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Vendor Selection: A 5-step process for choosing a marketing automation solution or agency

February 3rd, 2015
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How do you move 18 to 20 segments of customers through the learning process of a complex sale? Mitch Zlotnik, President, and Seth Pauley, Vice President, both of Audimute Acoustic Panels, used marketing automation to educate customers with content on a large buying decision.

To learn the process they used to find the right marketing automation solution and agency to help create this low-touch ecommerce operation, I interviewed Mitch and Seth.

“We’ve been rapidly growing for the last eight years. We’ve found a good partner selection helps you grow your business. A poor selection extracts resources from your business, creates problems that hinder growth,” Seth said.

 

Mitch and Seth discussed their “Five Q” Technology or Agency Selection Process:

  • Qualified (at 3:39 and 7:40 in the video interview)
  • Quantified (at 5:52)
  • Quick (at 5:05)
  • Quill (at 8:30)
  • Quality (at 8:39)

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Marketing Automation: Lessons from 4 case studies

December 1st, 2014
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Originally published on B2B LeadBlog

Marketing automation technology has become an indispensable tool in the complex sale marketer’s arsenal. Lead generation, lead nurturing and determining the time for the handoff to Sales would be extremely difficult without that technology. Add lead scoring and tracking through that final conversion to sale and the task is flat out impossible without automation.

Luckily, for B2B marketers there is a wide range of marketing automation options out there from relatively simple solutions that help streamline email marketing to full-blown packages that seem like they do everything but automate the lights and thermostat at the office.

To help illustrate how some of your peers are utilizing marketing automation, in this B2B Lead Roundtable Blog post, I’m sharing four MarketingSherpa case studies that cover everything from how automation improved lead gen to how that tech directly impacted the bottom line.

 

Case Study #1 — Marketing Automation: 200% increase in lead volume for software company after implementation

SmartBear Software, a B2B cloud mobile software company, was rapidly growing and decided to implement CRM software and marketing automation software as a single process to ensure the two technology pieces would be easily integrated.

When choosing the automation vendor, Keith Lincoln, Vice President of Marketing, SmartBear, said three main criteria were considered:

  • Ease of use
  • Scalability
  • Integration with the new CRM system

Once an automation vendor was chosen, the team decided to bring in an outside consultant to expedite the implementation. Keith said this consultant helped speed up the learning curve through training and was able to get the automation solution up and running within a five-day workweek.

Automation in place, the team started slow with a few email campaigns, faced some internal challenges, but then quickly began to implement lead nurturing to handle a high volume of leads in different product groups. Lincoln said the automation solution was even integrated with SmartBear’s webinar platform.

Results? Lead volume grew 200%, 80% of global leads were generated with automated trial downloads, and 85% of SmartBear’s revenue was generated by the trial download leads.

 

Case Study #2 — Lead Generation: Revamped marketing automation and CRM technology drives 75% more leads

In this case study, Managed Maintenance Inc. (MMI), a provider of management services for technology assets, faced a different problem than SmartBear from the case study above.

Where SmartBear implemented automation and a CRM solution together to ensure those pieces were integrated, MMI had marketing automation and a CRM in place, but the two were siloed and weren’t synched — Marketing’s and Sales’ activities and data were completely separate.

The solution was to audit the current technology setup, and it was determined that MMI needed to replace both the automation and CRM tools together and, similar to SmartBear, implement the new software pieces together to ensure they would be integrated.

Once that occurred, Marketing at MMI was able to begin lead scoring and lead nurturing, and maybe even more importantly in terms of company culture, Sales and Marketing became more aligned because the new technology implementation allowed visibility from lead gen to conversion to sale for everyone involved in the whole pipeline.

After completely revamping marketing automation and CRM technology at MMI, lead generation was up 75% over the previous year.

 

Case Study #3 — Marketing Automation: Implementation drives $550,000 in net new revenue at Crain’s

Crain’s Business Insurance is a trade publication that faced the challenge all publications are undergoing right now with declining advertising revenue, but at the same time, its industry customers began buying up-front research and content.

Because the company has reporters with more than 300 years of combined writing and editorial experience, it was positioned to take advantage of this opportunity.

In order to do so, Crain’s implemented marketing automation, revamped and integrated its databases. The company had three databases: print subscribers, online registrants and the newly created marketing automation database — and integrated its content creation process into the marketing automation system.

Integrating content creation into the automation solution meant creating content categories and segmenting the database into those different groups to align content creation with certain reader segments.

From there, Crain’s implemented lead scoring, and even utilized analytics coming from marketing automation to influence the ongoing marketing strategy.

This campaign led to:

  • Nearly $550,000 in brand-new advertising revenue for demand generation services
  • A 43% increase in registered online newsletter subscribers
  • A 2% increase in paid print subscribers
  • Conversion rate of 2.6% from anonymous website visitors

 

Case Study #4 — Marketing Automation: IT company boosts leads 59%, generates $1.5 million with system implementation

This case study combines a dramatic lift in lead gen along with an impressive impact on the bottom line after CentricsIT, at data center solutions provider, implemented marketing automation.

Mandy Hauck, Manager of Marketing Communications, CentricsIT, was the company’s first marketing employee, and walked into what could be called a fairly unsophisticated marketing strategy largely consisting of email blasts.

Her background was email marketing, but early on she reached out to marketing automation vendor based on a coworker’s connection with that vendor’s CEO.

After a call with the vendor’s sales rep, Mandy knew she wanted to implement automation at CentricsIT and conducted internal marketing to get both Sales and company leadership buy-in.

Part of this process included attending a conference on the automation solution in place and learning ways to get Sales involved in planning how automation would be used at CentricsIT.

Before automation, the company didn’t have a refined method of tracking its leads or nurturing them. Leads were thrown into Mandy’s inbox for her to manually forward to Sales. After implementation, leads were automatically directed from landing pages to sales reps. In the first year of marketing automation at CentricsIT, lead gen increased 59% and $1.5 million in revenue was directly attributed to the new technology

 

For even more value

Hopefully you have found something of interest that might help your marketing automation implementation, optimization or pain points.

The title of each of these summaries links to the full MarketingSherpa B2B Newsletter article with detailed steps and creative samples, so if any of the case studies shared in this post grabbed you, do click through so you can get the full value of the information and campaigns your marketing peers shared with us.

 

You might also like

B2B Marketing: 7 tactics for implementing marketing automation from a fellow brand-side marketer [More from the blogs]

B2B Marketing: 5 privacy factors to consider when using marketing automation [MarketingSherpa how-to]

B2B Email Marketing: How a publishing company used marketing automation to increase CTR 1,112% [MarketingSherpa case study]

Marketing Automation: 25% more engagement, 0% unsubscribe in 4-email series [MarketingSherpa case study]

Marketing Automation and SMBs – an Overview

November 10th, 2014
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Originally published on B2B LeadBlog

Before my current role as manager of editorial content, I was the senior reporter for MarketingSherpa. As such, I interviewed hundreds of great marketers and industry thought leaders for case studies and how-to articles. I’m still writing some case studies, but not nearly at the pace I did for over four years.

Because of that past, it is fun to have the tables turned on me, and a few weeks ago I agreed to be interviewed on the topic of marketing automation and small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs).

The interview covered a range of ideas within that topic area and I wanted to share some of my extended answers with the B2B Lead Roundtable Blog audience.

 

Why marketing automation software is relevant to SMBs

A major factor is how marketing automation can help optimize the SMB marketers time. The marketing department at an SMB is typically small just based on the size of the business, but at the same time the customer base – the database – can still be very large and automation software can help with activities such as lead nurturing.

If you think about an enterprise-level company, automation is almost a requirement to augment the CRM software. There’s just too many records in the database to handle this world of highly segmented and personalized marketing any other way.

For the SMB marketer, let’s say you have a one-person staff. I’ve spoken with many marketers doing great stuff with only one person. Maybe you have one, two, three people on your staff. You want to maximize their activities.

They are doing creative things instead of some of the grunt-work associated with handling email campaigns and the like. Automation does a lot of things under the hood that you just physically can’t do even if you wanted to.

 

How the disconnect between Sales and Marketing can be alleviated with technology

For this section, I’m going to reprint part of my original answer during the interview:

I think I’ll provide an interesting answer for you. The first part is Sales and Marketing alignment is a challenge. I’m hearing more success stories which is awesome. The technology is bringing people together because, if nothing else, Sales instead of getting more leads, they’re getting more qualified leads. Technology helps out on that end.

I think Sales and Marketing should be in alignment anywhere. Every time they’re in a silo, it never helps the company for those two pieces to be adversarial or siloed at all. If they’re working together, it’s always going to be better.

The change is, if anybody’s been reading a lot of industry stuff is the CMO is taking over the CIO and CTO, in the C-suite. Very interesting.

If you think back six or seven years ago, if you told the CMO they were actually going to have a seat at the table and not be the voodoo doll at the end of the table that it was a black hole for the budget and no one paid attention to, they would laugh at you.

Now, because of all the technology and different pieces, and the fact that they’re buying this technology and they’re handling this technology, and the data that’s coming in — now marketing activities are no longer a black hole. Now they’re trackable. Now there’s ROI that can be attached to it. Now all of the sudden, CMOs are surpassing and taking over the role of the CIO because they’re buying the technology and telling the CIO, now you make this work for me.

I think the actual alignment issue now is between marketing and the IT department. I would like to Marketing and Sales as a team become aligned with the IT department, but given where we are, and just the direction things are going, if you look at various pieces of research of some of the bigger research firms, that’s the direction that things are going.

I read articles every single day about the CMO and the CIO need to get together. They’re not getting together because of this. I think the bigger challenge now is for Marketing and IT to be in alignment, and obviously technology is that piece there.

I think technology helps get Marketing and Sales in alignment, but technology is the reason that marketing and IT have to get into alignment. If they don’t, it just makes things a lot harder for everybody.

 

Creating a culture that allows for marketing automation implementation at an SMB

This goes back to some of that Marketing-IT alignment.

Within marketing, the case for implementing automation should be fairly obvious – “This is going to make our world easier. We’re going to have to learn how to use it. We’ve got an initial training going on, but in the long term, it’s going to make our lives easier.”

Automation is going to allow the team to track its activities, and hopefully begin handing Sales a higher quality of lead, rather than a higher quantity of leads. The internal sales job to Sales should be just as easy with the quality of leads argument in place.

When getting buy-in from the company C-suite or leadership, the IT department can be your worst enemy or your best friend. By fostering an aligned relationship with them, they can advocate the that internal sell.

You want them to be part of this process, one, because they’ve written those contracts. They’re going to see the pitfalls before the marketer does. They know this is a really nice SLA on this contract. The agreement looks good, but IT will see a loophole that might not be obvious to a marketer. IT will know if the new tech piece will actually integrate with the current set of systems already in place.

I think having IT on board with an automation implementation gives a lot of credibility across the board when creating a culture from leadership down to the sales team.

You might also like

Industry Insights with David Kirkpatrick [Original interview from the SalesFusion blog]

Marketing Automation: 200% increase in lead volume [MarketingSherpa webinar replay]

Lead Generation: Revamped marketing automation and CRM technology drives 75% more leads [MarketingSherpa case study]

B2B Marketing: 7 tactics for implementing marketing automation from a fellow brand-side marketer [More from the blogs]

Marketing Automation: Moving past a batch-and-blast email strategy

May 30th, 2014
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“The most important step was just starting,” Byron O’Dell, Senior Director, Demand Management, IHS, said.

At MarketingSherpa Email Summit 2014, MarketingSherpa Reporter Allison Banko held a brief interview with Byron on how building customer personas is key to transforming your email marketing program.

Byron took the stage at Email Summit to present his case study, “Marketing Automation: Key challenges a global information company overcame to transform from batch-and-blast to persona-driven email marketing.”

 

In this interview in the Email Summit Media Center, Byron stressed the importance of not overly focusing on perfection at the expense of getting started on building customer profiles.

“If you wait to try to make things perfect before you begin, you’re going to miss out on all that opportunity where you could have been seeing a result,” Byron said.

 

Getting the right content to the right people

Building your customer profiles also helps you overcome the challenge of delivering relevant content to them, as Byron shared in this brief excerpt of his Email Summit session below.

 

One suggestion Byron shared was geared toward helping you deliver targeted content and rests in understanding how technology will impact the delivery to your personas across a larger multi-touch nurturing strategy.

“Don’t mistake having a marketing automation platform for having a process,” Byron explained.

You can view Byron’s full presentation along with 14 other valuable sessions from Email Summit 2014 to learn more transferable insights from marketers who are discovering what works.

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Trigger Happy: Why emails are the magic bullets of marketing automation and shopping cart recovery

January 10th, 2012
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Triggered emails are rarely discussed as a standalone tactic. Buzzwords like “marketing automation” and “shopping cart recovery” are everywhere, but the automated messages behind them seem to be taken for granted.

After 2011, I am no longer taking triggered emails for granted. I interviewed scores of marketers that used them to achieve fantastic results by:

Through these and many similar campaigns, I have noticed that triggered messages have tremendously higher engagement rates than most other emails. Why is that?

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B2B Marketing: 7 tactics for implementing marketing automation from a fellow brand-side marketer

December 15th, 2011
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In the B2B marketer’s toolbox, marketing automation software is more like industrial equipment than a simple screwdriver. It’s a capital investment, and it does some serious heavy lifting.

There are many automation vendors out there with a wide range of price points and features to fit the needs of marketers of all size of prospect list and complexity of sale. One thing that remains the same across all these options is there are some key elements to fitting marketing automation into any sales cycle that every marketer should keep in mind.

Jason Striker, Digital Marketing Manager, ICM Document Solutions, presented “Marketing Automation for Misers – Strategies for implementing an effective automation program on a tight budget” to the audience at the recent MarketingSherpa B2B Summit 2011 in San Francisco, and he offered a solid blueprint for doing just that for marketers with any budget size .

Here are seven tactics Jason gave our Summit attendees that I’d like to share with you:

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Consumer Marketing: Implementing marketing automation at a B2C company

August 4th, 2011
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When you think of marketing automation software, you likely think about B2B companies with those long sales cycles, and extensive lead nurturing and scoring to help move prospects through the pipeline. Because at B2C companies the distance from prospective customer to paying customer can be so short, realistically, marketing automation isn’t a necessary tool for many consumer marketers.

And just because marketing automation isn’t a great fit for many B2Cs, it certainly deserves more attention at any company with a longer sales process. Read more…

Justifying Marketing Automation Systems: a seriously practical and helpful article

May 30th, 2002
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I love marketing articles that are seriously practical and helpful. Here’s a link to a new one from Kristin Zhivago entitled, Justifying Marketing Automation Systems. It details out how much money you can expect to save from various types of marketing-related software and ASPs, and includes rules of thumb plus step-by-step instructions for you to figure out how much you’ll save. I wish this article had come out before budgeting season, but hey beggars can’t be choosers.

Email Marketing: 3 resources to help you close the automation gap

December 20th, 2013
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Some marketers have noticed that when it comes to using triggered emails, there’s an interesting gap in the perception of automation in terms of “how things should be” and “how things really are.”

Most marketers use automated triggered emails for nurturing early stage buyers, which leaves overlooked opportunities to use automated emails to strengthen existing customer relationships or to win back the hearts and minds of recently lost customers.

In today’s MarketingSherpa Blog post, you’ll find three resources you can use to help your marketing team close the automation gap.

 

Commit to using automation to build stronger customer relationships

Most marketers in a custom or expensive e-commerce niche are typically not scouting for the impulse buys. Instead, their tactics tend to fall along the lines of supporting a longer sales cycle that requires a little more nurturing.

 

Indochino, a custom clothing company, decided to test an autoresponder send using hand-picked product suggestions in an attempt to build customer relationships using its email program.

 

Results: Indochino increased its revenue-per-email 540% in just the first test. To learn more about the campaign and the four-step process the team used to select targets and expand the program into other customer segments, check out the case study “E-commerce Marketing: 540% higher revenue-per-email for automated send.”

 

Customer behavior matters

For Jermaine Griggs, Founder, Hear and Play Music, communicating with customers through email messaging was a critical part of his marketing efforts. Here’s a short clip of the full presentation from MarketingSherpa Email Summit 2013.

 

During his presentation at Email Summit, Jermaine explained how he transitioned from using his CRM system as a “glorified autoresponder,” to a CRM system based on behavior and personalization for each customer’s unique needs.

Results: Jermaine was able to successfully increase the lifetime value of his customers by 416%. To learn more, you can also watch the entire on-demand replay of Jermaine’s session, “E-commerce: Harnessing the power of email automation and behavior-based marketing to increase conversions,” from Email Summit 2013.  

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Email Marketing: Segmentation, integration, automation and personal interaction

April 19th, 2013
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“Hey, look at me!” While strolling down the Las Vegas Strip during Email Summit 2013, I couldn’t help but notice all of the flashy signs, and individuals, trying to get my attention.

The challenge is equally difficult (although hopefully less gaudy) in the modern inbox, so in the MarketingSherpa 2013 Email Marketing Benchmark Report, we asked …

Q: Which of the following tactics is your organization using to improve the relevance and engagement of email content delivered to subscribers?

We asked your peers how they could use this data …

 

Segment email campaigns based on sales cycle

Stage-based marketing is the future. Breaking your marketing down to map to a consumer’s research cycle means understanding they will do research in multiple sessions, and at each session, be looking for different content. Best practice will suggest that you will need to engage with them in two or more different sessions, so you will need two or more stages.

Content needs to be short and targeted. Having a single large document is no longer best practice. Content should be targeted to each stage of the research cycle, and be easily consumed in under five pages.

– Mathew Sweezey, Marketing Evangelist, ExactTarget

 

How closely integrated are your sales and marketing departments?

I would have loved to see another question asked: How closely integrated are your sales and marketing departments? From my experience, those using segmentation and trigger-based emails are those who make sure that marketing and sales are closely aligned. A lot of the triggers “look” like they come from the sales team based on Web behavior with the ultimate objective to drive conversion, of course.

– April Wilson, Director of Analytic Products, RevSpring

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