We love it when clients come to us with plans to implement a marketing automation tool or have a solution already in place. In fact, my last blog post discussed how much more effective PR can become when married with marketing automation. However, we often find that clients are underutilizing their marketing automation investments, or if they're ready to purchase an automation tool, underestimate what is needed to make it effective. Yes – “automation” may be in the name of the software, but implementing and optimizing a marketing automation tool is anything but automated, requiring significant prep work, ongoing content development and constant analysis.
So, here are our top 5 questions to consider before investing in marketing automation software:
1. How big is your marketing database? How is it segmented?
Marketing automation works best when you can deliver content to individuals based on persona and stage in the buyer’s journey. It could seem like a daunting task, but spending time segmenting your existing database accordingly will pay off in the long run. Plus, some platforms charge based on number of contacts, so you’ll want to be sure to weed out poor-fit or poor-quality contacts.
2. A 3-in-1 question about content: 1) What content do you already have? 2) Which personas/decision stages does it apply to? 3) What content needs to be created?
Content drives marketing automation – after all, what good is communicating with prospects if you don’t have anything to say to them? Conduct an audit of existing content to figure out what you can plug into your marketing automation efforts and what will need to be developed. For example, do you have case studies or use cases for each of your personas? If not, that’s a great place to start for prospects that are preparing to make a decision. Below are some content types to consider as you develop personas and content for the buyer’s journey:
3. What features will you actually use?
A client recently confided that he invested in the Cadillac of marketing automation tools, when in reality all he needed was something comparable to, say, what you give your teenager to practice for his driving test. We see this all the time. Marketing automation solutions flaunt some very cool features in terms of analytics, integrations, testing, segmenting and more. But if you don’t have the capacity or need to use all these features, you’re wasting money. For example, will you regularly be testing landing page designs and content? It’s certainly a best practice, and we love seeing the big impact that even small changes can make. But if you don’t have someone invested in making these changes and reviewing and acting on analytics, then landing page A/B testing doesn’t need to be on your list of solution requirements.
4. What will you do with the leads?
First, you need to have a plan for how you will nurture inbound leads. Ask yourself, “how will I follow up when someone downloads content or fills out a contact form? What should the follow up frequency be, and what content will I send?” But you also need to make sure you have someone monitoring these leads, and personally following up when appropriate. Do you have a salesperson who can take responsibility for hot prospects that come in via your marketing automation solution and facilitate incoming demo/estimate requests?
5. Is your website optimized?
Launching an inbound marketing approach and utilizing marketing automation software to execute it is a great way to generate quality leads and move them down the sales funnel, but your website needs to be in great working order first. If it isn’t, it means all of your hard work creating content like targeted emails, blog posts and social media will be wasted. Is your site responsive to all of the devices your visitors might be using? Is your existing content compelling enough to keep people on the site? Is your navigation user-friendly? If the answer to any of these is no, spend some time improving your site before investing in marketing automation.
Marketing automation software is powerful, and the decision to implement a solution should not be rushed. Taking the time to find the right partner will help to ensure you #driveleads effectively. To discuss more considerations, contact us.