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The Modern Marketing Blog covers the latest in marketing strategy, technology, and innovation.

How to Maximize Your Marketing Automation Investment

 Editor's Note: Today's post comes courtesy of Mary Wallacewho has more than 25 years experience in the tech industry. Previously the Director of Client Marketing Services at UBM Tech, Mary has a diverse background in marketing, technology, consulting, and leadership that enables her to help marketing organizations implement solutions that produces optimal results. Her focus is on increasing revenue and optimizing performance through the use of strategic marketing models and processes that leverage marketing and sales automation solutions.

Marketing automation is predicted to grow by 60% in 2014, up from 50% annual growth in 2012 and again in 2013. This statistic, included in Katie Hollar’s 30 Shocking Marketing Automation Stats for 2014 article, indicates that purchasing and implementing marketing automation tools is inevitable for most companies.  But investing in a marketing automation tool does not mean that it will be adopted and embraced by the marketing organization. 

Adapting to change is difficult.  Most of us shy away from using new tools for any number of reasons: the tools are too difficult, we don’t understand them, or simply because the change wasn’t our idea.  As Niccolo Machiavelli said in The Prince, “There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things.”

For businesses to stay competitive, the adoption of marketing technology is simply not an option.  Getting the marketing and sales organization committed to a successful adoption takes co-ownership, communication, and training. Here’s what that entails:

Co-Ownership:

  • Show the value of marketing automation.  Explain how this tool impacts the organizations directly:  What will this new tool deliver?  More qualified leads, less leads lost in the buying processes, the ability to personalize communications, etc.?
  • Involve the organization in the decision making process.  Hold Joint Application Requirement (JAR) sessions to discuss requirements and necessary alignment with business needs/business drivers.  In key stake holder meetings, discuss the options and why one marketing automation solution is selected over another. 
  • Spread joy with organization evangelists.  Spotlight those who are showing early adoption or have found out something neat about the technology.  Highlight early successes no matter how small they appear.  

Communication:

  • Build team buy-in by consistently communicating.   Update team members with what is happening, why it’s happening, when it’s going to happen, and what processes, people, and organizations will be affected. 
  • Market the change so the organizations WANT it. Communicate the benefits of the technology with emails and internal blog posts.
  • Be loud and clear who the champions of the change are. Underscore who in the organization is driving the change and who is committed to the change.

Training

  • Train everybody.  Hold team training sessions to discuss the background of what is happening, how it’s happening, and why it’s happening.  Keep the sessions open and easy for team members to uncover objections and turn them around.
  • Commit to Upskilling.  Don’t overcomplicate or oversimplify the need and process for upskilling existing resources.  Learning a new skills takes time but it is not insurmountable.  Provide appropriate ramp up time for your team and leverage external trainers for optimal transfer of knowledge.
  • Provide training when it’s needed: not too early and not too late.  If training is provided too far in advance, your team will get excited but then be unable to use their newly acquired knowledge. If training is provided too late, your team will already be frustrated and buy-in will take even longer.

Marketing Automation can deliver significant results to the bottom line. Getting the marketing and sales organizations on board with is crucial. Through co-ownership, communication, and training, team members will more readily experience and realize the benefits of a marketing automation tool, paving the way for even easier tool adoptions and benefits in the future.

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