Marketing automation (MA) opens up a new, more systematic way of engaging with your customers. Because of the amount of work and resources required, marketing has traditionally consisted of running a few non-targeted campaigns every year. MA enables you, with much less effort, to create a set of effective (=scheduled and well targeted) marketing programs. You can design and implement a personalised engagement program once and then continually improve its performance by tuning the parameters.
Graphic 1: Examples of marketing automation programs
Because your customers are unique and each in a different stage of the purchase journey, one program alone cannot get the job done. You need to design and implement a portfolio of programs to cover different purchase journey stages and buyer personas. This might seem like a daunting task but one made feasible by employing a phased approach.
The order and time frame in which you roll out programs can vary wildly depending on your corporate strategy, sales priorities and customer pain points. Here is one template for rolling out a comprehensive marketing program portfolio in less than two years.
Phase 1: Set up an ecosystem and enable lead generation (0-6 months)
Graphic 2: Example of marketing programs phase 1
Marketing automation is an ecosystem made up of people, processes and technology. The first thing you need to do is put this ecosystem in place. Step one, of course, is to implement the MA software platform, for example, Eloqua or Salesforce Marketing Cloud. This step includes making sure that you have the right competences in your team to plan, design and implement the marketing programs using the chosen platform.
The following tasks and programs could also be part of phase 1:
If you are engaged with European customers, you must establish a GDPR subscription center.
Ensuring customer loyalty is important. Net Promoter System is a great way to do this.
Marketing and sales activities need to be closely aligned. On the platform side, this means that CRM and MA need to be integrated. This integration needs to be planned with a thorough understanding of both sales and marketing processes.
Phase 2: Align sales and marketing activities and sell more (6-12 months)
Graphic 3: Example of marketing programs phase 2
Now that the ecosystem is in place you can begin to establish programs that shorten the sales cycle and help sales people close more deals. Integrating marketing communications into the sales process is the right way to achieve this. You need programs that
make organizing sales meetings easier,
ask prospects how they feel sales meetings went,
automate communications related to product trials,
target customers with your other products (cross-sell and upsell),
reduce churn and
create a program framework for Account-Based Marketing (ABM).
In this phase you also need to complete the CRM and MA integration project by bringing sales and marketing processes and people firmly together.
Phase 3: Generate more leads (12-18 months)
Graphic 4: Example of marketing programs phase 3
Here you need to make sure that your marketing activities generate a continuous flow of high-quality leads by targeting prospects with sophisticated content. At this point, you should also put in place programs that maximize the value of your sales pipeline. In practise this means ensuring that not a single prospect falls between the cracks due to lack of engagement with old leads and opportunities.
This is only one example of how to roll out your marketing programs. Depending on your business strategy and priorities you might want to run these phases and programs in a different order. But the portfolio of programs will be essentially the same no matter how or when you implement them.
No matter how you choose to roll out your marketing programs, you will end up with a number of marketing technology applications that need to communicate with each other. One of the most difficult tasks you are going to face as CMO will be integrating these martech applications into a coherent system. More about that in my next blog post.