From Frazzled to Focused: Eight Concrete Steps to Defining & Implementing a Great Marketing Automation Strategy

Building a marketing automation strategy can be overwhelming. There are so many unknowns and more marketing channels than I can count (Instagram, Facebook, offline, email, TV, print, direct mail, etc). Combined with the fact there are an ever growing number of products and services claiming to help, promising better ROI, more customers, better data management, etc and it can become mindbending.

1) On a piece of paper (or in Google Diagrams), draw a prospective customer journey from left to right. On the left side start with all of the media channels where a prospect might see content or an ad about your product/service or an outbound message you send and then move right with each subsequent possible step in the workflow. This may mean they submit a form, ask a question on an Intercom chat widget, talk to a sales person, receive a drip email campaign, etc. Continue this process all the way through the step where a user is live and active with your product/service (note: this may not be the same step when they pay or sign an can be a few steps after that).

2) Google a competitor. Act like a detective and on a piece of paper map out their journey from left to right just as you did in step #1. If you are doing this using Chrome, open the “Network” tab in inspect element. This will give you clues as to which services they are using since you will be able to see server requests to the domains of their marketing automation vendors.

3) Fill in the missing gaps of your own journey based on anything you learned from your competitor(s).

4) Now that you have a more clear picture of what your customer journey looks like (v1.0 at least), you will have a much more clear sense of what platforms (ie Instagram, email, LinkedIn, website chat, etc) you will want to explore automation tools for and how they can connect with your CRM. For example, if you want to automatically follow potential customers on Instagram, you might consider If you are planning to send drip based email campaigns with some behavioral logic, AutoPilotHQ might make sense. By first creating a clear customer journey diagram, you will have made the process of identifying useful tools far less overwhelming.

5) Once you are armed with knowledge about the automation tools that make sense for your customer journey, read the documentation and understand which scripts will need to be added to your site or platform to both collect data and facilitate interaction.

  • or equivalent data warehousing tools can help simplify some parts of this step by allowing you to push out data to a lot of different marketing automation systems without needing to set them up individually.
  • is also a great way to connect systems together without needing to be technical.

6) Start the process of implementing each tool one by one and make sure that it is working.

7) Set quantitative goals for each step of your journey so you can measure, iterate and improve as you get more data and expand your marketing efforts.

8) Get creative! Write content, share knowledge, test ads, optimize your messaging, build a great user experience

Some of my favorite marketing automation tools in no particular; Intercom (chat and email), AutoPilotHQ (email automation), MixPanel (user analytics), Google Analytics (user analytics), Google Tag Manager (script management), Inspectlet (visual user behavior analysis), HotJar (visual user behavior analysis), Optimizely (A/B testing), (social automation), (email list building), Segment (data management), AdEspresso (Facebook media buying), Google Big Query (data analysis).

All things startup and technology. Founder of— A product development studio for high growth startups and leading brands.

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