Marketing Automation and the Importance of Documenting Processes – Part One
I lost my car keys once and it was a nightmare. Why? I didn’t have a spare set. I bought my car used and had put it off because it was an expensive and time-consuming process to create a duplicate smart key with a transponder. And yet there I was, unable to go about my normal activity because I neglected to do what I knew I should have. I learned my lesson the hard way.
Based on the amount of available resources I’ve come across, it seems like a lot of people feel the same way about creating program documentation for their marketing automation programs. It is challenging but try thinking about it this way: your marketing automation platform is the car, the content is the fuel, your marketing plan is your map, your program managers are the keys and your documentation is your spare set. All of these items are needed to reach your desired destination, whether it is in a Ford or a Ferrari.
It’s easy to get excited about marketing automation and want to jump ahead to the fun part. We’ve all heard incredible statistics such as “We saw 30% growth in our revenue simply by nurturing leads in our existing database,” and “Our sales team closes deals much faster and deal size is 25% higher by focusing on only sales-ready leads.” Add to that dazzling visual analytics and colorful BI dashboards that promise up-to-the-minute marketing ROI and we eagerly buy-in. The technology is important but it does not determine which marketing automation programs fail and which ones succeed. That depends on the right people developing the right processes.
Building and launching your marketing automation programs are obvious milestones in your overall marketing plan but these steps should come after you document your current processes to identify gaps and design a strategy that takes all of your current and proposed systems into account. After all, it is called automation for a reason – it automates processes you already have. If you don’t have clearly outlined processes (or proposed processes) it is difficult to automate them.
Documenting all of this information might feel overwhelming but it is an important success factor; it facilitates communication between stakeholders, sets clear program expectations and provides a vehicle for alignment. It is also the foundation for measuring if your programs are successful (RPM dashboards don’t exactly populate themselves) and what to do about it if they’re not. Otherwise, it becomes a guessing game.
If you do not have documentation, or it is so out of date that it is no longer accurate, take the time to create it or bring it current. Start at the beginning, involve key stakeholders, and keep it simple. With a clear, thought-out process outlined and defined for your marketing automation programs, your time-to-value will shorten and you’ll be well on the path to maximizing your investment. Ultimately this is the difference between success, delayed success and failure to achieve your marketing automation goals.
My next blog post will outline the key documentation that every marketing and sales organization should outline for marketing automation success, so check back soon.