Which stage of MA implementation are you in?

Layer One's James Pellizzi sketches the four stages of marketing automation.

Embarking on any new project or initiative has its phases, and the world of digital marketing is no different. Below are the stages that companies and marketers undergo when beginning to set up a marketing automation platform.

1. Skeptical misunderstanding

These are companies that have heard about marketing automation but are not convinced of its power. Marketers are learning about the costs and work associated with MA and have trouble differentiating between a regular email blast and a real nurture program. They ask questions such as: “Why would we invest in email marketing rather than hire an additional salesperson in the field?” They agree to start sending out newsletters and a few other emails.  Many marketers in this phase have to ask themselves if they are protecting their job by doing what has traditionally worked or whether they want to bring their company down the path to new, cutting-edge technology. My old boss used to say: “If you’re comfortable, you’re dead.” I think that applies here. This is a hard spot to be in, but this is an important first step.

If you’re unable to ignore the idea of technology driving your marketing strategy, you’ve arrived.  Start researching the various different platforms and look up 1:1 marketing to learn how you can start to use these platforms.

Warp-speed webinar:
Lead scoring in 20 minutes or less

Marketing automation doesn’t have to seem like a distant frontier. Join Layer One Media’s James Pellizzi for a hands-on webinar that delivers actionable insight you can deploy immediately. November 10, 1 p.m. EST and then on-demand.

• Score leads and separate sales-ready contacts from your nurture stream.
• Deliver only the most high-quality leads to your sales team.
• Identify where your prospects are in their buyer journeys and personalize their experiences.

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2. Cautious optimism

These companies have been doing some email marketing for a while now and see its benefit, but are questioning the point of reporting on open or click rates when they don’t actually know what is happening to associated form submits or opened emails. They can’t get any ROI. They likely have a CRM that the organization also sees some benefit in, but they are still having trouble managing the pipeline of their sales teams. They are interested in bringing their digital marketing activity to the next level, they understand the costs associated and they are putting together a roadmap of where the technology can take them. They have partnered with a digital marketing company to help them with both the roadmap and also the long journey ahead. This is an exciting spot to be in, the sort of thing that gets people out of bed in the morning and into the office quicker than others.

3. Lead-ready marketers

These companies are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. Marketers are tracking open or click rates and have their MA platform hooked up directly to the CRM.  When a prospect clicks an email or submits a form, sales teams are notified that a new lead or opportunity has been created. Marketers are cranking out content strategies for various product lines and a few nurture programs have been set up and are being monitored or enhanced. It’s more around 1:1 marketing at this point, rather than regular blasts, and as a result, prospects are receiving targeted, relevant content. These companies are also exploring a scoring model to rank the priority of leads handed to the sales teams and also are starting to talk about the results at strategy meetings. Sales managers especially are enjoying this because they go into these meetings with a list of their team’s prioritized leads. They are starting to hold their representatives more accountable for closing on marketing’s efforts. This is the stage where executives really start taking notice. They see marketing putting together a strategy and sales buying into it, and they are able to look at ROI like never before.  For many, it’s a fully realized dream they’ve been chasing for a long time.

4. 1:1 innovators

These companies have been using MA for about a year now and have fully bought into the idea. Marketing leaders have planned a big initiative around it for the upcoming year and have a full understanding of its capabilities. Each product category and brand will undergo segmentation and be put into nurture programs to generate leads for the sales teams. Marketing has become strategic, sales teams have become tactical and these companies have never seen the two departments linked this close to one another. Marketing is really good at qualifying leads and has now switched gears to generating net new contacts to put through the nurture programs that are now always on. These companies still have a huge need for sales teams, but are now training those teams to be closers and letting automation complete the rest of the customer journey. There are few companies currently at this stage, but with each passing year, more and more companies will enter this stage to the point. It has become the new norm.

Whatever stage your company is in, keep it up! The technology available right now is mashing together the past, present and future of marketing. If you’re stuck in the first phase, rather than say MA, try telling your senior-level marketing folks that there is a way to use technology to create 1:1 marketing in the digital landscape. I bet you’ll be pleasantly surprised at their reaction. You can be the driver of the technology, and they can be the driver of the strategy.