Optimize Your Marketing Automation, Frank Underwood Style

Don’t let your marketing automation system become a house of cards. Create a firm foundation for success built on quality data and an effective strategy.

If you’re like me, you’re anxiously waiting for the season five premier of Netflix’s acclaimed series, “House of Cards” – or “HOC” as we fanatics like to call it. In case you haven’t been introduced, President Frank Underwood is a ruthless politician who has fought his way to the Oval Office alongside his fierce first lady, Claire. These two characters are manipulative, deceitful and calculating. They also happen to be clever, tactical and extremely intelligent strategists. Basically, they are the ingenious villains you secretly love to root for and often wish were on your marketing team.

Recently, I’ve been reading some alarming stats around marketing automation and a piece of Frank’s advice came to mind, “If you don’t like how the table is set, turn over the table.” According to a new study we conducted in partnership with Ascend2, 78% of B2B organizations use marketing automation to some extent to streamline complex marketing processes and create a consistent, accurate flow of data across their various channels. With such a large percentage of marketers relying on these systems to improve their initiatives and provide additional targeting intelligence, you would think that the majority of marketers would be happy with the results. However, according to industry expert David Raab, almost 70% of marketers are either unhappy or only marginally happy with their marketing automation software.

Why settle for less-than-stellar results from your marketing automation and a disappointing ROI? Here are some hints to help you turn the tide, with some inspirational words of wisdom from Frank, of course.

“Even Achilles was only as strong as his heel.” 

As a modern marketer, you’ve likely heard about the importance of quality data, but are you taking steps to clean up your own database? Dumping bad records into your MarTech platform not only hurts your campaign effectiveness, but it also weakens your ROI and breeds frustration.

If you don’t like how the table is set, turn over the table.
Frank Underwood, House of Cards
 

To prepare your database for marketing automation, you need to establish your baseline numbers by performing an audit of your records. Assess the health of your data and decide what to do with the bad records you’ve found (either archive or delete them). Finally, enrich your database with additional information so you can identify lookalike companies and contacts that match your ideal buyer.

 

Like Achilles, we all have our vulnerabilities. As a marketer, you are only as strong as your data. Knowing who you are marketing to, and being able to actually reach them, will impact the rest of your content planning, messaging development and lead routing.

"If you want to earn my loyalty, then you will have to offer yours in return."

Your prospects are busy. They have aggressive goals and a limited amount of time each day. Essentially, you’re competing with other brands for their attention. To rise above the noise, you’ll need to fuel your automation system with targeted campaigns and relevant content that provides the answers your prospects are searching for.

Use the information you have within your database, and the data you track through your automation system, to understand your prospects and craft messaging that applies directly to their needs. Once prospects understand how you can help them do their jobs better, you can have a real conversation.  You’ll also begin to see success from the programs you are investing in and will feel confident that your automation system has a strong strategy behind it.

"Nobody can hear you. Nobody cares about you. Nothing will come of this."

That’s a little harsh, Frank, but the truth is if you aren’t tracking your prospects’ activity on the web, particularly their engagement (or boredom) with your content, you’re going to lose a great deal of visibility into their world, including targeting intelligence. You can write all the witty emails you want and build out beautiful infographics, but if you’re not targeting the right audience, or don’t know how your campaigns and content are performing, your efforts really don’t count for much. Post-campaign reporting, and making adjustments based on your findings, is a critical part of the marketing automation planning process.

In today’s modern world of marketing, you must be able to attribute traffic, engagement, leads and – most importantly – revenue to everything you do. Building registration forms using progressive profiling, pulling segmented email lists and embedding tracking codes into your content URLs will equip you to follow your prospects’ activities and report on your efforts. Deeper insight into a prospect’s activity also allows your sales team to understand how the prospect came to be interested in your solution. It will enable them to build a relationship based on facts.

“I hear silence. I don’t like that sound.”

Neither do valuable prospects who have questions about your solutions – or eager sales reps waiting for the next big lead. The last thing you want is for a prospect to be missed or neglected and turn to your competition for solace. You also don’t want your sales team thinking you’re asleep at the wheel.

Implementing automated routing rules based on specific parameters you’ve determined with your team will ensure that marketing leads are sent to the right sales rep at the right time. Lead scoring can help determine the level of priority a lead should be given and whether or not it is ready to be passed along to sales. For example, if a prospect fills out a content download form or requests a demo on your site, you need to be able to track that action and determine whether they should be put into an email nurture stream or are ready to talk to sales.

Once you’ve nailed down that process, you’ll be able to pass along leads more seamlessly. You’ll start to see conversion rates improve and you’ll be able to attribute these marketing efforts to your bottom line.

“We're going to make history together."

Want to hear more from fellow B2B marketers about the challenges they face and the coping strategies they use to improve their marketing automation platforms? Within the pages of the eBook below, you’ll find fresh Ascend2 research that reveals the ways we are all struggling with and succeeding at marketing automation. You will also learn more about how you can turn your marketing automation system into a lean, mean conversion machine!

Implementing a successful marketing automation strategy is no easy task. It requires careful planning and orchestration across both marketing and sales. Build your system on a foundation of poor quality data, or fail to generate targeted content to fuel it, and you’ll be looking at a house of cards. As Frank would say, “Remember, you have to build your future. It isn’t handed to you.” 

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