If you’re new to marketing automation, you might be a little overwhelmed by all the bells and whistles your chosen system has to offer. To some extent, the learning process never really ends; as your business evolves and your marketing automation vendor provides updates, you’re probably going to need to spend a good chunk of time educating yourself on the best ways to use the tools at your disposal for your particular business.
Whether you’re a new or seasoned user, there are some best practices you can put in place to maximize your marketing automation’s ROI. Here are some of the things you can do to get the most out of your marketing automation system.
Use standard labels for your marketing activities. If everyone in your company is using different terms for different parts of your marketing automation platform, things can get really messy really fast. Take the time to discuss how you’re going to label your folders, campaigns and actions. It’ll help prevent department-wide chaos later on and allow you to use your data more effectively throughout the life of your campaign.
Document your thought process. When you create a new program in your marketing automation system, write a description for the program that documents what it was designed to accomplish, why it was implemented and what your assumptions were at the time. As your marketing programs continue to evolve, thought-process documentation will help you catch the weak spots that may have led to problematic campaign features in the past.
Start small and fail fast. It’s normal to want to build something big and complex, but you’re better off starting small and learning from your mistakes. A large part of marketing automation implementation is troubleshooting. Most marketing programs, no matter how elegant and clever they are, will require adjustments due to mistaken assumptions and bad data. Let yourself get to the adjustment phase sooner rather than later.
Incorporate already automated tasks into your marketing automation platform first. What routine marketing activities are you already engaging in? Email auto-responders? Blogging? Before you design a new marketing program, incorporate your existing marketing activities into your new platform.
Develop simple automated workflows. Get your feet wet by starting off with a few simple automated processes. For example, try setting up a basic campaign that sends an email from a sales rep when a lead fills out a form.
Focus on content quality. A great football coach can only do so much with a lousy team, and your marketing automation platform isn’t any different. If your content stinks, all you’re really doing is choreographing high-level plays for third and fourth string players.
If you haven’t done any of those things, stop, take a step back, and consider the possibility that you’ve gotten a little bit ahead of yourself. Then, go back to the drawing board and hammer out your core messaging architecture. Follow that up with a portfolio of deep, high-quality content that satisfies your user’s information needs. Without those things in place, your marketing automation efforts will be flimsy and ineffective at best, and harmful or damaging to your brand at worst.
Stephanie Kapera is a freelance writer and the co-founder of Up All Night Creative, a Raleigh-based content marketing agency that helps B2B and B2C companies develop magazine-quality web content. Connect with Up All Night on LinkedIn and Twitter to find out more!