Do you reshape your business to the software it uses, or do you expect the software to adapt to you? Chances are, you picked the latter; it only makes sense to customize technology to suit your business needs. Marketing automation technology is orders of magnitude more sophisticated than conventional software, and that makes it more flexible than other tech tools you might have used in the past. To get a custom fit with your marketing automation platform, follow these steps to teach your program how to tailor itself to your organization.
Define Your Needs
Before your marketing automation system can be your company’s all-encompassing answer, you first need to know what the questions are. What does your organization need your system to do? What are your current strengths and challenges? Where does your marketing strategy stand strong, and where could it us some shoring up? All major commercial marketing automation platforms offer the basics, so you’re unlikely to find any system that falls too far short of the mark.
That doesn’t mean all systems are created equal, though. Some platforms excel at lead generation, while others place an emphasis on nurture programs or analytics. Choose a platform that’s strong where your current marketing and sales processes are less efficient or effective than you’d like them to be. If you want deeper insight into campaign performance, find a platform that performs well with analytics and reporting. For email nurture programs, a system that lets you design and modify nurture streams easily could be your best choice.
Work with a Marketing Automation Consultant
Marketing automation is designed to be easy to use, but don’t conflate ease and simplicity. Software as sophisticated as a marketing automation platform isn’t quite plug-and-play; you need training to make the most of it, and a marketing automation consultant is the ideal way to get your personnel up to speed. A consultant can also offer suggestions on how to meet the needs you’ve defined in the first phase of preparation for your automation launch.
Consultants also ease your transition from installation to full implementation. Instead of jumping into complex campaigns from the beginning, your consultant will help you find ways to ramp up your automation capabilities over time. Think of it as learning to drive: You start with slow, simple details, and as your experience grows over time, your first lessons become so ingrained, they’re automatic.
Prepare for Implementation
Like driving lessons, your first forays into marketing automation should be somewhere safe and separated from busy traffic. All major marketing automation software systems have a sandbox or training mode that lets you explore the platform’s capabilities without going live with campaigns. Allocate enough time for trainees to play in the sandbox, creating sample campaigns and nurture flows to get a thorough understanding of what the system can do. Simplifying activities into discrete lessons before putting them all together into a campaign is essential to using the technology to its fullest.
When your automation system does go live, make full use of its analytics and reporting features to see how it’s performing. Establishing performance baselines early will tell you and your marketing automation consultant where your system’s exceeding expectations, fulfilling its purpose, or needing further tests to meet your needs. Marketing automation systems have powerful real-time testing capabilities so you can see how your content, design, and campaign timing work. Take full advantage of them and use what you learn to modify the software to fit your organization’s needs precisely.
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