One of the first questions I typically get about marketing automation from folks who are new to automation is “how hard is it to get started?”
The short answer is that it isn’t difficult or complicated at all. Of course, you can make it difficult – especially if you begin with the idea that you have to have your programs set up and working to perfection right from the beginning.
That just isn’t the way things work in the real world. The good news is that you can start right away and build capability over time. Marketers should be prepared to experiment their way to success. More than ever that means getting started with new initiatives quickly.
My perspective is that marketers are already accomplishing a lot of the tasks that will be enhanced by marketing automation, so it’s more a matter of moving into the platform step-by-step instead of waiting to deploy until everything is set up perfectly.
Start with a few simple first steps and then add sophistication over time. You can easily continue with the steps you are already doing and then build on them in marketing automation over time.
Here are some great first steps that bring tremendous value:
Put visitor tracking in place
Begin to track website visitors (anonymous at first) by placing the marketing automation vendor’s first-party tracking code on your website pages. This is very similar to the code from vendors like Google, and it acts as the tracking mechanism for site visitors. You’ll begin to collect visitor information right away. It’s what tracks anonymous visitors, and tells you of visits from known (identified) visitors. Incidentally, when an anonymous visitor becomes a known visitor their visit history will be updated with their prior anonymous visits.
Create forms and offers to use on your site
Create a few offers for premium content that you already have (white papers, case studies, webcast recordings, special offers, events, etc.) and build site forms or Dynamic Progressive forms so you can capture the identity of prospects who are interested in them. You’ll know when they view them!
Build a few Campaigns
There are many types of campaigns, from Drip and nurture campaigns that you’ll probably want to have running continuously. You’ll also have one-off / one-time campaigns for things like newsletters and promotions, webinars or special events that you may be conducting.
It’s just a matter of creating a few emails and landing pages for your campaign offers, selecting the list segments you would like to mail to, and then building a simple campaign that carries out your instructions for when to mail, and what to do after a prospect visits, what to trigger, and whom to alert.
After you load in you database of prospects, you’d be able to begin outbound campaigning.
Upload a Database
Audience list selection and segmentation is straightforward and allows you to select the right people to communicate to, by title, by account, by job function, by persona – or any other demographic information you choose.
Upload your existing database into the marketing automation system so you can send campaign emails and begin to identify site visitors. When prospects visit your site in response to campaign emails that you send them, the prospect is identified and the visit is noted in the system. A record of all of the pages that they viewed is recorded, as well as the duration of their visit. All subsequent visits will be recorded as well even ones not triggered by clicking on an email.
Get Lead Alerts working
You can alert your sales or inside-sales people when specific prospects meet pre-determined conditions that you define as “showing interest.” Lead scoring is a simple way of looking at prospect activity across many dimensions in order to trigger alerts only when specific conditions, such as number of visits, demographic profile, or job title, etc. meet certain criteria.
Marketing Automation lets you see the results of your work. You can track prospect activity and view the progress of prospects through the various phases of your campaigns. Measurements and reporting can be as sophisticated as you need, but just start simply and grow your sophistication over time.
There are so many additional capabilities in marketing automation, including integrating with CRM systems, AdWords and webinar systems. But you don’t need to do that right away in order to get great value. You will likely integrate those systems a bit later.
You don’t have to do everything at once. Just make sure you start right away.