Monthly Archives: September 2010

Pardot User Conference Proves They’re a Top Marketing Automation Vendor

The past two days I attended the Pardot User Conference, and also presented a session on Lead Nurturing. Over 100 Pardot customers from all over North America attended this event. And that’s impressive.

Learnings From The Conference

The conference had a nice balance of sessions. The sessions were about lead management, lead nurturing, content marketing, social media and Pardot product sessions. The Pardot team also showed how they are using Pardot within their own organization.

One of the most interesting things Pardot does for their own lead management is to give a 60 second look to each and every lead that is sent to sales. They realize the marketing automation can only go so far, and that a human interpretation of the lead’s profile and email & web activity will uncover additional insights. They add these insights to a notes field, which is typically the first thing a sales rep looks at when they receive a new lead.

Also, the Pardot software integrates with the site search on your website, so if prospects perform a search on your website, the search phrase is added to the activity history. This gives a good indication of a prospect’s intent.

Marketing Automation User Conferences

To organize a user conference, a vendor needs critical mass. You need hundreds of customers, otherwise you won’t get a reasonable number of people to attend the conference. Of the vendors on my list of Marketing Automation vendors, only a handful have enough customers to make this happen.

In May I attended Silverpop’s user conference, and the Marketo and Eloqua user conferences are coming up in October. Just like Pardot, these companies have hundreds of customers, so they are the top of the crop when looking at user adoption of marketing automation systems.

Pardot’s Secret

However, if I ask people which vendors they think are most popular, few are mentioning Pardot. They’re not spending as much on marketing as the other vendors. So what’s their secret? In my opinion, there are three reasons:

  • a good product that is easy to use
  • simple and reasonable pricing
  • friendly and extremely helpful employees

And additionally, I think they focus on an attractive niche in the Marketing Automation market: most of their customers have a marketing team of one to five people, while many of the other top vendors focus on larger clients.

I’m interested to hear your feedback, so please leave a comment. And if you were one of the attendees, let me know how you liked it!

Best CRM for Marketing Automation:, Microsoft or Oracle?

Forrester recently released a vendor evaluation for midmarket CRM vendors. If you look at Marketing Automation systems, the best supported CRM system is However, Forrester states that Microsoft Dynamics CRM may actually be a better CRM product. That brings up a range of questions:

  • What does CRM integration mean?
  • What if you’re choosing a CRM system today? Should you look at Marketing Automation options first?
  • What if you prefer Microsoft CRM, but you also want to have a choice of Marketing Automation systems?

By the way: tomorrow I’m presenting a webinar with SalesFUSION, a Marketing Automation vendor that focuses heavily on Microsoft Dynamics CRM (but also supports, of course). Click here for more info and registration »

What does CRM integration mean?

First of all, what does “integration” really mean? The minimum level of integration is bidirectional synchronization of contacts and leads. That is relatively easy for Marketing Automation systems to support. But some advanced features make the integration really shine.

For example, many CRM systems have a ‘campaign’ feature to measure campaign effectiveness. It’s useful if the Marketing Automation system can create and update CRM campaigns, and update campaign statuses. That way there is only one way to define and measure campaign effectiveness.

Also, it’s useful if sales people can see information from the marketing automation system within the CRM system. If they see campaign history, email responses and web visits, they get a much better picture of the needs of that particular lead. It’s even better if they can assign leads to the most appropriate marketing campaign.

Consider Marketing Automation Support When Making a CRM Choice?

If you’re currently looking for a new CRM system, you may want to check which CRM systems are supported by Marketing Automation vendors. In my experience, integration with CRM is extremely helpful in any Marketing Automation project. So if you can, you should integrate both systems.

There are a couple of things you can look at:

  • On-demand or on-premises
  • CRM system market share
  • Which Marketing Automation vendors currently support the CRM system

If you’re serious about Marketing Automation, I would choose an on-demand CRM system. Those are much easier to integrate, because pretty much all Marketing Automation systems are on-demand too.

Most Marketing Automation vendors will integrate based on market demand. So if you choose a popular CRM system, you have a much better chance to find Marketing Automation systems that integrate.

Of course, you should also look at the CRM systems that are currently supported by the Marketing Automation vendors. They’re adding integrations all the time, so make sure to contact the vendor. Also ask them the level of integration, and – if they support multiple CRM systems – how those integrations are different.

Why Limited Support for Microsoft Dynamics?

So why are relatively few Marketing Automation vendors supporting Microsoft Dynamics? I’d say it’s primarily based on market demand.

It seems that a lot of early adopters of new marketing and sales technology are using, so – when selling innovative Marketing Automation technology – that’s obviously a good audience to sell to

Also, many Microsoft customers may be using their on-premises offering, making it harder to integrate with Marketing Automation, and harder to sell an on-demand Marketing Automation solution.

Finally, Microsoft sells a lot through channel partners. Being successful in the Microsoft market requires that software vendors befriend those same channel partners and give them a cut: that’s a different business model from direct sales.

What CRM System to Choose?

First of all, you should choose a CRM system that works well for you. Marketing Automation is only useful when hooked up to a CRM system that meets your needs and is actively being used.

Clearly, is the safe CRM choice if you want to hook up a Marketing Automation system, because it’s supported by all Marketing Automation vendors.

However, it’s not the only choice. Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online and Oracle CRM On Demand are both on-demand solutions, and both are in the Leaders section of the Forrester report. More and more Marketing Automation systems are adding support for these systems.

I’ve also seen support for SugarCRM and NetSuite, so consider those too. But if integration with Marketing Automation is a must, it’s better to avoid on-premises solutions like Pivotal and Saleslogix.

Live Webinar: Seven Strategies for finding hidden revenue in your marketing database

a detailed and informative webinar that will give you tips, strategy and tactics for mining your internal house file for hidden revenue opportunities This Thursday @ 11am PDT

Register now »

Learn Holistic Lead Nurturing

Would you like to learn how Lead Nurturing can turn more of your leads into revenue? On a single afternoon in New York City, Silverpop brings together several expert speakers to discuss Holistic Lead Nurturing strategies. The agenda covers B2B marketing trends, marketing infrastructure, nurturing dialogs, campaign development and implementation advice. Speakers include Adam Needles (Silverpop), Jay Hidalgo (Annuitas Group), Mac McIntosh (Acquire B2B) and myself. See below for an overview of Holistic Lead Nurturing.

Date & Time: September 14th, from 12pm to 5.30pm, with cocktails afterwards
Location: Affinia Manhattan Hotel, 371 Seventh Avenue
Cost: FREE for qualified marketers

Register here:

Other locations: Boston (October 19th),  San Francisco (November 2nd); see the full schedule

What Is Holistic Lead Nurturing?

For those of you who can’t make it, I’ll give a short overview of the event. First of all, what does “holistic” mean in this context? It means that you identify market trends, then define a strategy for lead nurturing, and then implement it. So it’s not just “let’s do some drip emails”, but a more comprehensive approach to get the most out of your lead nurturing campaigns.

The Changing B2B Buyer

The B2B buying process has changed. There is more information available online and in social networks, and sales people get involved at a much later stage. That also means that Marketing will be involved much longer: not just to generate leads, but also to nurturing the leads until they are ready to talk to a sales person.

New Marketing Technology

At the same time, technology solutions enable a new way to design and automate campaigns. Marketing Automation systems make it possible to design automated multi-step email campaigns. Also, they can track the responses at a very detailed level, including monitoring of website visits. Based on that activity, lead scoring gives an indication of the interests and sales-readiness of leads. And by integrating with the CRM system, sales can also be kept in the loop.

Creating a Dialog

With the new buying and technology environment, you can create a new type of nurturing dialog. It’s about understanding, tracking, scoring and routing leads. However, to succeed you need to put these individual activities together in a process to help leads along in the buying process. That is holistic lead management, which will help you turn more “raw” leads into qualified leads.

Generating Demand

And that brings us to the next step: optimizing your nurturing campaigns to generate more demand for your solutions. This starts with designing multi-track nurturing campaigns, based on the overall lead flow from the previous step. These campaigns should be aligned with the steps in the buying process, they should include appealing offers, leverage Buyer Personas, and possibly also integrate telesales or direct mail.

Putting It Into Practice

Because lead management and lead nurturing are pretty new, it’s sometimes hard to visualize how it will actually work in your organization. First of all, there are few organizations who have implemented all best practices: it can take years to build out a holistic nurturing program, but you can see the first results in just months, by taking small steps towards the ultimate vision. I recommend talking to peers at other organizations to see what they have accomplished with their lead nurturing programs.

Is Holistic Marketing the Future?

What is your take: should every B2B organization with a complex sales process adopt Holistic Lead Management practices? Or do you feel it’s too comprehensive? Did I forget any steps? Please let add your comments.