Searching for ROI from Marketing Automation? 5 Ways to Lay The Right Groundwork

Marketing automation is not just a plug-and-play bolt-on for your current marketing strategies. It isn’t something you just give the green light on and it will work, miraculously making your entire multichannel marketing mix easier to manage. It requires work. If you want to get more ROI, it requires an initial investment, which this piece outlines.

The aim of this investment, in terms of team time, management initiative, and other assets or external service providers, is to bridge the gap between CMO objectives and individual customer needs. Here is how you lay the right groundwork.

  1. Identify goals. Go right back to your key business and marketing objectives. Not just for the quarter, but for the year, even the next few years. Look at how automation can help achieve those. Chris Fletcher, research director for enterprise applications at Gartner has said that, “Organizational alignment and vision is your number one priority. Make sure that whatever you do in the marketing world is aligned with the top level corporate goals. Those usually align around things like customer acquisition, retention.”

  1. Walk before you run. You can’t automate everything all at once, nor can you do it too quickly and then wonder why you aren’t getting an immediate ROI. Attempt automation within the context of a small subsection of your customer database, with achievable goals on a manageable timescale.

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  1. Time is the key investment. One of the quickest way to cripple a new marketing initiative is to sign up and implement new software, like automation, segmentation and social listening services, and then fail to have the people in change to manage to new tools.

    This is perhaps the best way to make a new initiative invalid. Gerry Brown, senior digital marketing analyst at Ovum, explains: “You need to get the right skills and the right individuals in place to manage and develop a system strategically over two to three years. Understand that in order to get the maximum out of the system that you need to have some thinking time, some development time.”

  1. Ensure you can produce content. You can’t have a strategy which depends on content lacking that key ingredient. It would be like a car without gas. It has to be relevant to your audience, the various points in their purchasing cycles, it should engage with all the demographic information you have about them, and be tailored according to the various segmented elements of your customer base. It should be designed to engage them all, which means thought, effort and a financial investment is necessary to have a content engine in place to drive an automated marketing strategy forward.

  1. Set actionable metrics. It isn’t all about the open and click through rates. Just as social media marketers are learning that likes don’t translate into revenue; when it comes to automated multi-channel campaigns, it ultimately comes down to the impact on revenue. Tie the goals in with the actions closely enough to see results. Fletcher at Gartner recommends that you, “make sure that you’re generating some metrics that can show causality and show the contribution of marketing to achieving the top-level corporate goals.”

As we have suggested before, a lean approach should be adopted. Implement, measure, refine, and repeat. This way the information you have on customer segments can be brought ever closer to their individual pain points and how your products or services solve those unique problems. At the end of the day customers have to know, and know in a way which – and this is where it becomes subjective – allows them to feel that your brand cares about them, as an individual.

Automation across channels bridges the time gap, between where a person needs something and where your brand demonstrates it can meet that need. Hence, the value in listening across social media channels, as a means of facilitating actions which are beneficial to the customers and the brands.

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