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?


Content – how buyers consume

April 30, 2012

Last week, I facilitated a lively marketing leader panel discussion for Andrew Gaffney’s Content2Conversion event which was an audience of 300 B2B marketers cross industry.  The event was focused on understanding what types of content buyers were interested in viewing at varying stages of the buyers funnel.  Leslie Hurst from American Express Open, Heather Teicher from click to chat leader Liveperson.com, Candyce Edelen, CEO of propelgrowth.com, and Amanda Maksymiw from OpenView Labs participated on my panel.    Click here for the webcast to our panel .

Owly Images

While there were several key takeaways around measuring content, mobility, social, and privacy, there were 5 key areas that were surfaced during our discussion that motivated me to capture them in my blog.

  • LinkedIn has increasing relevance and value in the B2B community.  Two of four panelists mentioned how sharing content on LinkedIn was more reliable for information sourcing than that of Twitter as the information from a connected contact has a relationship and ‘feels’ more relevant than a stranger.  One audience member from Rackspace who has 15,000 followers on LinkedIn is leveraging LinkedIn’s APIs to its web product pages, so when recommendations are published, prospective buyers can check to see if other buyers of Rackspace services are in their network.

 

  • Content measuring –  successful companies measured how often a piece of content was shared (shared with a friend, shared on links, shared with a blog, etc.) AND tied it to sales ready opportunities;  at that point a piece of content was seen as a very valuable contributor to the sales and revenue processes.

 

  • On segmentation and reaching end customers – across the panel, there was a relentless focus on understanding the customer and their respective pain points as a precursor to segmentation;  what was less of overall focus for each panelist was reaching these customers via a specific technology (mobile vs. desktop) as well as the medium for reaching the end users (twitter, facebook, linkedin).  Two panelists mentioned that mobile was ‘built into’ the development process rather than thought of as a separate initiative.  Facebook was universally seen as adding a human touch to a B2B organization but was not seen in converting meaningful leads.

 

  • On influencers in the buying process – quite a bit of emphasis was placed on identifying both customers and influencers that would help in the buying process by marketing to them, with them, and through them through co-developing content.  This was also referenced by one of the marketing automation vendors as an approach.

 

  • On Automation – one panelist summed it up best by saying, “Marketing automation has made some of our job much easier and much harder at the same time.  SFDC is not built for marketers which is where marketing automation helps us but marketing automation is causing us to think differently than before and thus creating more work for us.”  This seems to be the conundrum many organizations face – how to implement change with limited resource.

It was a terrific experience moderating this panel.  What are you seeing in these areas?


Implementing Executive Change: 4 Risks/Opportunities – B2B CMO view

June 15, 2011

Executives are paid to take calculated risks and make decisions.  Recently, I spoke to an officer of a $1B company seeking to make some large changes across their company, specifically by repositioning the marketing organization toward a strategic contributor to the revenue generation capability.  Within this situation, this company was considering significant process and technology augmentation – and realizing there were so many priorities to focus on without clarity on what to focus on first.  In 5 companies I’ve talked to in the last few weeks, this situation of a marketing team and leader not knowing where to focus first is extremely common in all sized companies!  Everyone wants to make quick, visible change and not risk the huge time commits for larger change.   In preparation for the conversation, I outlined 4 risks in making this kind of transition.  Specifically, achieving true marketing ROI, Process, People, and Technology.  I’ve summarized this below bolding the largest risk areas.

Situation

Risk

Opportunity

Improve measurement system for  Marketing ROI Cultural sensitivity to process overhaul and alignment; CEO/GM/Sales change management Changing Marketing to strategic business contributor (revenue, new sales, new customers) from ‘Arts & Crafts’ department
Improve process Underestimating commitment required for lead flow, content, data integrity, cross functional coordination Cleaning up processes to maximize marketing contribution to bottom line
Improve people skills Underestimating new skillset needed Retool existing people to compete in 21st century
Improve technology Silver Bullet mentality at Executive levelRelying 100% on outside vendors to guide on journey/pitfalls as they rely on self serving models or cookie cutter approaches Leveraging technology instead of people to drive revenueOperational experience in vendors

Of the four risks, achieving marketing ROI through executive alignment is the single biggest risk.  Specifically, the clearer one is on the single objective of the newly repositioned organization (ie  source revenue to X%, predict what sourced revenue will close, drive faster conversion by Y% on sales cycle by enabling sales, upsell existing clients, etc.), the higher probability the organization as an entire entity will succeed.  It is critical to understand the overall business objectives and where the new revenue will come from – get out of the marketing box and understand profitability by region, by channel, and by product.  Study the reports that are seen at the executive level, know how sales teams are compensated.  The other risks around Process, People, and Technology are tactics that typically fall behind the first objective.  Too often marketing leaders get sucked into the latest technology trends (which are constantly changing thus adding to the confusion), wrapped around their own proprietary language (MQLs, SQLs, etc) and then thrust the proprietary language upon sales or the rest of the organization, or have marketing team members that are not keeping current with the latest and greatest technology.

Change is never easy for any organization.  How have you been able to successfully implement change?


Executive Marketing Dashboards – 5 Lessons Learned

May 13, 2011

Here are 5 lessons to consider when creating an executive level marketing dashboard to measure marketing impact and ROI.  This topic is something I’ll be leading a discussion on at DemandCon next week and I look forward to hearing how others are looking at this situation.

1.       Know where you are
2.       Know where you want to head
3.       Speak the same internal language
4.       Measure KPIs, not metrics
5.       Leverage a 3rd party


Know where you are: 

There are so many variables to consider when planning a dashboard, and it starts with cultural situational awareness as the project you are about to embark on can be perceived as very healthy from some parties (CEO, GM, CFO), yet to some parties may feel like an audit or measuring things that have never been measured before  (Sales, Marketing, Inside Sales) – so anticipate some organizational discomfort.  Understand your company’s culture, it’s appetite for embarking on this kind of project, the importance of sales and marketing in the overall company strategy – some companies may be product focused, or they may have a focus other than the customer.  At the same time, it’s important as a marketing leader to understand the revenue and profitability model – where do the revenues come from geographically, from what products or solutions, and what is the dynamic of the sales cycle.  See this blog post to learn more on sales cycles.

Know where you want to head

This is an ambitious project to launch, so it is wise to show the outcome – the destination first vs. getting caught in the weeds.  This is the opportunity for sales and marketing to align (see post) on an outcome rather than focus on details – because if you get caught in the details, you’ll never hit the end target.  It’s best to approach the objective with executive alignment around the outcome (CEO, GM, CSO/CMO), then work through the rest of the company.  I refer to a ‘referee’ later in the post which is pivotal in this discussion.

Translate:  Speak the same internal language

In the world of marketing, we have our own ‘proprietary’ Star Trek language  – the language of inquiries, marketing qualified leads, sales qualified leads, a marketing funnel, sales enablement, etc.  It’s easy for a marketer to talk in their own language without being situationally aware – understand that non-marketers think in other terms – revenue, speed to acquire new revenue, retention, pipeline, investment, payoff, etc.  As a leader of this process, it’s important to speak the same language – and where there is ambiguity, try to align on an understanding of a definition.

Measure KPIs, not metrics

Leaders measure for impact, followers measure activity.  Facebook followers, LinkedIn Group members, Twitter follower activity- – while important to integrate into an overall mix, are less important to measure activity unless it can be tied to business impact.  At it’s simplest terms, impact means what revenue marketing has sourced and/or influenced and at what overall cost for each.  You’ll soon see my presentation here on this topic on a follow on post.

Leverage a 3rd party

I’m going to eventually write a separate post on this, but as I think back of my own experience, having an unbiased 3rd party ‘referee’ or negotiate across stakeholders could be very valuable speed and cultural wise.  First, having a 3rd party changes the internal social dynamic completely – so the consultant is on the hook for raw accountability and can make raw observations without ramifications – and parties like sales and marketing can work toward a unified theme and objective rather than feeling like one is auditing the other.  Here is a successful case study of a 3rd party leveraged effectively.  The investment will pay off in spades down the road!

These are tips and tactics that work for me, I’m curious, what has worked for you?


Dashboards – Marketing and Sales – Driving Revenue!

March 1, 2011

There are several challenges to establish ‘board level’ dashboards that report on marketing activity that tie directly to revenue generation.  Here are 5 tips that I’ve used in creating dashboards for executive level reporting.  (NOTE – LETS TALK REAL TIME IF YOU NEED HELP IN CREATING A DASHBOARD, I HAVE ACTUAL EXAMPLES OF THEM.)

  • With new automation tools like Eloqua and Marketo, from interviews I’ve done with a number of CMOs of B2B companies, a surprising number of teams use Excel to report out on activity despite having capabilities elsewhere. Whether it’s Cognos, Salesforce.com, Eloqua, or Excel, the tool really doesn’t matter as long as the data is consistently measured month over month or quarter over quarter.  The trick is to baseline the activity based on current information, especially as a new leader or CMO.
  • Dashboards (or numbers) can sometimes not paint a complete picture as a stand alone entity on campaign effectiveness.  I augmented my quarterly board dashboards with a ‘green, yellow, red’ status indicator on QUALITATIVE indicators in addition to QUANTITATIVE indicators to help paint a more complete picture of actual marketing activity that impacted revenue.
  • Measure global/regional impact and channel impact that marketing had on sourced revenue – in other words, what did marketing contribute and at what cost point by region.   This analysis can be further filtered on a timeframe to close, no different from a sales funnel, where leads are predicted to close. (predictive analytics).  Also, be aware for you global marketers – activity within region should be compared within region and not across regions.
  • Web traffic is worth measuring as is the impact social media has on web traffic.  Social media in and of itself did not contribute to my dashboard foundation, my experience so far is social media (linkedin, twitter, facebook), more of an enabler than an actual converter of revenue in B2B marketing.  LinkedIn seems to be the most relevant here (I plan to create another post on this later).
  • Tracking contacts to opportunities allowed for better tracking of marketing influence/sourced, this is particularly true for those that leverage the campaign module of Eloqua.  This tracking can be further augmented by the Microsoft Outlook plug in leveraging Eloqua.

Dashboards vary with mileage and will change as your company changes it’s needs and growth patterns.  What dashboards have you found to be effective for you?


Revenue through Marketing Automation

February 26, 2011

Increasing Productivity through Marketing Automation Platforms (MAPs)

My experience in this post comes from implementing MAPs in 3 different companies – in one of those companies, the MAP providers (Eloqua, Marketo, Aprimo) were a channel of distribution for us, so I had unique visibility as to their effectiveness.  When a process is followed, time efficiencies can be gained;  skipping implementation steps risks losing significant time to see effectveness.  When investing in these systems, you have to commit as an organization to move QUICKLY else you risk the ‘Ferrari collecting dust syndrome…’

You’ve heard of the brand new Ferrari collecting dust syndrome – someone buys a new car and it collects dust due to lack of use.   This same analogy has been used in investing in what is perceived as expensive marketing automation software to run routine marketing campaigns to accelerate revenue.  Implementation of these systems is very challenging to say the least in larger enterprises – outlining business process, integrating with sales ready tools, identifying KPIs and metrics, getting buy in, etc.  There are several key considerations when evaluating the need to increase productivity through marketing automation efficiency.

1.        Map out your lead flow process from inquiry to close by studying your Salesforce.com information, your marketing automation information, and interviewing your key sales stakeholders.  I’ve done this in two different companies and have found stunning results in both the process and in the experience that sales expects from marketing.

2.       Implement lead scoring through progressive form input/dialogue.  The progressive lead scoring will allow only the most qualified prospects deemed worthy a real time conversation (which is more costly than an automated touch).  The idea is to pass only the best qualified along to a telequalifying or inside sales entity.

3.       With the MAP platform, synthesize ALL campaigns to maximize effectiveness, to include SEO (search engine optimization).   It’s no good just to have campaigns for the sake of campaigns.   Some of the MAP platform providers are VERY early in on this process themselves which is somewhat shocking but true!

4.       Engage your marketing automation vendor early and often in your process flow (Eloqua, Marketo, soon to be Netsuite).  They do have best practice information as does other companies like SiriusDecisions.  You are better off engaging the MAP platform provider directly.

5.       Engage an outside party to help to move things more quickly.  An outside party can take the pressure off difficult conversations and can have the added insight of having been through other operational deployments.

What have you found that works for you?