Marketing automation can transform a company and catalyze growth, but using the software isn’t as easy as it looks in the demos. In fact, 85% of B2B marketers using marketing automation platforms in 2014 feel that they’re not using them to their full potential.1 To get the most out of marketing automation, you need to be ready before you buy. Understanding what processes you should have in place before signing any contracts will save your organization a lot of time and money, so we’ve put together this check-list to help you determine if you’re ready or not.
- Management understands the difference between inbound and outbound marketing and is focused on an inbound approach.
Marketing automation isn’t a tool; it’s an approach. If your management team doesn’t understand and support this foundational perspective on modern marketing, it will be difficult for them to support marketing automation for the long-term.
- Your CRM system is like your kitchen- you’re familiar with it because your organization uses it every day.
While a CRM system is generally considered to be the domain of the sales team, the marketing team should understand it on at least a basic level too. A familiarity with and reliance on your CRM system demonstrates that your organization has enough lead flow to consider marketing automation.
- You’re practically friends with your buyer personas.
Not only have you defined your target personas, but you also actively help leads progress through the customer buying cycle. While being familiar with your prospects and customers is important for any business, understanding the basic “categories” of your strongest prospects is the first step to scaling your marketing with marketing automation software.
- You don’t have to do a quick Google search to brush up on the meanings of “behavioral marketing,” and “TOFU” (Top of Funnel) doesn’t make you think of vegetarian food.
You get it. You understand the fundamentals of inbound marketing and the basics of how marketing automation software works. You’re ready to build on that knowledge and choose a platform. Behavioral marketing is the real key to relevance with marketing automation, and a strong grasp of the sales funnel will be critical for building a successful strategy.
- You’ve got plenty of quality content for leads at various stages of the buying cycle and have the ability to create or pay for additional content as needed, but you need a more effective distribution strategy.
“Right content, right place, right time” should be your marketing mantra. Content marketing is a key element of success with marketing automation, so planning to “figure it out as you go” is not a good idea. When you purchase marketing automation software or services, you want to be able to get started right away so you can realize results as soon as possible. You need to have methods in place for creating content on an ongoing basis or you will be handicapped.
- You’re profitable but want to grow.
Marketing automation is not a quick fix or a short term investment. It takes time, training and dedicated resources. You need to be prepared to do it right or not at all.
- Your sales and marketing teams are technically adept and think cohesively.
It’s important both teams understand how they work together and where each other’s strengths lie. To be efficient and successful, sales and marketing should be working as a team to determine content needs and critical touch points for prospects.
- You’re already using email marketing successfully.
Most companies implementing marketing automation start with the platform’s email marketing feature before they begin to branch out into the other features. So if you aren’t already familiar and comfortable with email marketing, then you’re going to have a much harder time getting started with a marketing automation platform.
But a word of caution here for seasoned email marketers: You’ve probably heard the analogy that marketing automation is like email marketing on steroids. The reality is it’s an entire marketing platform with an extremely powerful email feature. Just because the email feature can do more than any service you’ve been using doesn’t mean you should switch- that sort of thinking will get you an automation platform that amounts to little more than a very expensive ESP.
- Your entire social media strategy is NOT handled by interns (i.e., you take it seriously).
Social strategy is serious business. It should form a key part of your content strategy, and play a vital role in demonstrating your expertise to prospects. The truth is most marketing automation platforms come with social features that are rarely as robust as standalone social platforms out there already – like Hootsuite and Sprout Social. It likely won’t make sense for you to handle social media exclusively through marketing automation, so having it dialed in before implementing marketing automation is a smart approach. This will enable you to keep your content strategy on track while you focus on other, stronger features in the marketing automation platform.
Ready to get started? Our marketing automation mavens are here to help guide you!
1 SiriusDecisions “Increasing Adoption of Marketing Automation Platforms” (2014)