Guest Post - STARTING YOUR BUSINESS AUTOMATION PROCESS
From a one-man consultancy to an enterprise-level organization, marketing automation can solve a plethora of sales and marketing challenges.
With so many options popping up over the past few years, it’s more affordable than ever for businesses of every size to streamline their communications and realize better results.
But there is a downside to having so many options, and that comes in figuring out how to choose marketing automation system that’s right for you.
FIRST THINGS FIRST
Do a little preliminary research.
Talk to your colleagues and business network, and you’ll likely hear a different recommendation from each of them about which software you should use. Their insight, however, will shed some light on the systems that stand out, and the systems you might want to steer away from.
Every marketing automation software provider offers its own unique set of tools and features, ranging from email marketing to CRM to lead scoring to social and beyond.
You may be bowled over by one company’s list of features more than another’s, but you don’t want to end up paying for features you will never need or use. Choosing and implementing a marketing automation system should be done with care.
Regardless of the size of your business or the cost of the system, this represents a commitment to a whole new way of managing your sales and marketing. Rush the process and you’ll find yourself with a system that isn’t quite right and doesn’t produce the results you’d hoped for.
Take your time to think things through, however, and you’ll be surprised by the way the right system can revolutionize your business. So where should you start? Read on to find out.
WHAT IS YOUR COMPANY STRATEGY?
Determine your company’s strategy. A common mistake companies make is choosing a marketing automation system and then developing a strategy for how they want to use it.
But how do you know what system meets your needs if you don’t know what your strategy is?
Your MA system should help you achieve your strategic goals, not the other way around.
Put simply: You have to know where you’re going before you know how you’re going to get there.
Gather stakeholders from your sales and marketing teams and create a plan for how you’d like to automate your campaigns and sales processes. Be prepared to ask some serious questions.
Make sure that both sales and marketing are on the same page and are willing to work together in order to ensure the success of the new marketing automation system.
Many times a business will buy an automation system and its full potential is never realized because marketing and sales were never on the same page in the first place when the system was purchased.
Ask questions like:
- What are the company's goals for purchasing the system?
- What are the goals you’d like to accomplish with automation as the marketing team?
- What are the specific increases in revenue you would like to see?
- What are the number of qualified leads you would like to get every month as the sales team?
- What are the tools and processes you need to achieve these goals?
- At what point in the sales funnel does a lead get handed from the marketing team to the sales team?
Dig even deeper.
If your sales department feels that its leads could be more qualified, discuss funnel strategies that can help educate leads and provide better scoring capabilities so your team can focus on hot leads.
Consider the data you have, the data you want and what your segmentation needs are:
- Who exactly are we marketing to?
- Which social media platforms will be the best for our company and the goals we have established?
- Will these platforms be available easiliy through the MAS that we choose?
- How much does the platform charge for their services and will there be extra charges for things like e-mail ability?
Once you have answered some basic questions about your goals and the options you want from a system, it is time to choose which platform is best for your needs.
START YOUR SEARCH FOR THE RIGHT SYSTEM
Once you’ve done a little bit of preliminary research and created your comprehensive strategy, your search for the right marketing automation system becomes easier because you know what tools are needed to meet your needs.
Hop on the learning curve (and get comfortable). Evaluate your options, pricing and do a little digging and find some honest customer testimonials.
Congratulations, you’ve picked a system!
USE YOUR MARKETING AUTOMATION SYSTEM CORRECTLY
Choosing your provider is the first step in the journey of marketing automation, one that never truly ends if you’re doing it right.
You’re probably eager to jump in and start setting up and deploying campaigns immediately, and while most systems are user-friendly enough to figure out some of the basics, use caution.
If you dive in without proper preparation, you’ll be short-changing your company and those strategic goals you’ve defined.
Many MA providers actually require you to purchase some kind of upfront training package to combat the very behavior mentioned above. These systems are complex and powerful; significant results can be realized when they’re implemented correctly and the full suite of tools is used.
Have your team take advantage of the webinars, videos, articles, calls and any other resources offered.
Engage with user groups.
Don’t let one person volunteer to do it all and teach it to others; this should be a team effort.
Start small and keep it up.
As you start to get familiar with the tools, begin by implementing the smaller, easier campaigns and functions you outlined in your initial strategy. This will increase your confidence in working within the system and enable you to test and tweak the setup on a smaller scale.
Use what you’ve learned as you begin to build out more complex campaigns and sequences. If time and resources are truly scarce, consider working with an implementation company or consultant to help you get everything up and running more quickly.
Be sure to find one that’s certified in your MA system—ask your provider if they have a directory of consultants.
The important thing to remember is that you’re never truly “done” with marketing automation.
NEVER STOP LEARNING
Yes, the “set-it-and-forget-it” nature means you will save tons of time and close gaps in your funnel, but the initial implementation is only the beginning.
Evaluate your data regularly to measure effectiveness and optimize your campaigns and processes.
Keep learning—stay abreast of new tools, features and unique ideas.
No matter the size, every business runs into the same challenges: How can I streamline my sales and marketing processes, save time and boost revenue?
Marketing automation can help you solve these problems—if you take the right approach. With some strategic forethought and a carefully developed plan, you could soon see the benefits for yourself.
By Justin Gray
Gray is the CEO of LeadMD. He founded the company with a vision to transform marketing through the use of marketing automation and CRM solutions.