This is a guest post from Josh Hill, author of the Marketing Rockstar Guides blog on marketing automation. He is currently Marketo Practice Lead at Perkuto, a marketing automation agency. 

When I first joined the marketing automation world in 2010, I was excited about bringing in a more regular process for managing leads as well as more automation to handle that process. What I was not ready for was the myriad ways I could track a lead’s behavior. Marketing technology has really allowed us to go beyond web page visits and tie in other data to make closed-loop reporting systems actually “closed.”

I have enjoyed being a part of dozens of marketing automation implementations and people often ask me, “What’s the single biggest lesson for marketing operations? To this I say:

Think through the implications of everything marketing automation can touch.

Here are my words of advice for making the most of marketing automation at a glance:

  • Put data first
  • Know Your systems
  • Select integrations that help close the reporting loop on key mediums
  • Lead Scoring: score on consumption of content
  • Structure your campaigns to collect attribution data for ROI reports
  • Create process visualizations

Let’s look at each consideration individually…

1. Put Data First

Data is the foundation upon which your CRM and marketing automation systems are built, so it is logical that you pay attention to the data that is in these systems as well as the processes and workflows that you’re building around them. Creating a data quality report each month is a good way to highlight gaps – and successes – in your house list. To that end, have a set of data rules for your team. To help with this, I developed the Six Principles of Marketing Automation Data which you can reference. Know these principles and practice them.

2. Know Your Systems

You might assume an Administrator knows his or her system. Go beyond simply knowing Marketo or Eloqua. Know your instance inside and out. And know how it works with your CRM, your website, and your product. People look to you for solutions and you should be able to articulate one, even if you cannot implement all of it alone.

A typical B2B technology firm has several systems that could plug into the CRM-MAP system:

Systems that plug into the CRM-MAP systemIf you understand how these systems can work together, and affect each other, you are well on your way to amazing results.

 3. Select Integrations that Help Close the Reporting Loop

Most Marketo administrators think of integrations as an extension of the system, simply a way to pull in data automatically. The GoToWebinar integration is the most familiar one. But platform ecosystems like LaunchPoint or AppExchange can do much more than update records to “Attended.” Think of these extensions as ways to help close the reporting loop, tying together different mediums into your MAP. Each medium, or channel, should be tied into the MAP for attribution purposes as well as for ease of deduping. Most administrators already put tracking code on their website, some use URL parameters, and some use webinar connectors.

But what about phone calls? What about video views? Are there other mediums that are important parts of the lead’s journey? Find a partner to help you connect those dots back to your marketing efforts.

4. Score Leads Based on Consumption of Content

A while back, I proposed using demographic data as a filter, rather than weighting demographics as part of the scoring process. After learning about scoring based on content consumed, I also consider this a best practice for advanced scoring systems. The ability to monitor the amount of content consumed is going to be the next phase of determining a lead’s readiness for Sales. Tools that help you do this are going to become very important to the marketing ops team in the near future.

The same question can be asked of all content, including video: “How do I know how much of the video was viewed?”

Today, most marketing automation systems rely on Visits Web Page, assuming that showing up on the video page means the whole video was viewed. This is a poor assumption and can be easily corrected with a platform like Vidyard. Don’t rely on custom JavaScript to do this heavy work.

5. Create Process Visualizations…or process chart

Outside of your cubicle, could anyone else understand what you have done inside the MAP? If you decide to leave on vacation or move to another firm, your current firm will be terribly confused. But what is worse is if you can’t remember your own work and reasons for building the system a certain way.

Top administrators create detailed diagrams, which help relay the big picture to your entire organization quickly and efficiently.  Remember that a picture is worth a thousand words, and a process chart is worth a two-hour meeting. Charts help you discuss suggested improvements and receive faster approval.

Take time to map out existing processes, workflows, teams, and your desired end state. Marketing automation can be a catalyst for change, but successful change requires careful planning.

From a simple whiteboard exercise to Visio to LucidChart, I use them all.

6. Structure your campaigns to collect attribution data for ROI reports.

Most systems help you attribute lead data correctly to the various touches you make. This is almost never enough. The best way is to track the multi-touch history from the first touch to the most recent touch. How the system does this is often up to you as the marketing automation admin. I recommend working backwards from the type of report you want to display to the type of data that needs to be collected.

In Marketo, we use Programs. But we can also leverage Salesforce Campaigns, Campaign Member, and even other methods to collect every single touch. Much of this data can be collected through behaviors as well as URL parameters. A few data points to capture include:

  • Salesforce Campaign Member Record
  • Program Status
  • Program Membership
  • First Touch Lead Source
  • Last Touch Lead Source
  • First Touch Offer
  • Last Touch Offer

Of course, a marketing automation system is much more than just these tips here. As an administrator, knowing these key concepts will be crucial to your success and how you help your whole team achieve your targets.

Are you a marketing automation administrator? Share your thoughts here. How are you integrating marketing technology and different platforms with your CRM and MAP?

Josh Hill