Marketing automation for maximum impact

Earlier this year I spoke at a breakfast briefing for the IDM, reflecting on some of the changes that have come about from the introduction and use of marketing technology.

I have spent this summer deep in several RFP's, as well as helping implement marketing automation (MA) tools across a range of clients; but what has struck me more is the lack of change regarding the fundamental issues facing marketers who wish to deploy these tools for maximum impact on marketing results.

First a sense check as to what we mean by Marketing Automation:

  • Allows you to create, then automate, multichannel customised, personalised campaigns based on a prospects or customers' interactions (and value) to you. Marketing becomes measurable, workflows streamlined and replicable, so improving operational efficiency and helping grow revenues faster.

So why are we failing to achieve maximum impact?

I - is for Integration, or lack of it!

Despite integration between systems becoming easier than ever before due to the proliferation of application programming interfaces (APIs), we still face silos of poor quality data and a lack of joined up thinking. I find parallel (but not joined up) work streams looking at digital marketing, social tools, marketing automation, and CRM; but no one painting a holistic vision with a clear roadmap within a company.

M - is for marketing (obviously!) acting alone.

But marketing automation requires cross-functional expertise, beyond marketing, from sales, technology and increasingly BI to maximise its usefulness. Marketing need a clear vision of how it will benefit the business, improve customer experience and the ability to communicate how it can change processes through the lead funnel for the better.

P - Performance, it's all about measurement!

This is the mantra that MA vendors pitch and why private equity love to invest in businesses that use these tools, because they can see the return on their investment. However, unless you have a highly skilled marketing team steeped in LTV, recurring revenues, or simply Cost Per Sale - people who love to test, measure and learn then you won't get the most from your system. Setting up MA to link to the CRM or your ERP system to ensure you can pull in the sales and revenue data is often missed, so you can't complete the loop!

A - is for Agile

A hot topic in marketing today, but teams lack the necessary skills - so much so, it is now offered as a 1 day IDM course. The agile approach of start small, test and learn, do, applied to a clearly defined pilot project of no more than 3 months, is one that can be applied with great benefit to MA implementation.

So pick your use case with care, think about where you spend most of your marketing budget today e.g. is it offline in events and then apply MA to improving your marketing and sales processes to show clear quick wins, whether it's integrating social, or better lead capture at the event or more rapid targeted follow-up post show.

C - is for Change

Like any technology implementation, MA requires the business to understand that wider change is required. Often this is cultural, involving new ways of working. Failure of MA to deliver real impact is often down to the fact that the bigger transformation required to bring about change has not been tackled. Ask yourself what wider resource is required to make effective change, have senior stakeholders bought in?

T - Technology is not the answer; it's becoming part of the problem!

With over 3,874 marketing technology solutions and 161 of these in the MA "bucket" to choose from it's confusing to know where to start. Tools have evolved, functionality blurred as the landscape evolves, so starting with clarity over your business needs and customer pain points is essential. The great news is that costs are falling, and the entry point for MA is more affordable, simpler and quicker than ever before.

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