Of course the first thing to do would be to establish goals. Assuming you know what your goals are, there are a number of choices. Marketing automation is quite a broad term, as this includes prospecting, email automation, CRM systems, and telephone dialing operations. There are all sorts.
I’d suggest trying to automate everything you possibly can, providing you absolute complete structure, and making the sales process as predictable as possible.
We have a completely robust outbound sales strategy, beginning with:
We use a great tool called Found.ly, which allows us to prospect using LinkedIn’s search functionality, and then pull in our prospects to the found dashboard. All we have to do is hit the refresh button and then all of their business email addresses are found for us. This really is a brilliant tool, especially as it is currently in beta (we got a great deal!). This will truly speed up your prospecting efforts, and make light work of it too! Make sure you have your ideal customer profile and you’re good to go.
We use MailChimp right now, as it is a product already here before I came on board. It is of course a great tool, but I am looking around (always keeping options open). This allows us to keep track of everything, open rates, who forwarded what etc. and automate our drip feed campaigns. Email automation for us is massively important! I’ve been told that our sales prospecting tool, Found, is actually building email automation into their product, so we’ll see how that goes. This saves us using two different systems.
3) Making Sales
Make sure you have a great team who is informative, friendly, and not afraid to ask for the business. With inbound business, use conversion optimization tests (e.g. a/b testing) to maximize every visitor you have to your site.
So, automate where you can, make it as easy as physically possible for people to buy from you or enquire, and I think you’re good to go.
The biggest complaint I’ve heard in the last three years is, “My CEO doesn’t understand why I’m not getting results with marketing automation.”
To find the best marketing technology solution, do this kind of discovery:
1) What Do We Want to Accomplish?
Automate emails and sales alerts in response to specific use actions on web site. Automate into planned campaign the emails we are already sending as one offs? Integrate web, email, lead-scoring, social and paid search into a single unified platform? Manage events, promotions, and collect lead information on site? Deliver thousands of planned campaigns in multiple languages globally? Integrate ecommerce?
2) What Is Necessary?
For each element, determine what will be necessary to start this up: staffing, training, planning, resources (research and content), and additional systems.
What will be necessary to keep this going and actually see our planned outcomes? Staffing, planning, program and campaign creation.
3) Are We Able to Measure Success?
Don’t send a single email until you know and have complete agreement from leadership as to a single system of record.
4) How Does the Investment Fit?
Based on current revenues and growth plans, think about how this investment fits in. Marketing may be 10 percent of your SaaS company budget (could be up to 100 percent of new business for high growth companies) or 3 percent for services companies. How will this entire investment (not just the tech spend, but everything else) map to budget and are ongoing execution and staffing accounted for.
5) And Seriously, How Easy Is It to Run?
Take a test drive. Get some bake-offs going. Talk to a lot of end users.
There are great choices from Act-On and Infusionsoft, through Silverpop (B2C centric), Pardot, Eloqua, Hubspot and Marketo and lots in between. But if you start with a strong plan and reason for what you are doing, and a true assessment of what will be required to run it and make it successful, you are best positioned for success.
Marie Pearson and Mary Firme
Read Marie Pearson and Mary Firme’s answers to, “What Is the Best Marketing Automation Tool for Small and Mid-Size Companies?” on Quora.