Tag Archives: marketing automation

B2B Marketing Automation Twitter Contest

Genius.com 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 site:twitter.com/username”.

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

Genius Marketing Automation Blog Posts

Some of you may know that I’ve been a guest blogger at Genius.com 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 Genius.com 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, Genius.com (@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. Genius.com’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.

How Are CRM and Marketing Automation Different?

Last week I presented a session at Silverpop’s B2B Marketing University in Atlanta. In addition to Marketing Automation, there were two big topics: Social Media and CRM. I will write about Social Media some other time, and focus on CRM in this post.

Many attendees were confused by CRM vendors claiming to offer full marketing functionality. If that’s true, why would you still need Marketing Automation? So let’s dig in and find how Marketing Automation and CRM are different.

Strong Features of CRM

In my presentation I tried to shed some light on the strong points of either system. For CRM, I focused on Salesforce.com. This was the list with strong points for a CRM system (compared to Marketing Automation):



Opportunity creation






Call logging



Individual emails



Products & Pricing



Document library



Case Management






So in short, those are the features that individual sales people will benefit from. Marketing Automation also has some features for sales people, but those tend to be focused on lead prioritization, email, and prospect activity notifications.

Strong Features of Marketing Automation

I made a similar list for Marketing Automation:



Native Email Marketing



Drip Email Marketing



Automated Campaigns Flows



Dynamic List Segmentation



Web Analytics






Profile-based Lead Scoring



Behavioral Lead Scoring



One Type of Contact (vs Lead & Contact)



Form Builder



Landing Page Builder



Today’s CRM Systems Do Not Help Marketing

My conclusion is that the typical CRM system does not have strong marketing functionality. At the same time, a CRM system is a necessity to support an efficient sales force. So your company will need both. Luckily, all Marketing Automation systems can be connected to Salesforce.com and often also to other CRM systems.

In a earlier post I wrote about an project to use Salesforce.com instead of a Marketing Automation system: the conclusion was that you need a whole range of add-ons to make it work, sort-of. In the long run, CRM systems may offer more marketing features, but today you still need a separate Marketing Automation system.

What is your take? What is the key difference between Marketing Automation and CRM?

Why Are Marketing Automation Managers So Hard to Find?

Even though some vendors have been around for almost 10 years, Marketing Automation is still relatively new. According to Forrester, only 2-5% of B2B firms have invested in full-featured Marketing Automation. But that percentage is rapidly growing. Increasingly, B2B companies realize that Marketing Automation software requires skilled operators. But – if you decide to hire a Marketing Automation manager – what should you look for, and where do you find them?

Note: if you’re looking for a Marketing Automation job, check out the positions below…

Inspiration: Web Analytics 5 Years Ago

New technology requires people with a new set of skills, nothing new about that. The situation with Marketing Automation reminds me most of Web Analytics. In the early days, Web Analytics was touted as the tool that has all the answers. But as Web Analytics guru Avinash Kaushik described, the 10/90 rule applied: for every dollar you spend on a tool, you need to spend 9 dollars on analysts to get the most out of the tool.

If you believe in the 10/90 perspective, it’s suddenly much more important to hire the right people. Avinash has great advice for that in his Signs You Are a Great Analyst blog post. But that’s for web analysts. Let’s try to get a similar list for Marketing Automation managers.

Marketing Automation Jobs

Marketing Automation is really just starting. There are relatively few specialists today. But I see more an more job descriptions for Marketing Automation Managers appear. These are some recent jobs:

When I talk to the hiring managers, they often tell me it’s hard to find suitable candidates, because very few people have all required skills. So let’s first take a look at which skills are typically required, inspired by the job profiles above.

Marketing Automation Job Requirements

First of all, in most cases the person is responsible for lead generation, lead nurturing and lead scoring. These are common job requirements:

Experience with:

  • Marketing Automation software
  • Sales Force Automation software (primarily Salesforce.com)
  • Database management (segmentation, reporting and maintenance)
  • Email Marketing
  • List acquisition and import
  • Website management and basic HTML
  • Organic and paid search campaigns
  • Data analysis, reporting and business intelligence
  • Optimization & A/B testing, Continuous improvement

Required skills:

  • Analytical and metrics-focused, Excel skills
  • Technically savvy, comfortable with software applications
  • Understanding of business needs (incl. sales & marketing processes)
  • Good communicator, and ability to communicate with a non-technical audience

That sounds pretty challenging to me!

Challenge 1: Analytical Skills Required

Of your high school or college friends, how many were into mathematics and statistics? It my class it was a minority. And that’s just the minority that we need as Marketing Automation managers: people who are good with numbers and heroes with pivot tables. And ideally they’re also good with software applications and can do a little bit of HTML coding.

Challenge 2: Marketing & Sales Skills Required

These analytical skills need to be applied to solve business problems. A thorough understanding of sales & marketing processes is required. This is especially important because sales & marketing collaboration is often a bottleneck when implementing Marketing Automation. The marketing automation manager should just as easily talk to a sales person as to a web developer.

Challenge 3: Experience With 10+ Systems Required

And last but not least: it would be great if the marketing automation manager has experience with the systems that are used in marketing. In addition to a marketing automation systems, these are usually CRM systems, content management systems, pay-per-click systems and reporting applications. And this is not just familiarity with the tools, but also experience with the most common tasks like data acquisition, import, cleanup, testing and reporting.

My Conclusion: Learn From Management Consulting

Today, there are simply not enough people with the right skills and experience. My suggestions is to look at how strategy consultants like McKinsey have solved this problem. Hire associates just out of college, pay them well, coach them, let them work really hard and they grow into experienced Marketing Automation managers within a couple of years. Problem solved?

What is your take? How do we find enough people to support the Marketing Automation revolution?

8 Tips to Get Started with Marketing Automation

“Where do I start?” is the question I get asked most by attendees of the MarketingSherpa B2B Marketing Summit in San Francisco. Marketing Automation is still very new for many companies, and it’s not immediately obvious how you can get started step-by-step. In this post I listed 8 ideas to address this question (and feel free to share yours in the comments!).

Choose Your Products and/or Business Unit

If you start doing marketing automation or lead nurturing, first focus on the most attractive subset of your prospects. For example, focus on a particular product or market segment with a high value. SAGE Publications, one of the presenters at the conference, has many business units with different marketing needs. They first focused their marketing automation efforts on academics who pick the text books for their classes, because winning over one teacher could mean selling hundreds of text books.

Make Sure You Have Enough Leads

An often made mistake is to nurture too small a database. If your problem is lack of raw leads, first address that problem. Genoo, another presenter, used Social Media to fill their prospect database, primarily leveraging LinkedIn Groups and LinkedIn Answers.

Set Your Goals

What is going to make your boss really happy? Is it more qualified leads, a higher percentage of marketing-sourced opportunities, better ROI on marketing investment, customer loyalty, or something else? Pick the most important one and make sure you deliver. The presentation of Ness Technologies clearly pointed out that the CFO can spend money in many ways: make sure you can justify the CFO’s investment in marketing.

Describe Your Lead Flow

Leads go through various stages, from new leads to existing customers. In each stage the follow-up may be different. Find out in which stage marketing can contribute most in the short term. Tom Hayden from SAGE Publications created a flowchart that guided discussions in the entire organization, from the sales teams to the CEO. It was used to gain consensus and set the right priorities.

Improve Your Data Quality

Marketing automation only works if you clean up junk leads, merge all duplicates, normalize company names, and verify all contact information. Additionally, enriching the data with the prospect’s interests makes it possible to better target your campaigns. National Instruments, another presenter at the MarketingSherpa conference, used website behavior to enrich the prospect profile and personalize lead nurturing campaigns.

Create Some Good Content

The key ingredient for lead nurturing is high-quality content, not about your solution itself, but about the broader issues that it addresses. Although more content is better, you can already start nurturing with a few pieces of good content. For example, Ness Technologies used 3 well-chosen content assets to run an entire campaign.

Make Sales Happy Quickly

Improved marketing will drive better-quality leads to sales, but it takes time and trial-and-error to get there. Create some goodwill by giving sales some quick results, for example a tool that alerts them when prospects visit the website. Or give them more background information on prospects: how did they find the website, which pages did they visit, what whitepapers did they download, and so on.

Don’t Worry About Failure

Okay, this may sound a little strange, but failure is not a big issue in online marketing. Just recognize it and change course and soon as possible. You can measure results fairly quickly, so use this information to learn as you go.

MarketingSherpa B2B Summit Comes Recommended

What impressed me about this conference is how well the speakers were selected. In this post I’ve only mentioned a couple of speakers, but all speakers brought up very relevant issues, and creative solutions to common marketing problems. If you’ve missed this conference, you can still attend the B2B Marketing Summit in Boston on October 5 and 6.

I’d love to hear your tips to get started with marketing automation: please let me know in the comments.

9 Marketing Automation Metrics

Marketing Automation is on its way to the peak of the hype cycle. People start adopting software because it’s cool, not because they know what to do with it. The result: inflated expectations.

hype cycle

However, there are a couple of B2B Marketing experts who understand how to avoid inflated expectations. One of them is Megan Heuer of SiriusDecisions. Together with Craig Rosenberg (aka The Funnelholic) of Tippit she presented a webinar called The 9 Metrics Every Marketer Must Track. This webinar shows how to focus on the correct metrics rather than on gimmicks.

My recommendation: use your Marketing Automation project to improve these 9 metrics and you have a good chance of avoiding disillusionment (and pleasing your CEO).

Key Performance Indicators

Some long-standing VPs of Marketing seem the best marketers of their own performance: by staying vague about results and telling a good story they can hold on to their jobs for quite a while. However, the truly effective VPs of Marketing promote transparency and have an intense focus on improving the few metrics that matter. The strongest metrics show how marketing contributes to bottom-line revenue.

In the webinar, Megan mentions the following key performance indicators:

  1. marketing sourced pipeline
  2. marketing influenced pipeline
  3. investment-to-pipeline
  4. investment-to-revenue

The first two focus on the influence of marketing on the sales pipeline, and the last two give an indication of the ROI. Obviously, #4 (investment to revenue) is also dependent on the performance of the sales team (whether they are effective in closing deals). You can watch the webinar to get benchmark figures for these KPIs.

Key Metrics

Updates to the KPIs from the previous paragraph take some time to show up, because inquiries first need to turn into opportunities. Megan suggests 5 metrics to keep an eye on this process. These metrics are starting to get broader adoption, so I encourage everyone to standardize on these stages:

  1. Measure Inquiries
  2. Marketing-qualified leads (MQL), definition should be established together with sales
  3. sales accepted leads (SAL), formally accepted by sales
  4. sales qualified leads (SQL), evolved into an opportunity
  5. closed/won business

An inquiry could be any new lead, also someone who dropped off his business card at a tradeshow, or a download of a whitepaper. An MQL is also called a sales-ready lead. Usually some kind of Lead Scoring is used to determine whether a lead is ready to be passed on to sales. For more details and benchmarks, watch the webinar.

The cool thing about these metrics is that you can update them more frequently, so you know immediately whether you are on the right track. This is your Lead Management Thermometer!

How Does Marketing Automation Fit Into This?

Marketing Automation is a tool. It’s supposed to improve business results. In my previous post, I suggested to look only at increased revenue to measure success of Marketing Automation. These metrics are a great way to see if you’re on track.

More practical: how does Marketing Automation influence these metrics? Just some examples: continued lead nurturing turns more inquiries into sales-ready leads; lead scoring shows when leads are sales-ready; lead scoring gives quick feedback on the quality of various lead generation programs. But ultimately, the features of the Marketing Automation are only valuable when they are used well, and improve the above-mentioned metrics.

What is your favorite Marketing Automation metrics? Let me know in a comment…

Marketing Automation ROI: Efficiency or Revenue?

As a response to my posts 7 Reasons Why Marketing Automation Projects Fail and Marketing Automation ROI, several people mentioned that the benefits of Marketing Automation are not just increased sales. They are also increased efficiency. That made me think: aren’t benefits either cost savings, or increased revenue?

Marketing Automation Increases Revenue

The key marketing performance indicators suggested by SiriusDecisions are all related to revenue:

  • Marketing sourced pipeline
  • Marketing influenced pipeline
  • Investment-to-pipeline
  • Investment-to-revenue

I believe there is a good reason for this: costs savings with Marketing Automation are marginal. The project itself will cost a fair amount of money, both for software as well as for expertise (either hiring an in-house expert, or hiring a marketing automation consultant). Will you save more than you’ve spent? I feel increased revenue is where the real benefits are. But let’s first take a look at efficiency and cost savings.

Marketing Automation & Efficiency

Especially large organizations often talk about efficiency increases as a result of marketing automation. Efficiency in itself is nice, but it’s hard to quantify: will it increase the quality of the work? How does quality impact the bottom line? Is productivity improved? Are there costs savings? Please explain to me the real and measurable benefit of efficiency gains.

Marketing Automation & Cost Savings

Cost savings may be the main result of efficiency gains. However, I don’t think that a marketing automation initiative has ever resulted in significant cost savings. The reason is: the large majority of marketing cost is people, and I have never heard of people being let go because marketing automation software eliminated their job. Maybe spending on lead generation can be better directed, so unprofitable programs can be cut. But in most large organizations there is a budget that needs to be spent: so if you cut on one program, you will spend more on another: more revenue, but no cost savings.

Where Do the Revenue Increases Come From?

That’s a valid question. I suggest three areas:

  1. More cost-effective lead generation
  2. Better conversion rates with lead nurturing
  3. More efficient sales force

Lead Generation: with close loop measurements, you can easily see the effectiveness of each lead generation campaign. One of the best examples is in Marketo’s “Secret Sauce” webinar. You improve your investment-to-pipeline ratio by focusing on the most cost-effective lead generation sources.

Lead Nurturing fixes funnel leakage. If you don’t properly nurture early-stage prospects, they will probably buy from a competitor. If you can increase conversion rates from inquiry to marketing qualified lead to sales-accepted lead, you get more marketing-sourced opportunities.

If sales receives better qualified and better educated leads, they can focus on the most promising opportunities. There are statistics that more sales people make their target if marketing automation does a good job nurturing and qualifying leads (I couldn’t find the source, if you know who published this research, please leave a comment).


So my conclusion is that the only metric that matters for Marketing Automation is increased revenue. I don’t claim that there can’t be any cost savings at all, just that they will be negligible compared to the increased revenue. I realize this is a fairly black-and-white statement, so please let me know what you think.

7 Reasons Why Marketing Automation Projects Fail

Needless to say, Marketing Automation software is very popular today. It can be used for email campaigns, drip marketing, lead nurturing, lead scoring, landing page management and for brewing coffee. It is often positioned as something that will solve all your marketing problems for a couple of thousand dollars per month. Okay, I made up the part about brewing coffee.

In reality, Marketing Automation can help you automate existing campaigns, and also create new campaigns that would not be possible without automation. But there are limitations to what Marketing Automation can do, and I’d like to mention 7 possible reasons for project failure. And please share your Marketing Automation “horror” scenarios in the comments below!

prepare for project failure

1. Unclear Prospect Profile(s)

Part of a good lead management process is knowing exactly who are involved in the sale. For best results, the website and nurturing campaigns need to be highly relevant for them. Also, lead scoring only works if you know who you want to target. If possible, create personas for all people involved in the buying process.

2. No Interesting Content

A marketing automation system is great for continuously running campaigns. In complex B2B sales situations you cannot rely on product-centric communications, nor on discounts (“this week 10% off!”). For each persona you need to have relevant content: whitepapers, blog posts, case studies, webinars, and so on. Even more: the content should match the phase in the buying process, from awareness to validation. If you currently don’t have interesting content, and you don’t have capacity to create lots of interesting content, then there is a big chance your project will fail.

3. Not Enough Leads

A Marketing Automation system does not generate inquiries (or “raw leads”). It develops inquiries into sales opportunities. So if you have few raw leads, you should solve that problem first. An exception is when you have a lot of customers, and want to use the Marketing Automation system to cross-sell and up-sell.

4. Sales & Marketing Don’t Get Along

One of the primary goals of Marketing Automation is to deliver better qualified leads to sales. However, if Sales doesn’t believe in the benefits of Marketing Automation, that can kill the project.

5. Lack of Expertise

“Ease-of-use” is big theme in Marketing Automation selection. Several vendors claim to have self-service solutions that does not require IT involvement. The fact that no IT is involved doesn’t mean that you don’t need expertise. Getting the most out of a Marketing Automation system is hard, and if you don’t have people on your staff who’ve done it before, you may want to hire some expertise to avoid failure or unmet expectations.

6. Bad Business Model

A lot of startups and high-growth companies are using Marketing Automation to help them grow faster. However, if growth has stalled because you’re selling the wrong products to the wrong people, Marketing Automation will not help. You will just try harder, and still not sell anything.

7. Selling Simple Products

Marketing Automation is ideal for long sales cycles involving many different people. If you sell low-priced widgets with a very short sales cycle, Marketing Automation won’t help you. You are better served with B2C merchandising tools.

Have You Seen Marketing Automation Failures?

First of all, I think Marketing Automation software has great promise. But I hope we can avoid the same disillusionment phase that CRM went through. So if you have any advice or suggestions, please leave a comment.

Demand Generation Blogs Continued

In the spirit of Twitter’s Follow Friday I’d like to finally publish the remaining Demand Generation blogs that I enjoy reading. Earlier I published the Top 10 Demand Generation vendor blogs and the Top 10 Marketing Automation Blogs.

Of course, there were many great blogs that I forgot to include, so here are the remaining ones!

  • B2B Marketing Zone
    This is more of a meta-blog, aggregating a large number of B2B blogs, including this blog. I’ve discovered several new and interesting blogs on the B2B Marketing Zone, so highly recommended.
  • DemandGen Report
    This is an leading online magazine for Marketing Automaton, which features vendor information, news articles a job board and more.
  • Rebekah Donaldson’s “Red on Marketing”
    Rebekah and her team write about demand generation, with lots of good articles on content marketing and social media.
  • Brenda Gelston’ Marketing Momentum blog
    This blog provides a strategic perspective on the demand generation process.
  • Gary Katz, Marketing Operations at Work
    Gary is one of the forces behind promoting marketing operations as a important specialty, and on his blog he writes about this.
  • Ken Molay, Webinar Blog
    Demand generation is not complete without covering Webinars, one of the key lead generation programs. Ken’s blog full of useful webinar ideas.
  • Net-Results blog
    This is one of the newer vendors in the Demand Generation market, focused on the SMB market.
  • Jeff Ogden’s Fearless Competitor blog
    Jeff specializes in helping companies find new customers, he wrote a great e-book about that, and blogs about Demand Generation, primarily from a Sales perspective
  • Upshot Institute
    This is a resource website with information on marketing automation vendors, podcasts, webinars and blogs.

I hope you found some interesting new blogs in this list. And again, if you have any blog recommendations, please let me know: I’m looking forward to discover new thought leaders.

UPDATE: I’ve now put all marketing automation blogs on a single page.