Marketing Automation: Privilege and Process

This post highlights my experience with the start of the marketing automation market, my view on one cause of marketing automation failure, and my advice on how to avoid this pitfall.  Specifically, I’ve witnessed a lot of organizations build a marketing automation system before they have a business process to automate.  Below is my take on why this happens and tips on how to document the process.

My Experience with Marketing Automation

I came into B2B marketing at the beginning of the marketing automation wave.  For the most part CRM had already become a standard and I was lucky enough to start my career at a forward thinking organization that implemented a marketing automation platform (MAP) just after I arrived.  MAPs promised to make repeatable tasks easier and prove marketing ROI to execs making marketers jobs more important.  It was a good time to be in the business.

Marketing Automation is a Privilege, Not a Right

Fast forward ‘a couple’ years and a problem is beginning to show up.  The problem is that when you grow up with a tool it becomes more a way of life than a tool – a right, and no longer a privilege.  If you don’t suffer the hardships of not having the tool available it’s hard to fully appreciate it and you lose sight of its purpose.  Just look at how most of us treat mobile phones.  They are now the center of our universe instead of simply a means of communicating when communication is required.  I actually ditched my mobile phone last year and have become much more productive since then – not just at work but as a person.  It seems the purpose of the phone was lost over time and it made me too accessible for non-important tasks.  I’m conscious of this and want to make sure I don’t fall into the same trap with MAP.

One of Several Reasons Why MAP is Failing to Reach its Goals

This mindset leads to one major issue which seems to be causing marketing automation implementations to fail: organizations are implementing a MAP before building a solid business process.  Without a process there is nothing to automate!  They have the tools but nothing to build.  Remember, it’s called Marketing Automation for a reason.

The Solution

Before you even look at a MAP it’s a good idea to document your revenue process.  This is not necessarily an easy task.  It takes honesty because it’s going to highlight problems with what you are doing and it takes strong collaborations between different groups which is never easy.

A good process document should contain (but is not limited to) the following:

  • A list of all stakeholders involved in the revenue process and a description of their responsibilities.
  • Detailed definitions of all terms related to the revenue process such as “Lead” and “Qualified”.
  • Detailed description of every step of the revenue process including all input, gates, and potential exit points.  This is a hefty piece and can take a lot of time to document.
  • A flow chart visually outlining the revenue process.  Execs tend to be visual people and will rely on this chart.
  • Sign off from all stakeholders showing they support the process.  You may even want to combine this document with an SLA or at least reference one.

Depending on how your process is setup you may find it useful to break the process into several documents such as Demand Generation Process, Lead Management Process, and a Sales Process.

Benefits

Documenting your process will:

  • Highlight any problems with the current process and allow you to correct them.  For example, differences in marketing and sales languages can easily be identified and synchronized.
  • Provide you with a list of requirements when looking for a MAP or CRM.  There are many options available today and definitely one to fit your needs as long as you know what you are looking for.
  • Show you how to building your MAP.  The process document is the foundation and roadmap for your new system.
Summary

In summary, to ensure your MAP meets your expectations, be sure to build and document your business process before you automate it.  When creating this document include as much detail as possible and get sign off from all parties.

Have you created a process document?  Is there anything you would add and can share with our readers?  Please comment below.