The Year of Marketing Automation Readiness

January 31, 2013

By Bryan Ehrenfreund, Televerde

Nearly every piece of recent research that I have seen indicates that the adoption of marketing automation platform technology will continue to expand this year, moving beyond the traditional technology sector that has been its early home. As the footprint pushes past the estimated 20% adoption rate that exists today, we must ask: Are marketers in other industries ready?

The answer is a resounding no. I have had a number of discussions over the past year with corporate executives who still are looking to achieve the return on investment that MAP technology promises. Many executives, especially in enterprise-level organizations, confide that they underestimated the necessary change management and transformation requirements.

I observed the same thing when customer relationship management tools were introduced in the late 1990s. Companies did not plan properly and did not have the right people and training processes in place. Executives assumed that shiny new technology would solve their problems. Have we learned from that experience?

Companies that compound the problem by not having a clear and well-defined marketing process struggle to achieve results. This is a classic example of bringing in technology before addressing the more important people and process elements.

Is your organization ready for MAP technology? Consider the following areas.

  • Data quality: Conduct a data gap analysis to identify weaknesses in your marketing database. Cleanse, enrich and segment data. Ensure that it is recent, complete and accurate, so emails and other touch points reach the right people with the right message.
  • Content: Audit the content library to ensure that it is relevant and aligned with buyer needs. Develop a sufficient volume of content to sustain an ongoing nurturing program.
  • Talent and skills: Make sure your organization has people with the technical, marketing and data prowess necessary to establish, execute and optimize MAP-driven programs.
  • Process enablement: Establish a well-defined set of lead management processes. Include sales and marketing service level agreements and alignment.
  • Technology integration: Integrate your telemarketing or teleprospecting systems, CRM, website and MAP technology to collectively support a unified set of processes for lead management.
  • Business intelligence: Create MAP-driven programs that fulfill your objectives and that are relevant to target markets, accounts, personas and stages of the buying cycle.
  • Calls to action: Prepare compelling offers that are aligned with calls-to-action that move potential buyers to the next stage of the buying process.
  • Tele practices: Lead-nurturing conversations are different from traditional ready-to-buy-now conversations. Using a MAP only to batch and blast emails does not approach optimal use of the technology. Human touch must be embedded at appropriate intervals in the MAP-driven process. It requires a unique skill set.
  • Website optimization: Marketing automation is a web-centric technology that works best when your website has been optimized with conversion forms, strong offers, relevant content, easy site navigation, search-engine optimization that supports inbound leads, and other elements.

"The Year of Marketing Automation Readiness." Bryan Ehrenfreund, Televerde. BMA Buzz. 1/31/13.