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Marketing Automation Software: Are You Using it Right?

The following is a guest blog post by Jennifer Michelle, Founder of Michelle Marketing Strategies.

Marketing Automation

You fought to get it, you worked hard to set it up. Now you need to justify that investment.

The question is, can you?

Too often, companies wind up using only a small portion of the features their software offers them. Maybe they focus only on email marketing. Maybe they never got around to adding progressive profiling on their forms. Scarier still is when features are being used incorrectly and no one on the team is aware of it.

Here are the questions you should be asking to make sure you are getting the best out of your marketing automation software.

Visitor Behavior

The actions people take on your website are the first area of focus. Are people successfully downloading your white papers? Are they responding to the follow-up emails you set up? Are they requesting demos?

Problems in this area are the most obvious and are easily prevented by testing during program set-up. However, sometimes problems arise down the line when changes in one part of the software inadvertently impact your programs. For instance, you may not have realized that you need to flag emails in trigger campaigns so they are not affected by weekly email limits. This kind of beginner error can lead to people downloading reports but receiving nothing. Luckily, it is easily remedied by regular reviews of your programs and communication limits.

Your Sales Team

Think about how your team – marketing and sales – uses your software. Are the right people being notified when someone downloads a report or watches a video? Is the notification somewhere they will be sure to see it? (It’s no good showing an alert in your CRM if your sales team just focuses on their email.)

Go beyond simple alerts – find out if your team really understands your workflows and what kinds of nurture programs you have set up. Yours would not be the first marketing team to discover sales representatives are building emails by hand when you have already designed templates. Or, worse, that they are sending emails off manually on the same days you are sending automated ones.

This goes hand in hand with lead scoring. Does your team understand how your lead scoring system works? More importantly, is it working the way it should? Review your top scorers and see if they truly are your best prospects. Review your low scorers, too, and see if any good leads are being missed.

Have a Strategy

You cannot get the most out of your software if you have no roadmap. Plot out your workflows and regularly review them to make sure they still match your goals. Then compare them with your automated programs and look for discrepancies. Do you have redundant workflows? If so, is that intentional?

Take a peek at your content strategy. Does new content get added to your ongoing nurture programs? Is your sales team aware of your new content or your thought messaging goals? Your content is designed to help your sales team close deals; make sure they are in the loop.

Look for Gaps

Think about your audience segments – both prospects and customers. Are there nurture or re-engagement programs targeted to each segment?

Review the capabilities your software  offers – are you using all of them? If not, is that by design? If you are using them, can you see ways to use them more effectively? For instance, If you use forms, have you set up progressive profiling?

Can you measure results by individual program as well as by marketing channel? If so, are you making use of that information? Are you able to track not just Clicks and Downloads but also Customer Acquisition Cost, Lifetime Value and Return on Investment?

Best Practices

Most marketing automation companies offer a thorough knowledge base of videos and articles on every feature. Use it. Even if all you do is browse through the topic areas, you may discover features you need but didn’t realize you could access.

Some companies also have communities or user groups that can help answer questions or show you new ways to use their software.

Whenever possible, have your Account Executive set up templates for workflows and reports so you have something to refer to. (Be careful not to overwrite these!) You may also be able to arrange a time with them to review your programs.

Most of all, set up a schedule to regularly assess your marketing automation programs. As these are central to your lead generation and analytics activities, you need to know how they are performing. Review visitor behavior and see how your sales team is interacting with your leads. Find out how well the sales team understands your content strategy and workflows. Look for aspects of the software you could utilize more fully.

Regular reviews help you stay on top of the details and ensure you are getting the most out of your marketing automation.

And that’s how you justify your investment.

So busy you can’t see the forest for the trees? Let Michelle Marketing Strategies conduct a thorough assessment and make sure your marketing is working the way you planned. Assessment packages address marketing automation and are available for Lead Generation, Marketing Analytics and Adwords.

Marketing Automation for Healthcare IT

The following is a guest blog post by Jennifer Michelle, Founder of Michelle Marketing Strategies.

Preparation is Everything

If your company is venturing into the world of marketing automation, the first step is to make sure you are clear about what features you need and how you intend to use them. A little preparation before you start reviewing vendors can save you a lot of hassle – and a lot of money.

First and foremost, sit down and plot out your lead flows and your funnel. Think about how you reach out to people and what triggers you will use to shift people into different levels of nurture. Do this for all your audience segments, as well as all stages of your funnel.

Think also on how you want to notify your sales team about new leads or upsells. Are there specific triggers you will want to signal a transition from MQL (Marketing Qualified Lead) to SQL (Sales Qualified Lead)?

Then look at the bigger picture: what capabilities will you need beyond email automation and lead scoring? Do you need the ability to track marketing costs? Do you want to create reports on program outreach and success? Do you need help tracking search engine rank and links? Do you want to replace your CRM or integrate the one you currently have? Do you need web design or landing page design capabilities?

A Note about Demos

When you start scheduling demos, don’t get stuck considering only the big names, like Hubspot, Marketo or Pardot. These are all good products but, in the last couple of years, several new vendors have appeared on the scene that offer tremendous capabilities for far less money. Before you make any decisions, see demos of Drip, Active Campaign and SharpSpring, too.

To get the most out of your demos, include people from a variety of your teams. Including people from your IT and sales teams can bring in new perspectives and give you critical information before you have signed a contract.

Above all, ask a lot of questions. If they say they can do something, ask them to show you. This is especially important if you are switching vendors due to problems with your existing automation software. If that is the situation you are in, be clear about the problem you are experiencing and make sure they can show you exactly how their system can handle it.

What Do You Get?

Once you know what you need, find out what each vendor has to offer. Make sure they do full-on marketing automation and not just email automation. See how they structure funnels and workflows – does their approach make sense to you?

See if they sort leads via lists or tags. Does their system have the flexibility you are looking for?

Make sure they can create triggered campaigns (such as you would use when someone downloads a white paper) and scheduled/manual  campaigns (such as newsletters or trade show invitations).

Find out if their emails, forms and landing pages are responsive. See if they offer reporting functions or financial tracking. Ask how their lead scoring system works. What options do you have for notifying your sales team of new leads or lead behaviors? Do they offer a shared calendar so your whole team can see what outreach is occurring?

If you are looking for a replacement for your website, does the vendor offer that? Do you like the way they set up blogging and web pages?

Consider also whether they give you data on web traffic or SEO. Do they integrate with Google Analytics? What about social media? Can they help you schedule posts or track visitors from your social media accounts?

Also check out their CRM features. Can they integrate with the one you have? Do they offer their own built-in CRM?

Look up online reviews and ask for customer references. These are a smart way to ensure you are getting full information on the product. These are also the best places to get information on customer service.

Ask about Service

No matter how great the features, it all gets thrown out the window if the customer service is awful. Find out what you get ahead of time, including whether there is a user community or knowledge base.

See if they will set up program templates for you or if they will work with you one-on-one while you learn. Find out what templates you get out-of-the-box and whether they can be branded. Do they offer templates for emails, landing pages, forms and workflows?

Get Technical

Great features mean nothing if the system is always down, so get clear data from the vendor on system uptime and email deliverability rates. Find out what kind of technical requirements are needed to run the product and integrate it with your website. See what kind of support the vendor provides if you are ever flagged for spam or blacklisted.

Price

Price is always a big factor in the equation. Find out exactly what you are getting for your money. Some vendors offer a free trial or money-back guarantee, which is always a plus. Also consider how many users you get and what adding more would cost.

Ask if training and ongoing support are included. If not, what do they cost? Are they offering support by phone, email, chat or an online database? Are there obligatory launch or kickstarter fees?

See if programmatic support is billed differently from technical support. For instance, does your fee cover a question about why an email was not delivered but not cover a question on best practices in setting up a campaign?

Could you get what you want from a less-inclusive vendor if you supplement with less expensive apps? For instance, if a less expensive vendor has everything you need except landing page design, would it still save you money to get them plus LeadPages? If they don’t offer a shared calendar, can you make do with Google Calendar? If they don’t provide search engine optimization tracking, can you get what you need from Google Analytics?

As with any sale, you can often get a better deal if it is getting to the end of the quarter. If you are switching from a competing vendor, they may also be willing to cut you a deal. Above all, make sure you are protected from big increases when your first contract expires.

Confidence

When shopping for marketing automation, due diligence is the key to a good outcome. Plot out what you need ahead of time and go into your demos prepared. Ask questions and be sure each vendor shows you exactly how their product works.

When you do all that, you are already 95% of the way to a successful implementation – so you can make your choice with confidence!

New to marketing automation? Let Michelle Marketing Strategies conduct a thorough assessment of your needs and help you select the right marketing automation vendor for your company. Campaign, lead scoring and reporting help is also available.

Welcome to HITMC!

We're glad you found the Healthcare IT Marketing and PR Community (or as we affectionately call it...HITMC). This blog is a place for healthcare IT marketing and PR professionals to come together and share their insights, skills, expertise with other people trying to make healthcare better through the use of technology. This blog grew out of the Healthcare IT Marketing and PR Conference which is held annually. We look forward to connecting and learning from you. Please feel free to reach out to us on our contact us page if you have any questions.

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