The 1 Thing You Must Never Do With Marketing Automation Tools
Marketing Automation tools are extremely easy to use. Most platforms have a very intuitive UI, can be implemented with a minimum of training, and if used correctly can bring amazing results in a short period of time. So the purpose of this article isn’t to scare you into not using Marketing Automation. Pressing the wrong button won’t blow up your office, or alienate your customers, or wipe millions off of your balance sheet. You can relax.
However, Marketing Automation should be approached as an investment. All the premium platforms come with a monthly subscription cost (usually billed annually), and many have set up fees of £2,000 or more, so you should think it through and probably talk to a marketing expert before you sign up to something.
A few lesser mistakes…
It is possible to make a bad investment decision with Marketing Automation, not because the concept doesn’t work, or even that your money is better spent elsewhere, but because of problems with the planning process.
For instance, some businesses make the mistake of choosing a Marketing Automation platform that doesn’t suit their needs; in other words, one that doesn’t have all the functions they need to fulfil their marketing goals. Or they might pick a platform that doesn’t sit well with their budget, so they struggle to make a sufficient return on their investment. Or the new Marketing Automation platform may not integrate well with their other apps, meaning it becomes more of a hindrance than a help.
As problematic as these issues are, they can all be avoided with forward planning, and most can be remedied even after the event. They are as child’s play compared with the ONE mistake companies should avoid at all costs with marketing automation – one that is sadly all too common:
The BIG Mistake
The one thing you must never do with a marketing automation platform is to make your investment, set up your system and get ready for action without any real clue about how to use it properly.
Underpinning the successful use of a Marketing Automation platform is an Automation Strategy i.e. a clear vision for how the application is going to be used, the goals you expect to reach and how the results will be analysed. This sits within an overall Marketing Strategy for your business.
This strategy won’t come out of thin air, nor is it written into the platform, which after all, is simply a tool. You need to do some ground work before purchase and immediately after implementation in order for your new Marketing Automation tool to be of any real use. Not doing so is the equivalent to buying a top of the range, all-terrain vehicle without having a driving licence; or booking a swanky, five-star hotel break in New York without arranging your flights.
Fortunately, there are some easy ways to avoid this cardinal error and to make sure your Marketing Automation Platform works well for you from day one:
1) Have a marketing strategy!
Marketing Automation - and your automation strategy – works as part of an overall Marketing Strategy, not as a substitute for one. So the first thing to do before you choose a package is to determine your business goals, what sort of ROI you are looking for and what features you may need from a Marketing Automation platform.
You should set a realistic budget at this stage, based on what your business can afford. If you have a marketing strategy but the details are not yet ironed out, this is the time to do so. Look at all the details and get a comprehensive strategy in place. It may be worth your while talking to a consultant at this stage if you don’t have the relevant skills in-house. It will save you money and time further down the line if you do this before you make any purchase decisions.
2) Know who your users are going to be
Most Marketing Automation applications allow you to add more than one user. The more users you need to add, the higher your subscription cost may be, so have a clear idea about who is going to be using the platform before you implement it. This will simplify your training task during the onboarding process and will ensure that all the relevant people in your organisation have access to the platform from the beginning.
3) Use your Onboarding Period
Once you have your strategy and internal infrastructure in place, you are ready to start implementing marketing automation. Use your onboarding process to the full to gain a thorough familiarity with your platform. However, as well as building an understanding of the features of your platform, you should also use this time to experiment with some workflows before launching yourself into your full automation strategy.
These standard automation workflows will include using features such as opt-in forms, lead scoring and buyer personas. Creating these workflows will give your team an immediate appreciation for how your new platform can be used to gain results for your business, and not simply how it works in general.
Going Solo or With a Partner?
If you want to use marketing automation, there is nothing stopping you doing the research, signing up online and then using the platform’s training resources to get you started. However, when doing so, many businesses run into the problems we have mentioned in this article. Marketing Automation applications are technical tools with a lot of features. It is easy to overlook some of them. Furthermore, it is tempting to dive into marketing automation without having your house in order first. The results from taking this approach can be erratic and disappointing.
The alternative is to sign up for a Marketing Automation tool through a partner, such as JDR. The benefits of this approach come from the partner’s expertise in Marketing Automation, and their ability to help you lay solid foundations on which to build success. To find out more about how Marketing Automation tools can work for your business, please get in touch with one of our team today.