Real Talk: 5 Surprises When Implementing Pardot

I love surprises – surprise parties, surprise presents, surprise announcements.

But this blog isn’t about THOSE kind of surprises. It’s about those “well shit, I didn’t see that coming” things that can rear their heads in a technology implementation project.

Having helped several dozen companies ramp up on Pardot, there are a few recurring things that I see come up that weren’t clearly communicated in the sales process:

1) Automation is not automagic

Marketing automation is truly amazing. It can save organizations crazy amounts of time and money, and free their team up to focus on things that are the highest and best use of your time.

But marketing automation takes work. It does not mean “untouched by human hands.” You need to be prepared to put the thought, strategy, and elbow grease into building your programs and campaigns before you can sit back on an island somewhere and watch it do your job for you.

2) You can’t automate a process that doesn’t exist

Marketing automation can help streamline your sales follow up process and lead nurturing efforts. If you don’t have a sales process though, what’s there to automate?

I highly recommend building a process that first is executed by real live humans. When you have a good feel for what works, have a marketing and sales sit-down and map it out.

If time were not a constraint, what would the ideal follow up process look like? What constitutes “success” and “engagement” in a nurturing program? What kinds of activities make a lead “sales ready”?

3) Lead gen volume is critical to achieving ROI

If you’re using MA to nurture inbound leads, you need a sufficient volume of net new contacts to nurture before it’s “worth it.” How many leads do you generate a month? 5, 50, 500?

The “right” threshold for volume varies by type of business and length of sales cycle. How many people can your sales reps pick up the phone and call before it gets to be too much? My rule of thumb is that at about 100 leads per month you’re at a volume where it makes more sense to automate.

4) Content is the alpha and omega

The biggest barrier to success with marketing automation – hands down – is lack of content. You need to develop email templates, landing pages, blogs, case studies, and other types of content to fuel your campaigns. This can be one big development push at the beginning, but ideally it is part of an ongoing demand generation strategy where you’re using blogs and educational resources to drive inbound leads.

Do not underestimate the skill and energy needed to execute an effective content plan. Can you get ‘er done in house? Do you know any freelancers who could assist with copywriting? Could you find an agency or consultant to ride shotgun with you in this effort?

5) You have to move slow to get far

If you try to implement all of the shiny new features at once, you’ll likely overwhelm your team – marketing, sales, and everyone in between.

A crawl, walk, run approach is where it’s at. Build a roadmap with realistic project goals and targets, and set a frequency at which you plan to take a step back and look at performance.

Avoiding these traps

Do any of these sounds familiar? What stumbling blocks or misconceptions did you encounter when implementing Pardot?

Let me know in the comments!

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