The First 3 Actions to Take After Buying Marketing Automation Software
You’ve spent months poring over various marketing automation solutions, comparing feature lists, selling the idea to higher-ups, doing demos, negotiating with vendors… it’s practically been your fulltime job! Thankfully, you finally bit the bullet and decided to buy a marketing automation system. Congratulations!
But now what?
After the long, and often tedious marketing automation buying process, it’s natural to want to take a break from even thinking about software. We bought it, so let’s just use it already! Enough talk, let’s see it in action!
Even at Capterra, where it’s my job to consult people on buying software every day, it was hard to fight the urge to jump right in and start experimenting with our own marketing automation software when we bought it last year.
But the first days, weeks, and even months of implementing marketing automation are the most critical to ensure your company’s future success with the system. If you don’t plan properly, you could end up creating a lot more work for yourself down the road (when you’ll have to re-configure and re-organize all your contacts and content).
Here are three crucial steps to take immediately after buying marketing automation that’ll set you on the path to software success:
1. Sync your CRM and/or migrate your email database
What’s a marketing tool without people to market to? Not much. Typically, your marketing automation provider will give you a piece of tracking code to put on your website so you can start to track new visitors on your site right away. But you probably already have a database of customers and prospects that you’ve marketed to in the past- either in your customer relationship management (CRM) software or in your email marketing software (or sometimes, in a spreadsheet). Make sure that you import or sync all of those contacts— plus their relevant info—to the new system before you start using it. That way you won’t lose anybody important in the migration.
But what exactly is their relevant info? You may not know all the data fields you’ll need for future marketing campaigns, but it’s better to be more comprehensive in the beginning, and sync all of your leads only once. That’s much better than having to append additional data to the same contacts (and overwrite information) later on. For instance, will you ever need to segment leads based on their zip code? Maybe, maybe not. But if you have their zip code info now, it’s not a bad idea to sync that information into your marketing automation system. The more complete your contact records are, the less likely you’ll have errors when creating your campaigns and targeting prospects later.
Many marketing automation tools integrate directly with popular CRMs, and since they have a bi-directional sync, they update contacts in real-time. For those of you going that route, you’ll have less to worry about in this step. However, one thing every company likely has is a list of people who have opted out of their sales and marketing emails in the past (it’s probably in your old email marketing software). Don’t forget to upload all of your opt-outs and make sure they are unsubscribed in the new marketing automation system, as well. Otherwise, you risk violating CAN-SPAM compliancy laws.
2. Take inventory of your content
Once you’ve populated your system with both old and new contacts, you’ll probably want to, ya know, market to them. But you need content to do that. If you didn’t take inventory of all your marketing content while you were shopping for marketing automation software, now’s the time to sort through all those old blog posts, white papers, eBooks, videos, newsletters and whatever else you’ve got lying around.
Evaluate the content and decide if it would be a good resource to help either attract new leads or nurture existing ones. Maybe some of it was never published; maybe some of it could use refreshing; maybe you could gate some of it behind a download form and use it to generate new leads. Whatever the case, chances are that you’re sitting on a goldmine of content if you just take the time to dig it all up. Refreshing and repurposing existing content will get you up and running and optimizing your marketing automation campaigns a lot quicker than if you have to create all new content from scratch.
3. Meet with Sales (and then Customer Service)
Before you hit send on that old content, you need to know which prospects to send it to. Marketing automation companies will explain during your training that you should build a lead scoring model to help you segment and prioritize prospects for follow-up. To build that model effectively for your company, you need to understand what your sales team considers a “sales-ready” lead. Set up a meeting with sales to get on the same page as far as what “sales-ready” means to them. During that meeting, it’s also a good idea to explain how the marketing automation software will, for one, help you get them better quality leads, and for two, help them decide who are the hottest prospects and how to follow-up with them.
With a clear definition of what information they need to convert a prospect to a customer, you’ll get a better picture of how to grade prospects based on their company criteria and score them based on the actions they take on your site. You can use the prospect grades to create different lists or marketing tracks. Within each of those groups, you’ll know the actions you’re trying to drive to increase a lead’s score, and can then decide what type of content you need to send them at each step along the way.
But don’t just stop with Sales! While generating revenue is the end-goal of marketing automation, that doesn’t mean you should ignore revenue potential from your existing customers. After you’ve met with your sales team, meet with customer service or the account management team and brainstorm how you’ll use the software to nurture existing customers.
It may sound daunting, but taking these three steps in the beginning of your marketing automation adventure will ultimately make for a much more productive use of the software down the road. Many companies spend months and months before they’re smooth-sailing with marketing automation (and you may too), but at least you know the fast-track secrets to getting started the right way.
If you’ve already bought marketing automation, how long did it take you to do these three steps? Would you recommend doing something else first?