By Chris Frank, Marketing Director, TreeHouse Interactive Editor's note: This is the first in a two-part series.
It is no secret that getting a marketing automation system up, running, and contributing to your bottom line takes both implementing technology and changing processes. But getting over this hurdle is often the end game for many marketers, not the beginning it should be. This article gives some clear tips on how to address technical capabilities and database cleanup issues to make the most of your marketing automation investment. We'll conclude next week by looking at the role that business processes and metrics play in maximizing ROI.
Integrating What is Most Important
If you did not get your marketing automation system integrated with your CRM system, or that system was not up and running when you implemented, integrate now. One of the core benefits of marketing automation is the ability to qualify, nurture and distribute leads. You cannot do this without integrating systems, much less tie return on investment (ROI) effectively to your marketing efforts. Many marketing automation and CRM integrations also let you take leads that have fallen out of the sales process or leads that have converted to customers and put them on a nurturing track. Re-engagement and customer retention are both areas marketing should be involved with, and this can be automated via integration.
By the same token, if you are an online retailer, integrate your shopping cart with your marketing automation system. You should be collecting targeting data and purchase info that is in turn used to power up-sell, cross-sell and customer loyalty efforts.
Tracking and Leveraging Interest
Another key area to review is your use of marketing automation web analytics and behavioral tracking. Some systems give you the ability to see beyond website behavior if the visitor has already filled out a form—which is typically a small number of people much closer to making a purchase decision—to identifying companies that have demonstrated interest as autonomous visitors. Marketing automation systems can then link to services like data.com, which allow you to find and download probable suspects at these companies based on the information they have interacted with on your site.
If you are driving traffic to your web site now through various content marketing and paid advertising strategies, yet not identifying traffic beyond form registrations, you are really not making the most of your campaigns or using your marketing automation system to its fullest. Tracking behavior and then purchasing contacts based on demonstrated interest is much more effective than purchasing bulk lists. Keep in mind that contact databases can degrade upwards of 25% per year. It is critical to continue infusing new life into your database, and this ability to track and leverage interest could be an important component you are overlooking.
Cutting Lose And Connecting Forms/Landing Pages
Many marketers, even though they are using a marketing automation system, are not connecting campaign elements effectively so they can see campaign return on investment (ROI). As time goes on, you will continue to create more and more forms and landing pages—whether for standard website forms, content marketing, event registrations, paid search landing pages, etc. Be sure your forms and landing pages are linked to campaign elements in your CRM system for reporting and are correctly linked to email communication. Autofill and profiling capabilities in marketing automation systems often depend on this too. You also do not want to have old forms out there. If your system does not shut forms off after their useful date for things like webinars and time-sensitive promotions, be sure to remove them.
Removing The Dead Weight
With most marketing automation solution providers charging based on the size of your database, it makes sense to remove contacts that you either cannot reach or who have no interest in what you do. Hard bounces—totally invalid addresses—should be removed from your database. So should consistent non-clickers, non-openers and non-purchasers for online retailers. To be sure you are not removing valuable contacts, create an engagement campaign specifically targeting these people and cut those that do not respond.
Cleaning Up Your Data
If you do not address dirty data, your effectiveness will suffer. You cannot target effectively, speak to buyers in a way that resonates or produce the revenue you could. The more contacts you can categorize correctly and provide normalized data for, the better your chances of producing the numbers necessary to reach your goal. With your marketing automation system, you should be able to mass update contacts. Does everyone in your database have a corresponding contact type? Are titles and/or roles consistent? Are you recording what products they are potentially interested in? These are basics, but you can go much further. It is important to periodically drill down into your data and mass update records for better targeting.
Chris Frank has spent over a dozen years in marketing, and is the marketing director for marketing automation provider TreeHouse Interactive (www.treehousei.com). He has helped hundreds of companies by educating them on how to improve marketing processes and use technology to improve marketing effectiveness.