Taming the Beast that is Marketing Automation

Here at Delphic, we’ve done quite a few Marketing Automation (MA) campaigns and have learned some things along the way. Whether you’re using MA tools like Eloqua, Marketo, Pardot, or Sitecore 8, it’s important to start with a solid plan, execute, and then iterate so you too can tame the Marketing Automation beast.

Check out our tips for optimizing that process below so your MA campaign is successful from the start!

Setting the Strategy

Define Your Goals

Start by defining what you’re trying to accomplish. Ideally, this aligns with your current overarching digital marketing strategy (if it doesn’t, make sure everyone understands why). Ensure your MA goals can be measured by identifying and agreeing upon KPIs—because if they can’t, then how can you prove all this effort is worth it in the end?

Create the Plan

Keep it simple, with the understanding that iteration is always possible. Create a PowerPoint presentation with a few slides that include:

  • Goals
  • Emails & Cadence (a.k.a. length of time between emails)
  • Landing Pages needed

It can also be helpful to determine your deadline and then work backwards from there. Only have 2 weeks before the first email goes out? Ask yourself if a campaign with 15 emails and multiple touch points and triggers is possible to set up in that timeframe. Be realistic and conservative in what you initially commit to—you can always add more later.

Above all else, make sure the departments you need to work with are able to commit to the time and effort before moving forward; without buy-in, execution will be tricky.

Managing the Execution

Words Before Design

Write the copy, then create a comp showing the words in a template. It’s often much easier for designers to frame up marketing creative with copy in mind, especially with email templates. The comp stage may reveal issues that weren’t considered without that visual framework, like stronger CTAs or extra button placements needed for a better mobile experience. It’s easier to grasp the concepts you agreed to in the original plan once they are presented visually.

Bake in Enough QA Time

Trust me on this: Quality Assurance will take longer than you think. Testing tools like Email on Acid help expedite the process, but each email should be opened and clicked in various email platforms (including mobile). There are often large differences between MS Outlook and Gmail, for example, so each time coding is adjusted, the email needs to be reviewed across platforms again. Tedious, but necessary.

Consider a Pilot

Marketing Automation is often new to sales teams and it may take some time for everyone to adjust. Work out the kinks with a smaller Sales team to suss out operational challenges. Alternatively, release a few emails first and then pause to adjust anything learned in the first sends.

Moving On to Iteration

Pour over the Data and be Ready to Pivot

Is the cadence between emails optimal? It probably won’t be at first, and that’s okay. Look at the open rates, CTRs, and conversion rates to help determine adjustments. Are there too many emails with similar content? Does one CTA outperform another? Let the data lead you to fail quickly and move on. On the flip side, be sure to identify wins to see how you can successfully use them in upcoming emails.

Testing 1 2 3 ABC

Subject line tests are the easiest to execute and should be planned from the start so that you learn as you go. Imagery tests and button color/copy tests can also move the click-through-rate needle. There are tons of different things to test and it can be daunting to flesh out a plan, but the payoff in performance can be huge.

Go Forth and Tame

Marketing Automation is rapidly becoming a cornerstone in today’s Digital Marketing mix and although it’s a lot of work, your sales team will thank you when their leads are warmed up…and they will hug you when those leads close faster and their numbers improve—or at least cover the first round at happy hour. With MA, everyone wins, so go forth and tame!

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