Marketing Automation – Deploying Beyond the Pilot

For most of my clients who are looking to integrate marketing automation into their overall marketing landscape, at some point the question surfaces about what should be the best deployment strategy. Typical areas for discussion are

  • How do I make a noticeable difference to our performance without reaching full deployment?
  • Should I deploy using in-house resources or using partners?
  • How should I phase the deployment of functionality?
  • How should I phase the geographic deployment?
I’ve seen, lead and advised on a number of Marketing Automation projects I have a few observations to make: If you are involved in the deployment decisions around Marketing Automation, here are a few things to consider.

This is not a pilot – it’s Phase One

Marketing Automation - Deploying Beyond the Pilot Purple Salix
There’s no going back on Marketing Transformation. That would imply that you could try being more responsive and relevant to your customers and prospects, but that you could go back to your old ways if it doesn’t work out. That’s clearly non-sensical. Even if you screw up the whole thing you’ll have to keep transforming until you build something better!
So if we accept that, our objective is not to execute a pilot. Our ultimate goal is, of course, to get the whole marketing function using a redesigned approach (combining people, processes and tools) so that we deliver greater value to the marketplace. We need to keep focussing on that goal while we make our first baby steps.
Of course, it makes sense to initially focus on a relatively small number of people and to exercise only a small subset of the capabilities available. This is Phase One of the plan – and the learnings from this initial phase will help define how best to proceed in subsequent phases.

Use Quick Wins to buy some time

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In this initial phase there is typically lots of interest/inspection from across the organisation, and a desire to see early results. The challenge, however, is that we are unlikely to see significant results in terms of revenue performance for the following reasons
  • Given the length of B2B buying cycles, it will take time for any meaningful financial results to show up.
  • During the first phase you probably don’t have enough scale to make an appreciable difference
  • Frequently in the early days we start with taking existing marketing approaches and simply migrating them to a new toolset. So it’s unlikely to deliver any incremental value in the eyes of your customers
I would strongly recommend that while your busy architecting your approach to nurturing streams, content strategy and all the other areas of the transformation you keep a parallel focus on tweaking your existing operations using your new Marketing Automation platform. For instance, many companies use different platforms for different channels (e.g. Webinars and email campaigns). By simply leveraging the cross-channel integration capabilities of the MA platform you can almost certainly identify some short term opportunities enhance the customer experience and deliver some improved results – or at least some more integrated insight.

The Phase Two Balancing Act

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Sadly many organisations (particularly at the Executive level, if I’m honest) make the mistake of assuming that the next step after some early successes is simply to take what you’ve developed and deploy it everywhere. But this is naive.
When we get to the next phase of marketing automation deployment there are two audiences that need to be considered. On the one hand
the teams that worked with you in the first phase will most likely be impatient to explore increasing levels of sophistication – for example to expand into more sophisticated nurturing approaches. However at the same time as you deploy to new teams you will need to take them on an accelerated version of the steps that you used with your first cohort. There may also be some new requirements to be catered for that weren’t part of the first phase.
So therefor you need to think about how you are going to manage these two audiences at the same time. Even if you dedicate resources to onboarding new users and teams, your initial users are going to want to dive deeper so you will want to consider how much support that needs from you, whether you need to help them to become self sufficient, or to adopt some other approach. I don’t thing there’s a right or wrong answer here – but thinking about this ahead of time will save you additional grief.

Are we there yet?

Marketing Automation - Deploying Beyond the Pilot Purple Salix
Transforming your marketing approach is a never-ending process. It’s not for everyone. But helping build the marketing function that you’ve always aspired to be a part of is an inspiring proposition. If you are leading a marketing automation project such as this it will take time, energy, passion and agility. And one of your greatest challenges will be managing the expectations and impatience of your bosses. But, from personal experience, I can guarantee it could be the highlight of your career.

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