Is Marketing Automation a Solution for You? Guest Post by Melanie Valenzuela

checklistUse This Checklist to See If Your Organization is Ready

When you checked your email this morning, did you find a message like this, “Dear John, have you been to Panama? You need to go today! Panama is the next big vacation destination. Get a discount if you book NOW!”? Did you spend time thinking about the offer? Would you want to get another, similar one tomorrow? Or would you respond better to, “Dear John, we’ve got some great information to share with you on the best value vacation destinations you prefer. Click here to download your favorite, and read when you’re planning that next trip.” Three destinations you’ve researched are listed.

Yes, marketing automation, done right, can help you seem more like a friend sharing information for someone’s benefit rather than a hard sell. Use the following checklist to see if this integrated solution could be exactly what your company’s digital marketing department needs….or not.

1. You Have Clearly Defined Goals. What are your goals? Automation can’t decide that for you. But it can help you achieve them once defined. All else is predicated on your definition so be sure your focus is crystal clear.

2. You Have Reasonable Expectations. Complete marketing automation is complex. Translated, this means you need to do your work to make the significant investment worth the money. Most companies don’t go as in depth as the system can provide and that’s when you hear negative comments. This isn’t just an email system. Remember adding ERP? Like that.

3. You Know What You Need. Keep in mind that you can purchase one or some components that you use most vs. buying an entire suite of automation. But you need to know your business well enough to know which will help you the most. Refer back to #1.

4. You Can Afford the Cost. A full marketing automation suite IS expensive, no one will deny that. That’s why some companies still choose to focus on content marketing and SEO. They feel that’s where their money is best spent. Where are you?

5. You Are Committed to Making It Work. You must be committed because you will need to integrate this automation piece with your CRM system. You’ll only get the maximum benefit when merging with all your client information. You’re adding another layer of information to what you have.

6. Your Staff Has the Technical Ability and Time to Learn the System. Speaking of complexity, many companies get bogged down here. It is a new layer to your system so there will be a learning curve. You staff will need the technical ability for the information you need. Is everyone not just willing, but able?

7. Your Sales Group Believes In the System. This is not just a marketing tool. This should be an integral way for your organization to reach its goals. That means sales will use the information as their own. Marketing will define conversion metrics and benchmarks and will share accountability for results. No squabbling siblings here.

8. You Will Commit to Personalizing More Content More Often. Yes, a full system will allow you to personalize content like never before. But you still have to do all the segmenting and personalize content on a regular basis. Do you have people dedicated to doing that? It will take more time than you currently spend because you’re wanting and paying for more information. This is the gem of the system. You’re the horse...automation can only lead you there….

9. You Know How to Use the Data. Even if your IT group knows how to report the data you’re asking for, you need to know what trends to look for and how to interpret the analytics. Which combination gives you the best information? How often and how much data will get you where you need to be? Do you still need some help figuring out your analytics?

Congratulations if you’ve done an honest assessment of your company and are ready to take the next step! Now it’s on to evaluating the marketing automation companies to find your best fit...

Marketing automation is meant to be a very powerful tool. It can help you create an informative and personal experience to convert people into loyal customers. You want to make sure you recognize the scope and commitment of resources it takes to make it work well.

If you’re hesitating, congrats on knowing your organization well. That doesn’t mean it can’t be a fit for you later down the road. If you want more information, talk to a digital marketing firm to help you assess your current needs. And the next time you hear someone’s opinion of marketing automation, you can decide for yourself if it’s the system or the user that needs the tweaking.

Author Bio:
Melanie Valenzuela has been writing about business topics for several years and currently writes on behalf of the digital marketing firm, Marketing Zen. When not writing, she can be found working on her world perspective through travel; or challenging her heart rate through tennis, running or attending a Kansas City Royals baseball game. You can find her on Twitter or LinkedIn.

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