Thinking About Adopting Marketing Automation? Here’s a Quick Start Guide

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Marketing Automation

Information Technology network problemChances are, if you’re considering adopting marketing automation, you’re a very busy person. After all, implementing any kind of new technology, whether it’s a small software upgrade or an entirely new platform, involves some level of cost and risk. You wouldn’t do it if you didn’t need to. And the reason you need to is probably because it’s gotten difficult to keep up with the increasing demands on your marketing team.

And since you’re a busy person, you don’t have a lot of time to spend getting your new solution off the ground. That’s why we recently developed a marketing automation quick start guide to help marketing teams of all sizes quickly and efficiently accelerate the return on their marketing automation technology investments. It’s a simple roadmap that will help you prepare your organization get ready to adopt, implement, and turbocharge your marketing solutions.

1. Get Organized

Ducks in a row, one missingFor small and mid-size marketing departments, a few days are usually all it takes to get ready to leverage the power of marketing automation. There’s one secret that will put you on the fast track for success: Simplicity. To get started, you really only need three things in place: data, content, and a plan that plays to your strengths. Build the best campaign you can, with the assets and the prospect lists you have right now. You can build your programs up and out as you learn by doing.

2. Sync with Sales

Woman holding "Sales Read This" signOnce your marketing automation solution is in place, you’ll be generating a larger volume of high quality, sales-ready leads. That’s why it’s important to work with the sales team before, during, and after implementation so you can make sure that sales gets the leads they want. This process should include:

  • Connect your marketing automation and CRM systems
  • Meet with sales to explain the benefits
  • Learn which prospects sales really wants to speak with
  • Agree on a handover process
  • Define a sales follow-up process

You may also want to create a service level agreement (SLA) between sales and marketing in order to make sure leads are getting generated and nurtured at the right pace. (Learn more about the benefits of an SLA, and get an Act-On-SLA Form with step-by-step instructions for creating an SLA that fits the unique needs of your organization.)

3.  Assemble Your High-Performance Team

hGetting the most out of your marketing automation system means getting the right team members involved. Even with a small staff, you will be able to deliver the results of a large marketing department.

Consider Johnathan Cordeau, Director of Marketing for Response Mail Express (RME). Thanks to marketing automation, he was able to produce a 49% increase in monthly lead flow and a 68% decrease in cost-per-lead, all without having to add staff. (Read the case study to learn more about RME’s success.)

To achieve similar results, look for team members in your organization who might be good candidates for managing programs. Don’t have the right mix of people? Missing some key talent? If you want to fill in the blanks for yourself, here are some tips for hiring a marketer. You can also take a look at the many marketing agencies Act-On works with to find one that may be right for you. And check out our own consulting and production services to find the help you need to create assets and manage campaigns.

4. Implement a Pilot Automated Program

rocketOnce you’ve put your essential people and processes in place, it’s time to start automating your programs. At this stage, you’ll start to realize the tremendous power of marketing automation. After all, this technology is what makes it possible to customize your messages based on the behavior of your prospects. The key here, as in all your programs, is simplicity. Keep things simple so you can get up and running quickly and learn what works for you.

For example, you could create a basic nurturing program, which is an automated program that sends a series of emails to a prospect. The series offers a set of progressive messages, which may vary based on the prospect’s interactions with your campaign. Each email is intended to educate, inform, or entertain, and entice the prospect to take a next step. Here’s a guide to creating your first nurturing program.

5. Optimize and Maximize Results

sales forecastOne of marketing automation’s biggest benefits is the ability measure your results. That way, you’ll know whether you hit your goals, and you’ll have data to guide program optimization over time. In fact, 50% of marketing leaders say analytics and reporting is the most valuable feature of a marketing automation system.

When you’re getting started, focus on tactical metrics so you can optimize things like subject lines and calls to action. Over time, monitor campaign and program metrics so that you can demonstrate how your efforts are impacting the bottom line. When your marketing automation system shows how your team contributes to revenue, that’s the most meaningful metric of all. With Act-On, it’s easy to measure what matters.

6. Reap the Rewards

Happy business people high fiving in officeSo how long does it take to deliver a positive return on your investment? For 44% of companies, they achieve a positive ROI within only six months – with a 28% average overall return. But the truth is that it all depends. Here are a few of the factors that will affect your timeline to ROI:

  • The strength of your brand
  • The overall health of your data and lists
  • Your relationship with sales
  • The length and complexity of your sales cycle
  • How much experience you have implementing new technologies
  • Your current level of online marketing activity

Is it hard work? Sometimes. But can it make your life easier in the long run? Absolutely. Plus, marketers who use marketing automation to accelerate leads see some impressive results, including:

  • 451% increase in qualified leads
  • 417% increase in revenue when combined with process
  • 47% larger purchases then non-nurtured leads

MA-quick-start-guide-260x200If you’d like to start seeing those kinds of returns on your marketing efforts, the time is now to get started. Download the Marketing Automation Quick Start Guide to get the tips and advice you need to hit the ground running.