns in the future.
The best way to build up confidence in your MA platform is to get your hands dirty and use it as often as possible – you can’t beat hands on experience. There are often multiple ways to achieve the same result within your platform and using the system is the only way to figure out the methods and processes that work best for you and your team.
- There are a host of other things on hand to help too:
- Most platform providers offer extensive libraries of free product docs outlining steps on how to set up common processes
- Online forums and user groups where customers can post questions or help fellow users and troubleshoot issues are great for finding one-off solutions to problems
- Scout out free and paid training sessions in your chosen platform to build your knowledge
- Most of the big MA providers offer certifications to demonstrate your proficiency as a user of the platform. These usually take a few months to prepare for and some are only recommended after 6 months+ using the platform. The exams involve a cost, but are a great way to be considered a specialist within your team and the wider marketing community.