It goes without saying (for us, anyway) that if we’re helping our clients expand their marketing automation capabilities and results, we need to be doing the same internally.

This summer, as soon as we became an Eloqua partner, we started improving and accelerating our own lead capture and middle-of-pipeline lead management efforts. And, just as we advise our clients, we didn’t attempt to tackle everything at once.

Instead, we’ve broken our priorities into phases.

The first launch phase for our marketing automation implementation we dubbed “table stakes”, because it represented the minimum infrastructure to get things started. This included:

  • Standardized lead capture: including Eloqua-driven forms throughout the site for all contact us and asset requests
  • Standardized forms: integrated into existing landing pages
  • Salesforce.com integration: basic, two-way communication on new & existing leads between Eloqua and our sales CRM
  • Social connectors: Integrated ties between Eloqua, Twitter & Slideshare (this was table stakes for us given how actively we use the latter two on a daily basis)
  • Immediate asset follow-up: All new leads get their requested asset immediately (including leads from Slideshare)

Our second phase, which Brian code-named “Normandy” (because we’ve landed, and are now storming, the beach), takes several next steps to accelerate our use of core marketing automation features. This includes:

  • Data normalization: Creating consistency and completeness of lead and account data in both Eloqua and Salesforce.com
  • Data append: We capture less information in our forms, and back-end append from sources such as InsideView and Data.com
  • Web intelligence: Actively watch, score and respond to company and individual activity on the site, tied in particular to short-term buying signal activities (such as visiting our “about the team” and “services overview” pages)
  • Lead scoring: Active triage of new, inbound leads based on demographic information (captured & appended) as well as the nature (and volume) of what they’ve requested
  • Short-term lead follow-up drip campaigns: In addition to immediate asset follow-up, for leads that score a certain way, we put them on a short-term automated drip campaign that continues unless the lead status is progressed in Salesforce.com

Our third phase (which Brian hasn’t yet code-named) will go farther – segmentation, hidden forms, social sign-on and more. But as you can see, we’ll earn our way there.

Too often, companies new to marketing automation try to boil the ocean and do all of this at once. That’s neither possible nor reasonable in almost every case.

Start slow and build. Your first phase may not feel very sexy. But it’s truly table stakes to get into the really exciting, more impactful, more sexy features and potential that marketing automation represents.

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