Gap Analysis – Marketing Automation

May 8, 2014

A colleague asked me to compare and contrast what marketing automation deployments we’ve seen prospect and customer wise – what their use case is relative to the gap with best practices.

To execute on a need he had committed to a client, I came up with the following list for him to consider.

Symptoms of enterprises struggling with marketing automation – marketing automation has (been):

  • Referenced internally as a ‘Ferrari in the garage collecting dust’
  • Perceived as a ‘black box’ to non-marketing executives who don’t understand its impact
  • Delivered a ‘Batch and Blast’ or large quantity of email experience, alienating subscribers
  • Enabled a first generation lead scoring model that has little, if any, business impact
  • Amplified non-standardized CRM data, thus frustrated sales and marketing users
  • Underutilized relative to installed customer base

What marketing automation should be or do potential wise:

  • Improves conversions by keeping in touch with not now, maybe later buyers
  • Delivers relevant and targeted personalized content to end users to engage at the right time vs. all of the time
  • Accelerates reporting ability when working properly with CRM, thus is transparent value vs. black box value
  • Minimizes non-standard data to maximize deliverability impact
  • Enables inside sales and sales prioritize workload via effective lead scoring model
  • Provides cross sell /up sell capabilities to an installed base

I think a better question to ask in framing this entire situation is around the use case – what is the business problem you are trying to solve with marketing automation?  From that point with the end in mind, marketing automation can then be deployed and configured to address your business needs vs. deploying against its technical capabilities.

What do you think?


Next Gen Marketing Automation Platforms: Revenue Impacting

June 7, 2012

It’s time for the next generation of marketing automation – a revenue generating marketing automation system that focuses across new areas of predictability, effectiveness, and a wholistic view of a prospect/customer situation with the right analytics.  As a former high tech CMO that understands SaaS companies and platforms, I’ve implemented multiple instances of marketing automation platforms and more recently started a business digging deep at the marketing automation/CRM ecosystem to get more revenue, quicker.

Here are 4 areas that I think the next generation of marketing automation will solve for:

Predictive:  while the lead scoring models of yester-year are a good start to sorting out the needles from the hay, people are starting to realize that companies cannot ‘set and forget’ to hope the scoring methodology works long term.  Buying behaviors change and a buying committee in B2B is complex.  A predictive element with newer analytic capabilities is emerging in the B2B world, leveraging similar technologies that B2C marketers use (i.e. Amazon and best picks).  A company can then determine what products or solutions are most likely to be purchased based on similar demographic or segmentation sets.

Raise Sales/Marketing Effectiveness:  as I’ve previously posted on my blog, the data element is the single most important area for companies to understand and harvest, yet at the executive level it is often the leastunderstood.  Bad data is like a rifle with its sight off;  if your sight is off by a ¼ inch, you’ll miss your end target by a mile.  If the data is bad, you’ll never reach your target or lose valuable time trying to reach the target.  Newer marketing automation systems that leverage the right SaaS integration will be more sophisticated to go beyond the deduplication at the account, contact, and lead level (like they do today or with other 3rd party tools like CRM Fusion, Dupe Blocker, etc.) by providing real time feedback on phone numbers and contact information to increase the effectiveness of the inside sales organization.  Outsourced data cleansing strategies will become less prevalent as time goes on.

Assist with 360 view of a prospect:  with SaaS environments leveraging CRM (Salesforce.com) and new integration technologies (Dell Boomi, etc), there is a newer way to get intimate understanding of your customer prior to sales reaching out real time.  Billing information, trouble tickets, and other service questions can theoretically be displayed to a sales person so they are not ‘surprised’ calling into a new or existing account trying to up-sell.  With a 360 view, coupled with the predictive element, there will be new ways to get more revenue for companies that are savvy. Customer marketing (up-sell, cross-sell) is the hardest type of marketing to do and measure, this 360 view will help complete that circle. The single most important aspect is to make it easy for sales rep to get access to it from their current system.

Analytics that are meaningful:  the first generation SaaS marketing automation vendors have made an attempt at analytics, either licensing 3rd party software (Micromuse, Good) or attempting to build on their own.  The next generation analytic dashboards will be visible by anyone that has CRM access, not just marketing users with marketing data.  These analytics will show the areas above – marketing influenced revenue, 360 viewpoint, and data quality.  While some of this can be reported in systems today, it’s challenging at best.

What do you think, what are you seeing for future marketing automation environments to get more revenue, quicker?  Where are the pain points and shortcomings in your environment?



New SiriusDecisions Demand Waterfall – My Views

May 24, 2012

Yesterday in the 106 degree Arizona weather, we received a needed waterfall – SiriusDecisions unveiled their upgraded view of the latest demand waterfall model at their annual conference.  With an array of color codes and arrows, the new direction is spot as it accounts for revenue sourcing across all elements of the business rather than taking a more myopic view of just what marketing does for the business for net new revenue.  It is no longer the ‘marketing waterfall’ but the ‘business waterfall’ in the 2.0 approach.

Here are my views of the new structure and why it is positive:

  • At an executive level, one should be measuring the velocity and cost of the source of leads converting to new revenue, regardless of the source (inbound, outbound, teleprospecting, sales).  According to Adobe’s 2012 CMO report, fewer than 20% measure their ROI on marketing, this framework will help contribute to defining the ROI element.
  •  At a more tactical inquiry level, a senior marketer needs to make a more intentional decision around resource allocation across inbound and outbound marketing mix and tactics.  When the demand creation model was created 10 years ago, social media (LinkedIn as an example) was less prevalent than that of today).
  • The model highlights the importance of the teleprospecting function in accepting, qualifying leads, and generating leads – this function’s importance is often underestimated or routinely outsourced without thinking through strategic revenue implications.  (See previous post here).  It’s the toughest job in the business in my opinion.  By explicitly calling out outbound teleprospecting accountability, a key skillset for account executives, sales leaders should welcome this new framework as it also spells out a clearer career path for teleprospectors.
  • Within the marketing qualification step, by putting more accountability within teleprospecting to ‘accept’ the leads rather than work all leads by marketing, the chances of marketing dumping several unqualified leads onto sales is further reduced.

There are nuances depending on the type of business that the model may need to be tweaked for – specifically around channel partners or other 3rd party mechanisms that generate revenue though the idea and flow should largely be the same.   Also, what’s not discussed is how to implement this kind of waterfall depending on the current stage of current processes – it will take an organization a committed period of time, so phasing and testing should be key to implementation. Lastly, I’ve surprisingly found a number of organizations, particularly larger ones, dancing around the conversation of ‘sourced’ vs. ‘influenced’ revenue, with some larger companies driving in one direction or the other rather than looking at both.   As SAP CMO @jbecher tweeted from the audience yesterday, ‘culture eats strategy’.  Specifically, one needs to be aware of the rigor and thoroughness this model represents and the willingness of the company to absorb the model.

It is critical for companies to do this kind of measuring to improve performance.  It is the right thing to do.

What are your views of the model?


Marketing Operations – MOCCA

May 2, 2012

Today’s MOCCA meeting in Washington DC covered what role marketing operations plays in B2B with a diverse set of companies and vendors.  We discussed the scope of the marketing operations role, benchmarked data from a variety of analysts, and summarized our discussion by sharing our practical operational experiences to overcome a number of challenges.

Here are 5 key takeaways from our MOCCA discussion:

•  From a pool of twenty choices, the two most popular challenges for marketing operation heads were reporting/analytics and data management.  Based on other experiences here, this did not come to me as a surprise (mainly because this is also my primary business focus area of connecting marketing investment to new revenue);  Adobe/Omniture recently said in their 2012 report that fewer than 20% of CMOs were confident in their ROI reporting ability.   As for data management, companies are constantly wrestling with data quality issues where process is king for long term resolution in this area.

• All companies acknowledged process issues across the board, though few dug into what those process issues really meant (nurturing, data quality, lead treatment, etc).  From a non-marketer viewpoint, process is less visible than a more tangible reporting/analytics and data structure for people to see, but without good process, the analytics will be in rough shape!

• There was an interesting discussion around the credibility of marketing as it relates to marketing sourced vs. marketing influenced revenue.  Some companies focused on one category or the other depending on what their culture was willing to absorb.  This is a really fundamental point that is often overlooked in the theory frameworks of tracking/trending marketing– an organization as a whole (beyond marketing) really needs to ‘buy in’ to what the definition of revenue that is ‘marketing sourced’ and/or ‘marketing influenced,’ else the marketing organization risks credibility or relevance issues if the definitions are at question.

• Social is not moving the needle enough for lead generation or is not measurable enough to quantify revenue impact at the top of the funnel.  Twitter and Facebook seem to be ‘nice to do’s’ , yet LinkedIn continues to show strong within groups where a large community can be gathered by word of mouth vs. investment.  This finding is consistent with my post here, although my finding was LinkedIn is helping both top of funnel and later in sales conversion.

• All participants struggle with the ‘HOW’ to get something implemented;  there were theory frameworks which were used as strawman, but when the rubber met the road, people had to wrap their minds on how to execute with limited resources vs. talking about great ideas and new strategies.

All in all, a very good investment of time.   What are some of your marketing operation challenges you wrestle with?


Improving Conversion through Win/Loss

May 1, 2012

Most organizations have a quantifiable goal toward improving KPIs and analytics on more closed marketing sourced revenue.   A method to accomplish this is to do a ‘win/loss’ analysis on specific areas of the buying process.  One really important element here is to make sure sales and marketing understands and buys into what you are trying to accomplish – the goal is not to audit company losses to fingerpoint, the goal is to improve on conversion rates once armed with data/information on what is and is not working in the buyers cycle.

The key process flow areas to measure are within the CRM system on closed lost opportunity, closed lost leads, and open leads. Try to keep to a maximum of ten questions with an incentive to fill out the survey (though I’ve not found a correlation to an incentive and survey responses.)  You’ll need a big enough pool to get a statistically valid sample size to work, a recent example is we had about a 2% response rate.  There is some validity in having an outside party do these surveys vs. inside party, though depending on budgets and timing, inside may need to suffice.   Externally, firms charge approximately $1250 for each completed survey.

There are two approaches we typically use – ongoing and retroactive.  Most organizations fall into the retroactive category because it’s the best way to get aggregate data quickly, though there are substantial benefits to establishing an ongoing approach.

1.  For an ongoing approach, you’ll get real time feedback as to how you are performing.  How to do this is to create process flow survey questions and structures via CRM/SFDC workflows within key trigger points of buying cycle, thus providing REAL TIME feedback to marketing.  SFDC has a number of surveying tools that are free and can be utilized via the app exchange (note for some SFDC editions, there are a limit of the number of apps that can be deployed.)

2.  Rear view mirror looking – Best used by deploying a survey to a pre-determined pool of closed lost opportunities and closed lost leads for interpretation of data.  While CRM systems allow this batch communication to occur, it’s likely a prospect or existing customer will need to remember what their buying cycle experience was like at the time of purchase.  Looking rear view mirror also allows you to use other tools (SurveyMonkey) for a pulling in of results.

Ideally, the information should be captured in your CRM and/or Marketing Automation instance such that an ongoing analysis can take place on the data.  If it is captured, the prospect will have to reveal their identity (required for the incentive), otherwise they may prefer the SurveyMonkey or anonymous route.  Lastly, if doing this on your own, there may be some survey bias versus having an external firm or company do this.

What have you found that works for you?


Conversion Improvement – what to measure?

February 29, 2012

Many B2B companies look to improve conversions from lead to revenue and increase the productivity of their direct sales arm.  Here are 4 reports that can be run immediately in your CRM that can impact conversion positively without having to invest more money in new marketing programs.

  • Lead disposition reports –  when this report is run, it gives an overall status of how marketing is doing with handling of leads to and through the inside sales function.  Symptoms of problems in this area are a large pool of ‘open’ leads with no disposition.  What this symptom means is inside sales is not taking action on these leads, which requires a root cause analysis as marketing is producing a great quantity with no quality conversions
  • Opportunity reports – look at the ‘closed opportunity’ status pick list (if there is one).  If there are choices that speak to ‘not qualified’ ask yourself or your team, why is it that they were promoted to an opportunity prior to being not qualified?  Within opportunities, look at aging reports, the number of days on average a deal sits in any one cycle.  Because an arthimetic mean is provided, give careful study to the outliers of deals that have sat in queue for a very long time.
  • Funnel metric reports – do an analysis by either lead and/or opportunity (sales accepted opportunity) to study the entire shape of the ‘funnel’.  Is it indeed a funnel or is it a snowman (heavy bottom) or inverted funnel (due to deals getting clogged up in legal review).  Against the backdrop of aging reports, funnel metric reports can be very helpful for sales and for marketing to determine what sales enablement strategy need to be put in place.

 

  • Duplication reports – do some basic analysis in/around fields within the record structure of your CRM – account duplications, lead duplications, and contact duplications.  Salesforce administrators sometimes overlook plugins that can prevent these duplications from happening – consequently, poor performing outbound campaign performance is symptomatic of the cause of poor data hygiene practices.  Poor campaigns = poor conversion.

 

What reports have you found helpful?


B2B Freemiums

June 30, 2011

Recently, I had a dialogue with a colleague in Silicon Valley who asked me about my experiences with B2B Freemiums as she thought through new distribution models for her product.  It made me reflect for a moment about some of my more recent experiences about giving away an aspect of my product in the hope of getting more revenue.

Let’s assume we can tie the Freemium to actual revenue production – meaning the systems are built to track and trend that soon to be customer activity from download of software to close of revenue.  With no systems in place, you may as well nix a Freemium strategy in terms of measuring its success!

In my experience, a large majority of my inbound unqualified inquiries (meaning people with interest in my product offer) came from the Freemium offer, although the product offer itself had more B2C characteristics than a traditional B2B sale.  My conversion rate was in line with industry rates that appear to range from 1% to 13% depending on the source.  Here are 5 examples I dug up that could be considered a B2B benchmark for Freemiums:

  • Evernote 5.6% conversion rate on their two year user cohort, but note that the conversion rate on new users is much lower, likely SMB or consumer users.
  • Logmein 3.8% conversion rate, likely SMB users.
  • Heroku 1-2% ratio of paid-to-free users when it was about 50,000 apps in size
  • MailChimp –13% of users paying.  Having competed against MailChimp, their users are likely SMB and consumers.

So let’s say you had 2,000 inquiries/month, of which 2.5% used a Freemium at an average sales price of $10k/month – $500k/month revenue = $6M/yr on a very reduced customer acquisition cost if customers are able to buy via the web.

So that’s pure math…but let’s ask 4 key questions as you develop your B2B Freemium strategy:

1.  Will your buying entity see value in a freemium?

Companies are not as price sensitive as individuals. How large is your average selling price and your buying entity?  In the examples above, I do not have clear average revenue metrics, but by experience, an upper limit of value was in the $30k/yr range or lower – which may be in line with many cloud based applications.

2.  Can you get away with low acquisition and support costs?  Meaning, no support!

3.  Can you use the freemium as a low cost inquiry or cost of acquisition vs. traditional means?  If one were to look at customer acquisition costs, sales cold calling is very expensive/ineffective, targeted marketing less expensive, freemium is the least expensive.

4.   Companies do not virally spread a freemium offering and word of mouth is key.  How will you get others to talk about your freemium outside your community?  Freemium is all about scale, so you’ll need to assess the potential customer segment size for such an offer.

I think it is definitely worth testing the Freemium concept in a B2B environment.

What has your B2B Freemium experience been?