3 hacks for a B2B marketing automation rollout

3 hacks for a B2B marketing automation rollout

March 11, 2019

So, you’ve been tasked, or chosen yourself, to spearhead the potential adoption of marketing automation in your B2B marketing organization?

“Adoption” being a nice way of alluding to the “asking for big checks that leadership notices, forcing disruption of processes and daily habits for lots of stakeholders, etc.” No pressure, right?

Having both guided many a client through this process and, more frequently, helped clients recover from marketing automation false starts, here are three bits of wisdom to save your stomach lining and your sanity.

Hack #1: Gather the right team. Get their personal commitments to see it through.

Before you do anything else, we believe that it’s absolutely critical for marketing automation success is to bring, at a minimum, these five key stakeholders into the planning process:

  1. A stakeholder from your CRM management who knows the real state of your data and can honestly assess what work would need to be done to deliver on your business case and know how to get it done. It would be best if this person has decision-making authority on your CRM sprints as well so commitments can be made. You may need someone from your with whom ERP to liaison if you need sales data integrated into the marketing automation platform ("MAP") for reporting.
  2. A stakeholder from sales who is deeply involved in the lead evaluation and conversion part of sales operations and has the authority to negotiate both shared funnel definitions and marketing/sales integration changes via the MAP.
  3. A stakeholder from your product or product marketing team who has the expertise to drive the creation of mid- and late-funnel content as well as sales enablement.
  4. A stakeholder from your B2B content marketing team (or wherever content development sits) who has the expertise to drive top of funnel content and, hopefully, take lead in creating MAP campaign flow planning.
  5. Potentially, a stakeholder from your analytics team if this project sits separately within marketing to help plan the integration of owned media, MAP, CRM and ERP data for dashboards and analysis.

Identifying these individuals is step one. Getting commitments from them and their supervisors for many months of participating in this working group is the even more important step two.

Establish a regular cadence with your team and designate a war room if possible.

Hack #2: Create a pilot before you create business requirements

Marketing automation is an approach enabled by technology, not just technology.

Which means you can actually create a working pilot of limited scale before ever taking a single meeting with a MAP vendor, writing a business case or standing in front of executives pleading your case.

While the list below is somewhat simplistic, MAPs differ from strong email marketing solutions in just a few key areas:

  • Automating creation/publishing of segmented emails and landing pages
  • Automating ongoing lead scoring and assignment of leads into CRMs
  • Automating creation/application of business rules regulating outreach to individuals
  • Automating closed-loop reporting via integrations

Note that MAPs do not possess a unique ability to create push or trigger emails, the ability to create one-off landing pages, the ability to export lists from your CRM, the ability to use simple Google Analytics tracking and UTMs to measure conversions, etc. They automate these processes, yes, but they still can be done via other tools you own.

In other words, your existing email marketing solution, website CMS and web analytics can handle all those tasks. Your team can then create a prototype campaign and manually handle the part of the process a MAP would automate to better understand your organizational needs, challenges and any upsides.

Once you’ve understood that, you should be in an excellent position to write a killer business case and requirements which would go like this:

  • Piloting marketing automation
    • Pick a segment of your CRM to either market a new solution (or upsell an existing one) that hopefully will be big enough to net 100 marketing leads ready for sales vetting at end of funnel
    • Map out your pilot marketing and sales funnel with KPIs
    • Pull your target from your CRM into your email system, evaluate for holes and patch best you can
    • Map the buyer journey and associated content needed for them at each phase (feel free to use our template)
    • Create dedicated landing pages for each piece of content with Google Analytics goals attached to conversion
    • Create push and trigger emails for each piece of content and draw up flow
    • Launch campaign and measure results; with a universe, this small, you should be able to score by hand and pass leads to sales easily

After a 4-6-week pilot, you will hopefully have learned a few things. How much work stands ahead of you from a data, content and measurement standpoint. How much alignment work between sales and marketing will be required. How much integration work will be needed to be able to truly measure across systems. Etc.

Hack #3: Use pilot findings to drive technical specifications

Once you’ve completed your pilot and, assuming you saw enough potential to move forward with business case and acquire funding, it is time to start bringing in vendors.

From what your integrated team learned during the pilot, you should now be able to clearly articulate the projected workflows you envision for MAP programs, the data and integration work needed to enable those programs and, most importantly, what potential MAP features do not make sense for your organization based on either value or work required.

This documentation is hugely helpful.

Having technical requirements in your RFP, based on your real-world pilot and not an imagined potential reality, will help you immensely as you sort through each potential partner’s features, benefits and costs.

With all that in hand, we believe you’ll be well positioned to avoid so many of the pitfalls we’ve seen either slow down or even completely stall marketing automation implementation.

If after all this, you think you want some independent guidance to B2B marketing automation planning, let us know and we’ll be happy to chat more.

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