Marketing automation is vital for every marketer not trapped in the dark ages.
Yet, despite its importance, there isn’t a whole lot of information on the subject out there.
But that doesn’t mean you have to tackle the challenge blindly.
In this Takeover episode, guest host Ethan Beute speaks with Casey Cheshire, Founder & CMO at Cheshire Impact and author of Marketing Automation Unleashed, about the secrets to successful marketing automation.
The biggest myth about marketing automation
Before we dive into the nitty gritty of marketing automation, it’s helpful to crush the most pervasive myth about it…
Marketing technology is an ongoing process, not a one time thing.
“Marketing technology is not done being set up when the implementation is complete. Implementation is just the start.”
The tools used in marketing automation are game-changers.
But not if you just implement it and never adjust.
Marketing technology needs to constantly adapt to your situation to be truly effective.
Implementation is only the beginning.
And that’s because once you implement, you need to constantly test and evaluate what is working and what isn’t. You need to iteratively improve on your systems.
Why you need marketing automation (and help implementing)
Okay, so with that out of the way…
Why do you need marketing automation in the first place?
This may seem like a stupid question. But surprisingly, there are plenty of organizations who haven’t joined the 21st century and embraced the miraculous futuristic tech of marketing automation.
And that means they are wasting a lot of time and energy that could be better spent on more important tasks.
“Doing marketing — especially in B2B — without a marketing automation platform is blind. It might as well be the Mad Men days.”
Marketing automation allows you to free up your marketers by assigning the menial, non-creative tasks (that, let’s be honest, most of them hate doing) to a robot. Or software, I guess…but that doesn’t sound as futuristic.
It’s not that these tasks aren’t just as important, it’s just that the brilliant creative minds on your marketing team only have so many hours to tackle the toughest challenges of the job. Automation lets them work on these tricky tasks without needing to sweat the small stuff.
Automation technology can schedule and send emails, it can keep track of the information you’ve gathered from prospective customers, and it can make your life a whole lot easier.
Implementation…with a running start
So, we’ve already covered that implementation isn’t the end of your automation journey — it’s the beginning.
Still, it makes sense to have some help getting there.
There is a dearth of information out there on automation and — though Casey’s book is helping to change that — this means many companies experience some growing pains on their way to implementing.
There’s that saying that you have to learn to crawl, then walk, then run, right?
Well, in business, sometimes that time scale is too long (and too expensive). So, it helps to seek out a consultant to help get your automation up and running.
With some expert advice, you can learn what has or hasn’t worked for similar organizations in the past and skip some of the worst growing pains.
That means, when you finally do implement, you’re already at a full sprint, ready to challenge Usain Bolt in the 200m finals of marketing automation.
The 3 steps to success
So what does a successful marketing automation strategy look like in practice?
You just need to remember 3 things:
This is where you collect data. Everything from who’s landing on your website to what qualifies as a great lead.
This typically starts with forms — magical forms — that encourage prospects to give up some of their data in exchange for great content.
But be warned: This doesn’t mean you can just launch a thousand questions at everyone who ends up on your page.
That’s like proposing at the end of the first date. And, unless you’re in a Rom Com set in Vegas…that’s a terrible idea.
“Don’t try to one-night-stand your prospects. They deserve better than that.”
The best approach is to take many dates to ask your questions. If you are married, I guarantee you didn’t ask for a blood type and SSN on the first date.
If you aren’t…well asking that on the first date might be why.
And there is data that backs up limiting your initial questions to the bare minimum. In fact, you will get up to 15% more leads by trimming out the overly-forward questions.
Instead of thinking “What data do I need?” try asking what experience your customer wants.
If you have leads who aren’t ready to buy for whatever reason at that time, you need to make sure that when they are ready, you are the first place they turn to.
And many organizations get this wrong.
For instance, if you get a response to call back in 6 months and wait until then to ever contact your prospect, you’re likely wasting a call.
A lot can happen in 6 months.
But if you make sure to keep in contact, share helpful information, and show you care about solving the problem your prospect faces, you will be the first they turn to when the time comes.
Okay, I get that it’s a little weird to have “automate” in the steps to getting great automation. But bear with me.
Automation needs to have a strategy to be effective.
Which means you need to meticulously plan out what can be automated and what only your team members can do.
We already looked at the importance of automation in freeing up employees’ time — which is the main purpose of automation in the first place — but you need to make sure it’s actually doing that.
That’s where strategy comes in.
In particular, making sure to accurately capture a lead score as well as a lead grade.
Casey gives a great example of how miscalibrating automation without these 2 elements can backfire:
Imagine you are only going off of a lead score based on hits to a website, etc. You then yell at sales about how this is the biggest lead ever and if they don’t call it you’re going to uninvite them from your nephew’s bar mitzvah.
Then sales calls and it turns out to be a student who was doing research. That’s not a good lead. That’s a terrible lead.
Well, now sales is still mad that you never give good leads and your team will keep complaining that sales never follows up on leads.
So, mend the rift between sales and marketing by making sure to have a strategy behind your automation.
Get out there and automate
These steps should get you well on your way to great marketing automation.
But the most important thing to remember is that strategy comes before everything else — and that strategy will need to adapt over time.
Just doing more activity doesn’t necessarily lead to more results.
That activity always needs to have a purpose behind it.