There's a lot to like about marketing automation, and nearly every marketer you ask will tell you they expect automation to increase efficiency. In fact, this study by Forrester says 83 percent of marketers believe it will do just that. But that same study warns against putting too much emphasis on efficiency.
Why? Look at it this way. Say you get stuck in traffic at the same place everyday. The red light up ahead doesn't seem to change fast enough and it's not timed properly with the other lights on the street. You could talk to your neighborhood group about the problem, petition your city councilperson to do a traffic study, and hope that the changes (probably months or years down the line) result in improvement.
Or you could get a bike.
Two solutions for one problem: A long, process-filled solution or one that lets you weave around the obstructions and change paths at a moment's notice.
When you're using marketing automation, you have the same choice. You can focus on productivity gains through setting up processes that involve sales, legal and support, among other departments. Or you can develop a team of trusted digital marketers who can follow the rules of the road but pivot when the automation needs adapted to new circumstances or new data.
Marketing automation isn't easy. In fact, the more you use it, the more complex the system becomes. If you're using marketing data to set goals, then you need the ability to adjust your tactics based on that data in order to make incremental improvements over time.
That's where you start hitting red lights.
Traditionally, getting content like a press release or a brochure approved has been a long process. It involved everyone from the legal to sales to product managers to customer support. Even in today's non-stop world, marketing teams can face the same reviews that slow down content creation (the fuel behind marketing automation) and distribution .
So what do you do? When building the strategy for marketing automation, you need to set your long-term road map, one that has buy-in from all relevant parties. At the same time, your marketing team needs to make tactical improvements when the data dictates. This is where the agile development methods of software companies meet the lean manufacturing techniques used by large-scale operations. And it's how marketing should evolve.
You've convinced everyone at the company that marketing automation is the way to go. You're done, right? Unfortunately, no. Much of your effort will be focused on building trust with the other departments your work directly affects.
To do that, you need to ask the right questions when you're getting started and continue to ask the right questions after you've launched. Here are some tips:
Buy-in is important in order to make your marketing agile. And the truth is, it's an organizational change as much as it is a change for your marketing department. Building the necessary trust to make it happen can take time, but in the end, it’s worth it. Because if you do, you can go from riding your bike around traffic to building a bike lane.
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