Dispelling the Myths of Marketing Automation
You buy a Yeti—a bicycle built specifically for mountain riding. The bike itself touts a light-weight body, trail-friendliness, precision-riding, nimble climbing, among a number of other features that make it ideal for trekking in the mountains.
You have all of these grandiose ideas of riding with the wind against your face, conquering heavy mountainous terrain and immersing yourself in the outdoors.
And then you buy it.
And suddenly, your entire vision seems unachievable and overwhelming. So, you take it for a spin around your neighborhood block and bring it home. It's safe, easy, and you need the exercise, so you rinse and repeat every weekend.
That's what it's like when you buy a marketing automation platform and use it as an email tool. You use a sliver of its functionality and don't necessarily achieve your goals.
At HighRoad, we’re all about equipping associations with the right data sync, tools, and knowledge so that they're meeting their objectives. And yes, marketing automation ranks high in terms of helping associations drive value and growth.
But if your organization just isn't ready for marketing automation, we're the first to raise a flag. The sheer principles and strength in functionality can often undercut use of the tool itself.
So let's debunk some myths about the true intention and design behind marketing automation. Hopefully these tips will save you a lot of mundane bike rides around the block 😀
Picking up on the technical skills associated with the tool will come for most. But if your entire organization isn't culturally on board with the philosophies behind the tool, you're setting your organization up for failure. You need a change management plan in place to shepherd legacy practices and mindsets out of the picture.
Marketing automation, at its core, isn’t about operational efficiency, although increased efficiency is a fortunate by-product. In the simplest of terms, marketing automation is about leveraging the data your organization collects to transform the way you connect with your audiences.
We see time saved as “time recalibrated." Rather than spending hours manually pulling lists or sending emails, your team gets hours back in their day to analyze performance, strategize ways to improve current campaigns, and plan for future markets.
This shift from tactical thinking to strategic thinking allows your team to take a step back and look at your marketing efforts as one data story, from social media to content to email.
Many organizations mistakenly believe that creating personas is a one-time activity. This couldn't be further from the truth. Personas are built so that you can measure how your audiences are interacting with your content and programs. You want to lean into the data that creates your persona (typically demographic and psychographic) and you want to measure ongoing content consumption by that persona (typically transactional and behavioral).
For example, Tom a C-level at a consumer packaging company, is a member of trade association for commercial recycling.
A "snapshot" of the persona profile that Tom fits into may look like this:
- CPG company
- C-level associated titles
- 25+ years of experience
- Manages a team of 50+
- Responsibilities: Planning, operations, safety, sustainability, waste management, etc.
- Both linear and spiral thinker
- Wants seamless operations in place for highest efficiency
- Wants to be up on the latest sustainability practices
- Wants his team knowledgeable, trained, and compliant
Now remember...this isn't a profile representing a single person named Tom. This is a collection of people whose criteria matches this profile. Let's say this collection of "Toms" starts downloading content around brand management, product marketing, labeling, etc. A distinct pattern has surfaced based on content consumption. Tom is now seen as having marketing interest and responsibility based on the data collected throughout the campaign. And just like that, Tom's persona—along with the content that maps to him—has evolved.
Ultimately, you're making data-based assumptions about your personas. Your campaigns will either validate or dispel those assumptions. And since context changes, needs change, and roles change, your personas should be pliable. Continually assessing your personas and adjusting on a regular cadence, keeps you relevant to your markets.
Remember, a content generator's role isn’t to be a subject matter expert. Content managers and writers are experts in marketing. Their role is focused on repurposing and repackaging practitioner-driven content in a way that's compelling and relevant to their audiences.
About Aimee Pagano
Aimee joins HighRoad Solution with 15+ years of integrated marketing and communications experience, primarily in client-facing roles within the association and SaaS space. Her specialties include persona development, content strategy/management, lead gen and awareness campaign development, and website development/optimization.