The implementation process of a marketing automation system in organizations is complex. The level of complexity depends on the type and number of existing data systems and CRMs in the organization, the number of data sources from which information is gathered, and the extent to which data collection and organization have been prioritized over the years. 

One common mistake in the implementation process of a marketing automation system is focusing too much on the technical aspect of implementation while neglecting the essential part: what to do with the system after it is installed. This often leads organizations to successfully complete the technical implementation process, only to then start planning how to activate and utilize the system, turning it into a white elephant for an extended period of time. 

Proper planning of the implementation process and adequate preparation can help solve many of the issues. 

Marketing automation implementation: five required steps 

Here are five steps that should be taken to quickly implement the system and successfully operate it immediately after implementation. 

1. Data consolidation: Organize and structure organizational data repositories 

Every organization has its accessible data repositories, those that it actually uses, and the data repositories that have somehow been pushed aside and forgotten within the organizational archives. To effectively implement a marketing automation system, gather all the data you have on customers and potential consumers. Some of the data may be found in a central CRM system, while others may be stored in forgotten direct mail systems, data extracted from e-commerce websites, or even in Excel spreadsheets with leads generated from specific campaigns. Once you have gathered all the data, it is important to harmonize it into a coherent format since not all systems collect the same types of data. The ability to transform data sources into a single comprehensive data source that speaks the same language is a challenging task that requires experts in data repositories who can perform hashing while combining data from different types and sources and identifying duplicates. 

2. Flow mapping: Understanding the customer journeys  

Every marketing and sales activity within an organization has its own flow. Many organizations have never taken the time to map out their flows. Flow mapping itself brings important insights to the organization: it reveals the complexity of sales and marketing processes, identifies redundancies, highlights inefficiencies, or points out areas of high efficiency. Without mapping out the flow, you won’t be able to engineer the system, put it into action, and fully leverage its capabilities. When mapping out the flow, it is crucial to focus on every touchpoint with the consumer or customer, the media through which it occurs, and the purpose behind it. Many organizations have parallel customer journeys, creating significant challenges in mapping out the flow for all of them, leading us to the next point. 

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3. From specific to general: Start with a specific customer journey 

The need to map out the different flows within an organization and define the touchpoints with consumers and customers can be overwhelming for many marketing managers. It is a challenging and meticulous task that requires significant time resources. Therefore, based on experience in the field, we advise you to start small: choose a limited number of customer journeys to begin the implementation process and focus on them. It could be mapping out the flow of service inquiries, abandoned cart journeys, or test drive lead journeys. By narrowing down the focus to a few selected journeys, you can specialize and learn how to map out flows, making the process of building future journeys much simpler and more efficient.

4. Understanding touchpoints: Consumer psychology

Engaging in the implementation of marketing automation systems often directs organizations towards technical thinking: what data we have, how the flow looks in practice, and what goals and objectives we want to achieve. However, the role of marketing automation is to connect with real-life consumers. Once you have the flow and goals in place, it is crucial to decipher the consumer’s psychological state at each touchpoint. We need to understand which stage of the marketing funnel they are in at a given time, at which step of their customer journey we encounter them, and utilize tools from the fields of behavioral economics and consumer psychology to assist them in making decisions and progressing towards the desired goal. 

5. Generating content for different touchpoints  

It happens in almost every organization that implements a marketing automation system: after investing significant time and resources in the technical stages of implementation, there is often little budget and organizational attention left for content production. It’s just like someone who invested all their time and effort in manufacturing a car but has no money left for fuel. The goal of marketing automation systems is to drive consumers and customers through the marketing funnel and customer journey, and this driving force is achieved through content. At each touchpoint in the flow, we need to understand what content we need to produce, ranging from smart microcopy for text messages to articles, blogs, videos, and effective interactive tools. 

In summary: Hard work lies ahead, but you have made the right choice 

The path to implementing a marketing automation system is not easy, but it is certainly worthwhile. If you prepare for implementation correctly, there is no reason why it shouldn’t go smoothly, and most importantly, you can start reaping the rewards of your hard work immediately.