Marketing Automation Implementation

What should you be aware of? What are the best practices?

How do you make the jump from A to B?

Since Marketing Automation – by definition – affects workflows across teams, it is a strategic business issue. In practice, it is often an internal Change Management project, too.

Change Management

Critical factors in successful implementation are full commitment from the Leaders of the Marketing and Sales teams involved. Marketing Automation also benefits enormously from a Board-level sponsor who can communicate and mediate effectively with both teams. Objectives and KPIs must be defined early on, together with Quick Win projects that will serve as a focal point for resources, timelines and results.

“The first rule of any technology used in a business is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency.
The second is that automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency.”
Bill Gates

There is more to this quotation than one might suppose on first reading.

Yes, there are two paths you can go by

There really are two paths to optimised marketing processes. Both will lead to the desired combination of efficiency and automation.

The Process path (green)

Following this line of thought, the optimal sequence is:

  1. re-design the processes for maximise efficiency
  2. implement the new processes using automation tools

The Technology path (red)

Following this line of thought, the optimal sequence is:

  1. implement existing processes using automation tools
  2. optimise the efficiency of the automated processes

Pros and Cons of these two paths

via “automated + inefficient” | Technology path

Some argue that this route will generate more results than a “manual + efficient” process and therefore it’s worth considering as an option. This may well be true. But the danger is that if a short-term compromise method works, it gets entrenched and becomes the long-term solution.

Taking the next step towards the goal is uncomfortable for two reasons. First, because it means addressing the difficult subject of making processes efficient by changing working practices between departments; and second it means re-building the automation that has just been created.

via “manual + efficient” | Process path

By tackling the issue of changing working practices between departments first, the Marketing and the Sales team gain clarity about their collaboration. These practices are best addressed without reference to software systems.

In addition, it remains clear to all participants that the promised benefits of increased volume from automation are still to be gained.

The conclusion

Experience shows that the Process route is the more effective path to Marketing Automation.

By separating the process discussions from technology, both Marketing and Sales teams benefit:

  • both teams get a clearer idea of the functionality they each require from their respective information systems,
  • existing systems – which may be under-utilised in current processes – can be evaluated more objectively for their ability to meet new requirements,
  • if existing systems can meet the new functional requirements, the company gains from the availability of skilled staff, known tools, quicker project start, etc.,
  • new practices can be directly addressed without the unnecessary additional complication of learning new systems,
  • when new systems have to be introduced, there must be a transition period when duplicate systems are in use, incurring duplicate costs,
  • the decision to Go-Live with a new system is also a decision to treat the investment in earlier systems as sunk costs which cannot be retained.

For those who chose the technology route, Led Zeppelin offers encouragement: “There’s still time to change the road you’re on”.