7 Tips for More Effective Marketing Automation

Congratulations! After months of building organizational consensus, collaborating with sales, developing effective lead flow processes, and selecting a vendor, you’ve implemented a marketing automation system (MAS)! Now you’re on the golden road to marketing nirvana…

Well, not quite. Marketing automation certainly can be a lifesaver, but it isn’t a magical, cure-all solution. In fact, the way you build out the assets in your MAS is critical to your success. According to ActOn the most common cause for MAS failure is lack of attention to detail and process in the marketing org.

Without proper planning, in a few months you may find yourself in a tangled mire of lead forms, landing pages, HTML snippets, images and PDFs. On the other hand, a well-thought-out marketing automation system setup/structure enables speedy campaign execution, long-term success, and ease of use.

Through working with our customers on thousands of implementation and marketing automation integrations, we’ve become acquainted with some best practices that can make or break your marketing automation experience. Here are 7 tips to make your marketing automation more effective.

1. Learn your vendor’s best practices

With so many players in the field, each system has it’s own perks and quirks. Learn the current best approach from your MAS vendor. Attend their trainings, review their resources, and learn about up-coming features and how your setup may be impacted.

2. Collaborate with sales

Automating lead scoring isn’t going to do you much good unless you have a very good idea of what sales considers a good lead. It’s important to have clear goals and a project plan in mind, and the best way to do that is by establishing a good line of communication with sales. Defining your audience is the foundation of all your marketing automation processes. From there, you can build a visitor segmentation model.

3. Collect the same hidden attributes on every form

With today’s technology, chances are you’re collecting more information than meets the visitor’s eye. Keep the hidden form fields consistent across the board to ensure all leads flow smoothly through your scoring, routing, and segmentation rules. This will also help keep your contact database clean, relevant and rich. Some examples of hidden data to collect include: campaign id, referring source, industry, company size and company name.

4. Build Reusable Templates for both landing pages and forms

Reusable assets are the key to scaling a system over time, and they provide speed/efficiency and consistency. Increase efficiency and organization by reusing page layouts and common elements such as branding. You can also build analytics and third-party functionality into your template. Deploy analytics and other third-party integrations once, and maintain them in a single location.

5. Agree on a process for creating new forms, landing pages

Once you’ve set up a template, you still need to determine a process for creating new pages. Establish a way to determine: when is a new form necessary, how each template will be used and where to store images, pdfs, dynamic content snippets, etc. You also want to optimize your inputs by using drop downs, radio buttons and checkboxes whenever possible. Keep your data clean by using field validation rather than cleaning-up later.

6. Document, Document, Document

Create simple, accessible documentation on your step-by-step processes, naming conventions, system setup, data standards, and best practices for using the marketing automation system. Consider end-to-end implications of data and naming conventions, including the vendors providing data, other systems as sources of data, organizing assets by audience or campaign and downstream implications (especially when integrating with CRM.)

7. Train your team

Of course, all the planning and processes in the world won’t make a difference if your team isn’t completely trained and on board. Make sure that all the necessary stakeholders are involved in the planning and processes. Then, hold formal and informal training sessions to ensure that all users understand the ins and outs of your system.

Remember, you’re implementing new technology to make your life easier. Although it requires a bit of work up front, once you follow these seven steps, you’ll actually see the results you expected when you first started exploring MAS.