Starting off slow and picking up steam as you go can help ensure you have a strong foundation that can support long-term growth

Once you identify the need for a marketing automation platform and gain buy-in for implementing that platform, what’s next? It’s time to hit the ground running… almost.

Marketing Automation Is About More Than Technology

When we think about marketing automation, the first thing that comes to mind is technology. But the truth is, there’s a lot more that goes into marketing automation success than just having the right platform.

Don’t get us wrong — having the right marketing automation platform in place is an essential first step, but it’s just that, a first step. The platform on its own won’t nurture your leads or fill your pipeline, it’s what you do with the platform that will help you achieve your marketing goals.

As such, you need to have a comprehensive strategy that clearly outlines your objectives, details how you will achieve those objectives and includes a plan for measuring success.

How to Approach Your Marketing Automation Strategy

As with any strategic endeavor, taking on too much at once or too complicated efforts before you’re ready for them can spell disaster for your marketing automation program. With that in mind, before you can start running, you need to crawl and walk.

This “crawl, walk, run” approach might seem like a trite anthem, but we hear it over and over again because it’s a tried and true method for success. Here’s what this approach might look like for your marketing automation strategy:

Crawl: Define your most important business objective and build a strong foundation by focusing on the basics

In order to understand what capabilities you need to implement and the order in which you should implement them, you need to know what it is you hope to achieve from using a marketing automation platform. For example, is your goal to generate higher quality leads? Build stronger relationships? Better understand your buyer’s journey?

There are plenty of business objectives that a marketing automation platform can support, so it’s critical that you define which one is most important to your team as you get started. From there, you can start acting on that goal by introducing the right platform capabilities.

Whatever your strategic objectives may be, your end goal from an operational standpoint should be to a build a solid, best practice-driven marketing automation program. And in order to achieve that goal, you need to build a strong foundation.

Everything you do with your marketing automation platform going forward will be based on the foundation you initially put in place, which makes it essential to ensure that foundation is well-built and can support your desired future state. Therefore, it pays to start slow by taking your time and focusing on getting the basic processes in place that you will need to fuel more complicated capabilities later on.

One foundational activity you might want to emphasize at this point is your lead scoring process. Ultimately, these scores should inform a variety of different marketing and sales efforts, which makes it critical that this process runs smoothly and accurately.

Walk: Keep initial user functionality simple and build as you go

Building on the idea above of making sure the basic foundation is strong before you do anything else, the same goes for your users’ familiarity with your marketing automation platform. Therefore, it pays to start off by releasing simpler functionality to help users learn the system and processes before moving on to more advanced capabilities.

As your users get their feet wet and both they and your foundational processes are ready for more, you can move forward by adding more information and complex processes/functionality to the mix. One such example might be integrating your social media platform with your marketing automation platform to provide a more complete picture of engagements.

Run: Continually build on your processes and capabilities

Once you’ve defined your objectives, built solid foundational processes to support those objectives and exposed your users to those processes and your platform’s basic functionality, it’s time to move full steam ahead. In other words, it’s finally time to break into that sprint by building on your foundation with more advanced processes and capabilities.

Although this is the point at which you’re running, it’s still important to test new processes and capabilities before moving ahead with them fully — think of it as a smaller, faster “crawl, walk, run” model. Additionally, you should limit the scope of each new iteration, as the smaller the project, the easier it is to manage the building, testing and implementation requirements, which ultimately allows you to react to any necessary changes and bring these progressions to life faster.