You shouldn’t expect to put more than a few hours a week into managing a marketing automation application after it is up and running. The major investment of time is all on the front end. In addition to estimating the time it takes to set up your campaigns, you should also estimate time for education, training, planning, and database cleanup as follows. The best time to invest in educating yourself on marketing automation techniques is before you buy a solution.
That way, you are more likely to find out what you need as you learn to think completely differently about everything from email to content. The time to read and attend seminars and webinars should be added to your time estimate. I recommend focusing your education on the topics of lead tracking, behavioral data, and modern lead nurturing. Having a grasp of these topics will save you countless hours in the future.
Estimate at least 10–20 hours of learning before you evaluate tools. Training for you and all your stakeholders needs to be taken into account. Training yourself can range from ten hours to a full week, even for the easiest-to-use tools. No matter how easy a tool is or how intuitive it may be, you and your stakeholders need to be trained to use it. You should plan time for training your sales team as well. Vendors should provide this training as part of your solution. If not, ask for training during your purchase negotiations.