Ep. 99 | Why You Need a 100-Day Strategy for Your Marketing Automation

Congrats, you’ve just signed a contract for adding marketing automation to your technology stack. Now what? What is going to be your 100-day strategy for finding success, whether that is with Act-On or one of the other 6,000+ vendors trying to sell you their MarTech solution?

This week on the Rethink Marketing podcast, we chat with Phil Bosley, CEO of Tactical Marketing, on what companies need to do in those first 100 days (and beyond) to be successful.

Phil is a 20-year marketing veteran, and spent five years at Act-On before leaving to found Tactical. While at Act-On, he literally wrote the book on marketing automation strategy.

In our recent conversations, we have been discussing the Fundamental Three, the three core things that determined a company’s success using marketing automation. Those three were:

  1. Installing the Act-On tracking beacon to their websites and begin tracking who specifically was visiting their website, even the anonymous visitors
  2. Integrating Act-On forms and begin gating your valuable content and converting those anonymous visitors into known leads
  3. Regularly emailing at least 20 percent of your marketing list and nurturing those leads along their journeys until they were ready to buy (and then continue nurturing those customer relationships)
Picture of Phil Bosley for the Rethink Marketing Podcast where he talks about a 100-day strategy for your marketing automation

My question to Phil this week was what else could and should a company be doing, specifically in the first 100 days they have a marketing automation platform. Basically, I wanted to know whether companies can create good habits to be successful with their marketing automation platforms.

Nathan: Marketing automation is like your gym membership. Everybody’s sold on the idea that we need to go to the gym, work out, and have a healthy diet. But then after January we drop the ball and we stop doing what we need to do for getting healthy. And, in a way, marketing automation is like that. People sign up, they buy our product or another product, and they follow your rule, they add the beacon to their website, they start using a segmented list. But then it essentially just an email platform that they were using before. What I was wondering is what should they be doing on their marketing automation platforms in the first 100 days?

Phil: If we think about marketing automation, we’re automating marketing, it’s not magic. And I love the analogy, I use it a lot, too, is this idea of a gym membership, except with a lot less sweat.

Nathan: At the end of the quarter, it can get pretty stressful.

Phil: If you think about what we’re trying to do, is we are trying to automate marketing processes. And one of the common gaps that marketing organizations have is a lack of processes. We revert to this spray and pray email strategy because it’s what we have. I can throw together an email campaign, and I can show some activity.

There was an interesting study done where 83 percent of CEOs said they don’t trust marketers. The marketers don’t have business credibility. And this is largely, in part, due to this focus on activity over effectiveness.

And if I’ve taken the time to invest into a marketing automation platform, if I made my $20,000 investment into Act-On, one of the very first priorities I should have is to start defining processes, the easiest simplest processes, this idea of a customer life cycle. I work to define and get buy in and agreement from my organization.

This is what we’re classifying as a prospect, this is somebody who could potentially need our service. And this is how we’re defining a lead, as somebody who’s interested in our service. And this is how we’re defining a marketing qualified lead, somebody who has enough interest in our service that it makes sense to send them to sales. And this is how we’re defining a sales qualified lead, somebody that’s presenting a real business opportunity.

And this concept of clearly defining how your company is going to talk about lead stages, and once you’ve defined these then you’re defining how am I going to target these lead stages with marketing automation, how am I going to begin to automate the marketing effort to increase the conversion rate between each of these stages. And that’s where companies see this 50 percent increase in marketing qualified leads.

All of these crazy stats that we hear about marketing automation, it is in that definition. And that to me is like once your technical configuration is done, that is the most important thing a company’s going todo in the first 100 days.

Check out our additional related content:

The Ultimate Lead Management Playbook

Nathan:          And so how do you get started with that? Who’s involved?

Phil: Well, typically, again we all like to look good at work, so typically what’s going to happen is marketing is going to take a first pass at this. I find when I’m doing consulting, most organizations have the answers to the questions they’re asking me, they just need help defining it, writing it down.

And so, typically, this is going to be your marketing leadership, so whether you’re a 3-person team or a 30-person team, typically having your head of marketing involved in this process is critical. Each of your marketing leaders, and, again, on that 3-person team, this is everybody.

Grab some Red Bull, find a white board, and start writing things down. But at the very least, each of the marketing leaders that are involved with a piece of this process should be in the room having this discussion. Because you’re agreeing to not only the definition of these stages, but what qualifies as a transition between these stages. Does that make sense?

Nathan: Yes. So, you’ve done that. Then what happens? I often feel like we get paralyzed because we want the perfect process outlined. But we don’t know where to start.

Phil: One of the things that wreaks havoc on any marketing team is when you’re changing these processes too often. Once you’ve got your draft, like you’re like ‘OK, this is how we as the marketing team understand the process.’ And using the example, a prospect, a lead, a marketing qualified lead, a sales lead, which is often the same as a marketing qualified lead depending on how picky your sales team is, a sales qualified lead, and then closed won opportunities, and closed lost opportunities. So, that’s the process you’ve defined or some version of that process, then you need to take that to your sales team and you need to ask them do they agree. Now you’re looping in sales leadership. And again, keep it quick, keep it simple, and definitely, definitely don’t schedule that meeting at the end of the quarter because sales is going to blow you off.

So, you find the beginning of the quarter. You meet with your sales team. You get them to buy in on the definition of these leads. So now you’ve got the foundational framework of sales and marketing alignment. You’ve all just agreed to use a set of words. Now you as the marketing team are going to take this thing, that you’ve agreed to a process, you’re going to go back and you’re going to either give this to each of your leaders or you as a small marketing team are going to prioritize, ‘OK, when we look at our process, where is the biggest gap. Hey, we have a ton of budget for top of funnel lead gen, we have tons of interested leads coming into the funnel, what we’re hearing from the sales team is they’re complaining about unqualified leads. OK, we need to focus on this transition from lead to marketing qualified lead.’

So, you do a gap analysis. You identify where are you as an organization are feeling the pain. Now you’ve got a flow chart, you’ve got a process, where are we feeling the pain. And that’s where you focus your attention. For most organizations they’re spending a ton of money at the top of the funnel to generate leads. And they’re spending a ton of money to have sales people talking about leads. And in most organizations the sales team hates the marketing team because they feel like they’re wasting time chewing through a bunch of God-awful leads.

I would say that in better than 85 percent of the organizations, when you look at that process and you look at that gap, you’re going to identify that your biggest gap is in getting people who have engaged with you to a qualified state, to truly be showing a buying interest in the product.

Nathan: And this area where the biggest growth area you could work on is really nurturing those leads to become better marketing qualified leads. What are some tactics that marketers can do to really get them to engage into that eBook, or whatever it is? What are some things that you could do?

Phil: That’s a great question, especially in the context of your first 100 days. Stop talking about yourself. In other podcasts we’ve done, in other trainings that I do, I liken the process of going from a prospect, to a lead, to a marketing qualified lead, to a customer, very similar to the dating process. I think you and I have talked about that before. Nobody wants to go on a date with somebody who just sits there and brags about themselves. That’s just terrible.

The company who sits there and I, I, I, me, me, my, my product, my awards, my everything, I’m so cool, I’m so awesome, look how great I am, I’m shiny, I’m flashy. The company who just sits there and beats over and over and over their chest, and their company drum, look how great we are, look how great we are, that is an opt out waiting to happen.

So, as we’re thinking about the idea of defining these life cycle stages, and this goes back to the same strategies we outlined for years and years and years at Act-On, is customer-centric marketing.

I am deliberately designing marketing that speaks to the needs of my customers.

And when you turn your voice to the needs, and the problems, and the challenges of your target customer, and again we’re speaking in a B2B context here, when you turn your focus and your understanding to the problems that the customer faces, and that’s what you’re building content on, that’s what you’re building content on your website, that’s the content you’re promoting in your marketing programs.

And it’s, ‘Hey, we understand your problem, and this is how we can help you solve it. We understand this challenge, and this is how we can help you solve it.’ It is always about them and their needs, their goals, their aspirations, their limitations.

And you’re simply offering to help. When your marketing can transform into that truly content-focused helpful resource, you will watch your engagement explode. And if you look at any great marketing organization in the world, you pick any brand that you can think of, that is exactly what they all do, and they all do very well.