People don’t plan to fail—they just fail to plan.

This statement couldn’t be truer than when it comes to purchasing software for a business. But choosing the software is the easy part. The act of identifying people, process and adoption is the tough part where many businesses fall short. Changing business processes, identifying who will use the software and how the software will change the business takes the most time and patience.

If your organization has already implemented or is on the verge of implementing Marketing Automation – you have high hopes that this new tool will help nurture and generate more leads and increase sales. Many people purchase an MA tool and can’t figure out why it’s not performing. But without committing to mapping the buyer journey to their web presence, the tool will never perform to its full potential or your expectations. Before selecting a marketing automation tool for Microsoft Dynamics, you need to document goals, identify data and create a plan. You also need organizational alignment between the sales, marketing, and technology teams about how much time, money and resources you need for marketing automation.

What is the purpose of marketing automation?

Marketing automation software is designed to add a layer of automation to your lead generation, lead nurturing and site behavior analysis activities. It is designed to save your marketing and sales team time, minimize the chances of leads falling through the cracks, automate lead nurturing processes, and increase your lead conversion rate. However, this definition could also be said for a CRM system like Microsoft Dynamics 365 or the more affordable Blueprint. However, these are two different types of software that work best together. You can think of CRM as for customers you want to keep and MA for prospects you want to meet.

What is the real value of marketing automation software?

Quite simply, it’s twofold:

  1. It’s to meet Chris. Chris is the person visiting your website right now. She/he is the person who is looking for a solution like yours and she/he wants to understand what your company offers and why she/he should do business with you. Think of it as the first step in getting to know a prospective customer and it’s something that the CRM or other tools in your business just can’t provide.
  2. Analytics. You can have all your data in one place to track the performance of your marketing funnel and make smarter decisions.

Marketing automation software for Microsoft Dynamics

ClickDimensions is marketing automation that’s specifically designed for and sits right within the Dynamics interface. In spring 2018 Microsoft launched Dynamics 365 for Marketing, so now there are two digital marketing platforms to use with Dynamics 365, ensuring your data is always in sync and updates occur in real time. Instead of having to manually sort through reams of data, monitor emails, analyze and qualify leads, and notify the appropriate sales and/or marketing people to perform lead nurturing or conversion tasks, MA software can save time by automating all of these steps. MA tools create interactions based on a user’s behaviors so that each potential customer gets a personalized experience. Imagine how much more powerful your marketing assets and sales approach would be if your team could see every single interaction Chris has with your company.

3 Important steps to consider BEFORE you purchase marketing automation software

1. Create your execution plan first

Today’s buyers want to self-educate and self-select and this makes understanding the customer journey a key factor. First you need to determine if your inbound lead strategy involves a few or a multitude of sales and marketing tactics/channels. Your content marketing strategy (value proposition, buyer personas, buyer map, keyword strategy) should determine which channels your leads are on and the content they are looking for within each of these channels. Knowing where your leads are sourcing information and what kind of information they are looking for at each stage of the buying process is what should make up your content strategy. This should be decided before you purchase MA software. Knowing what your goals are with your program and what you want to accomplish just gets harder after the software is purchased. Build the plan first so you aren’t disappointed with the results after the software is installed.

2. Decide who is going to be using it

Too many companies choose a marketing automation based on cost, technology direction, or the whims of a previous regime. The result is that companies often purchase the wrong software for their needs. This is often due to not having the right in-house or external resources to run the system. Before you make any decisions there needs to be agreement between the marketing, sales, and technology teams about who owns the management of the software and what this means to short term execution and long term strategic direction. For example:

  • Does the team owning it and running need technology or development support or is the expectation that they can set it up and run it on their own?
  • Does it need to integrate from a data perspective to other systems and if so who owns this process?
  • Who is going to access it on a DAILY basis—yes it should be used daily and are the power users able to integrate the software into their daily activities and do what they need to do?

3. Create your analytics report for Management BEFORE you purchase the software

Don’t allow the software to decide what your company’s goals should be and how to run reports. Instead, do a whiteboard session with management that determines the business goals for the year and how you’re going to track those goals as a company. Here an example that applies to marketing automation:

  • We need 10 new deals and 10 deals from existing clients to make our numbers for 2020
  • We need 80 sales conversations that get to proposal stage to close 20 deals
  • We need 400 online conversations happening with people who match our buyer persona and in various stages of buyer understanding to achieve 80 sales conversations
  • We currently have a list of 4,000 engaged people that will drive these 400 conversations
  • We need 5,000 new visits a month to various places in our web presence to maintain an active list of 4,000

Get the team to agree on the actual numbers and then reverse engineer a monthly report to show how you are going to track information to reach these goals before you look at software.

Just like all of your sales and marketing assets, you have to analyze how well your Marketing Automation is performing on a regular basis and continue to evolve the workflows and content being utilized. Then determine why certain pieces of content are performing significantly better than others.

ClickDimensions and Dynamics 365 for Marketing maximize the convenience of being native inside Dynamics CRM through integrated reporting. Data generated from marketing activities can provide huge insights into your customers’ and prospects’ behavior and the success of your sales and marketing efforts. Since this information is stored in your database you can view and analyze this important data all in one place.

Sticking to these three criteria is a sure fire way to purchase the right product, for the right plan and right people at the right time in your business.

If you are considering purchasing marketing automation software this year, contact us and we can help you through the decision-making process. If you have a system and it’s not performing the way you had hoped, we can help there too.