Category Archives: Marketing Automation

Marketing Automation – Is it right for manufacturing?

 

marketing automation for manufacturing

The decision to purchase a marketing automation platform/service (MAP) for your manufacturing marketing team is a big one.  Not only is it a big decision because of the monetary investment, it’s a big decision because of the typically large cultural change that may be necessary to support such a broadly invasive tool into your marketing team and your entire revenue generating functions.

There are many companies offering MAP services with price points from a couple of hundred dollars a month to several thousand dollars per month.  The price is usually driven by the size of the database, features and support plans.  One of the good things about these tools is that the pricing is usually posted on the websites for easy comparison.

Is it worth the investment?

When a B2B Marketer contemplates purchasing, implementing and integrating a MAP to their modern marketing tool kit, the concept is usually proposed to management with a supporting business case.   It’s fairly easy to show how MA should improve efficiency of the marketing team and increase sales, but it is very difficult to execute a plan that achieves these results.

My premise begs the question, “is MAP worth it?” and, of course the answer is “it depends”.  Your initial investment in MA will likely cost between $5000 and $40,000 per year.   It’s not a one-time purchase price, but an ongoing subscription.  It is not hard to show a robust ROI on paper based on some rosy efficiency numbers.  However, the danger in determining if MAP is worth the investment is there are many hidden costs that don’t show up in the aforementioned business case nor in the brochures and websites of the MAP companies. Hidden costs may include:

  • Staff man-hours spent on implementation and learning how to use the tool
  • Complexity = hidden cost
  • Vendor cost for set-up and training
  • Outsourced cost for maintenance and execution
  • Opportunity cost (could your time and money be better spent on something else?)
  • Internal selling cost of time and energy, not to mention cost to reputation if the project fails to meet expectations

Suppose you submit to the annual expense and agree to absorb the hidden costs, what is the payback and are you capable of utilizing the tool to realize a payback?  I hear from marketing directors and managers more often than not who have purchased a MAP subscription, excited by the possibilities, but are unable to fully utilize the tool because of lack of leadership, expertise or personnel.  They usually end up using it as an email tool.

On the flip side, those marketing organizations able to fully leverage a MAP show more effective revenue and profitability.  Naturally, this begs the question inherent in any correlation, “Does better performance lead to deeper use of MAP or does full use of MAP lead to better performance?” I don’t have the answer to that question.  What do you think?

One may think that everyone in manufacturing is using MAP and if you and your organization don’t get onboard, you’ll be labeled a laggard and end up missing the rapid growth boat to your more adoptive competitors.  This is not the reality of the manufacturing marketing landscape.  According to the 2012 Marketing Sherpa B2B Marketing Benchmark Report, only 24% of B2B marketers are using MA.  The report further states that of those 24%, at best, 53% have implemented core functions.  Only 30% have fully implemented advanced functions such as report dashboards, lead management, nurturing or lead scoring.  Therefore, only 8% of B2B marketers are fully leveraging their MAP.

More recent data from a 2014 study by Sirius Decisions as reported by AdAge states that only 16% of North American B2B companies use marketing automation.  This report shows a wide range of adoption rates as broken down by industry with the highest rate of 65% with Information Technology companies and the lowest rates with Healthcare, Financial Services and Manufacturing all with adoption rates less than 10%.

Could this be opportunity knocking for your firm to get a leg up on the competition with a shiny new MAP?  Perhaps, but there are some strong indicators of success you can benchmark against to help determine if you and your organization have a good chance to be successful with a MAP.  For the sake of this discussion, let’s define success as increased revenue growth rate as a result of a MAP.

Based on my 6 plus years of experience with purchasing, implementing and using various marketing automation platforms, these are some key success factors for marketing automation:

  1. Make sure your key stakeholders are on board and excited about what a MAP can do for them.  Key stakeholders might vary with your organization, but should start the executive team; CEO, CFO, CMO, VP Sales, etc. and their associated teams.
  2. Have at least a preliminary plan written down and shared.  Note the ‘written down’ part of this step.  If the plan is in your head or someone else’s head, be wary because the details of any plan in the head are usually absent.
  3. Own the owner.  You need to have one person who owns the MAP and is responsible for it’s success.  This person should be on your team and not nestled away in the IT department or the Sales department.  This is your champion and, ideally, s/he loves technology, is curious, fearless, innovative, creative and has a thick skin (shouldn’t all marketers have thick skins?).  Reward this person for success!  If you try to add the responsibility for the MAP on to the litany of other tools the webmaster or other marketing person owns, it will be very difficult to get any traction with your new MAP tool.  It will likely languish as a glorified email tool at best and as a forgotten resource costing you $2 – $3000 per month at worst.  Don’t rely solely on outsourcing for strategy and execution.  Outsourcing is, no doubt, a highly valuable resource and I encourage supplementing your MAP with outsourced of freelance help, but they can’t replace an in-house MAP champion expert.
  4. You will need the expertise of an outside vendor, especially if you plan to integrate MAP to other systems in place like your CRM.  The expertise of outside vendors will speed up your implementation, help get your team up to speed much more quickly and set a strong foundation for future efficient use.
  5. Communicate.  Communicate. Communicate.  Let your whole company know how this tool is contributing to the goals of the firm.  Be careful not to report vanity metrics or metrics that seem to be bragging about yourself or the team.  Talk about how a certain campaign increased sales for example.  Even better, highlight the success of one of the stakeholders because of their use of the tool.  You can’t over-communicate the success of the MAP.  As marketers, you could treat it as an internal product launch with a positioning statement, value proposition and associated messaging.
  6. Measure everything and customize the presentation of results to fit the respective audiences.

Your team should be excited and interested to learn as much about this tool as possible.  Every marketer should be assigned to become an expert in the MAP strategy and technology.  Your team should plan to be using this tool on a daily basis.  Without that kind of interest, your success will be limited.  If you plan to assign everything about the tool to one individual or a very small team of so called ‘Digital Marketers’, your success will also be limited.

Is marketing automation worth it?  No, if you’re strapped for resources and won’t be able to invest in the time and absorb the hidden costs that are incurred to optimize the MAP.  No, if your culture is not eager and ready for a marketing automation tool.  Yes, definitely, if you are able to leverage the power and implement all the core functions to your marketing plan around an energized technically savvy group of marketers.

Note: This post was first published at BMA Colorado blog on November 10, 2015.

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Manufacturing Lags in Marketing Automation Adoption

factory 9One would think that lead management in the B2B business world was ubiquitous.  As a Modern Marketer, I think that everyone certainly must be using a marketing automation system, a CRM system, automatic lead hand-off, lead nurturing, lead scoring, and monitoring the conversion points of a traditional funnel; suspect – MQL – SAL – SQL – Closed or Won – nurture – cultivate.  I’m thinking, how could anyone miss this with all the buzz over the past 5 years.

But, it is not so.  According to a May 2014 article in Ad Age, approximately 16% of B-to-B companies are using marketing automation. Citing the same article, Ad Age shows data accumulated by Sirius decisions breaking down adoption rate further by industry:

  • IT – 65%
  • Business Services – 35%
  • Manufacturing – 8%
  • Financial Services – 3%
  • Healthcare – 2%

According to Marketing Sherpa,  of those 16%, only about 30% are using the high ROI lead management tactics of lead scoring, lead nurturing or basic lead funnel management.  Even more astounding is that the Marketing Sherpa survey shows that companies using lead scoring see a 77% improvement in lead generation ROI and a 79% improvement for those using lead nurturing.  So the obvious question is, “why aren’t more B2B firms capitalizing on this powerful technology?”

I am a proficient user of Marketo, Eloqua and Act-on and have been using high engagement high ROI lead management tactics for 5 years now with demonstrated strong revenue growth results due in large part to these and other automation strategy and tactics.  I’ve spent hundreds of hours learning the platforms and it has not been easy to learn how to fully leverage this marketing automation platform.  Most marketing departments are under resourced, over-worked and under-appreciated with little time to spend learning how to use a new technology.  Unfortunately, having the time to learn how to use a marketing automation technology is a luxury in most manufacturing marketing organizations.  I suspect this is the reason for the low adoption rate of such a powerful tool.

On the flip side, for those organizations with a marketing leader and willing, capable team members able to learn this technology, you can take a huge advantage over your competitors who are not able or willing to use the technology.  I’ll say it again.  Manufacturing companies can have a huge advantage in their space by adopting a modern marketing team, strategy and tactics leveraging marketing automation and knowledge marketing.

For you CEOs and CFOs out there who view your marketing department as an expense, it’s time to break out of this mid 20th century, industrial revolution paradigm.  A properly established marketing department is your revenue engine!  At the risk of sounding pompous, using the lead management tools of a marketing automation system, I could take any manufacturing firm in the 92% who are not using automation or any of the 70% not fully leveraging automation and add an additional 10% to their top line within 12 months (assuming support from the C-suite).  I’ve done it and I know it works.  If you’re one of the laggards not using or not fully leveraging marketing automation tools, time to get busy!  Take the reins and make it happen.  There’s plenty of research available to help you to make the business case to your executive management team.

My recommendation is to invest in your marketing team, build a revenue engine, give them the time and money to gain the education and purchase the tools of marketing automation.  Don’t be one of the laggards not using this powerful tool.  I’m quite passionate about fully leveraging marketing automation and making marketing the revenue engine.

Need help choosing a marketing automation platform, establishing a strategy and training a team?  Contact KMI, we specialize in manufacturing businesses and we can help you get your growth on!

The 2 Major Reasons for Marketing Automation Failure at your Manufacturing Company

You’ve heard all about it, Marketing Automation, that is.  The marketing teams at these software companies are some of the best of the best.  They know how to use content effectively to fill the top of the funnel, drive you (whip you) through the funnel and measure the crap out of everything.  Wow!  You may think to yourself, “If only I too could market like that, my manufacturing company might be able to regain those glory days of double digit growth.”

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge believer in the power or marketing automation.  I’ve been able to use the technology to grow a business as much as 30% year on year with a 22% 5 year CAGR (even after the ‘Great Recession’ hit the economy)!  The combination of great content and a fully deployed marketing automation platform (MAP) is powerful, but it ain’t easy.  I guess if it were easy, we’d all be growing at 30%.

So why is the business landscape littered with underutilized or abandoned MAPs?

There are 2 major reasons that cause failure of MAP implementation and use:

  1. The marketing executive, business culture and marketing resources do not support full implementation.  In order for the MAP to be fully deployed, fully utilized and benefits fully realized, it must be integrated into the business at the strategic level and thoroughly aligned between sales and marketing functions.  
  2. Unwillingness or inability of each and every marketer to understand and utilize all aspects of the MAP tool will doom it to becoming just an expensive email blaster.  A MAP requires a certain culture of technology to permeate throughout the marketing and sales teams.  Each and every marketer should be ready, willing and able to embrace, understand and utilize the MAP tool.  Many organizations will set up what they deem a ‘center of excellence’ or central team responsible for using the tool.  This is a mistake because this team (sometimes called a digital marketing team) becomes a service center where the members become experts at the tool, but never really understand how it supports the overall strategic marketing plan.  A modern marketing team should be built on modern technology.  Every marketer should understand how the tool supports revenue and/or other business goals.

Without solving both of these problems your MAP will likely end up being relegated to a very expensive email blaster.  Address these two items up front to ensure MAP success.

Top 10 Takeaways from Eloqua Experience 2013

I was fortunate to be able to attend Eloqua Experience in San Francisco last week.  This was my 3rd EE in the past 5 years.  I have to say there was definitely a different feel to the event.  It could be the difference between Eloqua being a small, privately held almost family type organization compared to being owned by the behemoth, Oracle.  I’m not saying it was a bad thing, just that it felt different.  After spending a few days with the Oracle – Eloqua folks, I feel optimistic about seeing many benefits as a result of the Oracle acquisition.

There’s nothing more exhilarating for a marketing nerd or geek like myself than spending 3 days with other marketing professionals (nerds and geeks) who get the new marketing era we are experiencing.  Three days of talking about optimization, automation, KPIs, analytics, etc. was some fun!

These are my top 10 takeaways from EE13:

  1. The speed of marketing technology change is accelerating. Many, many tools are available for a very reasonable price.   As modern marketers, we are challenged to keep up with the speed of change.  However, the tools do not automatically lead to success.  Successful marketing still depends on the fundamentals like the 4 Ps, positioning, value propositions, engaging messaging and knowing your customer.  I’ve always said the first step to successful marketing is in writing down a proper marketing plan.  The tools simply enable the plan and the team to be more efficient and more effective.
  2. The Manufacturing sector continues to lag in adoption and full utilization of MA and content marketing.  Engineers (broad generalization here) don’t seem to get the fact that marketing is not the same as it was in 1995.   It’s not about the wonderful and cool products designed and manufactured.  It’s about sharing expertise to gain engagement.  That’s right, I said give away your expertise to your customers and prospective customers in order to help them solve their problems.  In return you will gain more business and loyal customers.
  3. Lead scoring requires top level sponsorship and strong collaboration with the sales folks. The best way to gain alignment is with a unified team.  Merge sales and marketing into one commercial team with one leader.  Everything else flows from there.  Lead scoring is not so much about the algorithm, it’s more about the socialization and proving how it helps the team be more efficient and generate more revenue. Step 1 to successful lead scoring is building a clean and complete database.
  4. Predictive analytics seems to be the same thing as ‘big data’.  I have to say I like the term predictive analytics much better than ‘big data’.  The practice of incorporating predictive analytics to the marketing strategy is the most exciting new development in modern marketing since the introduction of marketing automation.  Lattice Engines claims they can obtain and automatically deliver any data you want or need to better target and identify high interest buyers.  Predictive analytics is on the top of my ‘next big thing’ list.
  5. Tradeshow lead capture is finally available.  No more spreadsheets and manual uploads.  This technology enables direct capture at the booth delivering the lead straight to MA.  Imagine automatically delivering a compelling follow up to a booth visitor on the same day automatically.  At Event presented a good, versatile solution at the EE13 Showcase.
  6. New technology from a company called Bizo enables delivering ads to anonymous website visitors.  What a concept?   Seems caution is advised to avoid branding your company as annoying.  Ads must be relevant and not too often or too many.  The potential is huge!
  7. Data presented by David Frigstadt of Frost and Sullivan, shows the highest return on capital is not coming from product development, but from innovative business models. This seems to go together with number 2 above.  Companies continue to invest heavily in product development and little in business model development and analysis.   Opportunity knocks!  One of the most effective business models in the Marketing 2.0 world is high value content marketing driven by marketing automation positioning the Marketing function as the revenue engine.
  8. Modern Marketers know what to do to drive revenue.  It’s the executive leaders who won’t let go of the past world of sales feet on the street, product development and trade shows.  Hey CEOs, COOs and SFOs,  marketing isn’t just the people in the back who set up shows, design brochures and place ads.  Modern Marketers drive revenue!!  Companies who embrace Marketing 2.0 will have a huge advantage over those that do not.
  9. Scaling MA globally takes strong socialization, coordination, sponsorship, with strong leadership support.
  10. “Be patient and accept indirect value”  Baratunde Thurston




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Is a Marketing Automation Platform Essential for Effective Content Marketing?

Yes, you need to have a marketing automation system in place in order to leverage content into opportunities and closed sales. Content Marketing is all the rage lately. If you’re a CEO or CMO, you might be haranguing your people … Continue reading

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Marketing Plan – Marketing Programs (Promotion)

This gallery contains 1 photos.

Step 5 – Marketing Programs. In our last discussion, we talked about 3 of the 4 Ps; Product, Pricing, Place. In this section we talk about the 4th P, Promotion. Promotion is where most marketers hit their sweet spot. We … Continue reading

Marketing Automation – Essential for Content Marketing?

car schematic

Yes, you need to have a marketing automation system in place in order to leverage content into opportunities and closed sales.

Content Marketing is all the rage lately.  If you’re a CEO or CMO, you might be haranguing your people to create a white paper or “do a webinar” just because that’s what the buzz is lately on the C-suite golf course.  It’s a rare web site in this modern marketing age that does not have some content posted.  It’s fairly easy to create a paper or an application note or even a webinar.  But it’s harder to turn your content into sales.

Let’s look at the automobile as a metaphor:

  • Marketing automation is the engine that turns your content into sales.
  • Content is the fuel that powers the engine.
  • The automobile in gear represents growth.

A common foible  in content marketing is to develop a great piece and post it on the web site.  The idea is similar to the old business strategy of building a better mousetrap and the customers will line up.  Yes, it’s true that content posted on the web site will help with SEO, but that isn’t enough.  To get a return on your content, you must tell your target audience about it.  This can be accomplished with a targeted outbound campaign.   Good content marketing includes inbound and outbound tactics to fully leverage the content.  Marketing automation is the tool that drives your outbound, measures the inbound and enhances the engagement.

So now you have created content and you’ve started to tell your target audience about it and you might even be getting some good positioning in the search engines.  At this point, your engine is started and your automobile is idling.  To get your auto in gear and moving, use marketing automation to allow the people in your target audience to get to know your firm better.  As Jean Luc Picard would say, “Engage”.   Without MA, it’s very difficult to further the engagement or relationship.

Once you have the initial contact established, there are many engagement tactics available to the savvy MA practitioner:

  • nurturing
  • triggered response
  • sales action
  • invitations to events or activities
  • newsletters
  • activity driven content
  • persona development

Yes, if your goal is to grow revenue, content development posted on the web site will fail you.  For content marketing to be successful in growing a business, it must be coupled with smart use of marketing automation.

Marketing Automation Success – What does it take?

cloudtime.org is a great reference

What does it take for marketing automation success?  The first part of the answer is to define ‘success’ for you and your organization.  Ideally, success was defined during the purchase process.  Success might be defined by any of these:

  • Revenue growth
  • Specific closed loop ROI (with associated definition of ROI)
  • Leads (with associated definition of a lead)
  • Audience engagement
  • Customer retention rate
  • Renewal rate
  • Reduction in churn

This list is not all-inclusive, but the point is that you need to define success and be able to measure whatever the definition entails.  Isn’t measurement one of the major goals of MA to begin with?

Based on my experience with purchasing, implementing and growing marketing automation use in a global electronics manufacturing company, these are some key success factors for marketing automation success:

  1. Make sure your key stakeholders are on board and excited about what MA can do for them.  Key stakeholders might vary with your organization, but should start the executive team; CEO, CFO, CMO, VP Sales, etc. and their associated teams.
  2. Have at least a preliminary plan written down and shared.  Note the ‘written down’ part of this step.  If the plan is in your head or someone’s head, be wary because the details of any plan in the head are usually absent.
  3. Own the owner.  You need to have one person who owns the MA tool and is responsible for it’s success.  This person is your champion and, ideally, s/he loves technology, is curious, fearless, innovative, creative and has a thick skin (shouldn’t all marketers have thick skins?).  Reward this person for success!  If you try to add this tool to the litany of other tools the webmaster or other marketing person owns, it will be very difficult to get any traction with your new MA tool.  Don’t rely on an outside vendor for success.  Nothing against the outside vendors, in fact, they are a very valuable resource, but they can’t replace an in-house MA champion.
  4. You will need the expertise of an outside vendor, especially if you plan to integrate MA to other systems in place.  The expertise of outside vendors will speed up your implementation and education of the users.
  5. Communicate.  Communicate. Communicate.  Let your whole company know how this tool is contributing to the goals of the firm.  Be careful not to report vanity metrics or metrics that seem to be bragging about yourself or the team.  Talk about how a certain campaign increased sales for example.  Even better, highlight the success of one of the stakeholders because of their use of the tool.  You can’t over-communicate the success of the MA tool.  As marketers, you could treat it as an internal product launch with a positioning statement, value proposition and associated messaging.
  6. Measure everything and customize the presentation of results to fit the respective audiences.

One last point, the definition of success does not have to be defined at the beginning and never change.  As you implement your MA system, integrate it, users become more sophisticated and the C-suite starts to pay attention, the definition of success might change and that’s OK.

Marketing Automation – Is it just too complex?

Let’s be perfectly clear, marketing automation is not a strategy and it is not a tactic.  It’s a tool.  Saying marketing automation is a tactic is like saying your business strategy is to achieve double digit growth.  For either statement to matter, you must have some thought and action behind the desire.

Regardless of what the MA vendors say, these marketing systems are highly complex.  They are akin to powerful image processing programs like Adobe Photoshop or complex accounting programs like Peachtree.  These programs require hundreds of hours of use and training before a user is able to be proficient.

Quarry mindmap

This mindmap from Quarry tells the story quite well.  The leading MA systems boast about 26 different functions under the four categories of managing the database, managing campaigns, managing leads and measuring results.  Within the 26 functions there are myriad tactics to accomplish the functions.  Sending emails is one of the 26 functions.  Does it make sense to pay for a MA system just to send and measure emails?  I would say no.  Does it make sense to buy a system just to manage your database?  I would say no.  How about just to manage an event? Again, no.  Each of the tactics and activities under each of the 4 major areas can be accomplished on its own with a much less expensive and less complex tool.

If we agree with the previous statement, is it time to throw up our hands, say ‘uncle’ and give up on marketing automation as a whole?  Perhaps that is a wise conclusion or perhaps it is a foolish conclusion.  It depends on your particular situation.   If you’re short on resources and will not be able to support your team by allowing them time to learn and experiment with the tool, then say no to MA.  If you don’t have someone who understands how to leverage the tool to support the marketing plan, then say no to MA.   If  you don’t have a marketing plan, then say no because you’ve got bigger problems and no business even contemplating a MA system until your marketing plan is complete.

If you do have a marketing plan, understand the engagement power of content and work at a company where innovation and creativity are part of the culture, then say YES to MA!  If you have a vision for driving growth with marketing as a revenue engine through engagement, content marketing and meaningful KPIs, then say YES to MA.  Yes in any case, must be preceded by a commitment to adequate resources.

Bottom line, marketing automation systems are complex and they do require resources to get to a point where you start to reap the benefits.  It takes commitment from the marketing leaders, marketing team and, most of all, from the C-suite to really leverage the power of MA.

Finally, it’s ok to come to the conclusion that a full blown MA system is too complex for your organization and not a smart purchase.  There are many tools available and chances are good that you can find the best fit for your situation.

Marketing Automation – Is it spying?

Those of us who are able to utilize the more advanced features of monitoring web activity with a marketing automation platform are probably familiar with this reaction.  Many times when I talk about watching someone’s digital behavior or monitoring their digital body language, I see shock and surprise in their expression.  When we use marketing automation (MA) to place the cookie on a computer and subsequently monitor their click-stream on our website, isn’t that the same thing as placing a secret recording device at their office or home?  I suppose one could make that argument.

Or is it a case where we, as Modern Marketers, have to justify it in our own minds as being OK because we only want to help them make a decision (to buy our product)? The definitive guide, in my opinion, was written by Steve Woods, co-founder of Eloqua in his book, “Digital Body Language”.  This is a must read book for all modern marketers.

We’re all subject to this type of monitoring in this day and age of digital everything.  The European Union has passed laws about disclosing the cookie policy and allowing an opt-out option.  Microsoft fueled the discussion when it announced a ‘Do Not Track’ option which it would default to ‘on’ with the Internet Explorer 10 release.

As advanced users of MA know, the tracking feature is one of the most powerful features a savvy modern marketer can exploit.  I’ve set up triggered email campaigns using the tracking feature to deliver timely and relevant content with great results.  The tracking option allows a salesperson to monitor activity of key accounts or competitive proposals.  What better way to improve your timing if you know when a certain solution or purchase is on top of your ideal prospect’s mind.  These are powerful sales and marketing tactics guaranteed to give you a leg up on the competition not aware of the possibility to track web behavior.

Is monitoring web behavior any different than networking where information is passed from person to person?  Or is it more like sneaking up to someone’s house and peeking in the window?