This is part II of our Q1 budget planning series covering how to prepare for a marketing automation implementation.
This blog post at a glance:
It’s great to know what the next steps of a marketing automation implementation look like and how to get ahead of them.
Implementing a MAP, like Pardot, can be a simple and quick process, but there are many technical intricacies. A certified Salesforce partner or resource is necessary to ensure your implementation goes well.
An implementation plan details these 5 key elements: all the people involved, the desired timeline, technology integrations, database considerations, and an optimization roadmap.
Marketing Automation and the Next Step
If you’re getting ready for a marketing automation implementation, you’re in good company. 67% of marketing leaders currently use an automation platform, and 21% say they plan to in the next two years. Marketing automation enables you to automate redundant marketing and marketing engagement/activities. It helps generate more leads, nurture leads and existing clients, close more deals more efficiently, and effectively measure marketing success. We’re here for that!
Now that you’ve chosen a marketing automation platform (MAP), it’s time to get moving. If you’re reading this before you’ve solidified your decision – perfect! It’s great to know what the next steps look like and how to get ahead of them. If you’ve already made a MAP decision, the clock is ticking (and you’re paying), so time is of the essence.
Implementing a MAP, like Pardot, can be a simple and quick process, but don’t be fooled – there are many technical intricacies. A certified Salesforce partner or resource is necessary to ensure your implementation goes well.
How to Prepare for a Marketing Automation Implementation
Implementing any new technology, especially when it changes employees’ day-to-day, is an undertaking that requires overall business operational understanding, as well as the ability to empathize with end-users’ needs. New technology and processes can cause some users stress, which can dampen your organization’s adoption rate, immediate and sustained ROI, and overall implementation success. A strong implementation plan and team will make for less stress, more adoption, and higher ROI.
A Marketing Automation Implementation Plan in 5 Steps
Because your MAP will not operate in a vacuum, an implementation plan will help you brace for impact across the org. An implementation plan should detail all the people involved, the desired timeline, technology integrations, database considerations, and an optimization roadmap.
- Plan the Timeline
You may already have a hard date in mind for the basic implementation to be completed based on when your legacy system is shutting off or when you need to launch a new campaign. We recommend allowing at least 4 weeks overlap when switching from a legacy system to a new MAP for comfort and necessary change management processes. That means, if you’re changing your MAP, you need to get started on the initial implementation at least 8 weeks in advance for the most basic implementation.
- Consider the Integrations
B2B marketing managers say one of the most important criteria for a MAP is product integration (e.g., CRM, social, web, mobile). Budget-wise the good news is your new MAP may have third-party integrations that can support additional features you may not have considered, allowing you to consolidate some of your martech stack. Take a look at your martech stack and determine what products you currently have that can be integrated with or replaced altogether by your new MAP. Some integrations are as easy as a few clicks, others require API configuration, which an experienced implementation partner should be able to support.
- Assemble the Team
It’s not uncommon to hear of halfway-completed implementations that come to a sudden stop due to internal processes breaking or people left out of the initial conversation who now want to suggest a change. Getting the right people involved early is key to a smooth and successful implementation.
Your marketing automation implementation team should include:
- Marketing and sales leadership – Of course from a budgetary standpoint, you’ll need leadership to plan time and resources for the implementation. Since the marketing and sales team will be the most impacted by a new MAP, it’s important for leadership to be involved at a high-level early on to assess the impact and help push plans forward quickly.
- End-users – Involve end-users in your marketing automation implementation early on. Allowing them to be a part of the process will help you build a stronger solution, and also communicates that you care about helping them. If you can show them how the MAP can make their jobs more efficient, that’s even better.
- Internal IT expert/CRM admin – having someone on the inside who knows the ins and outs of your domain setup, legacy systems, and CRM helps provide the information necessary when implementing a MAP.
- Internal project manager – implementing a MAP can often involve multiple cross-functional roles and moving pieces. It will help to have someone on your team who is managing all these people and making sure your project sticks to the budget and timeline.
- Organizational subject matter expert(s) from digital marketing, events, customer service, etc. – a MAP involves multiple end-users across the organization. Having a subject matter expert from each department or role involved will help to understand organizational processes and needs, and how they all come together.
- Professional implementation team – if your organization is like most out there, your IT department is likely strapped for time and pulled in multiple directions. So, implementing a new MAP often requires a professional implementation team, who can focus their time and energy on the implementation alone. They are able to work with your project manager, IT expert(s), and all teams across your organization to make sure the MAP meets your vision and goals.
- Focus on Data Hygiene
Having large amounts of data at your disposal can be a great thing, but if it is inaccurate and unreliable then it may cause more harm than good. First, understand your MAPs data limits. For data hygiene and deliverability best practices, take some simple steps to weed out old and inactive prospects such as sending a permission pass to re-engage and weed through old data. You can also enlist third-party services to assist with database cleanup, depending on the size of the job. After the initial cleanup, make sure to create a routine and revisit your data hygiene throughout the year.
- Have an Optimization Plan
The last key piece of implementing new technology is knowing how to measure your success and plan for the next phase of growth. What are the diagnostics and key performance indicators of your new technology? This is an important part of achieving the highest sustained ROI for your organization.
Start by determining your marketing automation SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, time-based) goals: According to a recent survey, the most important strategic goals of a marketing automation strategy are increasing lead generation, lead nurturing and sales revenue. Next are improving customer engagement, marketing productivity, improving measurability and campaign targeting. Focus on setting your goals and how you will measure them. Then, use those goals to optimize your strategy and technology.
Check out Kadence Digital’s handy tool for setting an accurate and realistic lead gen goal.
Just like you rely on the GPS for that cross-country road trip, you should jump into a marketing automation implementation with a clear plan and as prepared as possible. If you have any questions about the process, don’t hesitate to reach out!
More helpful resources for your marketing automation implementation: