I have been reading a fair amount on industry blogs lately, about how one should implement an Inbound Marketing Automation System in one’s b2b organization. Usually the advice given suggests that you start with one small piece of the puzzle and then take a step-by-step approach to implementing a complete inbound marketing automation system.
It sounds logical and sensible, but for 2 reasons, I caution you against using this approach:
- You don’t build strong, complex structures by starting to dig a hole and then pouring in some concrete; you begin with a Plan. You spend a bunch of time designing the building first, identifying all if of its pieces, and making sure that they all work together to produce the desired function and form. And then you begin building it according to your plan. One step at a time, but all orchestrated towards the common vision of what that building is going to be. In terms of your Sales and Marketing Automation system (or SAMA, as we call it), you start with a plan which shows which pieces you are going to automate, when each one will be tackled, how they will work together, and you specify precisely what each one will do to assist your sales and marketing people. How else can you design the overall process your company will need, to make use of the SAMA system efficiently?
- The entire Inbound funnel requires automation because of the speed of response required and the sheer volume of information that has to be processed. Automating parts, but leaving others manual, guarantees failure.
From our perspective, the implementation should be staged into a design phase, followed by an execution phase.
The design phase produces, amongst other deliverables such as the design and schedule, a roadmap (the Project Plan), which takes me from where I am today, to where I want to be with Inbound Marketing. The roadmap must deal with the following steps:
- Educating yourself on the automation tools and inbound marketing services out there so that you know which ones offer the best price/value relationship
- Make a short-list of these automation tools and evaluate them. Choose each tool and service. If you’d like to know more about doing this, our blog on Choosing a Sales and Inbound Marketing Automation System will help.
- Design your online identity by selecting your primary and secondary keywords or keyword phrases
- Create compelling content
- Align your content with your keyword identity for optimum Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
- Automate the process
- Train your users
- Promote (links)
- Promote (social media).
These last two steps really drive up the inbound volume of prospects, so you want to have the inbound marketing automation system in place by then.
Your actual SAMA Roadmap is going to contain much more detail than this, and you should not be surprised if the first 2 steps take a few months elapsed. There are indeed a great many automation tools and options available on the market, and new ones are announced often. Once you know which tools you are going to use, you must then analyze and test their technical specifications, and in particular, their Application Programming Interfaces (APIs), to understand what you must do to integrate the various tools or services . If necessary, design, build and then test any software you need to make it all work seamlessly.
Of course, you could also save yourself a great deal of time and money and hire an expert to help:
- Design your SAMA roadmap
- Agree on what measures and metrics will be considered a success, including your Inbound Marketing Automation ROI
- Choose from among the available automation tools and inbound marketing services
- Specify any needed software connections between these automation tools
- Implement the automation tool set
- Train your people
- Set up campaign automation (lead nurturing with drip emails)
- Chair combined meetings of sales and marketing people to ensure the capture of your best practices regarding what makes a good sales lead, how to nurture sales leads, and how to sell the hot sales prospects.
- Set up the sales lead scoring and grading rules
- Monitor the resulting processes and check the results against the desired ROI objectives.
Any mix of the above services and help may be needed, it all depends on how technical you are and how much time you have to dedicate to the project.
If, on the other hand, you are looking for an easier route, check out our whitepaper on the seven steps we’ve taken to make Sales & Marketing Automation easy.
Bit-by-Bit #14, from Eric.