TLDR: If you’re considering a new marketing automation platform, learn the processes, goals, and challenges to plan around before you make a firm decision.
No matter your organization’s maturity, implementing a new marketing automation platform is a significant undertaking. There’s a tendency for C-Suite to believe that getting off the ground with a new platform is as straightforward as flicking a switch, but in reality, there are processes, goals, and concerns your Marketing team should establish before deciding on a platform and continue to account for during the implementation process.
In this Tough Talks Made Easy, we’ll break down the considerations and challenges that arise at different stages of the process. This will help you talk with your CMO and encourage them to arrive at clear motivations for implementing a new platform, get a sound grasp of what the implementation process demands, and establish realistic performance expectations.
THINKING THROUGH YOUR DECISION
As a growing business, making that first leap to a marketing automation platform can provide powerful features and data management capabilities that facilitate you scaling upwards. For more established organizations, the decision to implement a new platform can correct the course of a tech stack mismatched with your strategy.
If you’ve reached a point of momentum where you need to attribute the value and ROI from marketing activities, or you’ve found it difficult to consolidate data from disparate sources and act on insights with your current platform, then a new marketing automation platform is a reasonable step forward.
Still, it’s crucial that leadership thoroughly understands the current state of your marketing machine and what you’re looking to gain by onboarding a new platform. Beyond the financial cost of running a platform, the real investment here is time; once marketing activities, data, and integrations start flowing through the platform, it becomes increasingly difficult to untangle yourself over the years.
With that in mind, your CMO needs to have full confidence in your chosen platform’s trajectory. Challenging as it may be to predict how you’ll use the platform five years down the line, leadership should at least be able to identify how it supports your Marketing team’s current and near-future ambitions. Encourage them to set out how platforms with good momentum or established status in the market can help the Marketing team to address its performance needs.
GETTING OFF THE GROUND
All tools come with a learning curve, and marketing automation platforms like Marketo have particularly steep gradients to conquer. Besides pushing for additional help and support from the vendor, your Marketing team should meticulously plan all that you’ll use the platform for.
Processes ultimately underlie every decision you make to get off the ground. Make leadership aware that, before you really get up and running with the platform, your Marketing team needs to clearly establish how to improve existing processes. As an example: if your team has been sending lead lists manually to Sales, Marketing and Sales need to agree on a point in the lifecycle where Sales can take over before automating the handover.
Organizationally, your CMO should be prepared to define processes centrally. Each member of your Marketing team doing their own thing without a consistent methodology or shared set of definitions can scramble your reporting, and when processes are disparate or data potentially missing, it’s difficult to verify the efficacy of your data or insights. It can be as simple as standardizing fields and fonts in list uploads, but having your CMO advocate for clear and established ways of using the platform can help to preserve the integrity of your data and encourage clarity in the team.
Breaking down the sweeping task of implementation into smaller, achievable goals is crucial to see success from the platform; make this argument to your CMO to incentivize them to work with the Marketing team and define action items at various intervals of time (e.g. Day 1, 30, 90, Year 1). These action items should be need-based yet realistic, so while leadership might have their eye on a new lead scoring model, you’d be wise to prioritize the likes of creating templates for emails and webinars and lead lifecycles for SQLs.
After you work towards your chosen milestones on Day 1, take stock of whether you met them. If not, it’s likely because the experience of using the platform is more complicated than you thought. Remind your CMO, if their expectations are still riding high, that the demo viewed during the selection process presents a simplified version of using the platform, where the technicalities are already fine-tuned. For your Marketing team to develop a comparable level of efficiency, it’s going to take time using the platform to really optimize your processes and understand how to optimize different features.
BEHIND THE SCENES
For the ways that a marketing automation platform can make your life easier and improve your performance, “automation” is somewhat of a misnomer; there is always more work to do. You’re never going to flip a switch and have everything run like clockwork, and years into using a platform, your Marketing team will still be learning on the go. Through consistent processes and realistic goal-setting, each milestone will see your Marketing team achieve more with your platform.
For any additional guidance with implementing a new platform, Revenue Pulse is here to help.