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6 best practices for marketing automation

6 best practices for marketing automation Rebecca Whitefield

Marketing automation has grown tremendously over the past five to ten years and is no longer only for large enterprise companies. As small and mid-size businesses implement marketing automation solutions, there are common issues they encounter. In my early experience with marketing automation, these are the lessons I've learned.



Integration with CRM and the sales process is key


Closely aligning marketing and sales is imperative to success with marketing automation. The marketing team must clearly understand the sales cycle and how prospects move through this cycle. To measure the effectiveness of marketing campaigns, it is essential to track leads through the sales funnel. Ensuring marketing automation platforms and CRMs are integrated and able to talk to each other by sharing data is essential.


Crawl before you walk


If you're starting with lead nurturing campaigns, begin with discrete campaigns to get quick wins. Crawl before you walk by mastering tactical campaigns like event follow-up and webinar follow-up before jumping head first into more complicated nurturing campaigns. This allows the time to learn what resonates with your audience and iron out any issues that might arise.


Avoid auto-pilot mode


Marketing automation saves time and resources by automating functions, but one must be careful to avoid auto-pilot mode. I learned this valuable lesson recently when an IT company transition threw a wrench in my marketing automation processes. Automation can quickly become sales prevention when "contact us" forms are not properly routed. I now schedule check-ins to ensure all forms, campaigns, and lists are functioning correctly and have not been interrupted.


Develop campaigns that provide insights and build profiles


One purpose of lead nurturing is to build a profile of prospects who engage with your content over time. Profiles should qualify the prospect as it relates to the offering. Insight into content consumption can also be used to determine future content offerings. As a prospect moves through the lead nurturing campaign, put new content behind walls with additional questions to further build the profile and qualify the prospects. This information can then be added to the profile and the drive customization of the campaign.


Stellar content fuels campaigns


Content proves to be king once again. It takes large quantities of resources and content to fuel campaigns, but the trick is ensuring you have the right content. Content should be valuable and be something that people are willing to swap information for. Content that lives on web pages or is easily accessible doesn't cut it. Content needs to be exclusive. Think along the lines of white papers, cheat sheets, case studies, and e-books.


Test, and then test again


Working at an integrated marketing agency specializing in search engine marketing, I've been beat over the head with the importance of constantly testing and optimizing performance. The same applies to lead nurturing with marketing automation. Opportunities for testing are endless: subject lines, links, content, time of day to send messages, days between messages, etc. Continual testing and optimization will increase the return on investment of your marketing automation investment.


As I continue my marketing automation journey, I look forward to discovering other strategies, tricks, and tactics to continually improve lead nurturing campaigns and marketing automation processes. Do you have any tricks or tactics that have proved successful? Please share in the comments below.


Rebecca Whitefield is a sales and marketing analyst at Anvil Media.


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"A business man is looking down at his feet with a red race line" image via Shutterstock.

Rebecca Whitefield is a Sales & Marketing Analyst at Anvil Media, where she drives marketing initiatives and supports sales activities for the Portland-based integrated marketing agency.  She joined the Anvil team in 2012 after relocating...

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Commenter: Sandhya Ramesh

2013, October 07

I think another major factor to be considered is the personalization in marketing, especially wrt cross channel marketing: if your customer is active on twitter, you contact him there; if he prefers emails, you send him emails. Many marketing automation systems seem to miss out on this. Cross channel marketing is yet to catch up with bigger players. Agile CRM implements it effectively, we'd like to think.

Commenter: Sonja Uppal

2013, September 10

Thanks, Rebecca. Your post is extremely helpful!