Stop! Do not purchase marketing automation software until these 6 critical elements are in place.

Stop Sign

Marketing automation helps thousands of companies grow their business everyday by increasing online sales leads. According to Hubspot, their users can expect a two-year lead growth of 5.72X. Marketo notes that it’s successful helping companies with lead generation. Pardot claims to increase marketing ROI by 34% and campaign effectiveness by 37%.

It’s easy to be enticed by these numbers. “It’s the silver bullet solution to flat sales!” you might say. What these companies fail to mention is that for marketing automation to be successful you must have in place: an ongoing plan and resources for quality content.

Marketing automation IS NOT a Field of Dreams: “build it and they will come.” A lot (and I mean A LOT) of work must happen before your marketing automation engine can be successful. Here are 6 critical items you should map out before using marketing automation software:

1. Content Budget
Happy as a clam, you finally received the green light from management to purchase marketing automation software. But did you also ask for a content budget? You’ll need to push out useful information on a consistent basis to your clearly defined audience. Who will generate this content? Be sure to include time and resources to secure items 2 to 5 in your budget.

2. Personas

Start interviewing your clients, prospects and referral network to develop customer and referral personas.

Clearly understanding your audience’s challenges, needs, goals, roles and communication behaviors is the backbone to producing useful content. The content is the hook needed to attract and engage prospects and draw them into your website. Without it, marketing automation doesn’t work. Did I mention that already? Not clear on what a persona is or looking for persona questions? Read the Content Marketing Institutes’s posts on personas and Hubspot’s posts on personas.

3. Keywords

Use keywords in your content to help move your company up in searches. To help locate your keywords try: Google Trends, Keyword Tool or Übersuggest.

4. Content Creators

Identify, hire if necessary and put in place your content creators – the writers, videographers and designers who will generate the “stuff.” I can’t emphasize enough…MARKETING AUTOMATION DOES NOT WORK unless you have quality content that is reaching your audience. While you can and should review existing content to determine what is relevant and can be repurposed, new content will also need to be planned. These creators can come from your current staff, freelancers or a content agency.

5. Content calendar

To help stay on-track and on-task, create a content calendar. Here’s a format I use for my clients.


Launch/ Post




Distribution/ Tactic

Purpose/ CTA

What should you include in your calendar? Consider these categories:

  • Success Stories: Find and write stories that best align with your targeted audiences. Make them relatable and memorable. No other content has more sticking power.
  • Blogs: The best blog topics come from the questions your clients and prospects are asking or from LinkedIn discussions.
  • eBooks/position papers: Great opportunity to drill down on a specific industry topic and show off your company’s expertise. For example, check out a recent eBook from my client, viperks: You Wouldn’t Believe How Awesome My First Day of Work was at…
  • Q & A’s: People love this format because it is easy to read. Take the time to research the topic or person and ask smart and unique questions. It’s an ideal format for tackling a new product, recapping a conference or interviewing a key industry leader. My all time favorite interviewer is Terry Gross, host & co-executive producer of Fresh Air on NPR. Her thorough research and quick mind always lead to thought-provoking follow up questions.
  • Product or client testimonial videos, infographics: Content is not just words. At times the best way to convey your story is through a video or infographic.
6. Write, write and write some more

Money allocated, personas completed, content creators lined up, keywords determined…start generating that content, so you’re ready to feed the pipeline.

No doubt: marketing automation is here to stay. With these six items in place, you’re ready to embark on a successful inbound marketing journey.

Look for my follow up article on…We have the leads, but where is the sales process?

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