The Four Stages of Marketing Automation
Embarking on any new project or initiative has its phases and the world of Digital Marketing is no different. Below are the various stages that companies and marketers undergo when exploring setting up a Marketing Automation Platform for their company.
1. SKEPTICAL MISUNDERSTANDING
These are companies who have heard about Marketing Automation but are not convinced of its power. They are just learning about the costs and work associated with it and have trouble differentiating between a regular e-mail blast and a real nurture program. They ask questions such as “Why would we invest in e-mail marketing when I can hire an additional salesperson in the field?” They agree to start sending out newsletters and a few other e-mails. Many marketers in this phase have to ask themselves if they are protecting their job by doing what has traditionally worked or whether they want to bring their company down the path to new, cutting edge technology. My old boss used to say “If you’re comfortable, you’re dead,” and I think that applies here. This is a hard spot to be in, but this is an important first step.
If you’re unable to ignore the idea of technology driving your marketing strategy, you’ve arrived. Start researching the various different platforms, specifically Pardot, and look up 1:1 marketing to learn how you can start to use these platforms the way they were intended to be used.
2. CAUTIOUS OPTIMISM
These companies have been doing some e-mail marketing for a while now and see its benefit, but are questioning what the point of reporting on open/click rates is when they don’t actually know what is happening to associated form submits or opened e-mails. They can’t get any ROI. They likely have a CRM (but don’t have to..) that the organization also sees benefit in but are still having trouble managing the pipeline of their sales teams. They are interested in bringing their digital marketing activity to the next level, they understand the costs associated and are putting together a roadmap of where the technology can take them. They have partnered with a digital marketing company to help them with both the roadmap and to begin the long journey ahead of establishing a Marketing Automation program. This is an exciting spot to be in.. the sort of thing that gets people out of bed in the morning and into the office quicker than the others.
3. LEAD READY MARKETERS
These companies are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. They are tracking their open/click rates and have their Marketing Automation platform hooked up directly to the CRM. When a prospect clicks an email or submits a form, their sales teams are notified that a new lead or opportunity has been created for them. Their Marketing Departments are cranking out content strategies for various product lines and a few nurture programs have been set up and are being monitored/enhanced. It’s more around 1:1 Marketing at this point than regular blasts and as a result, prospects are receiving targeted, relevant content. These companies are also exploring a scoring model to rank the priority of the leads they give their sales teams and starting to talk about the results at strategy meetings. Sales Managers especially are enjoying this because they go into these meetings with a list of their team’s prioritized leads and are starting to hold their representatives more accountable for closing on marketing’s efforts. This is the stage where Executives really start taking notice. They see marketing putting together a strategy, sales buying into it, and are able to look at ROI like never before. For many, it’s a fully realized dream they’ve been chasing for a long time.
4: 1:1 INNOVATORS
These companies have been using Marketing Automation for about a year now and have fully bought in to the idea. They have planned a big initiative around it for the upcoming year and have a full understanding of its capabilities. Each Product Category and/or brand will undergo Segmentation and be put into Nurture Programs to generate leads for their sales teams. Marketing has become strategic and sales teams have become tactical and these companies have never seen the two departments linked this close to one another. Marketing is really good at qualifying leads and has now switched gears to generating net new contacts to put through the nurture programs as they are now always on. These companies still have a huge need for their sales teams, but they are now training them to be closers and letting automation complete the rest of the customer journey. There are few companies currently at this stage, but with each passing year, more and more companies will enter this stage to the point where it has become the new norm.
Whatever stage you or your company is in, keep it up! The technology available right now is mashing together the past, present and future of marketing. If you’re stuck in the first phase, rather than say Marketing Automation, try telling your Senior level Marketing folks that there is a way to use technology to create 1:1 marketing (make sure you know the principles behind it) in the digital landscape. I bet you’ll be pleasantly surprised at their reaction. You can be the driver of the technology and they can be the driver of the strategy.