As companies grow, they demand more from sales and marketing.  Running the revenue arm out of email inboxes, spreadsheets, and hope will eventually reach it limits.  As teams contemplate the potential of more advanced content marketing and marketing automation, they may wonder if they are ready.  Here are some basic tenants to consider as you widen your research.

Am I Building Up From a Good Base?

Before purchasing and implementing a new solution, you first have to ask, “Do I need to modify my end-to-end business revenue process and/or improve marketing-sales alignment?”.  If you start marketing to prospects with pitches, offers, and promises for follow-up that the sales team isn’t even aware are coming will drive a rift between the two teams.  If you already have a working process, great.  It’s time to devise how much of it you might want to automate and track.

You must understand both your customers and their buying behavior. You cannot execute a content marketing strategy when you don’t understand your audience.  You might get the emails sent and the web copy is done, but if you aren’t speaking to your audience’s expected outcomes then it is all in vain.

Where are the Real Costs of Marketing Automation?

The cost of marketing automation fluctuates wildly. Where the specifics differ, there are some pretty dependable rules of thumb.  If you want more functionality – you pay more.  If you need more contacts in your system and therefore sending more emails – you pay more. You want personalization and artificial intelligence – you pay more. Some of these bolt-on costs are unavoidable, but there are ways to reduce cost in the platform itself, like using reduced introductory packages from traditional providers, or using open source alternatives.

The platform is, of course, the obvious hard cost in the equation.  Unfortunately, sometimes it is the only one paid attention due during the purchase process.  Salespeople tend to like it that way.  No matter the platform that is chosen, you will still realize ongoing, unforeseen, or hidden soft costs that can add up:

  • Maintenance/upgrades/renewals (depending on your model of consumption)
  • Project discovery, kickoff, and launch
  • Marketing and Sales staff training
  • Creation of email and landing page templates
  • Running the darned thing every day

“Ok, so what?”, you might say. Before your company slaps down some cash approving a business plan, they will want to know all of the ins-and-outs.  Because, at some point, this platform and the activities surrounding it are going to be up for securitization – especially at times of renewal or upgrades.

Are We Mature Enough to Handle This?

Do you have a current lead count that warrants marketing automation?  If you don’t have them now, do you have a comprehensive plan to obtain more eyeballs that will warrant this level of sophistication?  It’s a lot of planning, content creation, gardening and reporting to ensure you are getting the value.

Also, the engine is one thing, but do you have gas to put in it?  It will take time, creativity, budget, and time (did I mention time?) to get your messaging and engagement planned and created. And this isn’t a one-time run.  It takes fresh content across many channels to keep audiences engaged. 

Pro tip: recycle.  Webinars are 5-part blog series.  White Papers are how-to-videos.  Be creative and re-use wherever possible to save your marketing staff, outsourcers, and the co-workers you will rely on as your experts to help create relevant content.

Halo Media are specialists at maturing marketing messaging, tools, and processes.
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Do We Have the Right Staff?

You should ensure you have the pit-crew to keep your investment running. Like we’ve already said, content people (designers, writers, web developers, social media cats) will make or break the brand and be the workhorse the engages your audience.

Creative staff is great, but you need some logic and data nerds in your corner, too.  If you intend to get a clear view of ROI for your marketing efforts, want to track leads through a marketing and sales funnel, and maintain data cleanliness and hygiene, you will want to invest in some smart analysts and orchestrators who are able to work in your marketing automation platform and CRM to get this whole thing stitched together.

If that starts to sound like a lot of headcount, yeah, it starts to get heavy.  Not to mention we haven’t talked about the front of the funnel where you would need Google Analytics, Pay-Per-Click, Social Media Advertising expertise and more to get visitors to your site.  Then on the other end, you might need a Marketing Qualifying step for your sales leads before handing them to Sales.

Modern marketing teams are struggling with the weight of everything needed to excel in all areas, so unless you’re part of a big shop, you will probably need to look at outsourcing to partners for some of this expertise.  Make sure you look at who makes up your team and map these needs to their skills to figure out where the gaps are.

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