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Orig. Post January 13, 2015 by Sierra Summers, Business 2 Community | Re-Post January 26, 2015

shutterstock_144352681Now that you’ve selected your marketing automation platform (MAP), it is time to implement. Marketing automation is not a one size fits all approach and each implementation must be done to align with the current business systems and processes currently in place. Your marketing automation journey can be broken down into these four areas: Evaluation and selection, Demand Generation Strategy , Optimization, and Implementation of the system.

What is your Demand Generation Strategy?

Knowing your Demand Generation Strategy will help you to plan for the road ahead. Think about building a house…you want a solid foundation. Whether you are building a country ranch or a high rise, the foundation needs to be strong and secure. The same applies to your implementation. If you know that you are going to be working with custom objects within your customer resource management (CRM), you need to make sure you are implementing your MAP to support custom objects. These are the types of questions you must ask as you begin your implementation.

All good Demand Generation Strategies start with your buyers, not with technology (including marketing automation.) Understanding your buyers purchase process, developing the content for each stage of their buying journey and then establishing a qualification model that aligns to their buying process is key. It is then you can begin to determine the best way to implement so that the technology can enable the strategy:

  • Will you sync all leads over to your CRM or wait until they have reached a desired lead qualification stage?
  • Will other systems be integrated into your MAP? Perhaps a webinar or data enrichment vendor?
  • How will you handle contacts that come into your Demand Generation program that do not fit your ideal buyer persona?

Integrated technologies allow you to enhance your Demand Generation Strategy. Before connecting third party technologies ensure you have a clear understanding of where these technologies sit in your Demand Generation Strategy, how they will be used and what you plan on achieving.

As you build out your Demand Generation Strategy there are some technical elements that you will need to consider

Integration with your CRM

The benefits of a MAP are significant. However, if you choose to not integrate your MAP with your CRM not only are you losing features and functionality, you are limiting the visibility you will have into the buyers interaction with your content and the path they have taken to purchase. Once the leads are passed over to sales, marketing will have a very limited view which will have a negative impact on reporting.

As you look to integrate these two systems together the following must be considered:

  • Are the right business stakeholders involved? Ensure you have the business owners in the room when you are discussing changes to your organization’s CRM platform. Developing the right business case in coordination with the Sales Operations team rather than just telling the CRM team about the changes you want to make to their system will result in better alignment and deliver more value from the use of marketing automation
  • Have a game plan – document the workflows for the handling and processing of leads including the business rules and Service Level Agreements (SLAs). These documents will serve as the blueprint to the integration and detail when the systems sync, which fields sync and any custom work that needs to be done.
  • Document your Governance Standards. Set clear guidelines internally on who is responsible for the various systems. Will the marketing team have access to create their own fields with the CRM or is there a process that must be followed? Who needs to be notified of changes within one or both systems? Understanding the “chain of command” will ensure better operational efficiency.

Training and Access

As part of the implementation process, think about who should have access and what type of access they will require based on their roles and responsibility. Executives may need access to reporting but might not need full admin access. What about the web team, do they need access to deploy emails? Create a Span of Control document that lists out the users and the various features and functionalities they will have access to as this will guide how you provision your solution.

One of the short comings we see often in our work with clients is the limited training many of the personnel have on the actual platform. Be sure to set clear guidelines and timeline about require training that is needed for each role. Most vendors have robust training plans and certifications that enable better use of the system itself. Overlooking this step will limit the value received from the investment and it should be completed by any individual before they are granted administrative access

Summary

Marketing Automation is a key enabler of any Demand Generation Strategy. While it should not be the starting point, detailed planning on how your solution will be implemented to support the strategy and better connect with your buyers is worth the time and effort and in the long run will provide better value.

It is important to remember that not every organization is the same and that a cookie-cutter approach will not generally be the best fit for your business. In fact, one business unit in a company may have a completely different implementation than its sister company, so planning is crucial and make sure to set realistic expectations.

During your implementation be sure to document process and decisions along the way. This ensures that if a change needs to be made six weeks or six months down the road, there is clear understanding of the impact and what may be affected by those changes.

How to Have a Successful Marketing Automation Implementation

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