Partner guest blog

How to take your marketing automation to continuous development mode

Many companies have a fantastic marketing automation platform but it is mostly used for manual campaign sends. Why are so many companies stuck with their marketing automation use and how can you move forward? In this blog post, you’ll find ideas on how to start continuous improvement – the phase where marketing automation actually pays off.

Many companies are struggling after the initial implementation of a new marketing automation tool. Are you one of them?

How to know if you are stuck

You are probably stuck if you can relate to these situations:

  • You have a marketing automation tool implemented, but you think it could be used more extensively.
  • You have few or no automations running at the moment.
  • Most activities are done manually.
  • You are spending most of your efforts on mass sends, such as newsletters or short-lived campaigns.
  • There are no set KPI’s for marketing automation.
  • There is no clear owner for marketing automation in your company.

The difference between implementation and continuous improvement

Whether you are taking a new tool into use or are migrating from an existing one, most marketing automation engagements start off with an implementation project.

It would be wrong to assume your marketing automation is “ready” after this setup. Typically, the tool is ready for your use, but there are not so many automations running yet. It’s like a Ferrari sitting in your garage. You’ve paid for it but haven’t taken it for a ride.

Continuous improvement starts after the implementation project and aims to get most out of your investment. It includes activities such as:

  • Testing different audiences, messaging, timing
  • Optimizing existing activities
  • Implementing new automated messages and activities
  • Enriching your data by adding new data sources
  • Etc.

Marketing automation is not a set-it-and-forget-it type of project. It’s not a project at all. It’s a new continuous process in your business (and a fairly important one, usually).

How to get moving: clarify your goals

When something isn’t going forward, it’s usually because we are doing something else. I’ve never met a marketing team that would have extra time on their hands. It’s easy to understand how developing marketing automation might not be on anyone’s daily agenda.

If this is your situation, it might be a good idea to step back and clarify what your goals for marketing automation really are.

What were your expectations when entering the implementation project? What problems did you expect automation to solve? Which KPI’s did you expect to take to new heights?

If your goals weren’t very clear initially, it’s good to set them now. How might always-on care models, personalised and timely communication help in developing your customer experience? How might it reflect on your revenue and other significant goals? Are you building a future-proof marketing register from 1st party data? Do you need to learn more about your customers to serve them better?

Whatever your primary goal is, it’s good to articulate that as your marketing automation vision and goals. If your goals for marketing automation are significant enough, they should be interesting for your top management, and you should be able to find time by eliminating other activities that have less expected impact. It’s like letting go of your scooter because now you have a Ferrari in the garage.

If your goals for marketing automation are significant enough, they should be interesting for your top management.

How to get moving: understand what’s possible

If you’ve never been developing marketing automation before, it might be hard to know what’s possible.

I recommend setting some time aside for your own learning and understanding of the topic. Talk to colleagues, friends and people in your network about their experiences. Take a course. Attend a webinar. There’s relatively few assets online about running continuous marketing automation but more specific blog posts can be found easily.

How to get moving: find a partner

Finally, you can always find a partner to do the heavy lifting for you.

Working with a partner has some benefits:

  • You’ll get up and running quickly.
  • They’ve seen situations like yours and know the typical pitfalls.
  • If your team is full of work, a partner can balance your workload.
  • A good partnership is also a place to learn and in the long run you can take things into your own hands, if that’s your goal.

Hopkins is a Custobar partner and one of the largest digital marketing agencies in Finland.