Digital evolution of your organization with marketing automation

Published on: April 2, 2019

Digital evolution of your organization with marketing automation

Numerous marketing automation techniques and tools have been used and reviewed in recent years. Yet we still see that only a few organizations are able to implement these techniques correctly and use them for an optimal digital marketing strategy.

A step back in time. Four years ago the following statement went out: the world is ready for marketing automation. However, organizations and marketers lagged behind. Limiting themselves to email drip campaigns and activation flows at product launches. And that's a shame. As an owner, manager, director or CMO, it is possible to develop a digital business development process that will bring all the promised benefits and even bring the accountability of marketing one step closer.

Without pretending that we have found the holy grail, I am convinced that you can lay a solid foundation in a number of steps with marketing automation for a digital evolution of your organization.

Believe in marketing automation

As the driving force, it is good to know and determine what marketing automation is and what it can bring to the organization. Determine which options can add value to your products, services, visibility, and sales. Note: there is no right or wrong, but a clear position will help to get marketing automation to land in the organization. Marketing automation can be limited to firing automated e-mail to fully integrate and digitize the buyer journey of prospects. From adjustments in content based on profile to predictive marketing, driven by an AI-driven Platform (DMP).

In the field, opinions are mixed about marketing automation. All the more reason to set out the definition and frameworks that apply to your organization. What should it bring (awareness or leads), what do we do and what do we not do? Answers to these questions will help your marketers keep focus and work in small steps on the digital marketing organization. In which involvement, support, and understanding from the upper echelon are essential.

The stakeholders

Connection with the target group: an open door for many marketers. Yet most companies forget to connect the most important stakeholders in the marketing automation process. Who are we doing it for? Who will benefit most from all the insights created by marketing automation? Exactly: not the prospect, but the sales department of your organization. Marketers can learn a lot from rituals, methods and the approach to sales. Every sales employee, account manager or business developer can tell how important it is to be relevant at the right time. Then the best deals are closed.

The art of "nurturing" a lead to a paying customer is daily sales. Connecting sales is, therefore, the smartest thing to do when implementing a marketing automation process. Too many marketing automation initiatives failed because "marketing" had no idea what sales were finally waiting for. 350% growth in the number of leads is a hopeless result if sales cannot qualify these leads or, worse, cannot follow them up. Knowledge transfer, but also mutual acceptance and understanding of each other's profession, will directly contribute to a successful rollout of marketing automation activities.

Strategy and tactics

Start by defining a goal, and don't immediately start with a fully comprehensive marketing plan or approach. In all likelihood, various marketing activities are already underway. Let these initiatives go ahead and try to connect the new marketing automation process initially to the "bottom of the funnel". Use a playbook per activity and not a complete plan.

Start small initiatives across different axes to test the processes and results. A low impact on the organization can help with the adoption of the new process, especially if the results turn out well. This approach also makes it easier to immediately stop marketing automation initiatives that do not work or deliver disappointing results.

By gradually connecting marketing automation to the various marketing vehicles, it can ultimately become the cornerstone of your entire program.

Knowledge development

With the introduction of automation, people still remain an important part of the formula. Work will shift from execution to configuration and analysis. This may require other specialists, but still people. Make sure that the right education and training are available. Not only for the use of tooling but also on a strategic and tactical level.

In addition to these basics, connecting with user groups and communities of marketing platforms and tools is a fantastic channel for knowledge development. Be sure to check with your current agencies which knowledge is available and what experiences other customers have with marketing automation. Solutions to your challenges are often right in front of you.

The content monster

Content is still king! A killer first class but ... oh so true. Bill Gates understood more than 20 years ago that relevant content would become the moneymaker of the internet. Now, unfortunately, it is still the biggest bottleneck for many organizations. Generating sufficient content (writing or curating) and displaying it in the right place at the right time remains a huge challenge.

Marketing automation is not going to take this monster away, but it might tame it a bit. By explicitly including content strategy in the marketing automation process, more efficient and targeted content can be developed. By reusing and dealing with existing content in a smarter way, creation becomes a consequence of the marketing process and hopefully less a one-off solution.

The right tooling

The landscape is overgrown with possibilities and solutions. Automation, reporting, dashboarding, analysis, monitoring, curation, you name it. There are several tools that bring the same solution in a different way. To make the best choice, it is wise to decide whether an all-encompassing suite or single purpose solution best fits the level or position of the organization.

If you are at the start of the digital transformation, then it may be wise to use a specific tool in the pilot phase of a marketing automation process that fully matches the goal. A tool without infinite "additional possibilities" that only distract you from putting the basics in order. Are you going to start with a lead generation process through email marketing? Then do not opt for a platform that, in addition to creating automated email flows, can also do content curation, social media tracking, and profile building. Is the organization a bit further in the journey, and are resources available for multiple pilots? Then a marketing suite can be a wise choice.

Make sure you have a process

If you have placed all the building blocks (goals, stakeholders, strategy, tactics, people, content and systems) in place, the next step should be to organize the internal process. A way of working that stimulates but also controls relevance, quality and results.

The process can be a basic checklist, but also complete workflows linked to resource planning. The point is that the tool follows a process, so make sure the human factor can act after this process. There is nothing more annoying than sending multiple emails to the wrong mailing list, which is a waste of your effort and it is spam.

Keep on learning

Through automation and the digitization of many marketing activities, mountains of data are immediately available. These days results can be viewed (almost) in real time. However, practice shows that much of this data remains in the system. If you do not have an AI within those systems, there is a good chance that nothing else will happen to it. Marketers are required to learn the data from the activities. Therefore, include an explicit learning moment in the process. Often this is already part of the process but in my view important enough to be named explicit in this matter.

Do I still have your attention?

Marketing automation can become the cornerstone of your organization, especially if it is supported and supported top down. Pulling open a can of tooling, plugging in the plug and waiting for the leads to roll in is a utopia! On the other hand, it does not have to be a difficult, syrupy exercise where the real benefits remain invisible.

With the above points, every organization can conclude within the foreseeable future whether or not marketing automation is a suitable solution. Start with a number of pilots, pragmatic but well thought out. Accept that some initiatives will fail. And learn from this, so that with the right people and focus, efficiency increases, sales qualified leads will grow and marketing automation makes the life of everyone within your sales and marketing organization - and ultimately also your customers - a lot easier.

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