You’ve heard the old saying: “Fail to plan, plan to fail.” It’s certainly a message marketing professionals should take to heart. Failure to plan almost always leads to poor and ineffective marketing. For those considering marketing automation, careful planning is a vital first step that greatly increases your chances of long-term success.
You may ask: “What exactly is marketing automation?” Good question. Ian Michiels, research director and practice leader of the customer management technology group at the Aberdeen Group, offered a definition in an article for E-Commerce Times. “I believe marketing automation is technology; it’s technology that helps automate marketing management and customer engagement,” he said. “In some cases, marketing can be automated with formalized processes, but excluding technology this is more marketing optimization and process.”
It can be very tempting to think that marketing automation is the cure for all marketing ills. Be sure to exercise restraint, however, and resist this line of thinking. Before taking the leap into marketing automation, conduct a thorough analysis of how you will use the technology and what you hope to gain from it.
- Technology alone is not the answer – Don’t buy into the “technology as savior” myth. Make sure you have the right foundation in place for automation to be a success.
- It’s so easy a caveman could do it – Make sure that you have a thorough understanding of the technology and are ready to use it to its full potential.
- Process is key – Automating with no thought given to process will likely lead to chaos. Define a process or framework, then implementation will be the logical next step.
- You need people – Identify someone or a team internally or externally to manage the technology.
- It’s all about the customer – Although marketing automation can improve marketing efficiency, the primary goal is to better identify leads and turn them into customers.
There are many examples of marketing automation being used to increase value and effectiveness in an organization that decided to automate. Situations can also be cited where automation was ineffective. Put yourself in the best position for success by researching and planning for your marketing automation launch. You’ll be glad you did.
Author: Steve Sonn
Steve Sonn is the Principal of S2 Marketing Communications. He has more than 25 years of marketing and PR experience with health care and business-to-business companies.