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Avoid Marketing Automation Struggles – Plan Ahead

Over the past six months, Newfangled has created a lot of content about marketing automation.  If you’ve read it all (or even just some of it), you’re likely/hopefully amazed at all of the different facets of marketing automation software and how it can integrate with your website and CRM to create a lead development ecosystem.

This can be quite exciting stuff, and rightfully so – it IS exciting stuff.  But don’t get swept up in the hype.  Setting up a marketing automation system is a lot of hard work and I have clients struggle with it everyday.

So I decided to start a little series of blog posts on the common struggles with marketing automation and the hurdles I often find myself helping clients to overcome – or better yet, avoid altogether.


Before they even realize that they’ve started, marketers can set themselves up for struggles with marketing automation in the planning process.  As you are planning out a new website, there are a lot of things to consider – design, organization, usability, calls to action, etc.  But you also need to be considering how your new site is going to work with marketing automation.

The key things that you should think about at this phase of the process to make sure that you are setting yourself up for success (and avoiding hurdles down the road) with marketing automation are:

1. Calls to Action and premium content

Marketing automation software is only helpful if you are feeding new leads into your list on a regular basis.  To do this, your site needs to have clear and strong calls to action – buy now, sign up, contact us, etc.  Additionally, you want to provide avenues for existing leads to come back for more.  This is where premium content (whitepapers, webinars, ebooks, etc.) come in.  Placing this type of content behind a form allows you to track who is accessing these resources and exactly which resources they are viewing.

This is vital to marketing automation because, down the road, you are going to have a desire to start sending out targeted email campaigns to website visitors based on the type of content they are accessing.  You will also want to use premium content to help guide leads through the buying cycle.  All of this is not possible if you don’t plan ahead when building the site and take CTAs and premium content into consideration.

A word of warning, however – don’t bite off more than you can chew.  If you don’t have the resources to create whitepapers, webinars and ebooks on a regular basis, then don’t.  Start putting free, indexable content on your site first.  Then, once you have an established content strategy, consider adding in a premium resource or two that are behind a form.

Neglecting calls to action and premium resources often triggers a hurdle down the road, as marketers struggle to grow their lists and to segment their leads effectively.  This hurdle can be avoided altogether if, during the planning process, you take into account how your various CTAs and premium resources will help feed your automated marketing campaigns.

2. Progressive Profiling

Avoiding our first hurdle, you’ve planned out your new site to include some great calls to action and you’re going to keep visitors coming back and engaging by giving them the opportunity to access premium content via a form.  That is all well and good, but what can make it even better is considering your progressive profiling rules during these early planning stages.

If a lead is accessing your website content and completing various calls to action, but each CTA only asks for their name and email, then all you will ever learn about this person is that his name is Joe Schmo and his email is  That is great because you can now begin marketing to him via email, but you are missing the opportunity to gather even more vital information from Joe as he is engaging with your site.

When planning out your calls to action, also think about all of the information that you would like to know about your leads.  What is the information that is going to help you score these leads and isolate the best prospects?  What information is going to allow you to send more targeted communication to them?

If we asked Joe for his name and email upon the first form submission, then asked for his company name and job title the next time he engaged, and on his third interaction with our website ask him for his industry and location, we suddenly have a lot more useful information that we can use in our marketing automation software.

For example, we could put Joe into an automated program that sends him content relevant to the industry he is in, or we could score him as a qualified lead based on his title, and we can assign him to the right sales rep based on his location.  All of this communication will be much more relevant to Joe and we’ll be much more likely to turn Joe into a customer because we are sending him more targeted emails.

This is another case of a planning decision that can cause hurdles down the road.  If you don’t carefully consider what progressive profiling fields you want to gather, then you may set yourself up to struggle with list segmentation and lead scoring down the road as your leads begin coming in.

These are just a couple of the avoidable struggles that marketers face with marketing automation.  Let me know if there are other hurdles that your organization has run into that could have been avoided by advanced planning!

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