Building on the concepts delivered in last week's post Marketing Automation Isn't as Easy as It Sounds, I will continue the discussion of the pre-requisites to success in marketing automation. Last week, we explored the tasks necessary to develop a relevant platform of branded content that will 'set the table' for your online visitors.

Below are the tasks necessary to drive guests to your dinner table to generate online leads and sales.

Never stop developing engaging content

Developing a solid marketing automation system with tons of content is setting the table, but you can't let your dinner get stale. The most successful marketing automation teams use trending topics as leverage to attract target audience members to the brand. Trending topics regularly change, so content must stay fresh and change with the trends.

Developing content such as blog articles, guides, eBooks, videos and other multimedia on a regular basis is essential to staying relevant in your marketplace and attracting target audience members to your website. Helpful resources that address the needs of your target personae is essential to attracting new contacts to your marketing automation system.

Distribute your content outside of owned properties

Developing expert content on your website is great, but you also need third-party references to gain genuine buy-in from your marketplace. Focus on reaching out to relevant industry publications that are trusted by your target audience to get your content mentioned in editorials. Anyone can buy an ad, but only those who create truly great content that deserves a mention can get space in the story (the part people actually spend their time reading!).

Relevant branded content mentioned in trusted third-party publishers will not only get your brand attention and drive users to your website, but it will also allow your brand to shape the conversation around topics in your industry and be a recognized thought leader. This thought leadership and brand mentions has a big impact on organic search, since authoritative citations are the most important factor in organic search results.

The biggest challenge with content marketing is getting people to read the content. Earned media is the most effective content marketing distribution channel that will get your content in front of the users that want it.

Embrace the processes of your chosen marketing automation platform

Your brand must be willing to subscribe completely to the processes and strategy that powers your chosen marketing automation platform. There are many great options out there, and each one has a different take on marketing automation. Choose a platform that most closely aligns with the current or preferred strategy of your organization, rather than cost or shiny features that you may never use.

Develop your strategy for success

Overall, it is important to understand the amount of work and research that goes into developing a successful marketing automation system at your organization. When done correctly, this process will generate a reliable sales/lead flow of people that are genuinely interested in what your company offers and allow your brand to un-couple itself from advertising campaigns or list buying practices that are annoying for everyone involved. After all, the future is to Always Be Helping rather than Always Be Closing.