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Personalised Marketing, Marketing

Marketing automation – nobody said it was easy

Written by Jason Groom
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Originally published
May 14 2015,
updated
July 13 2020

I doubt Chris Martin, or any of the Coldplay crew for that matter, knows much about marketing automation. It’s unlikely then that that’s what he had in mind in The Scientist when he sang,

“Nobody said it was easy
No one ever said it would be this hard
Oh take me back to the start
I was just guessing at numbers and figures…”

But he could easily have been. Any marketer that has ever embarked on a technology project will understand that longing to rewind and the lament “if I knew then what I know now…”. While we can’t promise an entirely fool-proof and stress-free experience if you decide to bring automation in-house rather than outsource, these 7 top tips should help make it slightly less tortuous!

1. Plan
Obvious but often overlooked, having a project plan is not just recommended but ESSENTIAL. It needs to:

  • Support your overall marketing plan
  • Consider cost, functionality, timescales and risk
  • Cover people, processes and existing systems.

It’s said that the major reason for the failure of an IT project is poor planning. Even more sobering is research from The Standish Group which indicates 52.7% of projects will cost 189% of their original estimate!

2. Decide
Identify which technology best fits your needs, your resource and skillsets. With literally hundreds of applications out there (installed and cloud-based) that’s a daunting task. Capterra is a good place to start and, as it allows you to filter by the features that you need, can help you come up with a shortlist to evaluate.

3. Prepare
MA is not a panacea. It won’t repair or mask poor processes and, in fact, will highlight poor, inaccurate or incomplete data. Remember the old adage “garbage in, garbage out”? Yep, that applies here too. You’ll probably need to bring data together from various sources across the organisation to make sense of the behavioural, online and sales information that you have. Gaps will have to be filled to ensure complete records and to create intelligence from raw information. Seek help from a professional data expert to append, cleanse and generally knock it in to shape.

4. Communicate
Effective communication is key to getting all stakeholders within the organisation on board. Make sure they recognise the enormity of the project but, even more importantly, the benefits it will deliver.
Work with your sales and product teams along with other stakeholders throughout the process. Marketing automation blurs the lines between departments and teams and so will require a collaborative approach to get it off the ground.

That same Standish Group research highlights the fact that along with a clear statement of requirements, the other major contributing factors to a project’s success are a) user involvement and b) executive management support.

5. Customer journey
You’ll need to understand and map your customer journey. Where are the touchpoints and interactions? And how/when do the various phases (awareness, discovery, purchase, use and bonding) occur? Remember, we’re relying on MA to automate this journey and, however good the technology, it requires the marketer’s skill to determine the journey itself and its desired outcome.

6. Content
How is your content plan? You’ll need content to maximise every touchpoint with a relevant sales message. Consider all channels and create compelling messaging that minimises bounces and discourages prospects from leaving the sales funnel.

7. Goals and milestones
You’ve got a plan and so you’re prepared for the challenge. Make it easier on yourself, and your team, by ensuring you have measurable/achievable phases and clear goals at each stage. It’ll help you manage expectations and keep the project on track.

So, if the going gets tough and the project seems daunting, just remember that while he might have won an Ivor Novella and seven Grammy Awards, Chris Martin couldn’t implement a successful Marketing Automation project even half as well as you’re doing!

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