Marketing Automation: 5 Do’s and Don’ts

Last week I ran the latest of my “Making Marketing Automation Work” days at B2B Marketing’s offices in London. I think this is the fourth time of running this day, and each time is very different. Two years ago it was primarily of interest only to the larger players – but I’ve noticed a distinct shift in SME interest of late. Some of that is just the natural flow of things, but I think it also has a lot to do with the emergence of lower cost, simpler solutions from the likes of Act-On and Pardot, but also the growing number of agencies offering full managed services, meaning that you can have access to skilled resource to operate the tools.

After the course I was asked to write up a quick list of do’s and don’ts – these can also be found on the B2B Marketing Blog, but I thought it would be helpful to repost them here – I believe that is what we call content repurposing, isn’t it?


  • Sell to Senior Leadership. Your project will drive a fundamental redesign in the way that you approach marketing in your organisation, and the way that Marketing relates to other areas of the business (e.g. Sales). You need to set expectations accordingly and enlist their support.
  • Build a clear vision of where you’re heading that your whole team can buy into. Do this as a collaborative process with the team – it will help sustain you when you hit the inevitable challenges ahead.
  • Audit your current state – Data, Content, Skills, Processes, Sales Alignment. Some of this may look ugly – but from there you can build a proactive plan to address. Otherwise these areas will only come back to bite you later.
  • Get some help. You can’t do this alone – so build a strong team around you to compliment the skills you have – from within your team, from your agencies, from consultants with real world experience (perhaps I can help there 🙂 ). There’s also lots of help available online from the automation vendors’ marketing materials.
  • Communicate Often. People absorb change at different rates, so build a comms plan for all your key internal stakeholders and communicate regularly. Perhaps even use the platform to deliver some of  your comms strategy.


  • Don’t use the term marketing automation. It makes it sound like a simple software deployment, and to the FD sounds simply a way to reduce marketing cost and headcount. This is a transformational journey involving cultural change and process evolution as well as technology.
  • Don’t try to do everything at once. Analyse where the greatest current pain points are and address those first. Focus on some early wins that will give you some breathing space – but most successful transformations will take at least a couple of years.
  • Don’t over-complicate. It’s very easy to get carried away with the rich functionality of the technology. Remember: we are trying to drive additional revenue and customer insight, not to build a robot.
  • Don’t ignore the human in the machine. In most cases, B2B sales involve a human at some point. Ensure that your processes get the right insight to the right human (sales, telemarketing etc) who can then use his/her skill and flexibility to deliver the best outcome.
  • Don’t be afraid to fail. Automation platforms offer a fabulous sandbox for experimentation. Take a scientific approach to all you do – form a hypothesis, test it, observe the results, iterate.
  • And finally – enjoy the journey. You’re really making a difference to your company, and developing your skills as a marketer.

What hints and tips would you like to offer from your experiences?

Maybe I might see you at the next workshop – you can find the schedule here

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