It’s touted all over the internet: Businesses using Marketing Automation software are seeing better success with lead generation. According to a study by VB Insights, four in five users increased their leads by using Marketing Automation software and almost as many (77%) saw an increase in conversions. The problem is, these types of statistics position the tool as the hero. Adopting Marketing Automation software will naturally save time and generate a better return on investment, it seems.
Of course, that’s not entirely true. The tool is only half of the solution. Achieving marketing automation success depends on a number of factors:
Factor One: Knowing Your Buyer’s Journey
The beauty of the Marketing Automation software, is that it allows us to make contact with leads based on their behavior.
Digital touchpoints, such as a visit to a web page, interaction on social media, or an email click, can be used to add leads to drip campaigns. These touchpoints allow us to interpret how far along in the purchase process a lead is. With this knowledge, we can automate our marketing activity so each lead receives the right message, in the right way, at the right time.
So far so good.
However, if your buyer’s journey isn’t fully known, you can’t determine where in the purchase process they are. You don’t know their purchase behavior and, therefore, you can’t align marketing activity accurately. Essentially, you could be putting your time and effort into content, workflows, and emails that could actually alienate or go ignored by your leads because they aren’t relevant to them in that moment.
This is particularly important for those businesses with a long sales cycle. As marketers, it’s essential we know what our typical buyers are likely to be doing twelve… six… two weeks before they make a purchase. It’s the only way to ensure leads are provided with the right information at the right time.
Factor Two: Having a Documented Lead Gen and Nurture Strategy
As with any new technology, there’s a common debate in the marketing industry as to whether Marketing Automation can replace the need for human marketers. I can understand why some might believe this to be the case, modern technology is stated as able to automate 45% of the activities people are paid to carry out.
In the case of Marketing Automation software though, the tool is only as powerful as the lead generation and nurture strategy that is created by those who manage it. To achieve a streamlined and effective Marketing- Automation approach, you need a documented, pre-approved strategy that is easily accessible to both marketing and sales.
This strategy will contain information on your buyer’s journey and how your content and communications will align with that journey. It will outline the automated email workflow you plan to implement. It will also contain your lead scoring model, criteria for marketing-qualified leads and sales-qualified leads, targets and KPIs.
Even more, you’ll need to include internal responsibilities and processes, like who is accountable for ensuring the strategy is implemented correctly and who takes charge of data management and cleansing.
As the old adage goes, failure to plan is planning to fail…
Factor 3: Upskilling/Training All Internal Teams
When we invest in a shiny new tech toy, it can be tempting to jump in and start playing around right away. With the Marketing Automation software though, the initial set up is the most crucial part.
Nothing can make a mess of your software like bad implementation. It can waste your time, your teams’ time, and ultimately make it harder to get that all-important ROI.
Let’s use Pardot as an example. With Pardot, when you first integrate the software with your Salesforce CRM there are best practices that ensure you don’t duplicate data in both systems and cause issues for sales further down the line.
However, taking the time to upskill and train both yourself and any members of staff who will be using the software is the best way to keep everything clean and tidy. Of course, it can feel like a big investment up front to bring in an expert in your chosen software. Nevertheless, it’s an investment that will allow you to better set up, manage and optimize your system.
You’ll avoid easy mistakes and have the ability to focus on getting more sophisticated with your approach, instead of sorting data, tech, or comms issues.
Factor 4: Performing Regular Software Audits
Let’s not forget that your Marketing Automation software is a machine. With any machine, ongoing maintenance is just as important as the initial set up. Consider your laptop, for example.
Without regular clean ups and organization, using your laptop becomes an arduous task. Slow load time, a frozen screen, a million folders to root through before you find that document you urgently need for a meeting in ten minutes… these are all common when we neglect to maintain the system.
It’s a familiar scenario for a Marketing Automation software. A quarterly audit prevents problems before they occur.
Even more than this, a quarterly audit is an opportunity to review strategy and effectiveness too. You don’t need me to tell you that regularly measuring and optimizing is essential to marketing success!
Factor 5: Defining What a MQL Is and Automating the Lead Distribution
In part, this factor loops in with the very first point I made about having a documented lead gen and nurture strategy. Defining a lead is part of that planning process.
Having said that, making sure that marketing and sales have agreed on what a marketing-qualified lead looks like is so important, I’ve made it a success factor in itself.
With Marketing Automation software, we can pre-determine when a lead is qualified and when it is ready for sales contact. The last thing we want, is to send leads to sales prematurely and waste the time of both the salesperson and the lead.
Defining a marketing-qualified and a sales-qualified lead for that matter is crucial to Marketing Automation success. You can also set up criteria to automatically distribute sales-qualified leads for follow up when they fit the profile you had agreed on.
Being able to define and automate in this way leads to higher conversion rates and better ROI — which is the ultimate goal, after all.