If it were easy, wouldn’t everyone do it?

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4 “easy” areas where marketing technologists can fall short

I was a sophomore in high school, anticipating my first-ever “session.” A session is a term used to describe 20-30 minutes spent playing a musical instrument, by yourself, in front of your music director to be assessed a chair in the school’s band.  (Oh, and former band-geeks – I am looking at you, because you know exactly what I am talking about. Don’t hide). This harrowing collection of minutes was made even more terrifying by the fact that your “chair” represented how skilled you were at your instrument. First chair = the most skilled. Last chair = the least skilled.  In Manchester, NH at the ripe age of 15 – the stakes couldn’t be higher.

I’d spent hours practicing my scales as well as all the prepared pieces (to this day, I find the best cure for anxiety is preparation), and I was thinking I had a terrific shot at first chair.  On the day of my session – my parents wished me good luck and I skipped off to the bus, hopped on and made it all the way to school.

Without my clarinet.

The moral of the story is this: it doesn’t matter how well you execute the hard things if you can’t get the easy things right. By easy – I mean common sense, non-strategic tasks. Clever offers are can be rendered useless by poor deliverability, and real-time personalization becomes irrelevant for mobile users when websites aren’t responsive.

Below are my top four ways that marketing technologists forget their clarinet:

Lead Routing

The first time a credible lead is misrouted (or worse, not routed at all) to the follow-up function – your reputation takes a crippling roundhouse to the gut. You don’t get unlimited chances to get lead routing right, so don’t roll it out until it’s fool-proof.

Speaking of foolish – many organizations base their lead routing on legacy business rules that are nearly impossible to automate. The best thing you can do is intervene before an error occurs and have a frank and honest conversation about this with a sales management or operations function.  One of two things typically occur: the rules are slowly modified to something that’s more standard and easier to automate, or human intervention is permitted to ensure better accuracy.

Naming Conventions

Chefs, you can’t cook an epic meal in a messy kitchen and expect to serve it on time! Naming conventions, while not the sexiest topic to tackle when you’re bringing a new piece of technology into the fold, are critical to the productivity of the application’s users. Come up with an intuitive convention that will meet the needs of the users, and be reasonably self-explanatory to those who are not intimate with the application and teach it as part of your training and/or onboarding process. If you don’t, two years from now you’ll be staring down the barrel of a massive renaming exercise and trust me, your time is better spent.


I could probably write a whole post on how forms can be mishandled, but this is about getting easy things right. So – integrate your forms to post to the marketing database first, and let the marketing database automation standardize some of the submission data prior to updating CRM. It doesn’t take a long time, and you’ll thank me later when you don’t have 150 leads named Mickey Mouse in Salesforce.com.

Also, use some field validation for both required fields AND field formats. Don’t want @GMAIL.COM or @YAHOO.COM? Prevent submissions with these addresses. Want phone numbers in XXX-XXX-XXXX format? Use validation to set the formatting prior to submission.

If cleaning up your incoming data sources is still getting the best of you, our friends at Integrate can REALLY help with challenges like duplicates, invalid companies, incomplete fields, bad email addresses, invalid phone numbers and the like.


Personalization is different than dynamic content in that it typically occurs at the field level. Therefore, field formats and hygiene on fields used for personalization as well as overall restraint is critical! Stop me if you’ve seen this one before:

Management/consulting can be a tough business. We help companies of your size 0-10 employees all the time. Give me a call if you want to discuss the different ways that we can help. I’ll also be in BOSTON, MA next month if you’d like to meet up!

etc. etc.

Sincerely? Really? Because there is no way a human wrote that message.

Personalization is backfiring all over the Internet because Marketers don’t keep merged fields tidy, don’t use restraint, and don’t test their personalization at scale.

Now it’s your turn: which ones did I miss? What are your biggest headaches?

(This post originally appeared on the Integrate blog. Check out more great content at blog.integrate.com/.)