Adding a Marketing Automation platform to your Marketing tech stack can help you gain efficiencies and achieve economies of scale if implemented well. However, it remains important that you continuously optimize, revise and maintain your chosen platform to make sure it works as hard as it should and can prove Return on Investment (ROI).

Most Marketing Automation platforms require continuous infrastructure development and shouldn’t be implemented without a long-term strategy as it will reduce its effectiveness, this is particularly true for large global businesses that work across countries and languages.

As a client-side marketer, I’m sure you are frequently challenged to prove ROI, especially if you’re working in a sales-led business, which is often the case in the B2B world.

So how do you make sure that you get the most out of your automation platform and continue to prove ROI? Here are seven things that will help

1. Make improving data quality a priority and ongoing activity

It’s important that you collect the right data at the right time to help meet your objectives. Consider which fields are essential such as First Name and Telephone Number, then look at fields that are nice to have such as Company Name, Job Title, Number of Employees, Vertical etc and work from there. If you are hoping to send leads to your sales team then a telephone number is crucial too, even though this can be looked up, it’s not always that simple when dealing with larger businesses.

If you are worried that lengthy data capture forms may reduce form fills then consider using progressive profiling where you collect information in stages and not all at once. Perhaps start with an email address and first name, then add telephone number and job title for example. Even though this is often easier said than done, small things like email personalization are an absolute must and poor data quality shouldn’t be an excuse.

Good data helps to improve email performance, build relationships and drive conversion. If your objective is to increase sales then it starts with capturing the right data at the right time for an engaged audience who are interested and able to purchase your offering either in the short or long term.

2. Ensure your reporting infrastructure provides meaningful insight

If you want to make the most of your automation activity then reporting can’t be overlooked. Make sure it’s set up to give you meaningful insight and doesn’t just focus on how many emails were sent, opened and links clicked. Reporting should help you map your entire prospect journey and if this means using a standalone reporting tool that brings all data sources together across touchpoints and channels, in a meaningful way, then it will be a good investment in the long term.

3. Test, learn and optimize

Assuming is never a good approach to decision making! If you use a test and learn approach you will always gain new insights into your audience which will enable you to optimize and adjust, driving ROI and conversion.

One of the biggest benefits of Marketing Automation is that you can run always on activity that will build your sales funnel even while you’re sleeping. But this does not mean that you should build and forget. For maximum return, you should build and optimize – always.

4. Focus on engaged prospects and incorporate Inbound channels

The engagement rates for contacts who entered a nurture stream through Inbound channels (paid digital media and organic social) are much higher than they would be for legacy or purchased data. Our advice for filling the funnel and driving conversion is to focus your efforts on engaged data; Inbound marketing is also a good way to do so.

Roles and responsibilities within the B2B space change frequently, which means a contact who may have been a potential buyer last year could’ve moved to a new role this year and your message is getting lost. Personally, I’ve often deleted unengaged contacts from my datasets to ensure I’m communicating with people who are interested. This approach not only helps to safeguard your brand reputation but also keeps you off the “irritating sales” or even “painful spam” list, unless that is your strategy of course.

5. Keep your filing up to date

Follow good filing practice, determine a file naming convention and keep to it. Searching for things wastes time unnecessarily. Having a good tidy-up on a regular basis is also wise, but be mindful of dependencies and make sure you do not delete anything that might sabotage a colleague’s activity.

6. Establish an SLA between sales and marketing

I can’t stress the importance of an SLA for lead follow-up between marketing and sales teams enough. Too many times have I seen marketing leads get missed or pushed down as a non-priority simply because there’s no open conversation between sales and marketing teams about leads, follow up and lead quality.

Marketers are often guilty of expecting that sales follow up will happen without question or challenge. Just because we spent money generating leads does not mean that your sales team will automatically prioritize follow up, sales colleagues are target driven and will generally work on the leads with highest close potential so make sure leads are shared with the right people and are of good quality.

The Marketing vs Sales debacle is an ongoing battle for many businesses and if you’ve fallen into this trap, don’t worry you’re not alone, it’s quite common. The best solution is to make sure you have a team who’s comfortable doing outbound calling on the case and that you have a formal ongoing open conversation with them, supported by an SLA.

7. Continuously review your lead scoring and lead passing model

As mentioned above, just because you’ve spent so much time, effort and money on generating MQLs doesn’t mean that your sales team will be lining up to convert every lead you send over. This will only happen if your lead quality is excellent and you’ve got the right people on the job i.e. skilled outbound callers who are able to set appointments and drive the sales process. I wouldn’t recommend giving these to an inbound team as they will most likely prioritize their inbound activity instead.

Once you’ve established who will qualify your MQLs and have an SLA with that team make sure that you have regular formal review meetings with both the team lead and selected team members to gauge how you can adjust your scoring and passing model. The only way to reach a sweet spot is to test and learn, it will also help you to get buy-in from your sales team if they are involved in the process!

Remember to set regular intervals to review your scoring model in platform to ensure it’s working as expected and scoring the correct activity.