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?


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4 Steps to tie B2B marketing investment to revenue via automation

April 15, 2011

This is an expansion of an earlier post of the process steps involved in tying marketing investment to revenue and is a viewpoint from someone with real operational experience as head of marketing.

  1. Get CEO/GM and head of sales buy in to your objective which is to tie marketing investment to revenue. While this sounds like a very easy thing to say, the challenge in this implementation is the length of time it will take before you will see a measurable impact that your CEO and head of sales will see.  You need to nip the misperception that buying technology is a panacea for instant connection to new revenue by comparing the length of time it took the company to implement the company’s CRM system to the length of time it will take to integrate a marketing automation platform with that system. The CMO should broker this conversation augmented with 3rd party data (or person) illustrating the time it will take to pull off this new process.  The risk of skipping this step is a perception of fuzzy ROI and slipping into old marketing habits where marketing is seen as a cost center, not a revenue center.
  1. Outline the demand generation process – involve sales and brief CEO on outcome – get help externally with a disinterested 3rd party that can facilitate and thus be removed from any emotion of outcome, own the conversations, and broker potentially tense conversations amongst multiple, global parties.  A helpful process here is a six-sigma workout process for those familiar with the process.  This will involve defining lead steps, defining inboundand outbound inquiry handling by both sales and marketing, and will involve different nuances globally and touchpoints in prospect to customer conversion.  Assigning one owner to this process is key.
  1. Pick a vendor (Eloqua, Marketo, Aprimo, Neolane, Hubspot, Infusionsoft) to implement the process –   there are many articles that exist today on pros/cons of systems so I won’t go into a deep explanation here.  However, like the earlier step, involve the head of sales and CEO on the outcome.  3rd party data can help in this vendor selection or leveraging a disinterested 3rd party can also be helpful to speed the process up.
  1. Aggressively implement and scope out timeline for implementation of your marketing automation platform – this timeline has to be the guideline for the head of sales and CEO to understand and work with.  The phases of implementation are vendor selection (phase 0), vendor integration (phase 1), entering campaigns including SEO keygroups (phase 2), and then PAYOFF, see the marketing impact on revenue.

The key themes to consider in this process is to communicate early and often, iterate once you’ve selected a vendor early and often, re-communicate, and reiterate.  Keep involving your CEO and head of sales and leverage external help – there are others that have lived this battle before, so you should be no different.  Expect the process to be a journey and not a destination and you’ll be on the path to success in tying marketing investment to impact.


4 Steps to help Sales work Marketing Leads to DRIVE REVENUE!

April 7, 2011

I recently met with a Field Marketing leader for a successful B2B company recently and she had echoed a similar concern that is common in our industry  –  her concern was as follows:

“The marketing leads we give to sales aren’t being worked by sales, so it’s difficult to justify the marketing investment when the marketing leads aren’t closing or being worked.”

Here are 4 points to consider when trying to address the situation she faces – to net it out, it’s ACCOUNTABILITY:

1.       Inspect the lead definitions in the company by segment, by region, and by channel to make sure a qualified marketing lead is indeed qualified from a salesperson’s viewpoint.  It’s imperative marketing understands how sales qualifies and defines their own leads (not inquiries) as a starting point – what definitions they use, how they establish a need – with that definition in hand, it should MATCH what the marketing inside sales team has as a definition.  An outside, independent audit is helpful as it removes any sales/marketing tension with a disinterested 3rd party;  if that is not feasible, doing it directly from marketing to sales is the next best alternative.

2.       Establish a service level agreement with the head of sales on sales ACCEPTED leads (not sales qualified) AND  incent the inside sales team on sales ACCEPTED leads.   This is tricky – most heads of sales would want to know what to expect or count on from marketing as it makes their job easier.  The tricky part is that not all heads of sales understand the need or what an SLA is – particularly sales 1.0 executives.  So there may be significant internal selling on this point not to overlook!

3.       Establish metrics on a per rep basis –  THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT STEP – specifically measure  on a per sales rep basis the quantity of leads that marketing sources, the quantity of leads that sales sources, the close rates and close TIMING for each sourcing category.  With this quantitative information in hand, a more mature discussion can be held with the sales leadership as to what is actually happening with marketing qualified leads.  Your marketing automation platform or Salesforce.com should help with this measuring.  One intangible point here – this data will force conversations, so treat the discussions with the heads of sales respectfully, not as a hammer.  The objective is to improve or close gaps on business challenge areas, not to hammer reps for how you might think of their performance!

4.       Benchmark similar sized company performance so expectations are set at the executive level.  At a tactical level, there is a great alignment opportunity between the head of sales and head of marketing in this scenario that she poses.  In other SaaS environments, according to SiriusDecisions and Marketo, I’ve seen upward to 60% of closed revenue sourced by marketing (note a more typical average for B2B SaaS is in the 18% to 33% range with Marketo pushing the envelope at 60%+).   The head of sales should want to know what marketing’s funnel is as it is less the head of sales team needs to do revenue wise at days end.  The board of directors will also want to know what marketing’s contribution is to revenue.

This lady was impressive, she had all the right business instincts identifying the challenge and just needed a bit more push as what to do next.  What do you find works for you?  Would love to hear a sales person’s perspective!


4 Reasons why Marketing Automation changes a Marketer’s SaaS Career.

March 25, 2011

I just read an interesting post from a fellow EMEA CMO/head of marketing @JWATTON with a thought provoking viewpoint that marketing automation for SaaS (software as a service) US headquartered companies would have less need for heads of regional marketing in locations like EMEA as automation replaces local headcount.    My view is slightly different.  As a head of marketing  for 3 software and service companies with 2 successful exits, I’ve hired in region expertise, spent significant time in Europe, and implemented MAP (marketing automation platforms).   He had some really interesting viewpoints that I wanted to elaborate on – some of which I agreed with and some my view differs.

Here’s how I’m seeing things on what changes marketing automation means for a marketer and her/his career:

  • Marketing automation on its own with no marketer senior level supervision is like a train running downhill without tracks.  The potential to do more harm than good exists when investing in these systems without a clearly defined business objective up front.  The caboose is the MAP, the engine is the objective, the trains that link the caboose to the engine are the process.
  • Marketing automation is a means to an end, not the end itself.   A measurable business outcome should be set with sales tying them to the outcome of the process and also involving them on why this benefits y/our selling cycle.  When automation is performing correctly, revenue is accelerated and sales teams are more informed about their prospects prior to actually contacting them.  A marketer now needs to run that dialogue, that is a new dialogue for ‘dated’ skill set sales people as well as ‘dated’ skill set marketers – it can also be ‘dated’ skillsets for board members who do not know how to measure marketing, adding another complex communication vector to the equation.
  • As @JWATTON identifies in his blog post, Marketers who are not proficient in the latest digital tactics are not going to survive in this new world.   Those that are not steeped in the language of Eloqua, Marketo, SilverPop, Pardon, Hubspot, or any other marketing software that integrates with Salesforce.com will become known as the ‘marketers of the 80s’.  Those that are not proficient in social media like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter (follow me @b2bcmo) and understand the social media tie to business objectives will also be ‘80s marketers’.   Lastly, those not proficient in SEO techniques an integrating SEO into the MAP platforms for B2B will also be yesterday’s marketers (NOTE:  today’s integration is challenging).
  • In my mind and contrary to his post, there is always a need to be geographically close to both internal customers (sales) and external prospects and/or customers.  It is nearly impossible for a head of marketing in the US to know and understand the marketing nuances of in region challenges.  Marketing within Germany is a challenge in and of itself;  it’s often a NA centric software company *incorrectly thinks* EMEA is one ubiquitous region to market into (just like the US!) without understanding each country has a different market and a different way of receiving information.   Privacy laws differ dramatically in EMEA and in certain countries moreso than that of the US;  this makes a marketers job in both EMEA and US more complex and raises the bar for a marketer to continually learn, as his post correctly points out.  Also note that contact software today (Dun and Bradstreet, InsideView) are largely North American centric databases, thus requiring another level of thought from an in region marketer.

It’s a round world and we all see things from different viewpoints – how do you see things if this relates to 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?


Connect B2B Marketing to Revenue!

February 17, 2011

This is the first in a series of posts of tying B2B marketing result to revenue.  This is the framework for the discussion on how marketing drives revenue for their enterprise organization.

A key aspect for business to business marketing to focus on is delivering activity (sales qualified leads or sales ready leads) that close to actual revenue – ‘revenue’ is language the head of sales, CEO, CFO, and board of directors understand.

But what do I measure as someone in a B2B marketing organization?

Too often, marketing teams and leaders measure their internal impact for the sake of measuring and are not making the direct connection from their activities to revenue either by channel type or geographic region.  Some call it ‘activity’ vs. ‘impact’.  Measuring followers on Twitter, Facebook fans, webviews, etc. while impressive to those in marketing really have no true tie to what non-marketers truly understand – the contribution to revenue.  This is what drives business!

Let’s take an explicit example.  The contribution marketing makes can vary widely by the type of company and it’s distribution channels.  I’ve been involved with companies that marketing has sourced 16% of annual contract value and have seen other companies, particularly SaaS companies sourcing beyond 50% of revenue through their marketing activity.  Benchmark companies like Forrester and SiriusDecisions also have similar percentage contributions for enterprise companies – your percentage will vary on company type, geography, and buying cycle characteristics.

Look for this trend to continue of more revenue getting sourced through marketing – prospects today are spending more time in online communities or researching online their needs before engaging with sales organizations.

To do this kind of measuring, automation fundamentals need to be in place (Eloqua, Marketo, Aprimo), processes need to be installed, and an executive agreement needs to be discussed on outcome.  Our next posting will dig into key steps on how we will tie revenue to results in these areas!

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