Marketing automation systems perform several vital functions in the enterprise inbound marketing process. They facilitate the publication of content and enable tracking its consumption by visitors, subscribers and leads. They build and track demand generation campaigns. They make it easy to produce and track lead nurturing content and update the status of leads as they move through your sales funnel. The best marketing automation systems offer much more in the lead management arena (segmentation, scoring, intelligence, CRM integration) and assessment/analysis arena (channel analysis, campaign assessment, revenue performance management). Our process is designed to get the most out of your marketing automation investment.
Marketing Automation Solutions
We're not here to recommend a specific marketing automation software platform. There are many, but the top solutions were recently listed and evaluated by Sirius Decisions: Act-On, Aprimo, Eloqua, eTrigue, IBM Unica, LoopFuse, Marketo, Neolane, Pardot, Sales Engine International (formerly Manticore Technology), Silverpop and TreeHouse Interactive. HubSpot declined to participate in the survey, since the HubSpot platform is not simply a marketing automation solution - as Mike Volpe put it in his comment: "HubSpot is different from marketing automation and a comparison just does not make sense." We'll discuss these differences in a future post, but I think it's fair to say that HubSpot does have much of the functionality of the leading marketing automation platforms, but they also have integrated content marketing capabilities that most of the marketing automation solutions don't have. It will be interesting in the next 2-3 years to see how this marketplace shakes out, to put it mildly.
How We Approach Marketing Automation
I guess you could say we're "holistic" marketers. We don't believe in spamming large volumes of untargeted email addresses or any single tactic to generate and nurture leads. We do believe in data, and that's where marketing automation shows its true value. Every aspect of enterprise inbound marketing should be tracked and analyzed, from blogs and social media to email campaigns, PPC ads, direct mail, and personalized lead nurturing content. The point is, you don't know which strategy or channel will work best before you try it. You can't make good decisions without solid data and analytics. Marketing automation enables this kind of channel-based and campaign-based analysis. With that kind of information, you can adjust and optimize marketing budgets to use more of what works and less of what doesn't.
The other important thing marketing automation does is allow you to manage your leads better. By carefully crafting your content, calls to action, landing pages and lead nurturing campaigns, you can learn more about your leads, pre-qualify them for sales and assess their sales-readiness at any time. Lead segmentation allows you to categorize your leads by demographics, industry, role and much more. Using "smart lists" your leads classify themselves by their answers to form questions and content consumption patterns. Now you can reach out to those people through targeted campaigns, social media and personalization. Lead scoring allows you to get very specific about individual leads, monitoring their behavior and assessing their BANT characteristics prior to sale. CRM integration allows you to move qualified leads to your sales team at the right time with the right information based on the rules established through sales and marketing alignment. If you aren't putting these powerful techniques to good use, you are missing the real power of marketing automation.
We build a strategy and execute a plan that leverages every aspect of marketing automation:
- Integrate content marketing, demand generation and lead nurturing strategies
- Set criteria for lead scoring based on page and email interactions, form conversions and information provided via forms
- Set criteria for buy cycle (or lead lifecycle) status based on lead score and/or page interactions and form conversions
- Create workflows that automatically adjust lead score and buy cycle status based on established criteria
- Create workflows that automatically update segmented lists for lead nurturing communication based on buy cycle status and/or lead score
- Create workflows that automatically notify appropriate sales and marketing stakeholders for campaigns, regions, products and personas when selected lead status thresholds are met
- Manage marketing automation system integration of data with CRM so lead data is synchronized, enabling sales team to quickly follow up on hot leads and maintain updated lists of qualified leads. Also enables closed-loop feedback so unqualified leads are returned to lead nurturing.
- Comprehensive channel-based and campaign-based KPI measurement and analytics
Our best clients believe in data too. They want to see KPIs that help them to make decisions and drive revenue. In my next post, I will discuss these all important metrics and how we select and measure them.
With over 30 years of business and marketing experience, John loves to blog about ideas and trends that challenge inbound marketers and sales and marketing executives. John has a unique way of blending truth with sarcasm and passion with wit. Connect with John via Twitter, LinkedIn or Google Plus.