This is a guest blog post by our partners @ Crowded Ocean (

It’s a marketing truism that you can’t manage what you can’t measure.  But, faced with all the challenges of starting a company from scratch, the question is:  what do you measure and when do you start measuring it?

Startups often think that it’s better to live solely on Salesforce during their early growth phase and to delay an implementation of Marketo (or any other marketing automation solution) for richer times ahead when budgets and headcount are less constrained.  That usually means the thinly staffed sales team has to undertake everything from lead scoring and qualification to database updates.

Implementing marketing automation early in the life of a startup can pay off down the road. There are three main benefits to making an early commitment to a marketing automation tool.  First, it keeps highly paid, strategic, executive-level sales people doing what they do best (and out of the weeds of sales operations.)

Second, it allows marketing and sales investment to be more easily measured and analyzed.  Third, it lets real data about the performance of programs like email marketing inform your sales content and website structure.  Our marketing mantra:  metrics tell you where you are (# of visitors, page views, etc.)  Analytics tells you where you’re going by deriving meaning and actions (e.g., changes to content) from those numbers.

In other words, you have to “believe” in the value of marketing automation in order to commit early to its purchase and implementation. The program cost of marketing automation is only part of the objection that we hear from some of our startup clients.  The other issue is the need for an in-house resource to “drive” the marketing automation tool and ensure that internal processes are followed across the marketing and the sales teams to make the system hum.

We address this objection by putting a marketing operation contractor on site or by referring a partner like True Sales Results who can drive the system and ensure that best practices are established and followed early on.  Investing in marketing automation, as a percentage of a startup’s overall marketing budget, represents an “incremental” investment.  It helps leverage your senior sales talent better.  It builds discipline and internal processes that are invaluable to ramping revenue and maximizing your sales talent.