The benefits of marketing automation are no lie. There are plenty of statistics and real life examples out there to support them. For example, Forrester Research reports that B2B marketers who implement marketing automation increase their sales pipeline contributions by 10%, and organizations like the Cleveland Caveliers professional basketball team have used marketing automation to increase sales and enhance the customer experience while simultaneously reducing costs.

Of course the benefits will only start flowing if you implement your platform properly, and in some cases, that’s a big “if.” It doesn’t have to be a challenge — implementing a marketing automation platform is nothing terribly difficult — it’s just a matter of knowing what you need to do and making sure you cross all your T’s and dot your I’s.

To help you avoid a failed implementation and, more importantly, start reaping all the benefits that marketing automation has to offer, we’ve put together a checklist for you to follow.

1. Align Your Stakeholders

You want to start off by identifying and aligning all of your stakeholders. In the case of marketing automation, this is typically leaders from sales and marketing and possibly a representative from IT. Once you’ve identified your stakeholders, you need to lead group discussions in order to level set expectations. Throughout these discussions, stakeholders should express what they hope to gain from the new solution and any preferences about product choice or use. In general, your goals should be to ensure transparency among this group and get everyone on the same page, because when stakeholders are not aligned on their desires or expectations, you can be sure that some people will be unhappy with the end result.

2. Choose the Right Product

There’s a lot of marketing technology out there (and that’s an understatement — the 2015 Marketing Technology Landscape features nearly 1,900 vendors), and that means you have your choice of marketing automation solutions. So how do you pick the right one? Start by determining what you hope to get out of the system (your stakeholder discussions should help here) and mapping those desired results to capabilities. You can then compare vendors based on capabilities as well as other factors like pricing, reputation, service, etc.

3. Build a Roadmap

What will your short and long term implementation efforts look like? You need to build a roadmap to answer that question. Your roadmap should guide your marketing automation strategy by prioritizing the order in which you implement and improve on marketing automation capabilities. For example, at what point in the initial implementation will you visit your lead scoring process? And when will you revisit that process to ensure it’s still meeting your needs and/or to make any improvements that will help make your process more mature? You also need to make sure that all activities align with your stakeholders’ expectations and your overall business objectives.

4. Train Your Users

Your shiny new marketing automation platform won’t do you any good if your users don’t know what do with it, and that makes training an essential component of any implementation. You not only need to train users on how to work in the platform, but you also need to train them on any new processes that you’re implementing alongside the platform. Throughout all of this, you need to make clear to your users the benefits that marketing automation can provide and ensure they understand how the platform and any associated processes will help them do their jobs better. If you can achieve those goals, you’ll go a long way toward making sure your users actually want to use the marketing automation platform and appreciate its value, and that will make training far easier.

5. Continue to Test, Analyze and Update

Nothing is ever perfect, and that means there’s always steps you can take to improve your use of your marketing automation platform. Whether it’s tapping into new features, improving your associated processes or figuring out how to make better use of what you already have in place, you should never be satisfied with the status quo. To determine where you can make the biggest strides or have the greatest needs for improvement, take a meaningful look at the data your system produces and where your users might need some extra help. As is the case with any project, using data to inform your efforts can help you make strategic decisions about what makes the most sense. Along the same lines, you’ll also want to test the impact of any updates so that you can (a) ensure they produce the desired improvements and (b) measure the extent of your improvements.

The Benefits of Marketing Automation Are Well Within Reach

Well, there you have it, implementing marketing automation doesn’t have to be hard, it’s just a matter of knowing what you need to accomplish. If you can check these five activities off your list, then you’ll be well on your way toward reaping the benefits of an effective marketing automation program.