I recently had a lengthy conversation with a field nurse who recently began using a new state-of-the -art mobile clinical application. Prior to deployment of the application, most of her work was done with written charts and notes. She, along with all of the other nurses, was very excited to have this new tool that was designed to streamline laborious processes. She was very disappointed with the application, however, and there was a near revolt by the field nurses because the training and onboarding was grossly inadequate. The nurses were left to flounder in the field with inadequate support and the first few months of the application’s use were a disaster.
While the application was truly innovative, best in class, and had everything a field nurse could ever need, the ramp up was soured due to poor planning. This scenario plays out often when companies invest in expensive technology to drive critical processes but neglect key steps during implementation. End-user buy-in and acceptance is the most critical part of this process. If you win the hearts and minds of users, your technology project will be a raging success.
Marketing automation, as it evolves into a mission-critical application, has had its share of sorrows in the early adopter stage. It provides a myriad of valuable tools for the marketer, such as nurture marketing programs, landing pages, event management, and website visitor tracking. Yet the value of these tools is diminished if the end-user experience is not positive early on. What makes the challenges of marketing automation somewhat unique is that there are few end users (marketers) but many consumers of the system output (sales). Marketing must not only take all the right steps for their own successful deployment, but they must also ensure that the system is satisfying the demands of sales.
Ultimately, marketing is a service center for sales and marketing automation should be used to improve the quality, quantity, and velocity of leads. This is the lifeblood of sales. Challenges aside, there are several tried and true methods to ensure the critical early months of a marketing automation deployment are successful for all involved. Some key steps that should always be taken are as follows:
- Begin with a landing page. One of the first things a marketer should do is set up a quality landing page with a high-value asset behind it. Whether this is a white paper, video, demo, or industry research, now is the time to put your best foot forward. The landing page can quickly be used for PPC, social, email, and direct sales prospecting campaigns. The landing page will immediately begin placing cookies on responders and the system can then begin tracking down-stream Web visits.
- Track Web activity. This should immediately be established on your site, blog, and microsites. The tracking should be set up so that Web activity alerts begin flowing to sales rather quickly. This gives marketing an opportunity to introduce the concept of Web visitor tracking to sales. Getting sales excited about the efforts from marketing and their new technology quickly will give marketing some clout and support from the sales organization.
- Start with some micro-campaigns. Don’t try to boil the ocean with multi-step nurture programs day one. Like the landing page example, you want to get some immediate and valuable activity flowing into the system. Begin with small campaigns targeting your best prospects, or even customers. Offer some valuable educational content and information. This will help in several ways. Firstly, you will “warm up” your IP and ensure better long-term deliverability. You will also drive your best prospects/customers to your site and generate high-value Web activity. This will trigger alerts to sales, as well as get them excited and supportive of your efforts.
- Show your work. Get reports on lead activity into the hands of sales and sales management quickly. The aforementioned activities will result in some compelling reports right away. Set up some report subscriptions for key stakeholders to showcase the valuable data output from the marketing automation system.
The steps outlined above are relatively simple to accomplish. They’re designed to get data flowing into the system and help marketing win the hearts and minds of their key stakeholders, sales, and sales management. Getting them supportive and excited about the new marketing automation technology will ensure long-term success.
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