So You Think You Know Marketing Automation Part I

by Michelle McGinnis on Tuesday, November 9, 2010 in Marketing Efficiency

Have you recently rolled out a marketing automation platform like Eloqua, have you been using one for awhile, or are you considering one in the near future? Welcome to the party! It’s easy to think that once you have the basics configured you can set your platform on autopilot, concentrate on executing campaigns, and see the leads roll in. 

Of course, there’s this thing called “reality,” and it will quickly negate this type of thinking. Environmental factors that are out of your control will require you to make modifications to your marketing strategy, and to the tactics you use to execute that strategy. Here are a few of examples:

  • Your company has adopted a new organizational structure and lead management process.

  • You’ve launched a new product.

  • The economy has slowed down, and leads are stuck in neutral in your sales pipeline.

  • A new CMO is asking for reports that demonstrate the impact of your campaigns on the overall business goals.

  • You just lost two team members.

  • New social media marketing channels need to be utilized or you risk losing opportunities to your competition.

  • The health of your marketing database is degrading every minute. According to Marketing Sherpa, your database health declines by twenty-five percent each year. 

This is just the tip of the iceberg. I’m not trying to keep you up at night, but being complacent is not something you can afford.

The Job of a Marketer is Never Done


Accepting that your world is always in flux is the beginning. Below are a few suggestions to help you get the most out of your marketing automation investment and stay ahead of the curve:

  • D&D: Definitions & Documentation. While definitions and documentation are probably not what you envisioned when you went into marketing, D&D will quickly become your best friend. Do you have checklists in place for your marketing processes so that everyone is on the same page? For example, when data is uploaded, is there a standardized method of collecting and updating your marketing database? If not, there needs to be because you never know when you will be hiring new team members or even losing key staff. There should be a document that outlines how to get the job done. Does marketing and sales have common definitions of the types of leads they deem acceptable? There should be. While creating definitions and documentation is not very exciting, and is definitely not something you have a lot of time for, you can easily answer your co-workers’ questions by saying “check the guide I created” – you’ll thank me for it. 


  • Enabling Sales – Wash, Rinse, Repeat. With marketing automation, the sales team has easy access to the data they need to generate opportunities and close deals by reviewing the digital body language of customers, along with sales tools they only dreamed of owning. Though these tools are powerful, they’re useless in the wrong hands. Sales people often need reminders of how best to take advantage of the available technology. In addition, there can be a lot of churn on the sales team, and objectives often change. It’s your job to keep sales up to speed, or to ensure that someone in your organization has been assigned this crucial task. You should plan on holding regular training sessions with the sales team while also monitoring their progress. We recommend that when introducing new tools to sales, start small and begin with salespeople that will be receptive to change and new technology. All you need is one good story about how you helped create a sales opportunity out of thin air using the activity data now available, and you can use that to generate momentum across the entire sales organization. I recommend reading about how Meagen Eisenberg at ArcSight created fun and educational videos for her sales team to get them to use an Outlook plugin that enabled sales to easily communicate with their prospects. See: Getting Bachelorette’s Attention


  • Measuring the Success of Your Success Metrics. How much do people in your organization really care about the metrics you’re tracking? What is important to your CMO? How can you improve on the data that she/he sees? What are the barriers to obtaining the type of metrics you need or want? We’re seeing a trend toward a higher degree of sophistication when it comes to marketing metrics. You need to be constantly reviewing and benchmarking the metrics that you currently track, and you must continuously assess if the metrics that you’re tracking are correct. How should success truly be measured? How will this help us make better decisions going forward? 

  • Nurturing Your Lead Nurturing. If you’ve launched a lead nurturing program, I personally applaud your efforts. From personal experience, I know that getting a nurturing program off the ground is not easy for a number of reasons. If your nurturing campaign has been running for a few months, it’s time to review and see how impactful it’s been. Here are some questions to ask yourself: Are your nurturing programs successful?  Which call to action is most successful? How can it be improved? Can you further tailor the content based on title, buyer persona, job role, industry, and stage in the sales cycle? How are you measuring the influence of lead nurturing on the sales pipeline and closed deals? These questions are just a few to consider. Lead nurturing needs to start somewhere, but it needs someone who is constantly looking to optimize and improve it. Read how Amber Stevens improved Eloqua’s own welcome nurturing program based on the results she saw: Justifying Adjustments – Saying Hello…Faster


In part II, we'll examine your lead scoring program, how automation can save your marriage, socializing your marketing automation platform, the 3Cs of your database, and the importance of monitoring your email deliverability. We'll also provide recommendations on the best way to tackle all of these concepts.

Marketing automation is not a static concept and neither is this topic. Stay tuned for part II, but please let us know what other questions should be considered when addressing the topics mentioned above.

Chad Horenfeldt


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