Ever wish that you could try something before you made a big decision?  For instance, would you like to bring new dog home for a few days before you bought it at the animal shelter? Wish you could work a day in a potential job before you accepted it?  Want to live a week in a new house before you move to a different neighborhood?

Most often, these opportunities are just not possible, and you can lose your mind trying to anticipate all the angles of a first-time decision.

Implementing a marketing automation strategy for the first time is an example of making a big commitment—and the price tag for mistakes can be high.

You will want to consider several key factors before deciding if your company is ready for marketing automation.

Sales Alignment – Introducing even the most basic marketing automation strategies will be a significant challenge for you if you don’t have alignment between sales and marketing.  Without alignment, all the marketing efforts to generate leads is lost if the sales team doesn’t call on leads.  Successful execution means these two groups are working seamlessly in tandem.  Alignment around shared goals, technologies and processes allows you to monitor and optimize every stage of the buying process.

Bridge the gap between sales and marketing by making the effort to work and interact with sales.  Attending weekly sales meetings allows marketers to know the sales team’s challenges and goals.  Have regular meetings with sales managers to analyze results.  Also, attending events together, whether it’s a trade show or a happy hour, provides the opportunity to get to know the sales team outside the traditional work environment.

Investment – Many companies underestimate the resources needed to successfully execute on marketing campaigns.  Beyond the cost of the marketing automation system itself, you need to make sure you have budgeted the cost of employees’ time for content creation or a budget to have content creation outsourced. 

Investing in marketing automation can be a daunting decision.  Focusing on the benefits these systems brings to your company and the time and resources they can save for your organization is a good frame.  As long as you choose a marketing automation solution that’s not too expensive and make sure to maximize that system, you should be able to improve your bottom line.

Content – Though marketing automation software can help you communicate more efficiently with your prospects, you still need to produce the content (whitepapers, blog posts, infographics) to engage with those prospects. 

Building a robust library of content is an ongoing process, and you can get started right away.  I suggest thinking about your customer’s pain points and mapping out a content road map.  Once you mapped the buying cycle and the problems related to each step, determine what content you will deliver to prospects to address their questions.  Many companies create a content calendar to plan topics and resources that delivers the perfect content at the right time.

Marketing Email Policy – Your company’s email marketing policy is often an overlooked consideration. If your business operates in the U.S., understanding CAN-SPAM, a U.S. law that regulates commercial email, is a necessity.  You should also review regulations and policies for any other foreign countries that your company conducts business.  Also, your marketing automation contract often has explicit language on how you use their system to engage with customers.  I’ve seen companies assemble their shiny, new marketing automation system, and then be stymied because the marketing team has differing opinions about which prospects they can email from their database. 

Email laws dictate a number of conditions that email marketers need to follow to avoid significant fines.  Most importantly, you need to ensure that you have permission to email the people on your list.  While the law allows you to email subscribers that have actively opted in, you should periodically check your mailing list and remove unengaged subscribers to keep your database clean.