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3 Ways to Optimize Your Marketing-Automation Systems It's time to give up on the dream of shortcuts. By setting up your system correctly from the start, you can create better conversations with buyers and learn how your potential clients behave.

By Justin Gray Edited by Dan Bova

entrepreneur daily

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Why do people stay up late watching infomercials? Aside from probable insomnia, they're mesmerized by the idea that for just three easy payments of $19.99, they can buy solutions for all of their kitchen, bathroom or garden problems.

But your marketing-automation system doesn't belong in an infomercial. There's no "call-now-and-we'll-double-the-offer" solution that lets you capture visitors' data and immediately funnel it over to sales.

Related: Marketing Automation Explained (Infographic)

It's time to give up on the dream of shortcuts. Marketing automation, after all, is a repeatable system for mapping buyer activity with messaging through ongoing online conversation. And if well executed, you'll gain that precious buyer trust that every marketer vies for.

What's more, it allows you to scale marketing efforts by writing rules that remove the human element of getting eyes on each lead. While there's no point where things run themselves, the effort you put into the system will save you time and money.

By setting up your system correctly from the start, you can create better conversations with buyers and learn how your potential clients behave.

The rules for your buyer conversations are no different than any offline discussion -- you have to keep it relevant, chime in only when appropriate and respond in the same manner (or channel) over which it's taking place. Trying to generalize or cheat that system can get you a swift kick to the buyer's curb.

Imagine that your grandmother has sent you a card in the mail. She'd love for you to call her in response, but she would never want to receive a call from a telemarketer simply because she visited a website.

To successfully gain that elusive buyer trust and use marketing automation effectively, you must set up the system so that every part can easily scale as your company grows. This is where the hard work begins, but anything worth building is worth building right.

Here are three ways you can optimize your marketing automation systems to get the best results:

1. Determine your process.

Process always comes before technology, so first determine a process for segmenting your buyers, and apply it to your marketing-automation system. Define the stereotypes of your best buyers. After determining their pain points and what they need to build trust, ask yourself how you'll identify segments in real time based on demographics, firmographics and behaviors.

Related: The 3 Questions You Have to Answer to Get Your Customers Eager to Buy

The criteria you determine become rules you'll build into your marketing-automation systems. You can also develop processes for lead nurturing, sales alignment and customer life management.

2. Capture data.

Prioritize capturing data about behavior over sending email and other short-term goals. The biggest flaw companies make in marketing automation is the failure to capture data, which is a missed opportunity that requires substantial catch up. You need to ask intelligent questions on intake forms, have your sales team enter critical data and use data scrubbing or append tactics to learn as much as you can about your buyers.

3. Establish baseline goals.

The most overlooked element of successful marketing is making baseline projections. But if you don't know where you're aiming, how can you expect to hit your target? Some marketers hesitate to establish baseline goals because it may call attention to failure.

But guess what? You'll fail. Marketing isn't a science. You're dependent on one ever-changing variable -- the buyer. While campaigns may fail, the real failure is not having a mechanism in place to capture results and make changes based on feedback. Set a goal and document your process and results so you can learn from your mistakes.

Marketers often use the technology of marketing automation to define their processes. They look for what's required in the software and create those pieces. But if you're using the technology to force you to create a process, you've already lost.

Marketing automation gives you a solid process for lead acquisition, management and sales. If you develop your process, capture data and create baseline goals, you can use the system effectively to grow your business.

There's no shortcut. And if you're willing to put in the necessary work, you can succeed and thrive through marketing automation.

Related: 10 Innovative Ways to Analyze Google Analytics Data to Increase Sales

Justin Gray

CEO of LeadMD

Justin Gray is the CEO and chief marketing evangelist of LeadMD. He founded the company in 2009 with the vision of transforming traditional grassroots marketing efforts through the use of cloud-based marketing solutions.

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