Too often, companies think that by getting a marketing automation tool they will immediately start receiving a huge amount of sales leads and their marketing department is no longer needed. In reality this is very rarely the case.
A marketing automation system is simply a tool, and the results it provides are only as good as its use. To maximize this, both sales and marketing processes must first be redesigned, contents restructured, and new content created. Quite often, a more in-depth knowledge of customers is needed. If you implement a marketing automation tool to an existing process, you simply end up with a tool to send newsletter blasts. However, when the groundwork and implementation is properly implemented, you will have a growth-creation engine.
I believe, over the years, each of us has experienced the different business trends and tools that were believed to lead to huge successes, if only by having the tool or new knowledge. One of the most common of which is likely the CRM program. However, a CRM requires a lot of work for implementation and those who have succeeded; have grain a new strength for their business, but many companies have failed to do this and claim that a CRM is just a waste of time and money.
I see marketing automation programs as being the same. Tools are tools, and they are as good as their use. There are many great examples of the strong results achieved with marketing automation, yet many companies struggle with their own implementation and results.
If you are thinking of buying a marketing automation program, or if you already have, but it is not providing you with the success you expected, analyse the following and make sure everything is in order:
1. Is there a common process for sales and marketing?
It is often said that sales and marketing work together, but talking daily is not enough. It is good for sales and marketing to have common targets, but do they have common processes as well? Are your sales and marketing really aligned? Does sales fully understand the benefits of marketing? Have the sales and marketing teams agreed on what kind of leads are good leads, and set the criteria together? Is there a SLA (service-level agreement) between sales and marketing regarding leads and nurturing? By experience, I can say that, too often, the first answer is yes! Our sales and marketing work together. However, after really starting analyse the reasons the process is not working at its best, the customer realises that these need to be developed.
According to a Marketo and ReachForce study half of the time spent during sales work is on unproductive prospecting, with sales teams ignoring as much as 80% of marketing leads. For both teams, that amounts to a lot of hard work for nothing. So what happens when sales and marketing do work well together? Businesses are 67% better at closing deals.
2. Who oversees or “owns” the marketing automation program?
Is someone in your marketing department responsible for the program? Or maybe someone in your IT department? Make sure that there is a point-person responsible for the tool, and for how to use it. When there is an “owner” who has power to act, things start to happen. An owner wants to succeed. An owner wants to understand how leads are generated and handled at the sales level and will ensure that the goals are reached. An owner will push for development, and raise development issues when needed. An owner wants to succeed.
Also, make sure that a C-level sponsor exists for the project and as support for the owner. Having a C-level understand the marketing automation tool ensures dedication from all parties for the transformation of that new process and the daily activities it requires.
3. Is there a content strategy?
Content strategy could also be called a ‘Content Matrix’ or simply knowing the buying behaviours of your customers and planning your content according to that. When was the last time you interviewed your customers about what kind of information they need during their buying process, and at which stages? A marketing automation tool is strongly based on inbound marketing, but outbound marketing and nurturing leads are also key functionalities. In order to succeed in these, your content must be interesting and easily found in order to help the customer in the defining phase, and in their decision-making.
4. Have you selected your marketing automation tool to best support your business requirements and process?
Again, it is too often that a specific marketing automation tool is chosen because of word-of-mouth, price point, or a good salesperson. To ensure that you can get the most out of your program, first; make sure your marketing and sales are aligned and have a common lead-to-revenue process, and select the tool that supports your process and specific business requirements the best. Gartner or Forrester’s analyses are good to read, and collaborating with independent marketing automation consultants can help you objectively choose the right tool. Even though, at first glance, the programs may seem to be the same – many small details exist that might become big issues in daily practice if you have not paid attention before making your choice. Seek and use objective help.
As a result of systematic groundwork, you will succeed and get the best out of whichever tool you chose. Customers who have done their research before starting their marketing automation project have the best successes and the results speak for themselves. Nortal, (previously known as Element) has executed over 200 marketing automation related projects within the Nordics and Central Europe. Their knowledge is based on this experience.