4 Marketing Automation Must-Haves For Beginners

When I think about starting my career in marketing automation, I think of  the complete confusion of how everything should be setup. This wasn’t just for our marketing team — it included our CRM admins, the sales team, communications and so many other parties. The hardest part of starting to work in an instance, whether it’s a new instance or you’re inheriting one from a previous admin, is understanding how to structure your instance in not only a consistent way, but a way that others can understand. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither was a fully automated marketing engine.

shutterstock_267821777There are many important things to focus on when starting to use a marketing automation platform such as Marketo or Eloqua. The four points below will help you get started in the right direction:

Build a Strong Foundation-
Just like building a house on sand is not a good idea, it’s also not a good idea to try and start with the most complicated functionality your marketing automation platform can offer. Start simply with the basics. Remember, you’re engaging with real people in your database! Use the marketing automation community to learn all you can about your platform when you’re not busy keeping up with buzz words, new terminology and best practices.

It’s important to know the difference between a smart campaign and a smart list, as well as keeping up with all of the new releases that could affect your day-to-day workflows. These things are what makes your growth as a marketer that much easier if you can nail down the basics first and grasp the primary concepts. If you are looking to create an email that directs to a landing page where someone can fill out a form and then be directed to a thank you page, you can take step by step tutorials on each item and then pull them all together to create a program. Platform-specific resources are available – you just need to use them.

Resources Are Key-
Has anyone ever told you that networking is important? Once you’re in the world of marketing automation, it’s more important than ever to make connections, join user groups and attend webinars. Remember, you aren’t the only one who has had to struggled to make sense of why something isn’t working or trying to figure out how to make the impossible, possible. There are thousands of people that are part of the community that are willing to assist and lend a hand when you’ve tried everything and still can’t figure it out.

Look to user groups as an essential resource – and they are across the globe and free. To find a user group near you, just check out the various communities via the provider sites or even LinkedIn groups. Groups typically meet each quarter and focus on a different topic each meeting. This is a great way to meet experts in your field that could lend a hand when needed. Last but not least, attend product webinars through the community too — these are one of the best things you could do whether you are a beginner or an expert. As a Marketo specialist, I know Marketo makes sure to appeal to all types of users from beginner to expert to show the latest releases as well as product demos. There is always a Q&A at the end for questions making the webinars even more valuable with real-time answers to your questions.

Get Logical –
Those college math classes will finally be of use when you start building your scoring programs! Scoring can often be a challenge when setting up your first program, but don’t give up quickly. Scoring is essential when your programs begin to move out of the novice stage and into the advanced stage. Try something simple like giving multiple web page visits in a day +1 or +2 points and form fills +10 or +20 points.

How to determine the best models? Walk through several scenarios for lead score threshold with your sales and marketing teams, come to a mutual agreement and use it as the scoring threshold for at least four to six months. After that, you’ll want to reevaluate the scoring model and assess how well it is working for qualifying leads. If you find people are getting too many or too little points, readjust and wait another few months to reevaluate. After a several adjustments, you should begin to realize the sweet spot for your scoring model and can continue to improve it based on internal feedback and analytics around leads reaching a qualified status. Also, remember that using scoring tokens in your programs is much easier to make updates and adjustments to compared to adding the score into the flow steps directly.

Try, Try Again –
If you’ve ever gotten something wrong the first time, you’re not the only one – this is the key to testing. While your campaign logic may make sense to you and others, there may be something minimal such as extra space making your results inaccurate. If you’re able to create a program and thoroughly test it and once everything is coming through correctly and flowing as it is expected…have someone else test it.  Never underestimate the need for testing. Another great practice is to create a program or a campaign and add a filter to only allow test leads to flow through. You can achieve this by adding a filter of email address contains @test.com. to your program. Even when you feel like you’ve mastered the platform and all of its intricacies, remember, everyone still makes mistakes and it’s just as important for a beginner to test as it is for a champion user.

Marketing automation isn’t an out-of-the-box solution and every organization has different needs. It’s important to remember that to become a marketing automation power-user, it requires hours of training, watching videos, webinars, making connections with experts in the field and a lot of practice to build a skill set. You will always make mistakes, even when you are an expert, which is why testing is so important. And remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither was your fully automated marketing engine.

Author: Taylor Enfinger @taylorenfinger is Marketing Automation Consultant (Marketo) for ANNUITAS

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