3 Critical Challenges in Implementing a Marketing Automation Platform

Thursday 27th, October 2016

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So, marketing automation is on your mind.

If you are a business owner looking to invest in a smart, next-gen automation software – we’d say, think a bit more before making that move.

Marketing automation solutions can increase your workload, alienate important prospects and cause you to add hundreds of dollars to the swear jar.

Or, it can deliver real ROI for your business!

A very famous quote by Bill Gates comes to my mind.

He says, ‘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.’

Often companies get blown away by the glowing sales copies of marketing automation solutions.

What they think marketing automation is:

Purchase MA software -> Profit

In reality, it is something like this:

Planning for MA -> Check your readiness quotient -> Purchase MA software -> Effective integration policies-> Set BAU processes -> Measurement metrics -> PROFIT!

At Xerago, we often come across clients who invest in these MA solutions – and later, struggle with integration and ROI issues.

A leading provider of financial services and one of India’s largest banks by market capitalization had invested in a marketing automation platform – and was running around 100 campaigns annually, to market its growing products & services.

Expectedly, the campaigns did not evoke sufficient returns from base marketing and CRM efforts. The bank’s IT department manually generated the data required for these campaigns – which was a huge, cumbersome and time-consuming exercise.

Xerago was selected as the marketing partner for identifying the right platform, driving the implementation and streamlining the campaign management.

Pretty soon, it was clear that a mere implementation of marketing automation platform would not help the client overcome their challenges. A central, automated process was required to access data across systems as well as plan, design, test, optimize and execute marketing efforts across channels (direct mail, email, SMS and call centers).

To address all this, Xerago customized and implemented the Unica Enterprise Marketing Management suite – which could support robust modeling, customer analysis and had right-time interaction management capabilities. In addition to that, Xerago built a library of predefined templates within Unica that was used to design, test, optimize and execute various marketing campaigns.

Xerago also assisted in setting up benchmark templates for our client’s key marketing communications such as registration alerts and models for activation propensity, response likelihood and usage.

In conclusion, several milestones were accomplished:

  • Record implementation of Enterprise Marketing Automation in 90 days.
  • Increased customer retention by 4%.
  • Reduced acquisition costs by 60% in campaigns.
  • Increased campaign volume by over 200% in six months.

As you might have observed, implementing a marketing automation system can be quite challenging.

A successful implementation requires careful planning and effective execution.

Having said that, let’s look at 3 critical challenges that marketers face while implementing a marketing automation platform.

Defining the system

The very idea of a Marketing automation application is to automate repetitive tasks and increase the efficiencies of sales and marketing processes.

Before implementing a marketing automation system, your sales and marketing teams need to work together to define the entire process of lead generation, lead nurturing, lead scoring, hand-off to sales, sales funnel management, closing deals, and hand-off to customer success managers.

The process needs to clearly define the following parameters:

  • Ideal customer profile
  • Lead qualification criteria
  • Lead status
  • Opportunity stages
  • Processes on how to handle stalled or recycled leads
  • Attribution process
  • Data related processes

Unless you put these processes in place, you would be implementing automation for an inefficient operation!

Seamless data integration

You think marketing automation alone can help you send the right message to the right customer at the right time, right?

Nope.

Unless you have a well-maintained and a ‘clean’ database, no automation software in the world can do this for you.

Therefore, it’s important that you get rid of duplicate and incomplete records in your database.

Once you have a clean database, you need to ensure there is a seamless integration with the automation platform. Data integration isn’t an easy task – particularly for large companies!

Our client’s customer data was scattered across multiple systems and databases – making it nearly impossible to design and manage targeted marketing efforts manually.

Our team spent days burning the midnight oil trying to integrate and streamline different stand-alone data sources with the automation platform.

Therefore, a clean database and tightly integrated data is crucial for running an efficient campaign.

Creating compelling content

Today’s marketing campaigns depend heavily on quality content which can convert prospects into paying customers.

You cannot convert leads in a day. They need to be educated and engaged about your products and services before you can make a sales pitch.

Therefore, you need to create and map the content to the different stages in the buying cycle.

So what are the challenges you faced while implementing an automation solution? Share your thoughts and suggestions in the comments section below.

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