Confused About Marketing Automation? 3 Tips to Make Marketing Automation Less Stressful

Earlier this month, we shared tips on choosing marketing automation software and making it work for your organization.

At Rep Cap, we help B2B clients with content marketing, but we don’t just produce content — we make sure our clients have all of the systems and processes they need to turn content into conversions.

This winter, I’ve been working with several of Rep Cap’s clients on the nitty-gritty details of their marketing automation processes. I’ve seen a few overarching trends, and I’ve put together three tips to help any B2B marketing organization improve its marketing automation — and relieve some of the headaches and frustration most people feel when they crack open HubSpot, Marketo, Infusionsoft, Pardot or (insert your marketing automation platform of choice here).


1. Ask — and answer — big-picture questions before you start working on details.

To make your marketing automation software work for you, it’s important to understand your big-picture goals. Before you dig into setting up campaigns, defining workflows or writing email templates, take a big step back.

The goal of using marketing automation is to convert prospects into leads into customers. Every marketing automation tool is designed to help you take a big pool of generally interested people and turn them into a smaller pool of very interested customers who understand your brand and how you can help them.

So, before you start building out all of the small details that make up a marketing campaign, you need to answer big-picture questions including:

  • What are my main business objectives? What am I trying to accomplish with my marketing automation tool?
  • Who are my ideal buyers? What am I trying to sell them?
  • Where are my prospects coming from? How do they find out about my company?
  • What information do I need to give them to help them move from “prospect” to “customer”?
  • How long is my sales cycle? How much time passes between the day someone initially expresses interest in my company and the day they make a purchase?

Once you — and everyone on your marketing team — agrees on the answers to these questions, you can start building marketing campaigns that work toward making your big-picture goals come to life.

Recap: Don’t get bogged down by details. First, think about the big-picture goals you want to achieve.

2. Take one step at a time.

When you’re a new user logging into your marketing automation software for the first time, you’re probably going to feel overwhelmed. Your to-do list will be long:

  • Upload contacts.
  • Design email marketing templates.
  • Write email copy.
  • Set up workflows.
  • Plan blog content.
  • Create calls to action.
  • Produce downloadable content.

Where should you start?

I recommend breaking your marketing automation to-do list into small, manageable pieces. Think about the big-picture goals you defined. Start with your most important business objective.

Let’s say your main goal is selling your Perfect Product to hospital executives. Set up the basic processes you need to attract hospital executives, help them with their pain points, communicate with them about why Perfect Product is the answer to their problems, and make it easy for them to move forward from prospect to lead to customer.

Once you’ve set up marketing automation processes designed for one buyer persona and one business objective, you can replicate those processes for your other personas and business objectives.

Recap: Don’t get overwhelmed by all of the moving pieces and possibilities. Keep your to-do list short and focused, and work out from there.

3. Sort out the software-specific jargon and vocabulary.

Once you’re a pro at using one sales or marketing platform, you’ll think you understand all of the industry lingo:

  • Prospects.
  • Leads.
  • Contacts.
  • Customers.
  • Accounts.
  • Deals.
  • Workflows.
  • Calls to action.

But, the annoying reality is that every sales and marketing tool and every sales and marketing organization uses slightly different terminology. Your sales team might be used to calling any brand-new unqualified leads, “leads,” while your marketing automation platform calls them “prospects.” At your last job, you may have called customers “customers,” while your new organization calls them “contacts.”

It’s important to understand and define key vocabulary to avoid confusion between teams and coworkers. It might be worthwhile to create an internal sales and marketing glossary that defines the master vocabulary you’ll be using at your organization.

On a similar note, I’m begging you: Please don’t use this internal lingo when you’re talking to an actual lead, prospect or customer. I’ve gotten emails from marketers and salespeople that literally say things like “Hi, I’m Jake, and I’m responsible for nurturing you as a lead. Please meet my sales partner, Allison, who will help you on your customer journey.” Oof. Talk to your buyers like people, not like numbers in your marketing automation tool or CRM. Your buyers don’t care where they stand in your internal systems.

The bottom line: Define your sales and marketing vocabulary so that everyone’s on the same page.