We’ve been doing a lot of work with clients lately to help them maximize the value they are getting from their investment in Marketing Automation platforms like Eloqua, Marketo, Pardot, and SF Marketing Cloud.

Often, we’ve found that our clients have purchased a BMW – a high-end automation platform with sophisticated capabilities – only to drive it to Starbucks, by using it as a simple batch email tool.

Here is a 6 step process we follow to designing programs that generate measurable value for clients using these systems.

  1. Define Your Goals
  2. Develop a Segmentation Strategy
  3. Map the Customer Journey
  4. Plan for Omni-Channel Execution
  5. Employ Creative Best Practices
  6. Measurement & Optimization

Step 1: Define Your Goals

Many organizations don’t spend enough time defining the goals and objectives for their marketing automation programs up front before they select a tool and staff a team to use it.

Even if you already have a tool selected and it is not delivering the value you expected, however, it is never too late to hit the reset button and define a set of goals for the program.  Goals should be measurable and directly tied to a financial impact.

Step 2: Develop a Segmentation Strategy

Begin by developing personas of your target customers in order to better understand their needs and desires at each stage of the customer lifecycle.

Personas don’t need to have detailed back stories focused on individual idiosyncrasies, but should instead focus on common traits shared by all of your main customer types which can be identified through data and targeted against.

Title, industry, company size, etc. are common variables for B2B campaigns, while age, gender, marital status, presence of children, homeownership, and credit worthiness are common variables in B2C programs.

Step 3: Map the Customer Journey

Next, for each unique persona developed in your segmentation strategy, map out the key points in the customer journey where triggered communications could play a role in improving the customer experience or driving a conversion.

Depending on your goals outlined above, you could use a classic marketing funnel (awareness, consideration, intent, conversion, advocacy) or a customer lifecycle (prospect, lead, new customer, existing customer, at risk, winback) as a framework for your journey mapping exercise.

Step 4: Plan for Omni-Channel Execution

Customers live in an omni-channel world, and if you are not delivering your messages in a synchronized fashion across multiple channels & devices you are leaving opportunity on the table.

Using Google Customer Match, Managed Custom Audiences and Tailored Audiences on Facebook and Twitter, Data Onboarding services like LiveRamp and Datalogix, and cross device targeting platforms like Drawbridge and TapFWD allow you to deliver messages directly targeted to individual prospects or customers across the digital ecosystem.

Step 5: Employ Creative Best Practices

The best strategy in the world will fail with flawed execution, so it is important to stay focused on the details of every communication in the journey.  Each should have a clear goal and attempt to drive a measurable outcome.  Contrary to popular belief there are best practices for achieving higher performance with your creative executions: clear messaging, strong and conspicuous CTAs, and mobile optimization are increasingly important.

Step 6: Measurement & Optimization

Establish a benchmark for the measurable goals you have established in step 1, and then measure the impact of your new strategy against those benchmarks.  Include a mix of channel-centric metrics (open rate, CTR, Response Rate, etc.) and prospect/customer-level metrics (product penetration, lead score/lead quality, retention/attrition, etc.)

Develop a testing plan and A/B test poor performing communications to optimize your program over time.  You’ll have that BMW fine-tuned and out on the race-track in no time.

If you’ve got a specific marketing challenge or would like to discuss this topic further, please don’t hesitate to reach out!