Guest Blog Post by Tim Rhodes
I am a marketing automation insider – one of the lucky few who worked with one of the top marketing automation platform vendors. I have talked with hundreds of marketing automation customers and prospective buyers who have given me a unique insider’s understanding of how companies assess marketing automation. I know how sales, marketing, IT, and engineering teams engage with vendors to figure out how to put marketing automation to work for their business. Working behind the scenes, and discerning where customers are in their own marketing automation readiness, I learned what matters most when it comes to getting to real value from marketing automation software.
- Marketing automation isn’t easy, regardless of the platform you select. Marketing automation platform vendors market their software as easy (can’t blame them there), but the reality is quite different when software product meets business requirements. To have a successful lead generation strategy, an experienced partner can help you with developing and setting up your platform and creating a long-term successful marketing automation strategy. Often times, it is difficult to go back and re-design an unsuccessful marketing automation process when it isn’t working correctly or producing the results you want. For example, this is true for your company’s lead scoring strategy. If you don’t define your lead scoring strategy correctly up front, it can impact the volume and quality of leads you pass to sales or advance to a nurturing campaign.
- You can’t automate what you don’t have. Having an effective inbound marketing strategy with appealing content and assets that drive prospects to your website is critical to a successful marketing automation strategy. You can’t nurture leads you don’t have. Content marketing and a robust inbound marketing strategy are critical to growing prospects and a higher proportion of closed sales opportunities.
- Don’t rely on the marketing automation vendor to help you select which platform is right for you. Some vendors focus on ease of use or flexibility to meet complex needs. Others focus on enterprise scalability and performance to send volumes of emails without fail. Having an experienced, unbiased partner to help you select the right marketing automation platform for your company and needs is critical. Having a partner that can give you an unbiased readiness assessment and guide you to the right vendor for you will pay returns time-to-value and return on your investment.
- Marketing automation setup is critical. The premise of “garbage in, garbage out” applies here. If you don’t develop an overall marketing automation strategy right the first time, you aren’t going to get the results you want. This is where a partner is key to making sure your platform is setup correctly right out of the gate.
- Marketing automation takes time and knowledge. Despite what platform vendors say about quick time to deployment, a successful marketing automation strategy takes time, dedication, and effort. If you are expecting marketing automation to take two hours a week out of your existing job, you are in for a big surprise. A partner can help you set expectations and help create an efficient and successful process that’s based upon experience with many companies. They can also help augment your marketing automation efforts on an ongoing basis.
- Don’t let the Marketing Automation vendor push you beyond what you are ready for. Marketing automation is still relatively new with adoption increasing every day. In my experience, a majority of customers are still not using marketing automation technology at the level vendors think they should be using. Vendors absolutely wanted increased adoption to keep you and your company on an engagement path for years to come. Now, it is one thing for a platform vendor to educate, encourage, and consult on how to grow into their platform, it is quite another to push the technology into advance use cases the company doesn’t need or is not ready for. This is where a strong partner can act as a buffer on your behalf. Partners are often able to understand what your marketing automation readiness and capabilities are and create an advanced usage and engagement plan for you. But don’t let vendors push you beyond what you are prepared to adopt. The race to the “Marketing Cloud” is creating a ton of features and functionality that many companies will find valuable in good time…just not today.
Marketing automation is still new. The vendor landscape changes rapidly and so do the capabilities of these products. Take it from a former marketing automation industry insider: find a good partner to help you determine which marketing software is right for your business. Their knowledge and experience implementing marketing software for a variety of companies and scenarios is invaluable to any marketer thinking about buying a marketing automation platform, changing to a new one or getting more from the one they already have.
Tim Rhodes led market intelligence for one of the leading marketing automation software vendors. You can find Tim on LinkedIn here.