Think before you dive into the marketing automation pool

Marketing Automation Part IV: Think Before You Jump

We have spent the past three weeks talking about the importance of marketing automation, how to identify what tools you need, and tips for creating successful workflows. At this point, you know that integrating your CRM with marketing automation software is the most efficient and effective way to offer a personalized (and consistent) customer experience, you might have an arsenal of tools you’re considering, and you understand the value of automated workflows.

But, if Scott Brinker’s Marketing Technology Supergraphic still makes your head spin, you’re not alone. There are 6,829 software programs in today’s Martech landscape – and that number is only increasing. Most marketers believe that if they don’t adopt some kind of MarTech stack into their Systems, then they’re going to get left behind. And, while that may be true – a common misconception (and often wrongly marketed notion) is that MarTech programs, specifically marketing automation software, are designed to “set and forget.” That simply is not true. While a marketing automation program might speed up your efforts – it isn’t doing anything for you if you’re feeding it the wrong Story or if you don’t have the right people, skillsets, agency partners and processes in place to manage it.

So, let’s touch on that first point: Are you fueling your marketing automation programs with the wrong Story?

At the heart of transformational marketing is a Story that speaks to who you really are, why you do what you do, why that matters to your customers – and how you deliver that value to them. Your brand’s Story shapes your customer’s perception of you and their experiences with your brand. Jamie Moldafsky, CMO, Wells Fargo put it this way, “The most critical capability of the CMO is to have a profound, deep understanding of customers and their needs and know how to engage with and serve them.”

Marketing automation can help you engage with more people. It has the power to deliver your Story to the right people at the right time – when they’re ready to hear it. Couple that with predictive analytics and you’re well on your way to a supercharged sales pipeline. But, don’t be surprised to find your sales team knocking down your door when that pipeline is filled with unqualified leads due to a misalignment on consumer messaging.

The most advanced technology, automation, AI and analysis tools become irrelevant in the face of a Story that lacks simplicity, clarity and alignment. A simple, compelling Story makes your customer the hero – it becomes about the impact that your brand, product or services have on them. It gives your customers a reason to care, a reason to listen and a reason to stay. Until you nail that, we don’t even recommend implementing any new automation programs…regardless of how efficient they appear to make your marketing team.

If you do have the right Story in place and alignment across the organization on that Story, then let’s make sure to tackle the second challenge: Do you have the right Systems in place to get the most out of your marketing automation programs?

We define Systems as people, processes and technology. A great MarTech stack might check off your “advanced technology and innovation” box, but regardless of how user-friendly and intuitive these programs seem, they still require a specific skillset and knowledge to be used to their fullest potential. Gartner’s 2017-2018 CMO Spend Survey reported that “MarTech spending has fallen by 15% as CMOs pull back on last year’s high spending commitment and concerns over marketing’s capability to acquire and manage technology effectively.”

CMOs are under a lot of pressure to deliver results quickly and MarTech appeals to that need for speed. But, don’t bite the bullet until you have the right people and process in place to implement, manage, analyze and refine your marketing automation programs. Build a MarTech blueprint that captures capability requirements, then design a team and bridge gaps around those skillsets.

Marketing automation platforms are pivotal for marketing teams to be successful. However there are hundreds of tools on the market and proper research should be done to ensure the new marketing automation platform you’re company is implementing will have the ROI you’re expecting.

Online review sites are great resources for organizations researching new tools. G2 Crowd’s marketing automation research has over 140 platforms listed with tens of thousands of real-user reviews across industries and business types. Companies can research all the different platforms they’re considering for free and make a decision based on transparent insights from marketers just like them.

So, think before you jump into the MarTech pool. The best strategies are only as good as their tactical execution. It’s important to ensure that your Story is defined and that your team is aligned on the processes, performance measures and structure needed to execute the delivery of that Story. This is the only way that you will consistently and flawlessly deliver the best customer experience at every touchpoint along the customer’s journey.

You can learn more about gaining simplicity, clarity and alignment around your Story and Strategy & Systems and how to accelerate growth, by downloading our use-as-is Transformational Marketing Playbook.