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Marketing Automation

Recap from Triangle AMA Luncheon

Marketing automation is the latest hot topic in the marketing realm. The Triangle AMA Luncheon on September 19, 2013, titled Marketing Automation:  Best Practices, Issues and ROI discussed the topic with a panel of three top marketers in the area and got a glimpse of where this trend is heading, and what marketers can expect. Moderated by CEO of Newfangled Mark O’Brien, Silverpop Product Evangelist Dave Walters, ChannelAdvisor’s Senior Business Manager of Business Operations Danielle McNeillie and head of marketing at Adobe (formerly Neolane) Kristin Hambelton shared their expertise and opinions about marketing automation. Below is a brief summary of questions asked and answered.

Marketing automation is a broad area, how do you define it?

All three panelists agreed in various ways that marketing automation is a systematic approach to marketing that allows you to achieve company goals and makes the sales process more efficient. It is a way to automate your standard practices in order to free up time to strategize new ideas and programs.

Who’s best suited for marketing automation?

There was a little disparity on answers for this question, but businesses that depend heavily on sales and lead generation and those that have a “significant” database size were among the answers. While significant is a vague term, Mark offered the number 3,000 contacts as a good starting point to build lead nurturing programs with marketing automation tools. It was also pointed out that growth is strangled by resource constraint and companies that are investing in lead generation programs but failing to track the origin of those leads are great candidates. Marketing automation can benefit those organizations by nurturing and tracking conversions. At this time, it was asked that people in the room currently using some type of marketing automation software raised their hands. The result:  about 15-20% of people in a the room of about 100 people.

What is your thought about how to get new contacts into the marketing automation system?

The opinion was unanimous about this topic across the panel:  Don’t be sleazy. None of the panelists were fans of buying names due to the nature of poor list quality and strict spam guidelines and filters, but you can make the best of an already purchased list. It’s also suggested to be wary of list brokers who offer lists for a cheap or reasonable price – buying and renting contacts is expensive. They suggested investing that money into nurturing programs to convert current customers and build loyalty.

How do you decide on the right tool for your company?

Each panelist has vast experience evaluating and using various marketing automation tools and software, but they agreed that it all depends on how you need and want it to function. Determine the requirements you have for marketing automation and what level you need. Costs range from $300 per month to in the thousands. Requirements that Kristin mentioned included CRM integration, deployment method, volume of data, number of people and power users who will use it, and how long you plan to grow in to the software. Danielle also gave us a perspective of Channel Advisor’s requirements when they evaluated different marketing automation vendors:

  • Sales needed to understand the value of leads marketing could get for them – time for close cut in half
  • Better analytics of all web activity for certain segments
  • Needed a marketing platform so the marketing team could grow

That led to a brief discussion of events where vendors are showcased. The largest one is DreamForce in San Francisco (hosted by SalesForce) and apparently Marketo spent $1.2 million for their floor space in the expo hall. Other conferences mentioned included Adobe Summit, Inbound and DMA in Chicago.

There were also some great questions from the audience:

What deliverables can you give sales to make them your friends?

One of the most valuable things is to sit with them and observe. They know what clients are asking for and need materials to support them. What can you create that will help them close deals? They are motivated by cash, reports make their eyes glaze over. But don’t let them go without the data – give your sales people specific talking points they can easily relay. Money talks to them. When they realize they closed more deals this month/quarter/year because they had more qualified leads handed to them from marketing, you will have an advocate in your corner to show marketing automation makes money.

What’s the top surprise for those who are new to marketing automation?

There were two pieces of advice/wisdom for this question. One was that you need to have a plan for implementing any marketing automation tool. There are a lot of moving pieces and streamlining the process with a project team or task force, no matter how small the company, is necessary. Kristin told the audience that at Adobe they require training before and after implantation to prepare their clients for the heavy lifting ahead of them. Dave also added that you can’t expect a marketing automation tool to fix poor data saying, “If you have crap, you get crap.” Nurturing leads that are in no way qualified will not increase your revenue.

What type of content gains the most response on mobile for you?

This question came from a member of the audience whose company focuses on technical white papers as a main source for lead capture. The first recommendation for high responses on mobile was video. Shorter pieces that feature customers and lead with their problem and wait to introduce the product performed well for one of the panelists. Infographics and short one to three question surveys have also performed well.

If you are interested in joining your local American Marketing Association Chapter, visit their membership center to learn more. For those in the Raleigh-Durham area, the Triangle AMA is one of the leading chapters in the country. Currently there is a membership drive happening. To find out more, visit their membership page.

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