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How much time is required to implement a marketing automation platform for your agency?

by | June 14, 2016 | blog, Content Marketing, Marketing and Technology, Marketing Online, Operations

A couple of months ago, Rocket Referrals came out with an article that broke down the different types of marketing automation platforms that are available to agencies, namely:

  • email marketing (MailChimp, ConstantContact, ActiveCampaign)
  • prospect nurturing (InfusionSoft, Ontraport, ActiveCampaign)
  • inbound marketing (Hubspot) and
  • relationship marketing (Rocket Referrals)

With one foot in an insurance agency (The Insurance Alliance) and the other foot in a marketing agency (Grow Program), trust me when I say we’ve had our hands in various different platforms testing different options for months at a time, hating some, loving others, and being content enough with the rest.

The article by Rocket Referrals is incredibly helpful for agents and agency owners but we wanted to add our critical eye to the article and set a level of expectation when it comes to the amount of time required to implement marketing automations.

The biggest roadblock agents face is not knowing how much time and involvement these marketing automation platforms actually involve! Most agents delay their implementation, do a half-ass job, or abandon the project altogether. And when you think a platform is integrated to your management system -or think you have an automated system, think again: all platforms still require a lot of hands-on work, using your time for onboarding, troubleshooting, or creating.

I’m guilty of being one of those agents who jumps on every new and shiny digital tool only to find out that it required a lot more of my time than the automation alluded itself to have. So we decided to take a look at the types of marketing automation systems and give you a realistic view of how much of your time it actually takes to implement the platform and maximize its usage.

Practically a Full-Time Job (InfusionSoft, ActiveCampaign)

Prospect nurturing platforms like InfusionSoft, Ontraport, or ActiveCampaign function as a CRM and an email platform. While InfusionSoft demands much more expertise than other platforms, these three examples can manage your contacts, monitor their behavior in relation to your outbound (and inbound) communication, and send emails based on triggers and sequences you create.

Prospect Nurturing Campaign

These types of platforms require:

  • A tight communication strategy (What stream of emails and messages will you send out for your funnel? You may need to reach out to other agents or agents in the Grow Community to see what the best practices are for our industry.)
  • A part-time email copywriter (For the amount that these platforms are capable of doing, you’d had better maximize their capacity! Unless you have the time to create content, you may consider hiring or contracting an email copywriter. And if you can’t produce a large amount of valuable content, you may want to reconsider implementing a prospect nurturing platform. In other words, if you don’t have the time, don’t do it!)
  • Quality control testing. InfusionSoft can get complex. If you’re not actively testing the campaigns and the corresponding triggers that set off the campaigns, you’ll be prone to mishaps and errors.
  • A part-time marketing coordinator who is tech-savvy, and design-capable. Unless you have the time to be hands-on, you’ll need a person to do the quality control testing mentioned above, and be able to align your website, landing pages, and email marketing funnels. And when we say part-time, we’re talking about at least 20 hours a week, at least in the beginning, during the onboarding phase. This doesn’t include the amount of time you have to set aside, to work with your marketing coordinator.

Platforms like Mailchimp and ConstantContact arguably fall in this category as well, since they both have the ability to nurture prospects. The big difference is that these email platforms don’t have a CRM function and the logic behind the campaign setup is not as fluid or intuitive.

Inbound marketing automation platforms like Hubspot also requires heavy attention. Since inbound marketing is fueled by content, you’ll need some solid effort to pump out meaningful and valuable content. It will require the same things as above, except, you’ll probably need a near full-time marketing person who can create content and manage the Hubspot platform entirely.

It’s very rare to find an agent who does it all, but Joey Giangola is the perfect example and prime guru of wearing both hats as agent and marketing powerhorse. (You can follow him in the first stretch of our Grow Academy videos.)

Requires medium involvement (MailChimp, ActiveCampaign, ConstantContact):

Email marketing platforms, while more basic in its function, still require a chunk of time. The setup time is minimal. All you’d have to do is upload your contacts or possibly integrate the platform with your management system. But if you’re creating templates to fit your branding, that can take some dedicated effort. Luckily, it’s a one-time effort.

If you’re just sending out monthly mailers, then implementing and laying out the campaigns will require much less stress and coordination. But if you’re trying to nurture prospects, then the work becomes more complex. Implementing an email marketing automation will still require:

  • A tight communication strategy
  • A part-time email copywriter (Unless you and your staff have the time to create content, you may consider contracting an email copywriter.)
  • Quality control testing. In this case, you’ll need to monitor your campaigns and make sure they’re functioning as intended.
  • A part-time marketing coordinator who is tech-savvy, and design-capable. Chances are, you yourself won’t have the time to toggle with templates and contact support when you come across a glitch. You will need a person to manage this process.

Requires minimal time and involvement (Rocket Referrals)

Relationship marketing platforms requires the least amount of time commitment. This type of platform is actually quite unique for our industry. It nurtures the existing relationships you already have with existing clients by sending them meaningful communication, whether by mail or email, which encourages brand loyalty. As we’ve all been taught by now, renewals and nurturing a continued business relationship is far more valuable than gaining new clients, in the long run.

Rocket Referrals is an example of this type of platform. The initial onboarding process is painless and takes less than an hour. (At least from what I remember from my experience.)

Rocket Referrals has been a strategic partner since the early days of Grow, and there’s a reason why they’ve been a strategic partner! I’ve been using their service for my own agency for some time, and it’s been the most effective tool I’ve used for my agency and also the least painful thing I’ve had to implement. There are no campaigns to set up. All you have to do is turn buttons on and off, depending on the type of communication you want to send to your clients. All the algorithm is already built in and it’s built specifically for the business of independent insurance agencies. You can check them out more here.

So we talked a lot about the amount of time it takes to implement an effective marketing automation platform. Don’t forget that the beauty of automation is that once you have it all set, you can somewhat sit back for a little while and let it run its course. You can also set up the templates in the beginning so that all you, as an agent, would have to do is input the content. Still, you want to keep your information fresh and relevant and will need to tweak your campaign on a relative ongoing basis.

Are you a diehard fan of any automation platform? If so, please share that with the Grow Community by commenting below.

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