Marketing Automation – it’s not just about the IT

There is a lot of discussion at the moment about Marketing Automation and how powerful it could be.
Many system vendors are quoting such huge increases in lead generation, conversion rates and return on investment that it seems as though all businesses should buy a system and implement straight away.
Well maybe, and maybe not. Or not yet anyway.
In my experience (and many of the IT system vendors I know), systems are just one of three key ingredients that combine to deliver a step change in business performance.
The other two are people and process and they are at least as important as the system.
First, we need a well-defined and effective process. What do we do, when, how and who does it? Have we got good quality content? Creative, relevant and motivating emails, web pages, blog posts, literature etc. will all help our process deliver better results.
Then we need to make sure our people understand the process, are motivated to follow it and have the necessary skills.
With all this in place, we can select a system that will make it easy to stick to and monitor the process, and support our people.
Rushing into automation is a risk. If we automate a poor process, it’s likely we will just get poor results more efficiently and if our people don’t embrace the process and have the skills to make it work, we can easily end up with resistance and poor (if any) results.
Personally, I’m really excited about the potential for Marketing Automation to nurture leads, improve sales conversion rates and deliver a measurable return on marketing investment, but the businesses that achieve those results and become case studies will be the ones that put the effort into designing a good process and those that engage and support the people who use it.