Prep Your Website For Marketing Automation - read this before buying Pardot, Marketo or HubSpot
Are you planning for Marketing Automation this year? Whether you’re just beginning or making headway through establishing your approach, there are some decisions you need to make regarding your current website and how they integrate with forms and tracking the customer journey. This isn’t necessarily an inclusive list of action items, but if nothing else, at least get these things right.
1. Review Forms in General
Most companies current website includes a laundry list of fields that need to be filled out before submitting. According to Formstack, “Forms that limit their fields to 4 or less have 160% increase in conversions.” Include only the essential information, such as Contact Full Name, E-mail Address, Title and Comments. The name of the game is obtaining e-mail addresses and with a little creativity, you can obtain most of the other information you need (for example, most companies have their name in the e-mail address, which can also be used to find the website). Regardless, the e-mail address and high conversions are gold, as this is what ultimately will keep your Marketing Automation Program running with net new contacts.
The other action item that needs to be completed is to sweep up all pages that currently contain a form. Put together a spreadsheet and list the form name, the url where it’s located and what it’s purpose is.
2. Forms from the website? Or forms from the platform?
Now that you’ve figured out how many fields to include on your forms and where they are located, you need to figure out how you will integrate them into your Marketing Automation platform. You have two options:
Create forms in the platform. In Pardot, for example, you can create a form, take the html, and drop it on your website. The benefit here is also two-fold. First, it puts marketing in the driver’s seat with minimal requirements from IT.
This keeps things moving. Second, the forms have completion steps that create contacts in the platform, send notification e-mails, etc and can be designed right in the platform. As much time and effort as it will take to setup campaigns and get Marketing Automation to a fine-tuned state, the worst thing that can happen is getting to that point and not having any contacts to put into these programs. Take care of it now.
Use form handlers. Handlers allow you to manage forms on your current website and still collect the data in your platform. If you have a complex design or want to keep web responsibility solely within one department, you may want to go this route. The drawback here is that there will likely be opportunity costs and delays going back and forth between web design, IT and Marketing depending on how your organization is structured. It might not seem like a big deal now, but if you have a new initiative or product launch and you need a form to be involved, you might have to plan an additional 1-3 weeks. Anyways, once form handlers are setup, the same completion steps can create contacts, send notification e-mails, etc.
Whichever option you choose, take your spreadsheet from above and get ready to create a new form or form handler for each. For more information on Completion steps, check out Pardot’s information on it: http://www.pardot.com/blog/completion-actions/
3. Tracking scripts
Perhaps you’ve implemented tracking for a similar process or a web analytics tool like Google Adwords. It works the same way for most platforms. Simply add a snippet of tracking code (Pardot provides it) to your webpage and any actions taken by visitors will be recorded. You want to do this in order to begin tracking the customer journey. What path did they take to submit a form or make a purchase? Where did they drop off and what conclusions can you make to prevent it from happening again?
This isn’t necessarily an inclusive list of action items, but if nothing else, at least get these things right.
In conclusion, as mentioned in the beginning of this post, there are other activities you need to take care of to set the foundation of Marketing Automation. Start thinking about an internal administrator who will be the resident expert. Start thinking about your objectives and write down the top three or four. Also, you’ll have to start deciding what you want the customer experience and journey to be. I suppose those are different topics, though...
Completing these web centric activities first will put you in a good spot to begin collecting contacts and tracking their activity, which is the fuel that powers these particular Marketing engines.