(1) Marketing automation: it’s not all text book

its not all textbook

As almost the last enterprise holdout against automation – long after Finance, of course, and even Sales – Marketing has since the turn of the millennium finally started to seriously adopt a variety of technologies to improve its efficiency, effectiveness and accountability. Having worked in and around marketing automation since before the term was coined (I started off in “database marketing”!), I like to think I have the benefit of a few hard won lessons in that time.

There is no shortage of advice out there on building the case for adopting automation, implementation, sales and marketing integration, lead scoring or building nurture campaigns, so I won’t go back over those here. Instead, here is the first of three lessons I’ve learned from a slightly wider perspective, in no particular order or priority, that you might want to consider before embarking on a marketing automation journey or even if you’re already well on your way.

As a technology product itself, the early adopters of marketing automation were perhaps naturally technology marketers. As such, many of the main solutions are very much orientated around the high value, complex, long sales cycles of enterprise software or high-end technology implementations. Should that describe your business then you’ll fit into the outof the-box marketing automation model very nicely, but otherwise you may need to be prepared to use your imagination and go a little off-piste. Don’t feel that you have to adopt all of the standard, textbook approaches and experiment with alternative tactics.

In my current role at a commercial conferences business, a good example would be lead scoring. This is in itself a key aspect of marketing automation, providing the facility to grade leads and only present to Sales those that meet a certain threshold. This typically involves creating a scoring model that takes into account factors including role, seniority, behaviour and responsiveness. This can be very powerful and is easily manageable in a fairly homogenous product environment. When dealing with nearly a hundred distinct conferences as we do however, the idea of creating that many different lead scoring models doesn’t really stack-up! Another approach may be required…

Similarly, aspects of data management, lead presentation and pipeline handling may all need to be flexed or nuanced as part of your deployment of a marketing automation solution to be appropriate to your business. This will almost certainly take a little extra effort, expertise and investment, but the end result will be a solution that much better meets your needs and avoids the entire implementation sitting unused. (Or just as bad, used as a very expensive email blast tool.)

Check points:
- Avoid being forced into adopting marketing automation approaches that don’t fit your business.

- Be innovative and consider solutions that are more appropriate to your situation. Marketing automation tools can often be adapted in ways that haven’t previously been considered.

- Ask not what you can do for your marketing automation system but what it can do for you. (With apologies to John F Kennedy…)

 

Written by: Simon Daniels, Head of Marketing Operations, Hanson Wade