question-mark-1829459_1280If you’ve been considering marketing automation technology because of its potential to make your marketing efforts more productive, your thinking is right on—that is, in keeping with what marketers who have implemented the technology are experiencing. In fact, according to a MarketingProfs guide to marketing automation (MA) success, MA can substantially ramp up the effectiveness of your marketing efforts.

Automating your marketing work eliminates mundane, repetitive manual tasks that take time away from your primary business responsibilities. On top of that, MA can help you deliver more relevant, targeted messaging to your key audience in a timely manner. What’s more, the cherry on top of an MA deployment is the technology’s inherent capacity to generate better leads and boost sales.

Yet, MA effectiveness is predicated upon a properly planned and executed implementation, which is neither easy nor inexpensive. If you have any doubt about your ability to optimize the solution on your own, or if you simply don’t have the time or resources to do so, consider partnering with an expert platform-independent service provider. Your MA partner can even keep your platform running at peak performance for less than it would cost you to pay a marketing automation technician.

To help you determine whether your in-house resources will suffice to maximize the value of an MA solution, consider the following prerequisites for successful implementation:

Develop a sound strategy for the technology: Can you clearly identify the business uses for marketing automation? For example, it can be used to integrate your CRM and email systems to produce dynamic email content that reflects the differentiated behaviors and history of your various customers. MA solutions can also automate delivery of targeted communications to your base at regular intervals to educate clients, welcome new customers and warm up new leads. What other uses can you clearly articulate? (For instance, do you know how MA can help you manage nurture campaigns?)

Establish goals for MA use: First, make sure that the goals you set are measurable. While many companies choose to count leads generated, the number can be relatively meaningless. Do you know why? Some metrics are easy to calculate (e.g., cost per contract), but merely measure the obvious. Others can be difficult to compute (e.g., more or repeat customers gained), but produce valuable feedback. Do you know which are which? For example, how would you categorize closure rate?

Ensure the right processes are in place:  You need to document a roll-out plan for the solution that specifically considers the processes necessary to support it. Identification of administrators, users and rules for governance is necessary, as is integrating website contact, subscription and lead-gen forms. You’ll need the capability (and time) to set up subscription management, add visitor tracking codes to your website, and migrate contact, opt-out and hard bounce lists from your current email platform. That’s the short list.

Foster internal buy-in from leadership: You’ll need to define the potential impact on your company’s revenues as regards alignment between sales and marketing; productivity; reduced costs from optimizing marketing programs, reducing manpower and eliminating reliance on external resources; customer communications and prospecting; lead generation; and sales. Can you accomplish this without too much grief and aggravation?

Select the best MA system for your unique business needs: The marketing automation space is getting crowded, with many viable solutions available. Do you know what to look for and how to evaluate vendors? With some, you may end up paying for features you don’t need. Ease of use is another critical factor to assess, as is the degree to which the solution will integrate with your critical existing systems. Price is another important consideration, and varies significantly among vendors.

If any of these criteria seem beyond the scope of a DIY marketing automation project for your organization—or even too much for a particular platform’s vendor-dependent services—then the option to partner with a platform-independent service provider is likely your best bet.

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