“Feeding the Machine”: Preparing Content for Your Marketing Automation System

Can you hear the screams? “Our campaign is scheduled to launch in two weeks, and I need content!!!”

Sales of marketing automation software—Marketo, Eloqua, and the like—will grow 60 percent to reach US$1.2 billion in 2014.* Chances are, if you’re working for a large or midsize tech company, your organization has either purchased a marketing automation system, or will do so soon.

Once you own this beast, it needs to be fed. Here are some tips for “feeding the marketing automation machine” with high-quality content:

1. Start with an engagement model. “We see a lot of companies using marketing automation as a high-priced MailChimp,” quips our brilliant colleague Trish Hayward, Managing Partner of Catalyst Strategies. “To take full advantage of the robust functionality of these tools, you have to rethink how campaigns work. Success means getting the right content to the right people at the right time—at the right stage of their journey through your sales funnel—in order to deliver more qualified and engaged prospects to the sales organization.”

So, even if your marketing team is screaming for content, don’t start writing webinars or blog posts without first:

  • Identifying to whom you are marketing
  • Mapping out each stage of your target buyer’s journey
  • Clearly identifying the information your target buyers need at each stage of their journey (and why they need it)
  • Knowing what information you will need about prospects in your sales funnel to determine where they are in their journey through it
  • Setting up a system to deliver the right content to the right person at the right time in his/her journey

2. Plan your campaigns. Planning and executing campaigns is a full-time job, similar to running your corporate blog. Before even starting to think about content, you’ll want to map out your campaigns—both lead gen and nurture—and allocate time and resources to executing each.

As Trish points out, “It’s no longer ‘best practice’ to use calendars for nurturing leads already in your database. Be ready to deliver content as your lead takes each step in the journey, not by calendar date, so you can deliver the right content when the person is ready for it.”

3. Produce all your content at once. Most marketing automation campaigns require at minimum: invitation and follow-up emails, a landing page, and an offer (something juicy like an eBook, white paper, infographic, webinar, video, case study, or other asset your prospect will register to receive).

You’ll also want to create some social media content to draw eyeballs to your lead generation campaigns and support your nurturing campaigns. It’s wise to prepare all of these assets at the same time, using the same creative team—perhaps the Content Bureau?—to eliminate redundancy and to help keep costs low.

Need a plan to help you get the most out of your marketing automation investment? Call Trish. Ready to feed the machine? Call me. Catalyst and the Content Bureau will continue blogging on the topic of marketing automation over the next few months, so please let us know on Facebook what you’d like to read.

*Raab Associates Inc., 2014.


By Stacy Crinks