Lead generation is a data-heavy industry, where opt-ins, content and demand meet as one to form a very detailed and delicate data universe. As a result, many marketers/ops professionals look to automation to enhance the heavy lifting and scoring that eventually feeds the sales machine.
Here are our top 3 things to watch out for in automation with lead gen:
- Running tests in isolated environments
- Checking the database for any invalid automation runs
- Attaching the automation to business objectives
Running Tests in Isolated Environments
We often find ourselves wanting to just test one small thing. Just one action to make your life slightly easier. But that’s the problem. Much like the butterfly effect, if you automate and test even a small interaction, you could set off a chain of irreversible actions.
What’s worse than fixing an issue that could have been isolated? When everyone else in the business is aware you’ve messed up and are unable to close deals, update pipelines or report to the board.
We’ve all done it.
Our advice is, copy the scenario in your head into your automation platform. Make sure the data flow and actions replicate what you are trying to do in your live environment. For example, using google sheets instead of your CRM. Get the logic right first in an empty environment that you can control.
Checking the Database for any Invalid Runs
This one can be your saviour.
Periodically, you should be assessing your CRM (or whichever database is connected to your automation) and checking whether the data is still all in its desired format. A simple way to do this is to export into an XLSX and filter for any blank values. Alternatively, if you have in-house dev capabilities, get them to run a script that will check for any blank/incorrect values in the database.
Once you find them, do not just delete them. You have to assess the incorrect data, its source, and its cause. Typically, you can find out the cause intuitively by looking at the submitted data, or the unusualness of the row of data itself.
This leads us on to our next tip.
Attaching Automation to Business Objectives
Automation’s value is only directly proportional to the time saved continuously vs the investment needed to create it.
Think about that for a second.
You need to know that this automation will work over a long enough period, so that your time and the business interruption of integrating, will eventually cause a positive ROI.
Second, you are competing against other ROI machines such as salespeople, marketing, and product which all also move the dial in other business objectives.
Automation for automation’s sake is good for less of the business than you’d originally think. Sure, you can save yourself an hour a week if this maps to that, but what about when it goes wrong? How many hours do you unpick? How many times do you just delete it, and the time invested goes where? Basically, make sure everyone agreed “less time doing X would be worth Y” before investing Z time/money.
The key lesson here is to define your exact objective before undertaking any automation work and the direct expected value you hope to capture by undertaking said automation work.
– Dave Stubbs, Data and Analytics Executive