Category Archives: Demand Generation

Lead Nurturing for Software Trials

Free 30 Day Trial

They signed up. What now?

This week someone asked me about lead nurturing for people who signed up for a 30-day product trial (for a SaaS/Cloud software product). This was in response to an article on trial conversion optimization that I wrote over a year ago. In the past year I’ve been heads-down on many Marketing Automation projects, and this email inspired me write a follow-up: I’ve included 7 practical tips to get started and a brief case study.

Tip 1: Start Sending Email Now

Are you sending follow-up emails to your trial registrants yet? If not, start doing so today. Even if it’s a manual process, NOT sending email means you’re missing out on revenue. Conversion rates will increase with even the most basic nurturing process. You can send email manually (once a week to all new registrants), you can use a simple auto-responder tool or use a marketing automation system.

Tip 2: Make Product Adoption Your #1 Goal

The one and only goal of the emails you’re sending out should be to get people hooked on your product. Feel free to try sending company overviews or analyst whitepapers, but in most cases you’ll see sub-par clickthrough rates. Instead, focus on tips and resources to make sure the trial users get the most out of your product. If you want introduce a human person as a support resource, make sure it’s someone who can actually help with the most common problems.

Tip 3: Send More Emails

Don’t assume that qualified prospects will read all of your emails, they’re simply too busy and get too much email. The only solution is to send more email than you may initially be comfortable with. How many emails is enough? There is only one way to find out, and that is to increase the frequency until you see the unsubscribe rate go up. Realize that your best customers will be the last to unsubscribe, so don’t worry about unsubscribes too much. As a guideline, the unsubscribe rate should be below 1%.

Tip 4: Choose a Good Call-to-Action

A good nurture email helps convert prospects into paying customers. So what should be in that email? Examples are a link to a piece of documentation, a usage tip, a link to the login page, or a personalized coaching call. In different emails, provide different call-to-actions: some can be low-commitment (e.g. a link to documentation) while others can be high-commitment (e.g. requesting a personal coaching session or attending a live webinar). If you worry that high-commitment offers may take too much time to deliver (e.g. 1:1 coaching), only extend them to the most qualified prospects.

Tip 5: Use Email Best Practices

In the subject line, tell people what they’re going to get by reading this email, but don’t use more than 50 characters. Once they are reading the email, make it easy for them to respond to your call-to-action: repeat the offer, use very little text and add a big button for the call-to-action. Also include a text link, because not everyone may load images. For technical audiences, consider creating emails with no images at all. Regardless of the formatting, you always want to include a button and link for the call-to-action, because that’s how you will measure the email’s effectiveness (using the clickthrough rate). Use only 1 main call-to-action per email, and optionally a secondary call-to-action, but no more than that: the average reader will give your email 5 seconds, and with too many options many will simply not respond at all.

Tip 6: Experiment. A Lot.

It’s hard to know beforehand which messages are most effective in increasing product adoption. You will simply have to try a lot of different messages and call-to-actions. Set yourself a goal to add a new message every 2 weeks, let it run for 4 weeks, and then look at click-trough rates to decide if it’s a keeper. Ideally, change only 1 thing at a time, so you know exactly what caused the change in email performance. Depending on the email system you’re using, you may have to create an all-new email instead of editing the existing email, so you will easily see the difference in click-rates before and after the change.

Tip 7: Know What You Want to Measure

A common question is: how do I know if my nurture campaign is working? Ultimately, it’s working when trial participants become paying customers. You can analyze this in two ways: (1) look at the people who clicked on certain emails and check if they are customers now or (2) look at the recently closed deals and see which emails those people responded to. This strategy allows you to look beyond clickthrough rates and optimize your nurturing campaign for your ideal prospects.

Example: 7-Day Trial Nurturing

Let’s finish this post with a brief example: a SaaS software company has a 7-day product trial and sends 1 email every day with a usage tip. The main call-to-action is a link to the login page. The secondary call-to-action is a personalized coaching session.

The first email has by far the highest clickthrough rate, which gradually tapers off. There is a small spike for the last email, probably because people realize that their trial will end very soon. The unsubscribe rate is highest on the first 2 emails (but still under 1%). It is really low on emails 3 to 6 and has a small spike for email 7.

Every single email (except 1) had clicks from people who later became customers. This underlines the importance of sending email frequently, because you never know which email people will respond to. However, the first email is the most important: it gets the highest clickthrough and those people are most likely to become customers. As an aside: it was interesting to see that few of them responded to any of the later emails.

More than twice as many people respond to the primary call-to-action (login) compared to the secondary call-to-action (coaching). Both convert at the same rate: clearly it’s important to have both call-to-actions, because different people respond to different offers.

Another interesting data point is that people who register with a work email address are 4 times more likely to convert into paying customers than registrants with a personal email address (like Gmail and Yahoo).


My previous article included some advanced trial nurturing concepts, such as nurturing based on the stage where prospects are in the product evaluation process. That is still a powerful tactic, but we shouldn’t forget the basics. That’s what the 7 tips in this post are about. Master these best practices and you’re probably already miles ahead of your competitors.

And as always, there are tons of questions that I didn’t address, so please leave a comment with your suggestions or questions.

Upcoming Lead Management Events

This week there are a couple of interesting Lead Management events, so I thought I’d share them with you in a short blog post:

Hubspot Show & Tell

Hubspot is best known for their Inbound Marketing evangelism and a software product that helps small to medium-size companies generate leads through search engine optimization and social media. They are taking some steps towards lead management, and will be showing their email marketing and lead nurturing capabilities in this webinar. It’s not a full-blown marketing automation system (not sure if they want to go there either), but it’s interesting to see them adding these features.

More info & registration »

Genius Demand Gen Academy

The Demand Gen Academy is a free online learning program to help you master the process of demand generation with practical, hands-on training. It covers Demand Generation, Lead Management, Return on Investment and Inbound Marketing in a series of 35-minute webinars. There is a webinar every Wednesday for the next 12 weeks. You will earn a Demand Generation Certification badge if you successfully complete the exam. I’m co-presenting the email nurturing session this Wednesday.

More info & registration »

MarketingSherpa Lead Management Webinar

The full title of this event is “Lead Management: Tackling the Top 5 Questions about the Lead Cultivation, Qualification and Hand-Off Process”. It’s presented by Sean Donahue, Editor, MarketingSherpa and Jennifer Horton, Best Practices Consultant, Eloqua. During the webinar, they will cover practical strategies that highlight the best way to attract new leads, how to find the right approach for the type and timing of messages, and when to complete the transition to sales.

More info & registration »

Lead Nurturing Checklist for Marketing Automation

If you want to make a start with Lead Nurturing, what are the right questions to ask? And what are the decisions that you need to make? In this post I present a short checklist of questions to ask before you get started with lead nurturing:

  • Do you want to nurture new leads, existing leads or both?
  • How do you to segment your audience?
  • Do you want a linear drip campaign, or rule-driven dynamic campaign (flow chart)
  • Which content is available for nurturing?
  • What frequency of emails and duration of campaign do you prefer?
  • When do you send leads to sales?
  • Do you need to improve the quality of your lead data?

Let’s look at each of these questions.

New Leads, Existing Leads, or Both?

If you’ve never nurtured your leads, you may find sales opportunities in your existing database. This depends on many factors, including the size of your database, the average age of the leads, the lead source, and the length of your sales cycle. If you sell multiple products, cross-selling may work for you. If you expect to find sales opportunities in your existing database, this may be a good place to start. Don’t expect to close 10 deals after the first email: nurturing takes time to deliver results.

Once you’ve set up nurturing for existing leads, start with your new leads. These nurture campaigns start when new leads register, while campaigns for existing leads are batch campaigns started by the campaign manager. Once new leads are entered in a nurturing program, make sure they will always be in some kind of nurturing track, unless they unsubscribe.


Nurturing is most effective if the messages are relevant for the audience. If a lead registers for a technical whitepaper, send more technical information or invitations for technical events. If someone is interested in product A, don’t send info on product B, unless products A and B are similar or at least complementary. If you market in multiple languages, make sure your emails and marketing materials are also available in the local language.

Drip vs. Dynamic Campaigns

The simplest campaign is linear: leads receive a series of emails spread out over a certain time period. For example, a lead could receive one email per month for 6 months total. If you’ve segmented your database you can assign a lead to the most appropriate campaign. Once the campaign is over, move the leads to the general nurture campaign (e.g. a general newsletter), so they continue to hear from you. This is a simple but effective way to start with email nurturing.

If you find that people are often in the wrong segment, or if you want to respond differently to leads based on by their response to your campaign, you want to use dynamic campaigns. This is more complex, because you’re creating dynamic rules for campaigns, and with every rule there is the possibility of errors. However, if you get it right, you’re really responding to lead behavior in real-time.


Every campaign needs content. Not just the text in the email that you send out, but especially the offer in the email. The best offers are whitepapers, webinars, ebooks, blog posts, analyst reports, or any other educational resources. In some cases you can send product collateral, but educational materials are usually most effective, because they address an issue that the recipient may have. Unless you are sure that a lead is ready to buy, you wouldn’t use a discount or other price incentive in your campaigns. After you do some digging, you’ll be surprised how much content your organization has access to: sometimes you can even point to 3rd party blog posts.

Frequency & Duration

The longer the sales cycle, the longer you want to run a particular campaign. In B2B marketing, campaigns often run 3-12 months. After that, you still want to occasionally send something to prospects: even after years of ‘lurking’ some may suddenly be ready to buy. Shortly after a new lead registers you can send email more frequently, but after that you can slow down to one message every two, three or four weeks. The minimum frequency for emails is once a month.

Sales Handover

At some point in time you want to hand over leads to the sales team for follow up, both for new as well as “revitalized” existing leads. When you start your campaign you may want to review lead activity manually to find interesting leads to send to sales. Once you see patterns, you can use lead scoring to automatically send leads to sales. When sales is actively talking to a lead, you want to pause the campaign for this lead. However, when the lead is not yet ready to buy, the campaign should resume.

Data Quality

The success of the campaign depends on your ability to send relevant content to leads. For new leads, you want to ask enough information so you know what they are interested in. For existing leads, you ideally have enough information in your database to add leads to a relevant campaign. On top of that, you want to avoid duplicates and other errors, because people may receive the same email twice, or with silly personalized fields. To give an example of the latter: sometimes sales people add notes in the name field, such as “Robert (goes by Rob)”. It would be undesirable to send out an email that starts with “Hi Robert (goes by Rob), rest of the email…”.

Getting Started with Lead Nurturing

If you have great leads in your database, that’s a good place to start lead nurturing. Start simple, and don’t try to automate everything (you may automate the wrong things). Be creative in finding interesting content, and keep up the nurturing for at least three months. Once you get started you will discover what works and what doesn’t, and you can get more sophisticated as you go along.

Measuring Marketing ROI: Campaign Attribution and Campaign Influence

GUEST POST: this is  a guest post by Saad Hameed (@KaizenSaad), an experienced marketing operations manager and founder of the Marketing Automation Association LinkedIn Group.

The CEO/CFO of your organization may be asking you to measure Marketing Campaign ROI to determine marketing’s contribution to revenue. The question is straight forward, yet what you may have already discovered is that the answer on what to measure and how to measure is not simple.

In B2B, a prospect doesn’t convert into a customer in a single interaction as is often the case with e-Commerce. Usually, it takes several interactions in the prospect lifecycle that help conversion from prospect to customer. This complex lifecycle makes it difficult to track and report on ROI for the various campaigns that touch prospects, especially at the granular level. In addition to determining the ROI for campaigns, additional ROI related questions are asked such as the ROI by channel (Webinar, SEM, Content Syndication, etc.) and by vehicle (Email, Print Mail, SMS, Survey, etc.). Yet these questions are difficult to answer without costly manual analysis. What you need is a solution that will properly track the influence of marketing campaigns on the funnel and also the accurate attribution of revenue to marketing campaigns. The benefits of such a solution are:

  • Highly accurate measurement of marketing contribution to revenue generation
  • Significantly improved campaign management as a result of deeper visibility into performance
  • Time cost savings due to elimination of need to do painful manual analysis

In order to provide a better explanation of how these benefits would be accrued by your marketing organization, I would like to start by providing a more detailed definition of Campaign Attribution and Campaign Influence and why properly measuring these are critical to achieving success  for your marketing organization.

Campaign Attribution:

In order to report on Campaign ROI, the first key concept that we need to define is Campaign ROI Attribution i.e. what percentage of bookings from a deal should be attributed to any given campaign. Should the bookings be attributed to the first campaign that generated the first lead into a deal or maybe the last campaign that touched it or maybe it should be equally distributed across all campaigns that touched a deal? Determining an accurate method of revenue attribution is typically very difficult. Consider this scenario, you may be using the first and last campaign attribution model which splits the revenue between the first and last campaign that touched a deal. Now suppose for a new customer win, the first campaign was an awareness-based campaign utilizing SEM and the last campaign that touched this customer was a webinar. However, there was a tradeshow that highly influenced the prospect, yet utilizing your current attribution model the tradeshow campaign would not be attributed any revenue. In the end you would not be attributing credit where it’s truly due. At the end of the day, whichever campaign attribution model you choose is the one you would be held accountable to and this further intensifies the need to track all campaigns across the lifecycle for all deals.

Campaign Influence:

Regardless of what your campaign attribution model is, tracking all campaign responses will tell you which campaigns a given prospect was influenced by. So Campaign Influence measurement focuses on all campaigns that any prospect is responding to. It tells us what campaigns are helping the prospect move closer to making the purchase decision. This measurement is a holistic approach and it helps provide insights that typical Campaign Attribution models may not be able to give. So for example, it would show the influence of educational webinars that your prospects attend during the mid-point of the prospect lifecycle. Now if you were using a first and last touch campaign attribution model then these educational campaigns would not have revenue attributed to them, yet they are critical part of the prospect lifecycle. The Campaign Influence model would capture this data and provide the necessary insight to marketing and company leadership on the value of these campaigns. Otherwise these campaigns may be sidelined in favor of campaigns with a higher ROI based on the attribution model. Aggregating data on campaign influence will also tell you what campaigns are effective in nurturing a prospect and what campaigns are ineffective. So in a sense, it is as equally important to measure Campaign Influence as it is to measure Campaign ROI.


Given the complex nature of the B2B prospect lifecycle, building a solution that can properly track these metrics as they relate to your specific business situation is necessary. This solution will help provide a deeper understanding of the marketing campaign performance thereby helping in optimizing your marketing campaigns. This solution will also help you provide your CEO/CFO with the necessary reports that they can rely on to understand marketing’s contribution to revenue generation.

Sales 2.0: Marketing Automation & Salesforce Chatter

Today I’m at the Sales 2.0 Conference in San Francisco. I write about Marketing Automation, so why am I at a sales conference? I’m here because I believe Sales & Marketing should be on the same team. Marketing Automation can help both Marketing and Sales, but it requires intense collaboration: that’s what Sales 2.0 is all about.

Chatter and Marketing Automation

This morning we saw a demo of Chatter, a collaboration tools integrated with Think Facebook built into it looks just like the Facebook timeline, but it is built around your sales processes. You can follow coworkers, prospects, deals, documents but also 3rd party applications. That last feature made me think: Marketing Automation systems can also tie into Chatter, and use it as the primary means of communicating with the sales teams. That could be a great way to close the gap between marketing and sales. Chatter Screenshot

Sales People Choose Their Alerts

Lead Tracking and alerts are nothing new in Marketing Automation. Many systems send email notifications, special reports in the CRM system or sometimes even instant messages. But it’s always Marketing who decides which alerts will be sent (and when), not the sales person. With Chatter, sales people can subscribe to activity updates of specific leads, or groups of leads. It’s the Twitter model (choose to follow), instead of the email marketing model (the sender pushes updates). My guess: sales people will love being in charge of the alerts they receive.

Be Creative With Alerts

Once you have the Chatter infrastructure in place, a Marketing Automation system could pass lots of different alerts on to Chatter. Social Media monitoring? Yes, you can get alerts when your company or competitors are mentioned in the Blogosphere. The company newsletter was just sent out? See how your prospects respond to it. Does an employee of one of your target accounts visit the corporate website? See it in real-time. All in one place, and controlled by the end-user.

Sorry, Not Available Yet

In most of my blog posts I try to give practical advice that you can use right away. This post is a prediction: Chatter will be rolled out this summer, and it will take Marketing Automation vendors some time to tie into Chatter. Nevertheless, I see a great future for Chatter. I’d love to hear your take (especially if you’re not convinced yet!).

B2B Marketing Automation Twitter Contest has launched the Marketing Automation Tweeter contest to identify the most popular Tweep who tweets about Marketing Automation. 25 people are nominated, including myself. I thought it would be fun to try to find additional criteria for finding the top Marketing Automation Tweeters. I used two: Twitter Grader and the number of Tweets containing “Marketing Automation”.

It is clear most of the nominees belong to the Twitter elite, with Twitter Grades in the upper nineties. However, looking at the Tweets about “Marketing Automation”, eleven nominees have never tweeted about Marketing Automation at all, or just once or twice. I’ve used Google to count, searching for “Marketing Automation”.

If you haven’t voted yet, please do so now!

This is the list:

Nominee TwitterGrade # of Tweets
“Marketing Automation”
@MarketingSherpa 99.8 1
@LeftBrainMktg 89.0 6
@JeremyVictor 96.2 1
@DG_Report 97.2 2
@MarketingProfs 100 0
@WendyBrache 89.0 1
@SGersh 95.7 4
@LauraRamos 99.5 2
@BtoBMagazine 99.8 4
@JuntaJoe 99.8 0
@JillKonrath 99.5 1
@jepc 97.6 72
@FearlessComp 98.6 4
@JBlock 99.1 8
@GenerationO 98.1 5
@GalenDY 96.2 5
@Funnelholic 99.1 8
@Draab 96.2 40
@ChadALevitt 99.1 0
@BridgeGroupInc 97.2 0
@BrianJCarroll 99.5 5
@B2B_MarketingPR 98.1 1
@Ardath421 99.5 8
@PaulDunay 100 4
@InboundMarketer 99.1 5
@Damphoux 99.5 3

5 Ways to Use Social Media in Marketing Automation

This is the first of three posts for the Silverpop B2B Marketing University, March 3rd in Washington DC. I will be speaking about Marketing Automation features, the marketing technology ecosystem, and the impact of Social Media. In this first post I will give an overview of my talk on Social Media: if you’d like to hear the full story, please come to the DC event, or wait until the University comes to a city near you (London, Palo Alto, Boston confirmed; Dallas, New York, Atlanta and Chicago announced).

Social Media

When talking about Social Media, most people immediately think of Twitter or Facebook. I define it much broader: Social Media facilitates any online social interaction, where monologues have been transformed into social dialogs. So it’s about having conversations with your (potential) clients rather than just blasting out your message. Let’s look at the 5 Ways in which Social Media is changing Lead Management and Marketing Automation.

1. Lead Generation

Where do your potential clients “hang out” when they browse the web? Are they on LinkedIn, do they Tweet or are they part of an online community like Marketingprofs? After some initial research, start interacting on the preferred Social Networks and measure the results: add tags to your social media interactions, so you see if it drives new people to your site. Use your Marketing Automation and CRM systems to see if this traffic converts to qualified leads and sales opportunities.

2. Lead Nurturing

It may take a while before potential clients are ready to buy or even want to talk to a sales person. In the beginning, they may not even register on your website, so they are still anonymous. No worries, with Social Media you can offer prospects multiple ways to stay in touch: if they’re not yet ready for your email newsletter, maybe they want to “fan” your company on Facebook, or simply subscribe to your blog’s RSS feed. If you incorporate Social Media interaction in your lead score, you can measure the effectiveness of these Social Media activities.

3. Lead Intelligence

Sales & marketing alignment is finally getting the attention it deserves. Marketing is starting to see sales as a customer who demands high-quality leads. With the right technology you can incorporate information from various online sources, so sales people are better prepared when they make the first call. It’s not just status information like the employment history from LinkedIn, but also real-time info from sites like Twitter.

4. Intra-company Collaboration

Social Media does not just transform how you interact with external parties, but also how you run your marketing operation. If multiple people work together on campaigns, it’s extremely useful if you can collaborate in the application itself. This is already commonplace in office applications like Microsoft Office and Google Docs, where you can add notes in the documents themselves, rather than putting those in an email. In the marketing space, the most well-known example is Google Analytics which lets you add annotations below each graph (click on the small triangle to show the annotation pane).

5. Customer Support

Often, Customer Support is in a separate department, and it’s seen as a cost center. Especially for subscription-based businesses, marketing should be closely involved in providing customers with the best possible experience: retaining customers is a lot cheaper than acquiring new ones. Companies like Zendesk, Helpstream and Get Satisfaction provide social support platforms, where existing customers can help each other, rather than channeling all questions to a support technician. You can also use Social Networks to keep customers informed of new products and services, and giving them the opportunity to provide feedback.


Many of today’s customers interact with Social Media. As a vendor, you can take advantage of this by actively participating on external networks, and adding social features to your own applications. I hope this post gave you some ideas to create a comprehensive Social Media strategy, and how to justify this with the right metrics.

B2B Marketing Events 2010

What are the key events to attend when you’d like to learn more about B2B Marketing, Marketing Automation, Lead Management? I’ve compiled a list of the events that matter:

I’ve started with a much longer list, but decided to focus on those events where Marketing Automation vendors exhibit, and where the speakers cover lead management and marketing automation. Some featured events:

Silverpop B2B Marketing University

I’m speaking at the B2B Marketing University. Although it’s organized by Silverpop, it’s primarily a thought leadership event: no product demos, customer cases, or other company promotions. Other speakers are Carlos Hidalgo (@cahidalgo), Malcolm Friedberg (@LeftBrainMktg), Mac McIntosh (@B2B_Sales_Leads), David Raab (@draab) and Adam Needles (@abneedles).

Sales & Marketing 2.0 Conference

Even though the name makes you think otherwise, the Sales 2.0 Conference also covers Lead Management. Forward-thinking sales people realize that Sales & Marketing alignment is essential to increase sales (just like forward-thinking marketing people). Because of this, there will also be a Sales & Marketing 2.0 conference this fall! That’s an exciting development, and I will certainly try to be there.

MarketingSherpa B2B Marketing Summit

Last year I attended the MarketingSherpa events in San Francisco and Boston. They have high-quality presentations on both lead generation and lead management. I can highly recommend these events.

User Conferences

The Marketing Automation vendors with a bigger installed base have their own user conferences. I hesitated whether I should include these, but ultimately decided that they would fit my criteria: the presence of a Marketing Automation vendor, and relevant talks.

Final Words

There are several interesting events if you want to learn more about Marketing Automation. I hope you will be able to attend one of these events (or more, of course). Let me know if I missed any events. If you are organizing an event, I’d happy to speak or join a panel discussion (contact info).

PS. For more events, see the Marketing Consigliere’s list.

Genius Marketing Automation Blog Posts

Some of you may know that I’ve been a guest blogger at since last summer. The main topic has been Marketing Automation, with several other online marketing topics blended in. On the Genius blog I have some nice introductory articles, so I wanted to provide some links to those post here on the LeadSloth blog.

Marketing Automation

These posts are about Marketing Automation and Lead Management:

Demand Generation Best Practices

Where the Marketing Automation posts are more about Marketing Automation systems themselves, these posts are about people and processes:

Lead Scoring

I also wrote a couple of posts that focus on Lead Scoring:

Lead Nurturing

I wrote several posts about nurturing of new, existing or old leads:

Online Marketing

These posts are about various online marketing topics:


Feel free to provide some feedback in the comments on this blog, or on the blog. I’m interested to learn which topics you’d like to hear more about.

Marketing Automation Trends for 2010

2009 was the year in which Marketing Automation really took off. Several new vendors appeared on the market, many existing vendors experienced rapid growth, and Marketing Automation as a term gained popularity among B2B marketers. In this post I want to focus on the trends in Marketing Automation for 2010. I have asked many of the vendors, consultants and thought leaders to give their opinion. The response was overwhelming: see below for all 20 (!) predictions.

There are lots of interesting opinions, from practical to visionary, with consensus on some topics, and differences on others. These are the trends that are mentioned most often:

  1. Improved ROI & Reporting
  2. Integration of Social Media, Inbound Marketing and Marketing Automation
  3. Creation of buyer-centric content
  4. The need for new analytical skills
  5. Renewed focus on data quality
  6. Sales & marketing alignment

I could not agree more with these predictions. (1) We’re at a point where we have lot of data about marketing performance, but it’s a big challenge to turn it into actionable information (2) we’re actively tweeting, blogging and using LinkedIn, but how can that be effectively managed, and how can it be measured? (3) It’s all about the buyer now, so why are you still writing about “my company this, my company that”? (4) Marketing is getting more of a science: creative marketers need to acquire new skills and more people with an analytical background need to enter the profession (5) Data quality is somewhat boring, but it is a prerequisite for effective marketing automation and (6) sales and marketing need act as one team to give buyers the best possible buying experience.

The Contributors

In alphabetical order (click on name to scroll down):

Adam Blitzer, COO & Co-founder, Pardot (@AdamBlitzer)

The vast majority of leads generated on a website never have a meaningful conversation with a sales rep. The rep may try to contact the prospect several times but will give up after a certain point. If there is no mechanism to pass the lead back to the marketing team (in an automated or semi-automated fashion), the lead is gone forever.

Marketing automation solutions can facilitate remarketing to inactive leads, or so-called lead recycling, which helps drive value from a marketer’s most valuable asset, his or her lead database. An attached CRM system can kick the records back into a marketing automation system’s lead nurturing program and alert the assigned sales rep if the leads become active.

If you aren’t recycling leads (and most marketers aren’t), you are wasting a significant percentage of your marketing dollars.

Erik Bower, Co-founder, Marketbright (No Twitter)

Methods to the madness: Everybody has methodologies, Sales has SPIN, Customer Centric, etc. Marketing has none. In 2010 you’ll start to hear about marketing methods. At Marketbright, we believe Agile Marketing will emerge as a popular methodology so marketing professionals can adapt and survive in 2010.

Social Media Marketing FAIL: In 2010, we’ll see a lot of companies spend a lot of money trying to make a big splash into social networks and many will crash and burn. Social networks like Facebook and Linkedin will start to face customer defections as their networks get bogged down with marketing spam. Marketers will continue to struggle with the new Social Media reality and coming up with smart ways to influence the market’s conversation about their brand.

Twitter splinter: People who “get” twitter will continue to laugh at those who don’t and those who don’t will continue to not care, and to not twitter. A new movement will start called Refusetwits (like Refuseniks).

Spammers Beware: As email clients and service providers adopt features similar to those in Other Inbox, making it nearly impossible to email people you don’t have explicit opt in preferences from. This will place a higher premium on membership management and real, editorialized, well written monthly newsletters.

Resurgence of the Agency: Marketing departments have been trying to go it alone and do their own thing. In 2010, many will start to reengage with creative agencies and marketing consultancies as they realize that they can’t do everything and that finding a good marketing operations person is hard and getting harder.

Christoper Doran, CMO, Manticore Technology (@cdoran)

With shiny new marketing automation platforms now in place, 2010 promises to be the year that marketers begin to create business processes to measure and manage the marketing funnel. Best in class marketing teams successfully implement social media programs as part of their marketing mix, while others struggle to understand how social media fits in the puzzle: Is it sales enablement? Thought leadership? Demand Generation? SEO? Answer: All of the Above! Manticore Technology wishes you a full-funnel in 2010.

Matt Filios, COO, Net-Results (@KeeperMJF)

1. 2010 will be a year in which companies of all sizes begin to understand and embrace the power and value of marketing automation as a way of engaging with their entire funnel in an automated fashion. As Laura Ramos at Forrester stated in her report several months back, today only 2-5% of B2B companies are utilizing marketing automation/lead management automation. As companies recognize the significance of tying web analytics with email and direct mail campaigns, they can truly get a better understanding of where each of their prospects and leads are in the buying process. Having ‘conversations’ with these prospects as they become more sales-ready keeps the company top of mind when they are ready to buy.

2. The increased number of marketing automation vendors now allows companies to utilize a system without blowing their budget. There are now a number of vendors for every size of company to choose from, and I expect this to continue as this industry continues to heat up.

3. Marketing automation platforms and CRM systems will become more tightly integrated, further bridging the gap between marketing and sales. The virtual ‘wall’ in which marketers throw their leads over to salespeople now comes down, allowing for a collaborative effort of defining and refining qualified leads.

Chris Frank, Director of Marketing, TreeHouse Interactive (@treehousi)

The Rise of Inbound Marketing – The concept of using social media, search engine optimization and blogs together in driving early awareness stage traffic is still a fairly new one. Marketers over 2010 will get much savvier about doing this, however. Beyond the basic tactics for using each tool, there are going to be innovations in marketing automation that will help marketers better manage their efforts, measure results and target prospects.

Cohesive Communication – Many marketers are still struggling to escape from being reactionary to being more proactive. It is a huge shift for marketing teams to make, but a very important one to use marketing automation technology correctly. I see teams that make the shift being better able to compete on a campaign-by-campaign level, better satisfy sales team needs and ultimately being able to drive more pipeline opportunities. A funny thing happens when you start planning out communication—it actually happens, it addresses buying cycle gaps and it becomes more effective because it’s cohesive.

Getting Along – One of the biggest benefits of using a marketing automation solution is that it has the potential to put sales and marketing teams on the same page. The ability to define what a lead really is and then use your marketing automation system to qualify, nurture and pass along those leads is a basic benefit. In 2010 there will be many integrations between marketing automation and CRM systems that will change how teams work together to close business.

Read Chris’s full 2010 predictions on the Treehouse blog.

Malcolm Friedberg, Principal, Left Brain Marketing (@LeftBrainMktg)

I think that the business climate is slightly improving and 2010 will provide marketers with a little more flexibility. With that said, I believe the overall trend towards accountability, measurement and marketing ROI will continue to pick up steam. Consequently, marketing automation will play an increasingly important role in helping marketers meet CEO and board expectations as well as get insight into how best to allocate their budgets. The single biggest challenge that automation can address is reporting. At the programmatic level, closed-loop reporting will provide insight into the which tactics are generating the strongest results. Access to this data is the foundation for making budgetary and, when necessary, process changes. At the executive level, ROI reporting by business segment or marketing activity as well as overall marketing investment will enable the marketer to show revenue contribution and make meaningful contributions in discussion about the direction of the company and its products and services.

Kristin Hambelton, Sr. Director of Marketing, Neolane (@neolane)

Most VPs of marketing have come to terms with the fact that budgets won’t be increasing any time soon, so one of the clear themes for 2010 seems to be how marketing automation tools and processes can help organizations navigate the “new normal” and get greater returns on marketing investments.

Lead nurturing must match the complexity of the sales cycle: Despite the typical complexity of B2B sales cycles, B2B marketers have traditionally run very basic campaigns to match basic sales processes. Therefore, their lead generation and nurturing programs often focus only on email and web channels. In the coming year they will increasingly turn to centralized marketing automation systems to manage customer data consistently in order to nurture the right kind of leads in a consistent and coordinated way across communications channels.

Data-centric marketing must pave the way to greater customer intelligence, because the value of data can decline very quickly. By tightly integrating marketing automation solutions with existing data warehouse/master data management platforms, marketers will gain more confidence about the relevancy and quality of their data for improved campaign effectiveness, customer value and ROI.

Streamlining distributed marketing activities is critical to productivity and brand consistency: With many companies’ complex business models spanning multiple industries, geographies and languages, it will be increasingly important to gain more visibility and control over total marketing operations. With distributed marketing teams, marketing automation is key to supporting closed-loop marketing processes and for allowing remote teams to be more collaborative and productive by simplifying and automating key processes.

Megan Heuer, Research Director, SiriusDecisions (@megheuer)

1. Deal with Bad Data Once and For All: The effective use of marketing automation puts big demands on marketing data, and in most companies that data is in a sorry state. In 2010, Marketing Leaders will have to look at data as a strategic asset and take specific, measureable action to treat it as such. How much can be accomplished with marketing automation depends on the quality of data and the marketing function’s ability to make insightful use of it.

2. Address Legacy Organizational Structure Issues: Marketing cannot embrace the changing buying process if it is organized to support an internal construct of the selling process. Siloed, single-tactic teams must be broken down and rebuilt into an integrated function that can plan and execute multi-touch, buyer-behavior oriented campaigns that fully leverage marketing automation’s power.

3. Use Reporting as a Strategic Tool: Marketing Automation allows vastly better visibility into both buyer behavior and program results. Today, however, most reporting pulled from those tools is focused on telling what happened, and not on illuminating the best path forward. While it is essential for marketing to know what it got in return for a given investment, it’s equally important to take advantage of the power of analytics to define what works, what doesn’t and what actions need to be taken as a result. Testing, predicting and adjusting are words marketing leaders need to get comfortable with in 2010.

See also her recent blog post Five B2B Marketing Surprises From 2009

Carlos Hidalgo, President, Annuitas Group (@cahidalgo)

1. I think developing and implementing a holistic lead management process will be one of the greatest challenges companies face in 2010. This goes beyond just lead scoring and lead nurturing and when done correctly actually can solve many of the other issues that are faced today by organizations but in reality are just symptoms i.e. Marketing and sales alignment. It is an organization wide effort and takes hard work to think through all of the areas including: data, lead planning, lead routing, lead qualification (including scoring), lead nurturing, metrics and technology. While this is a large challenge, it is one that will pay one of the highest returns.

2. I think measurement will continue to be a challenge for organizations as it has been for years. However with the introduction of social and inbound it takes on a whole new face and some interesting layers. Organizations will need to first determine what they are looking to measure and therein lies one of the key challenges. Organizations often don’t know what or why they want to measure, so they try to measure everything. Going into this year, organizations will need to determine what key metrics they need and it is recommended that they focus these measurements around the buying cycle and buying behavior.

3. The last major challenge marketing departments will face is the adoption of technology. With marketing automation being on the rise, the adoption of this technology is a must for most organizations, but it will also require that organizations determine the ramifications of such a purchase. How will it impact their global execution? What will it do to their resource allocation and how will they provide the value? These questions should be answered by companies before making the purchase.

Kevin Joyce, CMO, Market2Lead (@nivenor1)

In 2010 CEOs will start to loosen the purse strings and invest again in marketing and sales. The budget won’t flood back to previous levels but rather trickle back, and the Marketing VP will have to account more vigorously than ever for each marketing investment. Therein lies the first business challenge of Marketing VPs: how to turn your organization into a measurable, accountable, productive machine, with KPIs and believable results data.

The second challenge will be in adapting their organization to take advantage of new ways of marketing, new media, new technologies. The choices of tools available to marketing are increasing rapidly, and the mix of marketing folks will need to shift a little more to the left brain marketers. The second challenge will therefore be to define and staff marketing operations roles in the organization.

The recession reminded companies of the value of marketing to their installed base, and to their in house lists. But if your data hygiene is on par with a New York subway restroom, marketing to the in house database will fail to meet expectations. The challenge is to have complete, accurate, current, and deep data on your prospects and customers so you can market to them effectively, and have the processes in place to slow the decay of the database.

Scott Mersy, VP Marketing and Products, (@smersy)

Marketers need to connect Inboud Marketing to Marketing Automation. There’s a lot of discussion about trading traditional outbound marketing methods for inbound ones. However, Inbound Marketing by itself isn’t enough in a complex selling environment. VPs of Marketing need to maximize the revenue opportunity from inbound leads and optimize the burgeoning customer relationship after an expression of inbound interest is expressed. Marketing Automation enables delivery of appropriate messages, emails, website personalization – all designed to drive a “right-time” interaction with sales.

Marketers are challenged to measure further down the funnel. When measuring number of leads and cost per lead, marketing’s goals aren’t aligned with sales. Marketing talks about generating “enough” leads, but Sales inevitably (and rightfully) complains about the quality of the leads because, more often than not, the quality is sub-par. With proper lead nurturing enabled by marketing automation, marketing is held to much higher standards. Conversion metrics all the way through to revenue will quickly become the standard way to measure marketing.

Marketers must be publishers. Publish or perish is no longer just the mantra of academia, it’s a key aspect of a company’s marketing strategy. We need to keep publishing, but, more importantly, we need to engage in conversations. Without listening, “conversations” are simply monologues.’s Barbra Gago (@barbragago) recently published a great slideshare to help marketers learn how to create great content.

Adam Needles, Director, Field Marketing and B2B Marketing Evangelist, Silverpop (@abneedles)

I think the greatest issue B2B marketing executives will face in 2010 is two-fold: 1.) responding to the continuing shift in power from vendor to buyer that Web 2.0 and Web 3.0 are enabling and 2.) consequently improving their ability to re-cast marketing strategies and tactics in a buyer-centric context.

This power shift is not new; in fact, it is the Groundswell that Charlene Li wrote about and is a key focus of Paul Greenberg’s new Fourth Edition of CRM at the Speed of Light. But marketers awareness of the dynamics of this power shift and their ability to respond to it are just maturing.

Marketing automation is playing a key role as a central platform for responding to and delivering buyer-centric marketing programs; moreover, the agenda of marketing automation is rapidly expanding to address the continuity of buyer dialogue from inbound/upstream engagement – through mid-stream nurturing — to hand-off to a sales team member.

So in my mind 2010 will be the year of our shift from thinking about marketing automation as a way to gain operational efficiency to a way to reposition marketing — becoming more buyer-centric and ensuring continuity of dialogue with the buyer throughout his/her buying process and at all touch points. In fact, I believe marketing automation will be the catalyst for a new mass one-to-one style of engagement, that was not possible before and that is critical to winning in the ‘brave new world’ of B2B marketing we’re faced with.

Jeff Ogden, Director of Marketing, Aplicor & President, Find New Customers (@FearlessComp)

1. Learning the personas and issues for target customers so we can create Problem to Solution marketing stories.

2. Better align sales and marketing to empower sales to close faster.

3. Document the value of marketing for the executive leadership team.

Jeff Pedowitz, President and CEO, The Pedowitz Group (@jpedowitz)

I believe this year will be one of explosive growth for the category. I predict that over 1000 new companies will implement marketing automation tools and processes this year. There will be a strong emphasis on monetizing social media, achieving closed loop reporting, and improving campaign effectiveness. Lead Scoring will become a common standard and more marketers will start to use multi-touch campaigns for both existing customers and new prospects. This will be the year of Revenue.

Maria Pergolino, Sr. Manager, Inbound Marketing, Marketo (@InboundMarketer)

Marketing Automation will continue to be one of the biggest initiatives for B2B Marketing Executives in 2010, primarily because of the speed at which the return on the investment can be achieved.  While the implementation, process, and tools marketers select will be the tactical challenges faced by the marketing team, this will improve the marketing department by making:

1. Marketing success transparent to the entire organization, particularly the executive staff and sales team, because of the ability to analyze marketing campaign effectiveness and influence and share this success via dashboards and reports.

2. More out of one of the organizations most valuable assets, the contact database, by reinvigorating leads that are already known.  This will be done with lead recycling, remessaging, and highly personalized and segmented offers.  This also includes nurturing programs to grow and enhance relationships with current customers, helping make them more profitable.

3. Marketers able to score and nurture leads on activities outside of emails and the company website.  This includes social media networks, partner sites, blogs, and more.   This social marketing automation will not replace the current efforts of those already using marketing automation, but will enhance programs, improving results and creating a better understanding of the return that can be achieved through social media marketing.

Matthew Quinlan, VP Field Operations, Loopfuse (@mattquinlan)

Determining leadsource efficiency and reallocating the limited leadgen budget dollars to the most efficient sources. (Google adwords, banner ads on sites A/B/C, purchasing prequalified leads from companies like Tippit, purchasing email lists from vendor A/B/C, event sponsorships A/B/C, etc.)

Designing more sophisticated (non-linear) marketing programs that are more adaptive to the user’s behaviors along the way. (Regardless of what you may have seen, every program DOES NOT have to begin with an outbound email).

Focus within social media. New social media channels are appearing weekly and while they may not have hard costs, targeting a channel like Twitter effectively takes time and effort. Measuring the impact of each channel will allow you to pick/choose the key channels to focus upon.

David Raab, Raab Associates & Author, Raab Guide to Demand Generation Systems (@draab)

As to the coming year, we’ll certainly see continued deployment of tools to market through social media and to give salespeople access to marketing automation data. I also think we’ll see more sophisticated reporting on marketing results, in particular a better job of connecting actual sales (via opportunities) to campaigns. I’d like to think we’ll see greater recognition of the importance of testing, but that could be wishful thinking on my part. One particular area I think is ripe for greater attention is really dealing with the need for more precisely targeted content. Many marketers find the volume of content they need to create is a stumbling block for better marketing automation; at the same time, they also lack ways to determine which content should be sent to particular people in particular circumstances. I think there is a common automated solution to both these problems that involves breaking content into snippets and delivering the right snippet at the right moment. I haven’t seen anyone actually address this in quite those terms, but it seems like a solution to a very pressing problem.

Mike Volpe, VP of Inbound Marketing, Hubspot (@mvolpe)

2010 will be the year of inbound marketing for two reasons.

First, the euphoria of social media marketing will turn into a hangover, followed by the epiphany that social media is just one tool, and the path to success is paved with a comprehensive inbound marketing strategy, not using one tool.

Second, marketers will realize that only automating the bottom of their funnel through lead nurturing does nothing to grow the top of the funnel, and to maintain a healthy long term pipeline, they need a complete inbound marketing strategy to attract more leads to their company at a low cost.

Steve Woods, CTO, Eloqua (@stevewoods)

2010 will bring interesting challenges to marketers. First, there will be a continuation of the expansion in the number of “touches” that a prospect has prior to closing – with many of those touches via social media channels. With this, there will be a deepening of the realization that assigning the revenue to the last touch only is not just incorrect, but very misleading. With that, 2010 will bring an increased focus on understanding influence, and attributing revenue, across all touches in the marketing process.

Secondly, the content we create will begin to change significantly. As social media approaches push marketers to be more engaged and less broadcasters, we will be pushed to re-tool to create more content, less “polished” than previously, but more interesting and shareable. With this, subject matter experts will have to be more involved in the content creation process as the high level messaging will no longer be sufficient.

The third challenge we will face in 2010 as marketers will be skills based. As marketing engages deeper in the buying funnel, contributing significantly to the overall lifecycle of a lead, marketers will be required to structure their thinking in terms of business process flows. The data, timing, exceptions, and dispositions of scoring a lead, handing the lead to sales, and having sales act on that lead will require a deeper understanding of data, process, and automation than we in marketing have historically been called on to have.

2010 will be a true turning point year as the change in our buyers’ buying processes has become so profound that we can no longer engage with them in an old way. The challenges and opportunities are there for us, and those who tackle them will see 2010 as a year of significant successes.

Fred Yee, CEO, ActiveConversion (@ActiveConv)

As one of the earlier vendors in this space, we’ve seen many changes (new vendors come in, some go dormant or never get traction), and predictions (eg when SFDC provides MA, what will happen to you?) and thus our thoughts for the new year are somewhat pragmatic. Here are the ones we think will stand out:

1. Sales will be more engaged in MA leading to more buy-in by the rest of the company
2. Social media will be seen as important but not the be all in marketing – and needs to be incorporated
3. These products will extend to complex sales cycles in B2C – and to other markets around the world
4. What matters in the end is pipeline and revenue – senior management doesn’t care how you do it.

The industry is far from being mature, with many potential customers still learning about MA. And the feature list is endless due to the new integration possibilities provided by SaaS every day. 2010 promises to be very exciting, yet volatile due to ongoing changes. We hope it’s the year that the hype diminishes, as it hurts the industry and the customers.