The March S&M Forum, hosted by TMP, highlighted some key points to consider when planning your approach to marketing automation. Paul Smith, Vice President, EMEA, at Salesforce Marketing Cloud, Paul Everett, Director of Marketing Strategy at The Marketing Practice, and Paul Stevenson, Head of Enterprise Marketing Services at O2 (henceforward known as the Three Pauls), shared their ideas and experiences as pioneers of marketing automation.
Here are their top ten tips for success:
- The Gates Principle – “The first rule of any technology used in a business is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency. The second is that automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency.” This is the Golden Rule for marketing automation; you need to have something worth automating.
- Start small, scale up – You don't have to commit to a full-scale deployment of a marketing automation system until you've worked out how it's going to deliver value for you. Consider working with a specialist to run trials on small-scale projects. They can help you plan your roadmap too.
- Dig into your data – Celebrate your inner geek and make data fun. You're doomed to fail unless your data is rock solid and up to date. This where the Gates Principle really applies. Again, don't try to do it all at once. Pick a promising area and see how it works.
- Power to the people – Marketing automation is a key cultural step. As with all significant technological change, it's important that all the stakeholders are onside. And marketing automation doesn't mean fewer marketers – it actually means a bigger, more visible and accountable role for marketing.
- Content is king – No, really, it is. As with newsletters, or any other form of direct marketing campaign, it's vital to have a steady flow of content that is fresh, relevant and valuable to the audience. With the added power of marketing automation, that content can also be more personalised and timely.
- Integrate your channels – Marketing Automation is about one-to-one dialogues conducted on a mass scale. Your websites, blogs, social feeds and any other channels need to be part of the plan. Landing pages can be personalised, recognising that the person visiting today is probably the same person who responded to an email last week.
- Tame your Big Data – You're going to generate much more data than you need, as well as data that you thought you didn't need, but which turns out to be invaluable. You'll need big buy-in from your IT people to help you work out how to get maximum practical value from the mighty flood of data you're about to unleash. But they'll probably recognise how much strategic value you're assigning to them, so they should embrace the opportunity.
- Pace yourself – What if it works, big time? You need to make sure your organisation can cope with a significant rise in opportunities, or demand for products, or registrations for events. In particular, make sure the sales team know what's happening, what's expected of them, and what they'll need to know.
- Get sales buy-in – In fact, of course, you'll need to get the sales team on board from the very beginning. Marketing automation is a powerful driver for closer integration of sales and marketing teams. Any gaps between the two will be embarrassingly amplified by marketing automation, but it can help to create strong bonds between them as the results begin to flow.
- It's the marketing that matters, not the automation – Marketing automation really can be the Holy Grail for marketers, equipping them with the ability to prove the value of what they do and helping to embed marketing-led thinking across the organisation. But it's not a quick, catch-all solution; as with any effective marketing, you need to plan carefully and monitor at every step to keep things on track.
There’s more on marketing automation here.