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.
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:
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.
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:
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:
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.
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.