Editor's note: This is the second in a two-part series. Click here to read Part One.
Last week, we looked at the role technical capabilities and database cleanup issues play in maximizing the ROI from a company's marketing automation solution. This week, we'll look at two other key action items: business processes and measurement.
Defining leads. In the course of setting up a marketing automation system, what you started with as a lead definition may not be accurate now. During pre-implementation, it is common to send every website form fill out directly to sales personnel. This is not exactly efficient nor a recommended best practice.
Business processes should change and evolve as you begin to use new technology. It is essential to have an agreed upon lead definition that is constantly updated through regular meetings with your sales team. This will help you know what qualifying questions need to be asked by marketing at what point in the buying cycle. Ultimately, this practice contributes to better qualified leads and produces the revenue you are really going after.
Dealing with lists and subscriptions. Many marketers still waste time creating lists in their CRM system, then import them into their marketing automation system. This is a huge waste of time.
If you do not have automated processes for syncing contact, qualification and behavioral data between systems, you are setting yourself up for failure. An information sync should be up and running or you will have increasingly difficult problems with targeting. Ideally, you should upload lists to your marketing automation system, place contacts on the correct nurturing and communication path, and send qualified leads on to salespeople. There are always exceptions, but if you do not get contacts on the right subscriptions and nurturing paths at the time of upload, you are asking for future headaches.
Nurturing is not a 'set and forget' process. Setting up nurturing paths is not easy. It takes a lot of work to understand your buyer personas, create content for them depending on where they are at in the buying cycle and conduct the technical setup of triggers, email communication and other capabilities.
If you have done a good job of implementing your marketing automation system, you may have a few nurturing paths set up. Revisit them, see how they are performing and be sure they are still relevant. What are the open, click-through and conversion rates? Are they producing dollars? Split test new versions of that communication and vary subject lines.
Also create new nurturing paths that address not just expressed behavioral interest, but leads falling out of the sales process and new customer on-boarding. Nothing is worse than a prospect getting a timed nurturing email for a product that is no longer available, a promotion that is no longer running or a white paper download that is out of date. The promise of increased conversions through nurturing are hollow if you do not make sure communication is relevant.
Focusing on what is most important. It is easy to get caught up in measuring traffic, leads and other metrics that are indicators of success, but not proof of it. With your marketing automation system, you should be able to identify what revenue is being generated by your efforts through integration with sales systems. This is regardless of whether you sell online, in typical B2B fashion or through partners. Each campaign should have real dollars tied to it.
No matter how short or long your sales process is, setting your marketing automation system up to report this data is essential for making better marketing decisions down the road and getting buy-in from executive and financial teams for your initiatives.
Getting a more immediate view of success. Having said revenue is the most important metric, you still have to get clear and insightful reporting that is more immediate in nature when looking at campaign effectiveness. Your marketing automation system should automatically be giving you things like open rates, click-through rates, landing page traffic, landing page conversion rates, number of social shares, conversion sources and so on. Establish base metrics for each and see how new campaigns compare. Are they better or worse and why?
For campaigns that involve content marketing, you should be getting more information. Marketing automation systems can be set up to show what content is being viewed and how much, who is actually viewing it and give you the ability to create targeted campaigns and lists for nurturing based on download behavior. If you are not set up to get these campaign metrics now, review the execution process within your system.
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.