More business leaders are making technology decisions for their companies than ever before, and when it comes to marketing solutions, the stakes are high. Marketers are being held to higher standards, as executives demand more quantifiable metrics and data-driven decision-making. If you have been tasked with selecting and implementing a marketing automation solution, here are some common mistakes to avoid.
MISTAKE 1: Thinking Your Data Is All That
Garbage in is garbage out. If your data quality is poor, your marketing automation system’s performance will be poor, too. In our research, we found that most companies rely on incorrect or out-of-date customer data to drive progress within their organizations, and lack an automated, real-time approach to ensuring data quality. Think about where your data is coming from, and how reliable that source is. Is a salesperson or service agent entering customer data? Did you purchase data from a third-party data source?
Also, think about how you make sure your data is accurate. Do you rely on manual data validation, or infrequent cleanses from a data cleansing service? If you are like most companies, data quality is a concern for you, and one that you should address prior to your marketing automation implementation.
Consider integrating a data quality solution or leveraging a data management system (DMS) with extract, transform and load (ETL) capabilities. We found that customers who implement an automated data solution experience improved strategic planning, employee productivity, and shortened sales cycles (Nucleus Research, q225 – Guidebook – Salesforce Data.com, December 2016).
MISTAKE 2: Being Exclusive
You might be tempted to go with your current vendor’s marketing automation solution, but you should think twice before changing your Facebook status to “in a relationship” with your vendor. Think about the unique needs of your business. While part of your vendor’s product suite might be a good fit for your company, are you sure that its marketing automation solution is, as well?
With so much variety in the market today in terms of functionality, usability, target company size, and end user, it is worth doing your homework. Not to mention, many vendors added marketing automation capabilities to their portfolios through acquisition, which means the marketing automation solution in question could have different characteristics than the rest of the vendor’s product suite.
You might think being exclusive with one vendor means seamless integration, too, but sometimes acquisitions are less smoothly integrated than we might hope. Avoid limiting yourself to the vendors you know – your perfect match is out there waiting for you.
MISTAKE 3: Ignoring Integration
Chances are, your marketing automation implementation will involve integration with a CRM system, DMS, social media platform, e-commerce platform, email service provider (ESP), or other productivity-enhancing application. Most marketing automation solutions integrate with leading CRMs and enterprise applications, but you will want to explore partner ecosystems and integration support services.
Some marketing automation solutions are designed to be used in tandem with one vendor and do not integrate with third-party products, so you will want to make sure all of the applications you plan to use integrate out-of-box, and if not, what additional costs can be expected.
MISTAKE 4: Having Eyes That Are Bigger Than Your Stomach
Some companies think they need more functionality than they actually do. One of the biggest money wasters is buying a solution that’s bigger than your needs. Not only is an overperforming solution a waste of money, it can decrease adoption rates and employee productivity, as users become frustrated by the solution’s lack of intuitiveness. Think about your marketing team’s familiarity with marketing automation software.
If you are a small company, your marketing resources might be limited, and your marketing team relatively small. Consider starting with something free and scaling up down the road. Once your marketing team has familiarized itself with marketing automation software, they can help you identify their functionality requirements and make sure you don’t invest in something too basic or too sophisticated.
MISTAKE 5: Underestimating Sales
One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to underestimate the role your sales team can play in making your marketing efforts more profitable. Salespeople already spend 35 percent of their day, on average, running their own marketing campaigns to generate sales.
When they don’t have to run those campaigns by marketing for approval, they can develop 2 to 4 times as many marketing campaigns. This shortens the sales cycle and enables them to make more sales, freeing up marketers to focus on strategic initiatives instead of tedious, ground-level tasks (Nucleus Research, r7 – Quantifying the benefits of micro-marketing, January 2017).
To capitalize on these benefits, introduce your marketing automation solution to your marketing and sales teams alike.
MISTAKE 6: Unleashing a Hurricane
Rather than rolling out your new marketing automation solution to the entire organization at the same time, consider taking a phased approach. Start with a small test group, and give yourself time to work out the kinks. You may be anxious to start seeing returns, but being patient will pay off. When you introduce the solution to a larger group, you will know what pain points to address up front and increase the likelihood of successful adoption.
Like most software implementations, marketing automation will impact the day-to-day activities of a significant number of employees within your company, so you should allot enough time and resources to Change Management, including training and support.
Whatever marketing automation solution you choose, remember that enterprise software is constantly improving. To consider yourself “done” after implementation would be doing your organization a disservice. Most marketing automation solutions are cloud-based and tend to be easier to update, with significantly faster release cadences than on-premise solutions.
While you certainly do not want to overwhelm yourself by updating your solution every day, it is good to know that your solution will be able to evolve with your organization as its needs change and grow, without spending more money.