Marketing Automation vendors have done a great job of spreading the message about the benefits of technology in marketing. Industrial companies are paying attention. I’ve been asked several times about using Marketing Automation (MA) in industrial marketing. I should be excited and jumping up and down with joy, right? Not so fast! Why do I say that?
Unless you get your marketing house in order first, technology alone isn’t going to solve all your industrial lead generation problems. A popular quote by Bill Gates sums it up nicely. He said, “The first rule of any technology used in a business is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency. The second is that automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency.”
Build your industrial marketing roadmap
- Strategy: Ask and get answers to some difficult questions about what you want and expect to accomplish from your industrial marketing strategy. Listing goals such as X% increase in sales or Y% increase in leads is not enough. You’ve got to have a plan for the steps you need to take in order to achieve those goals. Instead of strategy, you may call it a roadmap or a game plan; whatever makes more sense to you but the key is to spend the time before implementing any marketing tactics or technology. Changing course midway is expensive and a waste of time.
- Audience: Get to know your target audience very well. Too often I hear industrial companies define their audience in terms of company size, industry and job titles. Firmographic data is only the baseline definition. You need to flesh it out by the roles they play in the buying journey. Some of them may have no buying authority but may be strong influencers in the decision. Think of design engineers who specify but are not involved in the functional buying process.
- Content: Audit your current stock of content assets. Buying roles play a crucial role here because different groups will have different content needs at various stages of the buying cycle. You need to build a content matrix to identify the gaps where you either need to create new or repurpose existing content. It is difficult to build a content matrix without knowing your audience beyond the basic firmographic information.
- Website: Read the content on your existing site. Does it align well with your new marketing strategy? If not, decide whether a complete redesign is required or not. An industrial website redesign should not focus only on a cosmetic facelift. The redesigned site should become a sales enabler and the hub of your online presence.
- MQL vs. SQL: Define the criteria or rules for when a prospect turns into a Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) and when they become a Sales Qualified Lead (SQL). This is crucial in the handoff from marketing to sales. Get sales involved right from the get go in creating these definitions and get them to agree to take follow up action on SQL leads; more importantly, they need to provide feedback to marketing about their experiences with these leads. It is impossible to refine lead scoring definitions without the closed-loop feedback. (See my post, “SAL is the Glue that Binds Sales and Marketing in Lead Generation”)
- Analytics: Install a good tracking system so you can measure your marketing efforts. This is vital to your success because if you can’t measure, you can’t refine. You need more than just the basic information from Google Analytics. You need more granular data on your site visitors and their interactions. This is where MA can be a big boon in gathering lead intelligence which is important for sales to get a more complete picture about the lead.
- Integration: When researching various MA packages, an important consideration should be integration with your backend CRM. It needs to be as seamless as possible otherwise you are likely to face resistance from sales. Don’t clutter up their familiar dashboard with what they consider as “unnecessary marketing data” or force them to learn a whole new system to do their job.
One final point and this is based on my own experience in implementing different MA packages for my clients. MA will certainly automate many of the steps particularly in lead scoring and nurturing but it is definitely not “set it and forget about it.” You are going to need the right people and the processes in place to get the most out of your MA implementation. Therein lies the big chunk of the cost, the monthly subscription fee for MA is just the tip of the iceberg.
You’ll be putting the cart before the horse if you start a discussion about implementing MA before you’ve gone through the steps necessary to get your industrial marketing house in order.
Your turn now, do you use Marketing Automation in your industrial marketing? What steps did you take before implementing MA?