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Bright Dials is delighted to be included in Econsultancy’s recent publication, the Marketing Automation Best Practice Guide, released December 2018.

As the only independent agency to contribute to the report, we are proud to be featured alongside experts from major vendors including Hubspot, Marketo, Oracle and Act-On, as well as Panasonic and Centaur Publishing.

The guide provides a comprehensive overview on the topic, starting with the basics, including how to approach automating your marketing efforts, through to what the future holds for marketing automation as a concept.

As a starting point, we were asked what marketing automation means:

“Marketing automation platforms are essentially a collection of various different tools and automation is the glue connecting them together.”

It is interesting to learn of the number of misconceptions surrounding the term, one of which being that marketing automation only applies to B2B marketers, and another the belief that it is only relevant to email marketing.

The next part of the report covers how to manage your data, and we discuss the system coined “The Patchwork”. This refers to the point in which too many separate marketing tools are being used, and when a marketing automation platform should be considered:

Once your business is using multiple tools which require syncing, there are several risks which come into play:

  1. What happens if the sync breaks, and how do you fix it?
  2. The more disparate data sets you have, the more complex your compliance becomes.
  3. The more systems you use, the more people will need to learn it. And what happens when key people leave?
  4. The increased costs with the introduction of additional tools.
  5. The risk of duplication across different tools, resulting in inefficiency.

It therefore makes more sense to have one system, containing all the data and features, working and tracking together, in one place:

However, one tool does not mean that lesser expertise is required, as stressed by Stephen Yeo, Marketing Director for Panasonic System Communications Europe: “Marketing automation is a super powerful tool, but it is only as good as the people using it and the strategy behind it.”

We couldn’t agree more; “The biggest challenge is expertise, it’s a fairly new field and there aren’t enough people out there who know how to do it. Marketing automation requires creative problem-solving and analytical skills and it’s hard to find people with expertise in both.”

Before a business chooses a vendor, the Econsultancy’s guide advises on the steps required to implement a marketing automation strategy. Start with assessing your business needs, getting buy-in, creating a team structure, setting goals and ensuring compliance.

Our advice is always to consider scale, as this can significantly impact the cost of your tools far beyond that of the license fee:

“Make sure that your budget includes the set-up, the ongoing licence and also the budget to keep running on the platform. It’s really important to think about scale. A lot of platforms can look cheap to start with but as soon as you require more functionality or leads, that will have scalable costs.”

Alongside this, you need to give thought to the integration and duplication of tools across your business:

“Think about the other marketing and operational software in your organisation and make sure firstly, that you are not duplicating marketing tools and secondly, that the tools connect with your operations where you need them to. Ideally, you want to have all your marketing tools in one place to help with compliance and effectiveness.”

It’s also important to make sure that your staff log the changes they make within a platform, and that workflows are correctly managed:

“There’s a danger of things getting out of control when different people are using a platform and they don’t know the history behind it. Then things can very easily start to get out of control with workflows being repeated. There is complexity around controlling workflows and making sure things aren’t duplicated is quite hard. For example, not all platforms have a check on how many emails are sent per day.”

The final, and most exciting contribution we make surrounds what the future holds for marketing automation:

“The kind of assistance that AI will provide around testing and optimisation is going to be a real time saver. Being able to optimise on the fly using AI is going to be super powerful.”

We’d like to thank Econsultancy for asking Bright Dials to provide our expertise in the creation of the Marketing Automation Best Practice Guide.

Get in touch via our Contact Us page if you require expert opinion or help with your marketing automation strategy. And don’t forget to follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter too.

Struggling with the jargon? Download our Full Marketing Automation Terminology Guide