It’s hard to believe that marketing automation has been around for 15 years. What started as a way to automate simple email deployment at scale has evolved into modern-day marketing automation; incorporating email, website browsing information, lead scoring, and analytics to link marketing efforts to revenue.
However, much like bots writing content, marketing technology hasn’t gotten to the point of replacing humans… yet.
There is still much of the marketing strategy that isn’t, and for the time being, can’t be done by technology. When you build your marketing technology process, there are key steps that, while aided by marketing automation technology, need strategic thinking or human connection to be accomplished.
Understand your market
No amount of marketing automation will help achieve your goals unless you are targeting the right people. While there are other marketing technologies that can help assist in market research and building an ideal customer profile, often the task comes down to good, old-fashioned data crunching and talking with clients.
If you don’t have access to predictive technologies, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and do the work manually.
But, if we’re being honest, predictive technology doesn’t help companies at the initial product launch. If it’s a new product or service, your past customer profiles won’t shed much insight on what your future customers will look like. That’s when you need to go out and do some detective work.
There are different ways to accomplish this, but tried-and-true phone or online surveys are still the standby methods. Once you have an idea of who is most interested in your solution, and what challenges they’re facing, pull the data together to truly understand your target market and what they care about.
Map and match the technology and processes
With marketing automation, there are connections between all the technology platforms. As you connect your CRM (ie Salesforce, SAP Hybris, Microsoft Dynamics) to your marketing automation platform (Marketo, Eloqua, Pardot), your website, your database, and other technologies; you need to align the data connections to your workflows.
Each marketing automation platform has their own suggested ‘best practices’, but those only work if your own internal processes match the flow of data. A misalignment of data in the technology vs internal process requires a “measure twice, cut once” approach.
So, before investing the time to connect various technologies, think about how your processes will align to the data flow. Not only will this align your processes with your marketing automation, but it will go a long way to connect sales to marketing.
Know your goals
Setting up marketing automation means getting into the details. As you set up campaigns within the platform, it’s time to pull on that research and knowledge of your buyers. The design and content of your individual campaigns need to attract your buyers, get them thinking, and nurture them to the goal of the campaign. This doesn’t happen without using that gray matter between your ears.
Engaging content will nurture your prospects to a certain point, but when and what topic is needed to have a human conversation? When reading your content, your buyers’ mind will first go to how your solution applies to their situation. Figure out how to lead them into that conversation with your sales team.
Most marketing automation platforms have built in analytics tools. But if you ask most experienced marketing automation technologists, there’s much to be desired with the built-in analytics. Marketing automation technology just isn’t mature enough to clearly link marketing efforts to revenue.
While there are other analytic technologies that can help (looking at you, Qlik, Alteryx, and Tableau) it takes a human to recognize what needs to be measured, how to interpret results, and most importantly, what changes to make to iterate and improve results.
While marketing automation technology has come a long way and is constantly evolving, human intelligence will always be needed to drive the tools. It takes a team to develop the strategy behind how you utilize your technology and ensure it’s being optimized.
And once that team puts your strategy in action, you still need the person on the other end of the line, connecting with prospects at the right time – the entire goal of marketing automation. By understanding the importance behind the combination of martech and the human touch, you’ll stay one step ahead.
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