[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]There is plenty to do when getting started with marketing automation. It also requires a “continuous improvement” mindset. That being said, after picking your platform of choice and signing the dotted line, the following is what I would recommend for you. Keep in mind that some of this may have already been done during your trial, but they are excellent reminders to make sure all the critical areas are covered from the start.
how to launch marketing automation
1) Do the basic technology set-up, which includes:
Getting your tracking code script on every page you want to track. You’ve probably already done this though if you took my advice about taking a trial before you buy, but this is just a friendly reminder.
Usually it will go into a footer file that spans your entire site but if you have stand-alone landing pages or conversion pages you’ll want to make sure those are tracked as well. Don’t forget additional domains/sub-domains that you currently own and use that you will want to track. You will want to add those to your marketing automation platform, too.
Setting up your baseline contact, activity and engagement scoring model that allows your sales and marketing to filter through all of your prospect/lead activity to better identify the best leads.
Ideally you would do the lead score planning prior to launch, but I personally think this activity can often delay getting the results you are looking for from MA and can be planned and implemented post-launch. Review this in depth “Fundamentals of Lead Scoring” guide to better implement a solid lead scoring plan.
Configure your domain branding, which your automation software platform uses to implement progressive profiling forms, file sharing and hides the fact you are using a 3rd party vendor. You’ll need a marketing technician/webmaster to help with this.
Set up your email authentication/DNS records to better optimize for email deliverability. This will also require a technician.
2) Start your database management tasks.
First, set-up your CRM integration with your new marketing automation platform or perform a custom integration with the vendor’s API.
Then, create all the custom contact and account fields you prepared in the pre-launch phase. You’ll be adding these to your marketing automation platform but may also need to add and/or map to your CRM depending on your where you currently stand with your CRM implementation.
If not all contacts reside in your CRM, Import your existing list of contacts from a CSV file, mapping all the default and custom fields appropriately, and loading them into a “house list”.
Import your unsubscribes and bounces from whatever platform(s) you are bringing them over from so that you don’t accidentally start mailing people who’ve previously unsubscribed. You definitely don’t want to taint your instance of marketing automation with spam complaints.
Create any initial “contact based” segments e.g. location, job title, company name that you desire for targeted email campaigns and add those segmented contacts to custom lists.
3) Add your lead-facing assets.
Add your existing downloadable content (case studies, white papers, etc.).  Your platform hosts this content, which can be linked to in email templates, landing pages, etc. I do this first because you will want to use it in the next step.
4) Create your email templates.
Add the emails you’ve previously prepared to be used as auto-responders, in drip campaigns and advanced nurturing to your marketing automation platform. Consider building blank-shell layouts that you save, then using Save As/Duplicate feature to quickly create variation for adding new content.
5) Set-up forms.
Using your platform’s form builder or form mapping, create new or update existing forms. Then, add or update all the forms to your website that were identified in the web inventory you took before going live. Be sure to turn on any email autoresponders that are supposed to be triggered.
6) Create landing pages.
Most platforms have an easy-to-use, drag-and-drop landing page builder so you can get them done quickly, have them look great and not require an expensive web designer (if you don’t have one on staff or available). Don’t forget to update forms on your existing landing pages, too.
Create pages where users can unsubscribe to your emails or manage their email preferences. You will want to create something that curbs them from unsubscribing so get creative and offer good incentive/reasoning for staying on your list. This is often overlooked but actually an excellent practice to get going right away. You don’t want to lose someone who may be, down the road, buying something like what you have to offer.
Now comes the advanced and most important part of using marketing automation, lead management/intelligence. There is a ton you can do here, but here is the basic parts you will want to configure.
7) Build any initial nurturing campaigns you’ve pre-planned. Using your marketing automation platform’s interface, start adding all of the nurturing sequencing. You will benefit from working from a flowchart that outlines the processes, decisions, documents and triggers. Make sure you are including timeframes as part of your nurture plans – it’s an often overlooked part of the process.
An example here would be the 3-5 touches (with time delays between 2-5 days per touch) after someone completes a form and defined the logic that keeps them in the nurture campaign or removes them (due to some change in their status).
8) Configure segmentation and alerts.
Create a few activity and engagement-based segments and respective alerts to notify key staff of interesting behavior that may warrant follow-up.
Use the aforementioned segmentation to move people to different stages or lists for changes in nurturing sequences.
There is some other set-up I’d recommend that is pretty easy to do and helpful to have right from the start for added lead management/intel.
9) Integrate with other respective marketing technologies. Take stock of what you currently use that also work with your marketing automation provider like webinar, video and search marketing platforms and configure any useless integrations. Look to services like Zapier if there isn’t a direct integration. Check out API integrations as well for more extensive connection.
There you have it – our quick start guide for getting up and running fast with marketing automation, taking advantage of a lot of what it has to offer.
If you have the human resources available (2-3 people counting you), you should be able to complete everything I’ve outlined in 30 to 45 days. If you are a one-person show in charge of getting marketing automation off the ground (it happens more than you might think), give yourself 60 to 90 days. Hopefully, my guidelines above help you focus and expedite the key set-up of your marketing automation platform.
Best of luck and let me know if you have any questions by commenting below or finding me on Twitter (@michaelshearer)![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Subscribe to the Blog

Get the latest in digital marketing, marketing automation, and Net-Results updates.