So now you that you have purchased a marketing automation platform you are ready to implement and it’s not as simple as you were led to believe. As an outsourced sales and marketing company we have already helped to implement several platforms (as well as implementing our own) and helped companies with several stalled implementations. Here are some best practices in marketing and sales automation because, as one vendor recently told us, ‘we can sell them the car but we can’t drive it for them’. Here are some basic tips and some best practices to help you avoid some headaches and to learn from our mistakes and success. If you have not checked out what these platforms can do here is a quick overview from Pardot 5 Minute Overview of Marketing Automation and this post will make a whole lot more sense.
Think about your Content in a Different Way
The whole point of a marketing automation platform is to drive more business in a more effective way. This starts with how you are speaking with your buyer. If your content is still all about your product – tech sheets, features and benefits etc. its -time to think about being customer centric rather than product centric.” Your drip campaigns will drive more business if you talk to your customers about their problems and their needs. You may need to look at the “voice” of your messages and refine your language a bit. As a starting point look at how may time you talk about “Our’ product, “our” team vs. “your” needs, “your” business and “your” customers. Stop being product centric and start being customer centric. Here is a series of blogs on how to shift your content approach and get sales and marketing on the same page.
Organize your Content Ahead of Time
For a marketing automation platform to run effectively it helps to do two things with your content. First you should isolate all your webcasts, white papers, blogs, videos on individual website pages. This allows you to easily understand what your customer specifics needs are which in turn allows you to score your leads more effectively as you track their digital interest. Secondly, it really helps to also create landing pages that offers your customer content for all three stages of their buying cycle so you can track when your buyers are moving from educating themselves (kicking the tires) to being ready to buy (e.g looking at pricing or testimonials). Gabriel Sales has created an easy to use sales content management technology – Gabriel Sales Digital Demand Center™ that can help you do this in a matter of weeks. The image on the right is an example of one of those lead scoring features.
Involve Sales and Invest the Time Integrating with your CRM
What we have found is that even a basic integration can take an IT professional too much time. Most of the marketing automation platforms we have seen have huge volume of really cool features and bells and whistles so you can tend to over design before you know how you want to use them. Ultimately this is about empowering your sales team and recognizing your IT teams expertise is not sales. Probably one of the biggest bottle necks we have seen is that IT folks get proprietary and a project that they thought would take weeks can take a developer three months or more . The challenges are not with the system’s API or stability; they were with our client’s requirements, process definitions and prioritization. Like most development work that starts “easy” it quickly gets complex when they don’t understand the underlying business processes. Unfortunately as the time line expands it ends up being sales and marketing that are on the hook for results and not the developers. Salesforce.com has been the easiest integration for all the platforms we have seen.
Keep your Initial Drip Campaigns Simple
This is probably one of the biggest lessons we learned. When we first started we came up with a very complex IF/ then workflow so if they opened this piece of content on a topic area we would send them another piece of content on topic area B and then if they didn’t open that we would send them content Z. It was too much and just writing about it confuses me. What we found is about 80% of the value you are going to get from your initial drip campaigns is going to come from simply implementing them. It takes time to learn a new software and the biggest value the software provided initially is simply keeping your brand and solution in front of your buyers over time so your reps don’t have to. A simple five to seven touch campaign without any IF/then work flows was enough to get more deals flowing at less cost. Don’t frustrate yourself. You will quickly learn from your wins. If you are a smaller company, as a best practice, we recommend that you start by talking to your sales reps about their sales process and simply take that sales process map and create your initial drip campaigns for about three target markets.
Tap your vendors (and other vendors) knowledge centers
This industry is not that old. Eloqua, Pardot and Marketo (to name a few) all have fantastic knowledge centers that can teach you the basics of lead scoring and nurturing etc. Our vendor Pardot has been a huge help but we have also found both Marketo and Eloqua’s knowledge centers to be valuable as well. Obviously as an outsourced sales and marketing company we also recommend that you strongly consider working with an organization like ours. We have the advantage of having worked in the space across multiple enterprises so we have made a great deal of the mistakes already so you don’t need to.
We hope this blog has been helpful. Marketing Automation is a relatively new concept for most marketing teams and we have found that once you start to gain some momentum you will quickly realize that it’s clearly how business will be done for the next decade. We are just at the beginning of a new paradigm starting with marketing automation and then, as we are quickly discovering, if your marketing automation implementation is done correctly this will drift towards sales automation. Ultimately this will begin to drive more deals fast at less cost. We are experiencing some fantastic initial success reducing cost of sales percentages for both ourselves and our clients. The learning curve is exponential. So have fun.
If you have not checked out what these platforms can do here is a quick overview from Pardot 5 Minute Overview of Marketing Automation. If you have a stalled with your marketing automation implementation or if you would like to know more about best practices in marketing and sales automation, feel free to contact us for a quick consultative call.