How marketing automation works, is one of the most popular questions that I’m asked. This question arises because I’ve seen many cases in which small business owners blame the technology for their marketing automation not working.

However, when we dig a little deeper we find that nine times out of ten, it’s the strategy that was either non-existent or flawed to begin with.

This means that before you undertake any automated marketing, you must first understand how marketing automation works.

Having powerful marketing automation software at hand without the correct underlying strategy is similar to putting a high-powered car in the hands of an inexperienced driver, i.e. you’re asking for trouble.

Don’t just automate what you already have. This will result in magnifying what you already have. If it’s already great, good, you’re lucky; but if it is flawed… well, I don’t need to tell you what will happen.

Once you understand how marketing automation works, investing in a new CRM and Automated Marketing Platform such as Infusionsoft, is an opportunity for you to re-evaluate.

This is a chance to determine what is working and not working in your business. It’s an opportunity to streamline and moving forward only use what is working and likely to work in the future.

How marketing automation works can be broken down into three categories:

  1. People
  2. Processes
  3. Systems

People

Your organization must be culturally aligned. This means that those involved with Sales and Marketing must view marketing and sales as one integrated process. Any breakdown here will be reflected and magnified by your marketing automation.

We have encountered many businesses that have “sales” people and “marketing” people and they are run as individual silos. A business owner who allows this to continue after implementing marketing automation does not understand how marketing automation works.

So the first step in learning how marketing automation works is to ensure that your entire sales and your entire marketing team are familiar with the Ideal Customer Lifecycle.

This lifecycle begins with the first contact with your marketing effort and “ends” with asking for referrals from happy satisfied customers.

With this overall understanding, your team will be able to easily identify what stage a “lead” or a “customer” is at. They will also understand exactly what the next step ought to be, to have them continue through your marketing and sales funnel.

The next important aspect for your people is having someone who can absorb large amounts of data and complex concepts. This is imperative to be able to make decisions to solve problems or refine your marketing automation efforts.

You see, marketing is increasingly becoming a technical profession that includes high-proficiency with technological solutions.

Today’s marketing automation platforms such as Infusionsoft are much easier to use than earlier systems, however marketers today must be comfortable using technology.

So if you don’t have the right skills on-staff already, you’ll need to train your current staff using external consultants, and/or look at hiring the right staff.

Processes

Prior to marketing automation, almost all marketing was simply about Lead Generation. This is not how marketing automation works.

Marketing automation is a highly organized, integrated, repeatable process.

It’s about understanding your customers’ buying process and moving from focussing on lead generation to lead education and nurturing in a logical, sequential manner.

You’ll also need to understand your Lead Flow.

Some businesses have too many leads that need to “scored” before handing over only the “hottest” leads to your salespeople.

You see, understanding how marketing automation works can help you guide leads through your funnel more efficiently, and when done well, it can nurture leads all the way to sales conversion.

Even so, if your business is new or if you have a small business, you may not have enough leads.

If you have nothing coming into the top of your funnel, you will have nothing to nurture!

If you don’t have enough leads, you’ll need to put a plan in place to get more leads using with content marketing, social media marketing, networking events, and so on.

You’ll need to do anything that will help to get prospects into the top of your funnel.

So how marketing automation works with your internal processes will be determined by answering the following questions:

  • What defines a sales-ready lead for your business?
  • How does your sales team prioritize their time?
  • How will you implement lead nurturing for leads that are not ready to buy yet?
  • How will you re-engage sales leads that don’t move forward?
  • What key metrics do you report on a weekly, monthly, and quarterly basis?
  • How do you measure a campaign ROI?
  • Do you have missing or incomplete data?
  • If so, how will your data get cleansed to ensure your marketing automation doesn’t suffer?

Now you understand the effect of people and your processes on how marketing automation works, it’s now time for…

Systems

Choosing the right system(s) for your business is paramount. Every business’ needs are unique. So do your research and select with care.

Whilst doing this, keep integration top of mind. The right marketing automation system for your business also needs to integrate seamlessly and completely with your accounting software, your website, and your other marketing tools and systems such as content management systems, and analytics platforms.

Ideally, you would use a complete CRM with Marketing Automation already built in such as Infusionsoft.

How Marketing Automation Works – Summary

All of the factors discussed here are paramount for marketing automation success, but don’t let not having all of them in place keep you from getting stuck into it.

The best marketing automation strategies I’ve seen have started small with what they have, they plan for the future and scale up only as success is achieved.

Success breeds success!

Start small; aim for small successes first and then scale up realistically and methodically by building on those successes.

How does marketing automation work?

Now you know!

Rohan James is a Director at Success Wizards. He is a Marketing Wizard, but when it comes to surfing his favourite breaks, the word “wizard” is nowhere to be found!