A commitment to marketing automation

Posted by: on Sep 27, 2011 | No Comments

As Chief Marketing Officer, I have the opportunity to review and implement marketing automation solutions.

Whether you choose Eloqua, Marketo, Pardot, Aprimo, SilverPop, or InfusionSoft, first and foremost, investing in any marketing automation software is a commitment to ongoing marketing and the time, content, and thought power required to ‘feed the machine.’ The solution will not be ‘plug it in and ignore it,’ although once the initial configuration is set up you might feel that way for a moment.

What takes longer is the strategic logic map and weighting of prospects for conversion. If the work has not yet been started, it will take some time to establish a baseline, criteria, and conversion points, particularly if this process has not been assessed with your sales team.

The tools mentioned are quite robust and allow for advanced marketing tactics to collect and leverage data. However, you are going to need a technically savvy resource experienced in configuring custom HTML email marketing and CRM custom configuration. Some of the tools offer support for an additional fee.

One of the best benefits can be the ability to see people and their behaviors on your site in real time. There are alternatives for this tracking, such as Visistat.com. But, this information is truly valuable only if someone is dedicated to the sales initiative necessary to follow up with the prospect.

Solutions offering “social lookups” are nice, especially if your prospects are executives in the workforce who may be socially savvy. The salesperson following up with that prospect would benefit from so much more information by researching social media.

One thing you should be aware of: the drip feature for marketing automation of a campaign may take DAYS to test each time you implement a new one. Email blast, landing page, download form, thank you, tickler emails… the more conversion points you add to the engagement and sales process, the more days you can add to test your sequence because the tools have a minimum timeline for testing.

Before pushing the“go button” on this investment, however, I would recommend pre-defining personas for each prospect type, their triggers, desired actions, and timeline for conversion.

Prospect activity data in chronological flow provides a sales representative with the information necessary to engage in an intelligent conversation with the prospect based on behaviors and interests. Depending on your business model, that human conversation is often is a critical component to conversions, making it unlikely that the system would generate leads more substantial than any email/landing page sequence.

So, what is different between what you get from an email tool vs. a marketing automation solution?

  1. The marketing funnel behavior map is defined in the marketing automation system so changes can be easily reviewed over time against prior behavior maps to determine if marketing message or marketing behavior impacts conversions. (If operational obstacles exist from a deficit in sales calls, and whitepapers are not currently downloaded… emails are not currently opened… then this knowledge will not impact sales.)
  2. Follow-up functions are automated based on prospect online behaviors within the system once configured. You might say, “look at how much work the automated system saves.” But, that’s really true only if the campaign sequence is leveraged time and again.
  3. The data is in one place, visible in a robust dashboard. However, before you get too excited, you probably already know who clicks what on your email in your current tool.

In conclusion, if marketing automation software will provide the reports you need to adjust your marketing message and keep an audience engaged, then one of those mentioned may be the right selection. Ideally, the implementation of such a solution would help to hone your message based on audience behaviors, reduce variables, and allow you to shorten the sales cycle by encouraging conversion.