Marketing Systems Pitfalls

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The implementation of a marketing automation system is an intricate component of a CRM solution. There exist pitfalls that, any of which can cause problems ranging from a degradation of operating efficiency to total corruption. The Marketing System Reviews report is a good place to start your marketing software selection, but after selecting the best marketing system, deployment issues must be considered.

Compatibility issues between the marketing system and ancillary systems can arise when integrating a CRM solution with other company information systems. This is especially evident as Microsoft Outlook is the most popular and dynamic email and communication program suite in use and is not always supported by popular marketing applications. Basic operating systems and desktop or Office applications can also provide compatibility issues with several popular marketing systems. It’s important to recognize early what related programs, applications and business software systems will interact with the proposed marketing application and verify data exchange between disparate programs is seamless for the user.

It’s also critical that any marketing system can accommodate or be tailored for the company’s business processes. In other words, think of it like a hand made suit. Detailed measurements must be taken, the fabric must be right for the situation and the seams must be perfect. The suit also must go along with the rest of the ensemble. The more attention paid to detail, the fewer major patches or bridges that must be made, the fewer possibilities there are of “bugs” or glitches or other hindrances to performance. Make sure the solution provider chosen is an expert in every area of CRM, including marketing automation systems, marketing business processes, supporting hardware and software technology. Make sure your consultant or solution provider has experience in software customization. If you choose a provider that has handled selling CRM and installing programs, but is short on customization, there may be a lack of desire to tailor the system to your needs or issues with data and cross program linkages. Software applications change on a daily basis and what was completely compatible and synchronous last month, may not be this month. (Just think of Vista vs. XP Pro and the challenges business are having with that operating system, remembering that both are from the same software provider and are simple compared to enterprise level business applications and situations like a CRM and marketing system implementation.)

Marketing systems must be available to all those involved in the marketing process. However, not every data set needs to be open to everyone. Also, many marketing systems tie into accounting applications and other related databases. Security needs to be robust, yet flexible enough to allow for cross data silo utilization. Experts in IT security should handle passwords and authentication needs, with a clear understanding of the human resource integration needs.

All data sources, or silos, must be cross-connected to get the maximum leverage. Leaving any data out of the loop degrades the value of the system itself. Along this same line, data must be input in fields that are completely in sync with search parameters. For example, it does little good to have a field for customer purchase size if there is no choice in the research tool for purchase size. The same can be said for making sure the details of the fields and terminology is consistent. For example, it does no good to list monetary values with decimal points if the research tool does not recognize it, or if units recognize 144 widgets but input for the sale is 12 gross, or if the date of sale is 1-1-2007 vs. January, 1, 2007 or 1-01-07. Programming is literal and while these examples are seemingly self evident, others are not.

During the implementation attention must also be paid to the details of each and every process. Nothing can be left out. If there are four steps in a marketing process, then each of the four steps must be identified, automated and synchronized. Failure to do so will cause implementation setback issues. This can be one of the most time consuming aspects of the marketing system implementation. Spending the proper time and resources at this stage will save on both exponentially down the road. As important as having complete data is having accurate data. Bad data is a causes time, effort and money to be wasted.

As with other areas of CRM, having the right human resources working the system and being involved in the implementation is imperative to success. Proper training of these employees is critical to a smooth implementation and post-implementation success.

During the implementation there will be a period of transition. A pitfall many experience comes from improper planning. Marketing efforts cannot stop or be put on hold simply because the processes are being automated. A good plan will work in parallel while the training and customization is being done, being ready for transition in a turnkey manner.

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