Marketing Automation Best Practices for Small Businesses 

Marketing Automation Best Practices for Small Businesses 

Marketing automation best practices are complex. Marketing automation best practices platforms have become quite "hot" lately. If you haven't adopted marketing automation best practices yet, you will - soon. What's not to love about the idea of marketing automation? Driving more qualified leads to sales, measuring the impact of marketing automation best practices, managing the marketing funnel - the stuff the great business books are written about.

If only it were that easy. While marketing automation best practices can undoubtedly deliver tremendous value, platforms in and of themselves are only part of the solution. To deliver on the promise of marketing automation best practices, companies must put much hard work into developing proper processes and internal resources that can turn vision into reality. Unfortunately, many marketers learn this too late. They purchase the technology and then create the strategy around it, often leading to a technology and resource quagmire before diving into marketing automation best practices.

Here are eight Marketing automation best practices - some tactical, some strategic - to help you maximize your Marketing automation best practices investment and reap all the benefits of this powerful technology:

  1. Define your business goals and objectives
  2. Understand your target audience
  3. Develop your buyer personas
  4. Create a lead scoring model
  5. Develop your content strategy
  6. Create a lead nurturing program
  7. Implement lead lifecycle management
  8. Measure, measure, measure

By following these marketing automation best practices, you can ensure that your Marketing automation best practices implementation is successful and delivers the desired results.

Don't get me wrong - marketing automation best practices can be intuitive and highly usable, but adequately utilizing Marketing automation best practices requires a fundamental change in how you do business, which is hard stuff.  The good news is that by following some marketing automation best practices, you can ensure that your marketing automation implementation is successful and delivers the desired results.

Marketers need process.

Many B2B marketing organizations are the last bastion of chaos and often lack accountability within the organization. The best marketing organizations spend time building a method to measure and manage the marketing funnel. They know what constitutes a qualified lead and have clear communications and expectations with sales. It's only through building a process that marketers can begin to use marketing automation best practices effectively. After all, you can't automate chaos - but you can automatically create chaos. 

As Craig Rosenberg, author of the Funnelholic, noted in The Quintessential Marketing Automation Guidebook, "The Marketing automation best practices is not a magical application where you just start creating better leads; rather, it's a system designed to support your marketing operations." 

Invest in marketing automation best practices internal resources.

Marketing automation is not a do-it-yourself project. It requires time, energy, and strategic thinking to implement correctly.  You need to have dedicated marketing automation best practices resources - whether that's an internal champion, someone who is solely responsible for the application, or an outside agency. Be careful not to try and do too much with too little. It's better to start small and grow than to try and do too many marketing automation best practices at once and fail.

Think content, not campaigns.

Most marketing organizations are still thinking in terms of campaigns. They plan a campaign around a product launch or a tradeshow and think about the elements they need - the website banner ads, emails, landing pages, etc. But with Marketing automation best practices, you need to think about your content strategy first. That's because great content is the key to success with marketing automation best practices. 

As Joe Chernov notes in his article, 8 Content Strategies for Marketing Automation bliss, "The best marketers use Marketing automation best practices to amplify the impact of their top-of-the-funnel content strategy, not as a crutch for a bottom-of-the-funnel, lead-gen focused campaign."

When thinking about your marketing automation best practices content strategy, consider what kind of content will help your buyers at each stage of the buyer journey. That might mean creating blog posts and articles to help them educate themselves about your industry and solution or creating webinars and eBooks to help them evaluate your answer. Thinking about your marketing automation best practices content strategy first ensures that the campaigns you develop are effective and deliver the desired results.

Marketing & Sales.

Now more than ever, the relationship between sales and marketing has become relentlessly linked, why? As Bob Walmsley, principal of Tailwind Strategies explained, B2B buying behavior has changed. Today's B2B buyers conduct tons of research before picking up the phone to engage sales. This moves sales engagement much later in the decision-making process. As a result, buyers initially have more control over the process than sales reps.

Who is influencing buyers before they get to sales? Marketing. Marketers now manage and impact a much larger piece of the pipeline. There is good news and bad news here. When leads make it to sales, they are typically much more qualified, having done a fair amount of legwork on their own to create a shortlist. The bad news for marketing: You must work harder to get leads more qualified to ensure they make it to sales with the same amount of resources.

Content is king.

SEO, Twitter, blogging, lead generation, lead nurturing - all these marketing automation best practices are highly dependent on developing and distributing compelling video content for your target audience. Content has become the lifeblood of successful marketing organizations. Beyond just creating random content, think about buyer personas and the purchase stages. What content would a CEO need during the interest stage versus an IT manager at the consideration phase? Your marketing automation best practices content library needs to address the needs of each group to hit the mark. As Sue Hay from BeWhys marketing said about marketing automation best practices: "The more you understand your buyers, the smarter you'll be in your messaging, registration form creation, and media selections. 

To explore more about marketing automation best practices, you can consult with our marketing automation buyer’s guide and compare different marketing automation best practices offered by the top marketing automation vendors.