whattoconsiderThe following seven tips could come in handy to avoid major pitfalls before implementing a marketing automation platform; or maybe you just want to save detours and reach your marketing goal quicker, then check out at some useful suggestions:

1. Keep in mind that good content educates and entertains
As the boundaries between work and private life are more and more disappearing, marketing competes with messages not only for getting the attention of the target persons from 9am to 5pm, but also beyond that time. This means that potential customers must feel the relevance to their core tasks and get benefits by reading the subject line of the email/message, when you try to reach them. Particularly well suited are contents that both expand knowledge and entertain.

2. Ensure internal exchange of ideas: Platforms like Yammer are very well suited for the exchange of ideas in a team or between teams, channeling information about new features and templates pretty well. By sharing, you get a very good sense of who is a specialist in that subject and can support possibly with ideas and knowledge. Moreover, many benefit from expert advice and templates provided that way.


3. Provide sufficient resources for the change management: Marketing automation means change management in any organization that implements it, hence responsibilities must be redefined and training and coaching is essential. If not all needed qualifications are available in the team, look for "outside help" to bridge the shortage in the short term or even permanently. Anyway, the implementation of marketing automation is always accompanied by an investment in internal and external resources, therefore set budget aside in order not to have to stop halfway. Similarly, budget release periods should be included in the project planning; otherwise it can quickly lead to unplanned delays.


4. Ensure and monitor data quality: Often underestimated, for example, is the time and effort for the permanent monitoring of the data quality. For this purpose, it is advisable to appoint a data analyst who ensures that imports follow predefined policies and duplicates (for instance, by uploading or from the CRM system) are regularly merged, invalid email addresses get qualified retroactively, as well as incompletely filled fields get appropriately completed by external data sources, nurturing programs or telephone qualifications. If nobody feels responsible for the quality of the database, there is usually a decline in deliverability, an incorrect assignment to target segments and ultimately unsatisfactory results of campaigns and nurturing programs.

5. Provide central templates for use in the regions: The scaling factor of central templates is often underestimated, as it requires more than simple training. With a number of central templates not only a unified branding can be guaranteed, but also the use of the platform is facilitated considerably. Fact is that adapting these templates puts already many regional marketing manager to test, especially if they were previously not necessarily working with CRM or ERP software. With the creation of their own campaigns, most marketers are at first overwhelmed. Providing these templates as “offer” have stood the test, where the regions can then select, translate, customize and send whenever it makes sense for them. Therefore, the regional marketing manager has control of the target audience and the dispatch, as well as the central marketing control of content and design.

6. A / B tests: The evaluation of the impact of design and text in marketing is always very subjective, therefore you should try to get as many opinions as there are members in the team to an email template. Objective reviews are only possible via A / B tests. Here you should test both the subject line and email text, but also the placement and number of buttons and forms: Interested parties are often willing to give a lot of information for promising content, but sometimes not. It can be that a button above the text is well used, or even below, if the context for it is necessary. Sometimes, it is good to have multiple calls to action to be able to segment prospects; sometimes one action is more effective. All that you can find out in tests. Many marketing automation platforms offer standard features to do that, making the set-up and evaluation of such tests relatively easy (e.g. with Marketo or Oracle Eloqua). Important is a minimum number of data to draw meaningful conclusions, as A / B tests make just little sense when the total audience is under 1,000 contacts.

7. Manage expectations and be patient: Success with marketing automation does not crop up overnight. In the first year, the expectation should initially not be more than sending campaigns successfully via the platform. In the 2nd year, you can then already take in hand a number of MQLs (Marketing Qualified Leads), and from the 3rd year onwards a visible participation of marketing in sales is realistic, because opt-in lists must be established, data adjusted as well as processes implemented and optimized. All this takes time and brings initially no visible success.

By Daniela La Marca