Leadous has partnered with Adobe to bring best in class automation into the hands of those that are evaluating marketing automation platforms through the introduction of MAaaS – giving everyone the opportunity to leverage automation and experience the value.
We’ve all heard the term “do more with less” – and it’s often one of the first things applied to a marketing team that needs to scale up and support a growing business without a drastic increase in budget.
Marketing automation is often the driving force behind these scaling marketing engagement and growth strategies. It can help scale operations for your sales and marketing organization. As your business grows, often so does the workload (and expectations of ROI) on your marketing and sales teams.
But managing the complexity of a marketing tech stack that can support high-growth is a time consuming, and often expensive process. Enter the rise of Marketing Automation as a Service, for businesses that value efficiency, speed, and value from their technology.
In this white paper, we will examine Marketing Automation as a Service, why marketing automation is so valuable to organizations, the costs, and complexities of marketing automation, and finally how Marketing Automation as a Service (MA-aaS) can solve these challenges.
Your audience list is carefully curated, your email flow steps are ready to fire and you’re just one click away from sending your next impactful email campaign… but wait, is there something preventing your hard work from ever seeing the light of the inbox?
After putting the time and effort into building out your email campaigns, the most important factor is that your email actually makes it to your subscriber’s inbox. Without ensuring that your email makes it to your subscriber’s inbox – your catchy subject line and beautifully designed HTML simply won’t matter.
Below we lay out key steps to optimizing your email deliverability and maximizing your reach by covering three key areas you should know about email deliverability: • What deliverability is and why it matters • Major factors that affect deliverability and how marketing automation platforms can help with some of the heavy liftings
• 7 best practices you can implement to improve your deliverability
What is email deliverability?
You can’t improve email deliverability without first understanding what it means. Often when we think about email deliverability we consider the email delivery rate (ie 98% emails delivered).
Deliverability is the rate at which emails arrive at the inbox, not just those emails that are delivered. The difference here is important. Your emails can have a great delivery rate, and still not be making it to the inbox.
Maybe only 2% of your emails are bouncing, but actually, an additional 10% are making it to the Email Service Provider (ESP) server and then being pushed into a SPAM folder. Sometimes deliverability rates can block out entire ESPs. For example, if Gmail flags you, all your emails that are currently sent to a Gmail inbox could be going to SPAM, which may equate to a significant portion of emails that will never be read by your subscribers.
ESPs and IT teams are always on the lookout for SPAM to keep emails out of subscribers’ inboxes that they deem irrelevant or potentially a security risk. If your email is flagged as SPAM continuously, this potentially significantly lowers your deliverability rating and can further damage your sending reputation.
Why deliverability matters
You’re most likely not coding, designing, and meticulously writing and proofreading emails just for fun, right?
You (or your marketing team) are most likely creating emails with a purpose: upsell a new product, announce an upcoming webinar to get more attendees, overall provide value to your subscribers.
If your emails look like they’re being “delivered” (not bouncing) but they’re never actually making it to the inbox, your subscribers never get the chance to engage, and you just wasted a lot of effort for an email that will auto-delete in a SPAM folder in 30 days. That’s not going to get you closer to that upsell goal, or that webinar attendance goal. No one wants that!
Major factors that affect email deliverability
So it’s clear you want your emails delivered to the inbox so you get the chance to meet your marketing goals.
There are a few hoops your emails need to jump through first in order to get there. You can distill the inbox deliverability of your emails down to three areas: authentication protocol, reputation, and email content.
The first step of deliverability is confirming that you are who you say you are. ESPs use Sender Policy Framework (SPF), Domain Keys (DKIM), Reverse DNS and Domain-Based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance (DMARC) to verify your sender identity. These protocols prevent spammers from forging your email address and passing off messages on your behalf.
SPF and DKIM can be configured with most major market automation platforms (including Marketo, the platform we use and support at Leadous). If you’re sending high volumes of email, go through this process (you will likely need the help of your Network Administrator) to configure and prove your sender authenticity.
Your reputation is the next factor in deliverability. This is calculated based on how trustworthy your emails are to subscribers and a number of factors play in here, including whether your IP has been blacklisted or reported as spam, the percentage of bounces in your email list, and engagement levels of your subscribers.
You can use tools like https://www.senderscore.org/ to closely monitor your reputation metrics. Sender score will look at your IP address’s “sender reputation including spam complaints, how many unknown users you email if you’re on any industry blacklists, and more.” By keeping an eye on all these factors, you can more closely hone in on where you may need to improve your deliverability strategy for reputation management.
If you are on an email blacklist, you can then get started on a strategy to improve your reputation. There are multiple free tools out there that can help you determine if you’re on a blacklist and which one. By remediating any issues with sending spam messages and contacting the blacklist with your remediation steps, you can often do the heavy lifting to get off the blacklist.
Marketing automation tools, like Marketo, can help to sort out what your blacklist issues are as they maintain relationships with major blacklists to control their own sending reputations. If you think you’re on a blacklist, contact your marketing automation provider, or partner, first to go through the steps to ensure your database is clean and remediate any of your reputation issues.
The last factor affecting your email deliverability is the actual email content. Whereas authentication protocol and reputation are partly out of your control and up to ESPs and subscribers to determine, optimizing your emails for deliverability is 100% within your control.
Optimizing your email content for deliverability involved avoiding spammy subject lines (a lot of punctuation and capitalization is out; clear, simple language is in). Everything down to the images, content, links, and code making up your email is analyzed for a deliverability rating.
How Marketing Automation Platforms Help With Deliverability
In full disclosure, Leadous is a Marketo Engage platform partner. So from our experience here, we focus on the features Marketo has, but we can confidently say that many marketing automation and email marketing platforms have some type of email deliverability support.
Talk to your marketing automation platform provider about their deliverability features. Many platforms have built-in tools to test your emails for clean code and images or subject lines that could get flagged as spam, and even help you preview your emails across different ESPs to make sure it’s rendering correctly. For Marketo customers, check out this article on the email deliverability features they support.
Best practices to improve your deliverability
Institute a deliverability initiative
Improving your deliverability starts by taking up a clear initiative to monitor, manage, and improve on existing deliverability. Make deliverability a central tenet of your email marketing strategy, not a side project that you look at for a month and never look at again. It’s an ongoing process. Create a standard email deliverability checklist that you can go back to for every campaign. Set recurring checkpoints to go back and monitor success. Here’s a great in-depth design and deliverability worksheet from Marketo to get you started.
Clean your data
Much of your deliverability rating will come back to the quality of your subscriber lists. If a significant portion of your lists is unengaged, this will lower your deliverability rating. Consider archiving subscribers who haven’t engaged in 60 or 120 days, or simply segment them out for a “last chance” nurture and allow them to choose whether they re-opt in or not. Keeping stagnant subscribers in your lists who never open your emails sets you up for possible spam flags and lowers your success rate. Re-engagement campaigns are also an excuse to get a little more creative with your emails, it’s your last chance to capture their attention after all! Here’s a few creative examples:
Sidenote: cleaning your lists also means taking a look at where you are getting your subscribers from. Stop buying lists. We’ll say it again, stop buying lists! Purchased lists (with no verified opt-in) can seriously harm your deliverability with spam traps at worst, and will likely be completely unengaged from your emails anyway, also harming deliverability ratings.
Segment your audiences
Related to cleaning up your audience data, also consider more detailed audience segmentation. How can you ensure that the emails you’re sending are going to subscribers who will be interested and engaged?
As an overarching example, if you have an event that is only available in a certain area – are you segmenting your audience invite list to the targeted geography?
More granularly, when you opt-in new subscribers, are you asking them what subcategories they’re interested in? Segmenting your audiences and campaigns allows you to keep your content relevant, increase your engagement, which improves your deliverability. If they’re already opting in to get communications from your brand, they likely have a sub-area they’re more interested in where you can provide more value. Try to approach the opt-in process with subscriber value in mind (what will they get out of these emails) instead of just the value to your marketing program to help you keep your messaging relevant to your subscriber needs!
Check out our next best practice for some cool examples!
Launch a Preference Center
You may not want to think about the audience members you want to unsubscribe when you’re building out your email programs, but your subscribers really need a clear way to unsubscribe. You need to have unsubscribe links clearly marked in all your emails. You’d much rather have an unengaged reader unsubscribe than just become unengaged or hit the SPAM button–both of which will much more negatively affect deliverability than just an unsubscribe would.
Beyond a clear path to unsubscribing, consider launching a preference center to help your subscribers customize their email experience with you. Let them choose subcategories they’re interested in or email frequency. It just might be what you need to get them re-engaged and subscribed to your emails! Ust doesn’t forget, you need to make it easy to unsubscribe. If you’re going to allow subscribers to opt-in and out of multiple lists, always include an option to “unsubscribe from all” at the same time as well.
Here’s a few examples of preference centers with clear opt-in preferences for segmentation, as well as an easy way to unsubscribe.
Create engaging & personalized content
This one seems like a no-brainer, but it needs to be said. Subscribers opted in at some point to receive emails from you, so please, make sure that you’re sending the emails that they asked for!
Keep your messages clear and provide actual value related to your business. Don’t take advantage of their trust, you’ll only receive unsubscribes, disengagement, or worse, SPAM complaints as a result.
By taking the time to be thoughtful with your email strategy, you can ensure your subscribers will be glad to see your email hit their inbox.
And don’t forget to test your emails before you send them. Use tools like Litmus or others included in your marketing automation platform to evaluate your deliverability rating and make sure your emails will render right across ESPs. Litmus in particular can send a sample of your email across 90+ different ESPs in seconds, so you can quickly check for rendered images. It also checks for bad links, missing alt tags, excessive load times, and more. Don’t lose subscribers from simple fixes you could’ve caught if you had just spent a few minutes testing before sending.
Send consistently and not too often
Don’t overwhelm your subscribers with too many messages, you don’t want to lose their trust or interest by bombarding them with messages! Plus, if your subscriber has 4 emails in their inbox from you to wade through, chances are they will ignore some, affecting the engagement rates of those emails.
Create an email sending schedule (it can be the first thing you implement with your deliverability initiative!) and stick to it.
Monitor… and then monitor again!
As you implement more best practices, your deliverability should improve, but it’s a constant ebb and flow that you need to monitor. Keep an eye on your sender scores and check blacklists through sites like senderscore.org, and prioritize areas where you can continue to make headway on your deliverability.
There are many factors that go into your email deliverability, some more technical like SPF and DKIM, where you’ll need the help of a network administrator to set up. Others are as simple as deleting all those exclamation points from your subject lines. No matter your technical prowess, you need to start somewhere.
Because if you’re going to put the time, budget, and hours into email marketing (which you should, since the ROI of an email is $38 for every $1 spent), then it’s a no-brainer that you want that email to actually get read! Follow these initial best practices and you’ll be well on your way to inbox placement.
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As the beginning of a new year looms closer, marketers are counting down the days until something bigger, and possibly scarier, than a new decade comes along – the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA).
With General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) only recently in the rear view mirror, January 1st, 2020 will usher in the latest data compliance and privacy regulation: CCPA. And like the new data regulations that came with GDPR in 2018, CCPA gives consumers more control of their data protection, including how it is shared, sold, processed and collected. Who does CCPA effect?
CCPA specifically applies to any of the 40 million residents of California. If you are a for-profit company doing business in California, which is likely many of you since California is also the fifth largest economy in the world, and meet any of the criteria below, you’ll need to comply with the regulations.
annually buy, sell, receive, or share for commercial purposes the personal information of 50,000 or more consumers, households, or devices; or
derive 50 percent or more of its annual revenues from selling consumers’ personal information
According to this Marketo University blog, “the consumer must be aware—at the point of data collection—that information is being collected, informed as to how the data will be used and then given the option to opt-out from sharing or selling that personal data.”
In the case of CCPA compliance, personal data applies to personal identifiers like name, email and address, down to IP address, purchase and browsing history. Basically, anything that could be used to identify or be attributed to an individual, is protected under CCPA. Here are three areas to pay attention to in your Marketo instance to make sure you’re covered!
Do You Have A Privacy & Subscription Management Center?
If not, it’s time to start one. Lean on your legal team to ensure you’re in good standing and make sure you’re accurately depicting how you collect, store, and use your visitors’ data. Subscription management centers need to allow an opt out from selling or sharing data. And an explicit opt in to your communications is a given.
Have You Put Data Processing Best Practices in Place?
Have you recently audited your data for old, incomplete or junk information that should be deleted? Have you documented what you do with your data, and any requests for opt outs and deletion that you receive? Make sure your marketing automation staff is trained on best data practices, or bring in a partner to help you audit, clean up, and train or maintain your database moving forward!
Are You Following Best Cookie Practices?
This one is a little easier for Marketo users. In the last year, Marketo has removed pre-fill form functionality from its forms, using data stored in Munchkin cookies. Now, the only time a form will pre-fill in Marketo is when someone clicks a link in a Marketo email. Make sure you’re applying similar cookie practices across your digital marketing.
The Impact of Non-Compliance with CCPA
The full impact is yet to be seen, but violating the CCPA and not complying within 30 days of notification from the state incurs a civil penalty of up to $7,500 per violation. On top of that, non-compliance of CCPA can mean facing civil damages of up to $750 per violation, per user. According to PrivacyPolicies.com, this means that “sizable data breaches for companies with thousands of customers in California could quickly total up to around $1 million in CCPA fines.”
Data Regulation Beyond California
Not affected by the passing of CCPA? Don’t ignore this one just yet. States including New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Washington are already considering (or have passed) similar legislation. It’s also important to remember that California passed the original form of the CAN-SPAM act, before it was later enacted federally. So it’s possible some form of CCPA will turn into federal law in the future.
To net it all out, compliance and data privacy are here to stay, no matter what regulations you comply with currently, you need to get your data processing plans in order!
Leadous is here to guide you through any questions.
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For Leadous’ first Deep Dish Mini Workshop, we wanted to tackle a subject we get a lot of questions about: Account Based Marketing in Marketo.
Marketo Account Based Marketing (ABM) helps marketing and sales work together to engage their target prospects from a high-level account-based mindset. It’s a logical approach – there are different decision makers and influencers that sales need to talk to in order to close a deal – now marketers can align their strategy and execution to target those same contacts in an organized fashion.
Of course, it’s easier to successfully execute Account Based Marketing when you have a marketing automation platform in place that supports this strategy. Thankfully, there’s an Account Based Marketing Add On for Marketo clients.
In our Deep Dish mini workshop, we walked through some of the benefits our clients have seen from turning on Account Based Marketing in Marketo, including:
ROI – ABM sees the highest ROI compared to any other B2B marketing strategy.
Interested in setting up Account Based Marketing in your Marketo instance? Let us know, we’re happy to help!
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Emoji use by brands in campaigns has risen a huge 609% year-over-year (from 2016 to 2017) in digital communications – Email Marketing Daily
Emojis are, for better or worse, a huge trend for consumers. So it’s no surprise that more and more brands are choosing to incorporate emojis into their email subject lines. But do they work?
A couple studies have come out recently saying they do, if used appropriately.
Emojis have some pretty clear benefits for email marketing. By using emojis in place of some text, you’re able to convey more in less characters. The average mobile inbox only shows 30-40 characters in the subject line. By incorporating one or two emojis, you can take full advantage of that space.
Plus with a couple of emojis in a sea of text subject lines you’ve got a better chance of grabbing your reader’s attention without affecting deliverability.
According to the Emoji Use in Email Subject Lines report, which looked at emojis in emails compared to text-only subject lines throughout one year, subject linesusing emojis has a higher read rate than comparable text-only subject lines.
However, there is a risk of emoji email oversaturation as emojis become more and more popular for brands. In a recent Mailjet study using a/x testing (testing up to 10 variations of the same email) they found that overall open rates with emails using emojis went slightly down from 31.5% in 2016 to 28.1% in 2017. The ❤️ emoji being the top emoji for open rates.
So how do you make sure your emoji-laden email is one that gets opened?
Stay consistent with your brand and tone — as a marketer you know your organization and audience better than anyone, if an emoji isn’t in line with your brand, stick to your gut and take it out!
Test, test and test again before sending. Verify whether the emojis you want to use will render correctly across email clients and browsers.
Implement A/B testing for your email campaign with a subject line using emojis and plain text to collect performance data.
Don’t overdo it! Use emojis in moderation so you’re not oversaturating your audience.
Make sure your emojis have a purpose. Whether they’re conveying an emotion, visualizing your brand, or just telling a story, don’t just add them because you feel like it.
Do you ❤️ the idea of emojis in subject lines? Check out the Emojipedia for a full encyclopedia of every emoji that you can copy and paste into your email subject lines. You can also see how certain emojis should render on different devices or browsers.
If you’d like more tips on using emojis for your audience or have some examples of brands doing emojis well, leave us a comment below. We’d love to hear from you!
Bringing marketing automation into any organization requires buy in from a variety of executives. For marketers to make a case for an automation platform at an executive level, it is important to outline a plan that considers the benefits and ROI that apply to the entire organization.
Recently, Leadous hosted an event featuring marketing leaders from across the Minneapolis-St. Paul area to talk about just that – how your marketing team can convince your C-Suite to see the true value of marketing automation for your company.
Below are some of the key takeaways from the panelists:
Angie Franks, CEO/Chairman of the Board, Central Logic
LeAnn Case, EVP of Marketing, CU Companies
Sam Archbold, Director of Digital Marketing: B2B, US Bank
Getting your C-suite to pay attention
The key question to ask (and answer!) when getting your C-suite on board with a new technology purchase is, “What problem will this help our company solve?”
“Technology does not solve problems, it enables your team to solve problems,” said Angie. Make sure you bring that specific problem (and the way the technology will enable your team to solve it) when you are suggesting marketing automation as a solution; don’t just present it as a piece of technology you’d like to have. At the end of the day, “trust from your senior leadership is important,” added LeAnn. “They should trust your judgement in this investment, and know what to expect from your decisions.”
Stay focused on the data
At the end of the day, marketing automation is providing you with a tool to interpret and act on data. “That data can support decisions across the business, even if everyone doesn’t like it,” said Sam. How your team may talk internally about products and services differs from how customers interpret it. Use the tools within marketing automation like A/B testing to know what customers are actually responding to versus what we think they’ll respond to.
Marketing automation broadens the effect of marketing on the business
Beyond just lead generation, marketing automation allows for a multi-tiered marketing approach for all stages of the customer funnel. “From onboarding new customers to upselling additional products and services, marketing automation is a tool that can help support the entire lifecycle of your customers,” said Sam. “Provide cross-sell and upsell opportunities, go through onboarding, specific content tracks, and other activities that go way beyond lead generation as supporting documentation for the value of marketing automation. It can become a communications distribution tool for all stages of the funnel.”
By presenting marketing automation as a versatile tool across the lifecycle of the customer, it also becomes more of a problem solver (see “Getting your C-suite to pay attention” above) to support the broader organizational goals. The more departments you can get on board with your overall marketing strategy, the more agile and invaluable the work you’re doing with marketing automation will become, and you’ll have fewer silos across the organization, along with a more cohesive brand identity. That’s a win for everyone.
A new relationship between sales and marketing
Marketing automation has the potential to truly change the game between sales and marketing. It arms sales with new data “to understand who they’re calling and why,” says Angie. By understanding the value and lifetime per client, you can determine how to best replicate the buying behavior through marketing paths and bring your sales team more qualified leads, more efficiently. What sales team wouldn’t be on board with that?
The number one takeaway
“Go beyond simple lead generation to focus on your overall company’s growth strategy and how marketing automation can support that,” Angie said. Look at where there are specific problems and inefficiencies and how marketing automation specifically solves those problems. By translating marketing automation into a company problem-solver (not just a marketing department problem-solver), the C-Suite will see the true value that marketing automation can deliver.
Once you’ve convinced your C-suite to get on board, your next step is a successful implementation to make sure you’re set up for success.
For top insights and assistance with the marketing implementation and optimization process, click here.
What do you get when you pick the brains of five digital marketing experts, representing partnerships with some of the most popular martech platforms on the market? You get everything marketing automation: the good, the bad, the ugly, and a whole lot of wisdom gleaned from the trenches.
Welcome to Authentic Brand’s first “virtual panel”: a Q&A exchange with five leaders in the Twin Cities digital community.
These business leaders know their stuff, and together represent several decades of digital experience, supporting businesses of all types, sizes, and industries. Best of all, these panelists are good peeps. I know each of them personally, and have worked with all of them in one capacity or another. It’s my pleasure to bring you their perspectives here, and as any good moderator, I’ll limit myself to simply asking the questions. (If you want to hear my perspectives on this topic, you can check out a couple recent blogs here and here.)
Now, let’s get this party started! Allow me to begin by introducing our panelists (subsequently referred to by first name in the conversation that follows):
Q1: What do you think is the biggest misunderstanding that companies have about marketing automation?
(BRENDON) At the most basic level, a lot of business owners still don’t know what it is. Others think it’s limited to lead nurturing with email workflows. For those that do understand everything marketing automation entails, we still find that they’re naive or unrealistic about the amount of work it takes to get it up and running and monitor performance. Then rarely, if ever, do we come across a company that gets it, understands the full commitment, and uses data to inform their decisions or make improvements.
(RYAN) Time and time again I run into people who are sad and disappointed by their marketing automation results. I ask them what were their goals and what process were they trying to automate? I usually get a blank stare with a response of something like, “Well, marketing!” and, “We needed more leads.” Okay great! But were you trying to scale a process that’s currently working? ….. Silence.
The most common misunderstanding I run into with marketing automation is that it’s some sort of system that fixes bad sales and marketing. The reality is: marketing automation is not a robot that magically churns out leads, and it’s never, ever a replacement for bad process. Sadly, too many companies get dazzled by some really flashy marketing from martech providers and end up disappointed because they should focus on their strategy and process first before jumping to technology. (See more about this topic in my recent LinkedIn post here.)
(ADAM) Too often, business leaders see fantastic demos or videos from the various technology providers and come to believe that the technology itself is the answer to all of a marketers’ problems. Technology is no doubt an important piece of the puzzle, but companies must realize that the technology alone isn’t the answer.
Marketing technology must be supported by a sound strategy with a clear focus on delivering value to an audience throughout the customer journey, and a plan to achieve that vision. Additionally, companies must empower their people to dig into the tools, learn new skills, and try new things. Successful programs aren’t built overnight. Programs may fail, but the team will learn, and campaign performance will improve with every new insight.
(TRACEY) Eloqua, Hubspot, Marketo, Pardot, and others; kudos to these marketing automation companies for selling what seemed to so many marketers as a magic silver bullet. The reality is, there is no silver bullet. You don’t just turn on your marketing automation platform, see leads start instantly flooding in and your business growing exponentially. It takes a plan, analysis, and iteration on a constant basis; making tweaks based on the data your platform is collecting.
The technology itself is just the beginning of a marketing automation program. You also need a database of targets and a content portfolio that you can leverage on the platform to start to engage. Then, based on the data, you need to build flows that are personalized based on the action that they took, or didn’t take. You need to review the data and regularly report the movement in metrics – with a focus on one percent improvements at a time. You need to understand what goal you are trying to hit for sales and get real time feedback on the leads so you know how to best deliver quality leads that sales can convert.
Marketing automation is an amazing strategic tool that can change how you market. It won’t however replace a great product, tight process, or grit. Don’t do it too early or it will be a waste, don’t do it too late or you’ll miss out.
Q2: What are the greatest benefits to working with a marketing automation consulting / agency partner? When should businesses consider a partner vs. building a team entirely in house?
(BRENDON) Agencies give businesses direct access to experts across a variety of marketing disciplines right away, rather than having to prioritize which key hires can be made over time, as budget allows. It gives businesses more flexibility and typically allows for a quicker ramp up as the agency partner has done it before and has a process to do so efficiently.
(RYAN) I wrote about this topic recently in a blog post here. There are a couple of big benefits to working with an inbound partner. First, the benefit of experience.Partners gain experience across a diverse set of industries and learn to optimize process. They know what works. Working with someone who has been in the trenches gives you a competitive advantage compared to starting at zero.
Then there is the benefit of comprehensive planning.Most consultants start by putting together a plan. What they will work on every month. That’s not to say the plan won’t change based on data and insights as prospects interact. But often, planning and the process can be a struggle for most organizations. Knowing that there is a set of monthly activities develops a cadence and consistency crucial to the success of marketing automation.
(MIKE) You really should consider working with a MA consulting partner even before bringing on a MA platform. There is a certain amount of strategy and change management that needs to happen within an organization in order to make MA truly successful. Find a consulting firm who understands all facets of the marketing automation is very important. That includes sales and marketing alignment, service level agreement (SLA) creation, lead routing, and organizational governance in addition to implementation, CRM integration and ongoing support. Finding the right partner to walk alongside your organization can often mean the difference between success and wasted time and money.
(TRACEY) Marketing automation is a relatively new concept. I’ve read that only 5% of companies use marketing automation and only 20% of them come close to exhausting the depth of features. Because of that, the answer isn’t vice versa, it’s both.
Consulting partners are the difference-maker in getting businesses implemented, trained, and supported. The best partners will also show you how to leverage the components that are right for your business and keep you up to date on new features that you should be looking into leveraging. They help marketing teams go from novice to experts – supporting more complex automation techniques that could take a beginner months to put in place.
Q3: With more and more agencies and consultancies offering digital services, there’s a huge range of expertise and pricing models on the market. What is the best way for companies to find a partner that is well-matched to their business, and offers the right level of expertise, at the right price point?
(TRACEY) Let’s be honest – marketing automation technology is not an inexpensive undertaking, and neither are the services of the partners that support it. The type of team you have [in-house] and the level of expertise they bring to the table has a huge impact on choosing the right partner, and how much you’ll pay. Technical implementation, content, data analysis, campaign planning, messaging…How much help do you need in these areas, and for how long?
Once you determine where you have gaps and for how long you need support in those areas, you can put together the priority requirements. The [technology] platform provider you choose should be able to direct you to a list of their partners. Based on your priority list, you can select from among partners that have matching expertise. Look for partners with flexible pricing models who can ebb-and-flow based on the needs of your team and budget. They should be talking about up front scope and project work, transitioned through phases to long-term support and troubleshooting. Don’t forget to ask for references to help validate that you’ve made the right choice.
(MIKE) There are all sorts of agencies that exist in the space. They range from traditional agencies who have picked up marketing automation as one the myriad services they offer, all the way to traditional Systems Integrators who focus simply on implementation. While there is no perfect consultancy out there, try to hone in on your top two or three needs: Do you need a lot of help with digital strategy or change management? Do you need creative services? Do you have a complicated integration you need to tackle? Your top needs should drive the type of agency you work with.
Once your top needs are figured out, make sure you pick an agency that demonstrates expertise and gives you peace of mind that they know what they are doing. Areas to evaluate: How long have they been doing this? How many clients do they work with? Do they work with clients that are more sophisticated than you are (so they can help you grow in your sophistication)? How many certifications do the they have? This kind of qualification can help ensure you aren’t having to hire someone else down the road to fix all the issues created by a firm that didn’t know what they were doing.
When it comes to price, obviously the cost is always a factor. I do caution people to not focus on solely on price. You do get what you pay for. I have seen far too many people take the “Spirit Airlines” approach because they were driven by the price per hour. In the end, they were very unhappy with the process, got nickel-and-dimed the whole way, and swore they’d never take that trip again. Find the right agency for your business needs. Sometimes that costs a little bit more. The extra expense is usually worth it.
Q4: Just 10 years ago, there were only a handful of email and marketing automation tools on the market. Today, there are hundreds of tools that have similar or overlapping functionality. Where and how should businesses begin to assess the best tools for their needs? And what business requirements are foremost to that decision?
(ADAM) The first thing that companies should do is outline what is most important to their business. Is it a powerful, scalable platform? Reputation for success? Ease of use for the end users? Flexible, dynamic data model? Specific marketing channels or messaging features? Understanding the must-have requirements will be critical in narrowing down vendors to a small group of finalists.
(MIKE) I actually wrote a blog on this very topic recently! There are a mind boggling amount of MarTech and AdTech tools on the market. Every day our inbox is a barrage of the next “up and coming” technology solution vying for our attention. But at the end of the day, there are some tools that are fundamental and others that are nice to have add-ons. Focus on getting the fundamentals right, and using them correctly, before moving to an additional nice to have. Here are the tools I think are fundamental for a modern digital marketing team:
Social listening tool
Customer engagement/Advocacy platform
Beyond these, most things are nice to have add-ons.
(RYAN) I advocate for crafting a marketing tech framework that’s aligned to personas and customer journeys. Why? Because they are aligned to business goals driving the who, what, why, and how of an organization work in reaching and engaging.
The reason I advocate for documenting some sort of framework is so you don’t end up with redundant systems and functions in your organization. Before you know it, you have three or four email platforms, maybe a couple different CRM-esque systems, each with a form plugin on your CMS and a landing page generator. No one knows where all the data is going, and no one is centralizing any of it to make any sort of meaning for sales or marketing.
As a first step, map out how people get to you, the steps they go through in your sales process, and make sure everyone across the organization is on the same page with that process. Then highlight areas where automation can help, which systems need to interoperate with each other, and lock it in.
Q5: What advice would you give to businesses about the “total investment” of building a content and marketing automation program? What should they be thinking about beyond the cost of the technology itself ?
(BRENDON) The cost of the software is a drop in the bucket compared to the full investment in inbound marketing. Aside from just the various skill sets needed to execute on an inbound strategy, it takes a lot of upfront work to get started:
researching and understanding your buyer persona(s)
mapping out and developing the content they’ll want throughout their buyer’s journey
determining the timing and process for the hand-off to sales
setting up all of the marketing automation components
training/educating sales people on the CRM to close the loop
Businesses have to be committed and patient because there’s no instant gratification and it takes constant iterations to get it right.
Q6: For businesses who are established with inbound programs and tools, how do you see these brands taking marketing automation to the “next level”?
(ADAM) Brands should ask themselves this question: What opportunities exist to enhance the customer experience across our most important audiences? Where are the opportunities to create additional value for your most important customers? Very few companies would give themselves an A+ rating on their marketing automation programs as it relates to their customer journeys across the entire revenue lifecycle. Opportunities for enhanced engagement always exist. And even when opportunities for new messages or campaigns are running thin, content for existing campaigns can always be optimized.
Do you run monthly A/B tests on their most critical campaigns to identify opportunities for improvement?
Can your messages be more targeted or more personalized?
Are there opportunities to automate communications in operational processes related to sales or service channels?
If the answer to any of these questions is “yes” then there’s opportunity for improvement and work to be done!
(MIKE) The idea of creating a Center of Excellence (COE) is a hot topic that we’re hearing a lot about lately. Usually the discussion begins with the realization that there needs to be some sort of governance around what’s allowed and what’s not. We recommend starting with a COE committee that’s comprised of stakeholders from across the organization – marketing, sales, legal, customer support, etc. This team sets the rules for who can get what level of access, how change requests will be handled, how to set up foldering and naming conventions, etc. Basically, how do you ensure everyone is playing within the rules and no one is going rogue.
Once organizations reach a level of sophistication with their COE, they begin to tackle bigger issues. The discussion turns from “setting the rules” to system optimization, evolving business process, inter-departmental strengthening and customer experience improvement.
Establishing a COE early, with the right stakeholders, is something every organization should consider. When you get everyone on the same page and make decision to improve process and improve the way the organization interacts with customers can quickly become a strategic advantage over your competitors who haven’t even thought about walking down the COE path.
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Marketing automation platforms understandably receive a lot of hype among marketers today as the “silver bullet” that can magically grow your revenue and increase the impact of marketing.
While marketing automation platforms can yield awesome results, the reality is, there is no one silver bullet for marketing. There’s no easy button to push on a marketing automation platform that will instantly flood your inbox with leads and grow your business exponentially, unfortunately.
The expectation of instantaneous results from marketing automation is a dangerous one. It’s not good for your marketing team, especially since you’re justifying the dollars you spend and are on the line for the results you bring into the company.
Here are a couple misconceptions about marketing automation to avoid when you’re considering (or in the midst of) implementing your marketing automation system.
1. Once you’re implemented, you’re done.
This takes us back to the easy button. In order to implement a successful marketing automation platform, it takes careful planning, analysis and iteration on what seems like a daily basis based on the data your platform is collecting. The process of optimizing your platform is never really done if you’re doing it well!
2. All you need is Marketo. Or Pardot. Or Hubspot. Or Eloqua. Etc.
Marketo is an enormously robust platform. But if you don’t have have a database of targets or a content portfolio that you can leverage, you are seriously limiting the impact you can make. Marketo shines in its ability to handle large swaths of data and personalized content paths that engage your audience based on their behaviors. So if you don’t yet have much of an audience or content to engage with, you might want to think through some of the supporting marketing activities that will make your marketing automation platform truly sing.
3. Marketing is the only team that needs to be involved in the purchase of marketing automation.
I don’t know what your marketing-sales dynamic is. You could be besties. Or constant frenemies. Either way, you know that both of your successes are tied to one another, which means with a platform as important as marketing automation, you need to have sales involved in the decision, setup and calibration of the platform. It’s important to understand what goals you are trying to hit for sales and get real time feedback on incoming leads so you know how to best deliver quality leads that they can convert. At the end of the day, you’ll both be better off for it.
Marketing automation is an amazing strategic tool that can change how you market. It won’t however replace a great product, tight process or grit. If you want help getting started or optimizing your Marketo platform, contact Leadous!
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On our blog we’ve covered all things lead scoring with Marketo from what lead scoring is, to where to begin scoring leads at your company, to common mistakes made when scoring. Now it’s time to get into some of the more advanced techniques you can employ when lead scoring with Marketo. Moving beyond just behavioral and demographic lead scoring for a minute, there are three additional strategies you can use to better predict which leads are most likely to buy, giving you more insight than ever into your prospective buyers.
1) Product Scoring
Product scoring can be a complex strategy to implement depending on the size and scope of the product offerings at your organization. The concept, however, is simple. Product scoring measures a lead’s interest and fit for a distinct product or service (assuming your company offers more than one).
By scoring based on product interest, you can also prioritize your most popular (and profitable) products to steer your prospects into a lead nurturing campaign with a cohesive message that shows your company and products in the best light possible.
2) Account Scoring
Most of the time a purchasing decision is not made by one person, but a team of people. Depending on the cost and industry, there could be a whole buying committee reviewing your product. That’s where account scoring can come in handy.
If multiple contacts from one account are engaging with your marketing, you (and your sales team) want to know about that quickly and easily without having to wade through the data to figure it out. Using account scoring, you can group together contacts from one account to track their activities and determine sales-readiness. More on account scoring from Marketo can be found here.
3) Score Reduction
In marketing, you could argue that one of the most important things to focus on is a clean database. And your scoring model is no exception to that rule. With lead scoring, it’s easy to focus on the positive/action-driven scoring models. But you also need to think about leads who may be giving you all the signs that they’re engaging with you, but aren’t actually sales prospects. These could be job seekers for your company downloading brochures and visiting your careers page. Or they could be prospects who became clients. Or prospects who won’t be ready to purchase for a long time.
Either way, you’ll want to set boundaries on your lead scores to ensure a clean marketing pipeline. Putting a scoring reduction model in place that caps or removes scoring points after a lead is inactive for a certain number of days, visits the careers page of your site, becomes a client, and so on is an essential strategy to keep your pipeline accurate.
These three advanced strategies will help give your marketing and sales teams a crystal clear view of your lead pipeline and the prospects who are ready to buy.
Want some help employing some of the more advanced lead scoring strategies using Marketo at your company? Give us a shout!
Because lead scoring requires the collaboration of sales and marketing to rank leads by sales-readiness and product fit, the most important place to start is setting a meeting for your sales and marketing teams to come together to create your company’s ideal buyer persona.
To prepare for that collaboration, make sure you review and bring to the table all the data you have that show the process leading up to when prospects are ready to buy your company’s products or services: pull data from your CRM and website to get a full picture of how deals are moving through the pipeline, what campaigns are influencing deals to close, and what common features closed deals share.
Marketo has provided a useful checklist of more than 50 explicit scores and 200+ implicit scores to help you start to map out the important data points to consider for your lead scoring program. In particular you’ll want to review with your teams the following behaviors and attributes to determine what scores are critical to indicating a sales ready lead:
Explicit Scores (positive)
Individual-specific demographic scoring rules (job title, years of experience)
Relationship scoring rules (account type, lead source, current products)
Implicit Scores (positive)
Livestreamed event attendance
Web page activity
Implicit Scores (negative)
No website activity in multiple months
Negative social media interaction
Once everyone is on the same page, assign actual scores to these behaviors and attributes in order of importance. See Marketo’s examples in their Definite Guide to Lead Scoring for more information.
After you’ve laid out your explicit and implicit scoring model, add them together for a total lead score. Make sure that demographics are less than half of the total score (although leads may fit your target demographics perfectly, if they aren’t yet engaging with you, they’re not sales ready!).
The final step of building your initial lead scoring program is deciding (in conjunction with sales) the threshold for handing off a lead from marketing to sales. Is it leads over a score of 45? 75? You want to make sure you’re making the process efficient for sales (don’t pass over too many leads that may not be sales-ready), while still providing them with a healthy pipeline (don’t have a number that’s too high to hit consistently). It will likely take some time to test and determine the right number for your business and scoring model. To finalize your number, try testing a random sample of contacts in your CRM. Compare closed and lost deals to their scores and see if the corresponding numbers match up to your threshold.
As with any marketing program, once you push it live, you always want to revisit and readjust. Setup a quarterly meeting to look at your sales wins and losses and make sure you review lead scores to ensure your numbers are aligning with the deals.
If your marketing campaigns are bringing in leads, but you don’t know which campaign or channel the leads came from, is your campaign a success?
The most successful marketing and sales campaigns are the ones you can track. The more you track, the more you can repeat (or retool when you want to improve campaigns results!). When you know where the quality leads are coming from, you can be smarter about where your marketing department allocates time and money to continue to bring in revenue.
Tracking your lead sources in Marketo is a simple 2-step process, but it starts with understanding URL parameters.
A URL parameter is a tag you place in your landing page link for tracking purposes. You can spot URL parameters easily, because they come after the ? in any URL. For example:
The first part is the actual URL used to navigate to the website. The second part (in orange) is a query string that contains the URL parameter. It won’t change the destination of the URL at all, but it will pass data along so you can track if someone is visiting your landing page from a specific source or campaign that you define. When someone clicks the link above, we know that they visited our homepage from one of our blog posts.
To track various campaign data associated to your landing pages, you can add as many parameters as you need. With the example above, we could add another parameter after the Source, like “SourceDetail=Blog8” to track exactly which blog post the link click originated from.
Many of our clients will use URL parameters to track the effect of different sources for a particular campaign. For example, if you share a new white paper to Twitter, LinkedIn and in an email campaign, you can create different links with specific URL parameters (?Source=Twitter, ?Source=LinkedIn, and ?Source=Email) so that when someone downloads that white paper, the source is automatically collected and you can report on which sources are furthering your marketing efforts.
Now that you know what URL Parameters are, here’s how to set up your parameter tracking in Marketo.
Step 1 – Add the URL Parameter as a hidden field to your form.
When you create a form for your marketing campaign, you want to make sure to add a hidden field for the URL Parameter.
If your URL parameter is Product Interest, like in the Marketo example below, you would add a “Product Interest” field and set the field type to hidden. Then, in order to make sure the data will pass through the link, you have to set the autofill behavior option to “URL Parameter”. Make sure to name the parameter for the field you are tracking (ie Product Interest; Source; Campaign).
Step 2 – Create Landing Page links with URL Parameters
After your form is created with a hidden field for the URL parameter category you’d like to track, you need to actually create the different links with various parameters.
Once you’ve created your landing page, go into URL Builder (under the URL Tools menu option). Enter one of the parameters you’d like to track and click “update URL”. Marketo will automatically update the landing page link for that parameter, which you can then copy and paste. For example, if you enter “Twitter” in the field to track leads coming in from Twitter, the URL will update with ?Source=Twitter at the end. You can use that link for all your Twitter posts for that specific marketing campaign and later track how many leads were sourced from that channel.
Tracking your campaign lead sources takes a little setup at the beginning, but once you get into a rhythm of creating your lead and campaign sources for every marketing campaign, you’ll soon be collecting all the data you need to make smart, marketing decisions that help you reach your sales targets.
If you’re a marketing automation company that is essentially marketing to marketers, you probably have a pretty solid marketing strategy.
It should come as no surprise that Marketo, one of the top marketing automation platforms available, has mastered how to market itself. And we’re not just saying that because we’re Marketo partners. Marketo has a firm understanding of content marketing – sharing content that engages their audiences, and using marketing automation to move that audience through the sales funnel.
Jon Miller, VP Marketing and Co-Founder of Marketo, gave a presentation in 2013 that summarized 5 of the marketing best practices Marketo follows to make their efforts more efficient and drive more revenue (summarized by KickStart Alliance originally here). And although it’s dated from 2013 we find that these best practices still ring true today.
Tailor content to your buying cycle
It’s important to tailor your content and campaigns to where your prospects are. And that doesn’t just mean what social media channel they’re using. It means no matter where the prospect is in the buying cycle, you have an experience tailored toward them.
If it’s a completely new prospect to your company, you want to make it easier for them to find you and get hooked into your content (shorter, “viral”-ready content with no forms to download). When you are in the middle of engaging a prospect and they’re interested in learning more, or researching your solutions, that’s when you want to offer the meatier content that will give them the justification to choose your product (and start to collect more information about them through forms).
Incorporate social sharing into every campaign
Adding a social component to your campaigns can easily increase the success of your marketing efforts. Marketo sees up to an 11% increase in reach and engagement of their content just from social media. Measuring the social impact of your campaigns is just as important as having a social media presence. Gathering the analytics from your social campaigns also means you know where to continue to focus your marketing efforts if it’s successful or not.
Automate lead nurturing
According to KickStart Alliance, Marketo’s sales process is complex: “buying committees have anywhere from 5 to 21 people, it takes 120 days to move a name to an opportunity and an average of 7 touches to convert a cold lead to a sale.” Marketo uses lead nurturing, and scoring, to automate this process and make sure good leads move through the sales cycle more quickly.
In particular, Marketo uses a 4.1.1 approach to qualify and score leads: “4 pieces of content that are educational, yet entertaining. Then 1 webinar invitation (soft sell) and 1 demo invitation (hard sell).” Throughout this process, Marketo scores leads based on “fit, interest, and buying stage” to better indicate to sales which leads should be higher on their target list.
A sophisticated campaign approach like Marketo’s make take awhile for your team to build (although with drip campaigns you can build as you go!) but once you have the process of scoring and automated lead nurturing in place, you will be well on your way to delivering higher quality leads to your sales team, with less work on their part.
Hire sales development reps
Sales Development Reps (SDRs) “call all prospects with a lead score of “Target” to determine if the prospect meets the criteria for a Sales Qualified Leads (SQL)”. This qualifying step can make a world of difference by strengthening the hand off between marketing and sales – solidifying the relationship with the prospect and saving the sales team time by making sure they are only working with qualified leads.
It also ensures that every lead is followed up on. Because if you’re trying to increase your revenue – making sure you’re not letting any leads fall through the cracks is a no brainer!
Make your marketing smarter (and bring in more $$$) with analytics
The great part about using Marketo for your marketing campaigns is everything is tracked. For Marketo, they consistently analyze “reach (size of long term revenue), flow (from one stage to another), conversion and velocity of the pipeline” to better report on the impact marketing is having on revenue – and analyze where those efforts can be improved to save money and grow revenue. By taking the time to be smart about setting up and reporting on your marketing efforts, you arm yourself with the knowledge to continue to improve and grow the impact of your programs.
If you want to put these tips to work, but need a little help to start marketing your company like Marketo does, we can help! Contact us for more information on our Marketo execution and marketing automation strategy services today.
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Whether you’ve had an international marketing strategy for years, or you’re just getting started expanding your marketing footprint, it’s important to know the different email communication compliancy laws worldwide or you could be facing some pretty hefty fines.
For the most part, many of the same regulations for U.S. email marketing (known as the CAN-SPAM Act), are covered in international email regulations, with a couple key additions. The CAN-SPAM Act requires your email headers and subject lines be “accurate” and “non-deceptive”, you must also include your physical address and opt out instructions within the email, and honor opt out requests in a timely manner.
Canadian anti-spam laws add additional layers for compliance. In addition to the U.S. requirements, you also need recipients’ permission to email them (including recorded proof) and full business details in the email (including phone number and website).
As the laws change and often become more restrictive to protect recipients’ privacy, it’s important that you continue to check in and ensure that your email marketing sends are in compliance. Although some countries may be more restrictive than others, it’s a good rule of thumb to comply with the most restrictive policy, the more recipients who are opted in to request information from you, the more likely you are to engage with an audience who is receptive to your marketing and sales messages anyway!
Here’s a quick checklist with 6 requirements to follow for compliance with most worldwide anti-spam and unsubscribe rules:
Be honest and accurate with your messaging and calls to action.
Place an unsubscribe link in every email that’s visible and simple to use.
Timely unsubscribe any requests to opt out from your emails (must be under 10 days in the U.S.)
Ensure your recipients are opted in to your emails, and keep proof of that transaction (opt in is required in Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Norway, Spain, Switzerland and Canada).
Make sure your company name and website is in the email and visible.
Put your company address and phone number in the footer of the email.
Chances are if you have (or are considering having) a marketing automation platform, the idea of “automation” is a pretty important one for you. One of the crucial differentiators between a marketing automation platform and any other email sender is the ability to automate sophisticated, targeted campaigns across the lifecycle of your customer’s journey, easing the effort on your marketing and sales teams by engaging more people, more frequently, automatically.
So you know automation is important to your marketing strategy, but where do you start? Here are just a few ideas.
Building your digital audience is an important part of your strategy. So what does your organizations do with the email addresses and contacts collected on your website, at event booths, through online ads? As you add new contacts to your database, consider automating a welcome campaign, where you deliver specific content introducing contacts to your company, setting them up for your customer journey. For inspiration, check out these “21 Welcome Emails to Inspire Your Lifecycle Marketing”.
After you send out a piece of content, do you go back and see who didn’t engage with it? Do you retarget campaigns to those unengaged subscribers? If you’re sending out a lot of content or simply have a lot of other responsibilities, you might not have the time to go back after every email send and schedule a resend of content. Automated resend campaigns can be setup in Marketo to resend emails to people who didn’t open, click or otherwise aren’t engaging with your offers without the hassle of setting up new campaigns each time.
If a prospect takes the time to meet with you, visit your tradeshow, or begin the process of purchasing something on your site, they’re already engaging with your company, and could be just a few crucial follow ups away from a conversion. Automate follow up campaigns to send after you attend events, hold meetings, or even for customers who “abandon cart” on your website, so that you never miss the opportunity for a sale again.
This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to setting up automated, sophisticated marketing campaigns for your organization. Keep in mind, as you turn on more automation, it’s a good idea to revisit, analyze and retool based on the data you’re collecting on the behavior of your audience, you may not always get the frequency or message right the first time (but that’s what we’re here to help you do!). If you’d like a full assessment of how your organization can better market to build a better relationship with your audience and increase sales, contact us.
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If you’re just starting to look at marketing automation platforms, the natural question is, how is this different from what we’re already doing?
Marketing automation platforms have a lot of myths floating around what they can and can’t do. If you’re looking for some clarification about what is and isn’t true, read on! Here are six things that marketing automation most definitely is not.
Marketing automation is not just about email. Marketing automation platforms aren’t just an email sending machine. Marketing automation is a multichannel tool that can power your social media, landing pages, all the way to direct mail.
It doesn’t take a degree in rocket science to run. Marketing automation tools are created to be user friendly. Expertise in your platform will certainly help you more quickly master the steps you need to reach your business goals. But once you get the basics down, you should be able to run and monitor campaigns with ease. If you need help getting setup with your marketing automation platform, let us know!
It also isn’t something you turn on and just walk away from. While automation can save time and make your processes more efficient, you’re going to want to continue to check in, test and tune up campaigns as you go. As a supplement to your sales and marketing strategy, you need to put the time in to make sure your content and campaigns are progressing and aligning with your strategic goals.
It’s not spamming lists. Marketing automation is not just a way to send as many emails as you can to the same audience members. Spam is essentially sending irrelevant content to your audience. Marketing automation allows you to do the opposite — personalize your content to your segmented audiences so you’re getting the message to them at the time and channel they want around the topic they’re most interested in.
It’s not something only marketers use or get benefits from. While marketing automation is definitely a tool used in marketing, it’s also a tool used to support your sales organization by providing and nurturing more leads. If you can improve how you define and nurture leads, you can provide more qualified opportunities for your sales pipeline.
It’s not the same for every company. While the principles of marketing automation remain the same across businesses, it’s not a one size fits all process. You need to set goals within a clear strategy and implement the tool to fit within those goals. Having trouble applying your sales and marketing strategy within an automation framework? We can help!
In this case, defining marketing automation is as simple as listing the things it isn’t. Marketing automation ISN’T a complicated, email-only, one and done, spammy, marketing-exclusive, one-size-fits-all tool. It is a platform that helps you streamline, automate and analyze marketing to ultimately measure and improve sales results.
Have more questions about the capabilities of marketing automation and whether it’s right for your team? Contact us.
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Once a year, marketers across the U.S. converge on Minneapolis for Confab Central to get the latest content marketing news, trends, ideas, networking, and some pretty delicious cake.
At Leadous, content marketing plays a big role in the companies we work for. With any well-executed marketing automation strategy, content is going to be the fuel that drives it. We love to help companies re-evaluate an existing content library or sometimes even build a new one from scratch that speaks directly to their audience.
So we were pretty excited to get the opportunity to hear from some of our fellow marketers and strategists on what’s working well for their businesses and bring some of those insights back for you to apply to your content strategy! Here it is, four things we learned at Confab Central:
1. Customer centricity isn’t just a buzzword Gerry McGovern, founder and CEO of Customer Carewords, proclaimed that we are leaving the “age of the organization” and entering the “age of the customer.” And we couldn’t agree more!
Today, companies that succeed are centering their marketing strategies on how the customer wants to interact and buy from their organizations. So when you’re building an email campaign, updating a web page, or even starting from scratch with a brand new marketing automation strategy, the customer should always be top of mind. One way to practice this is to do a lot of audience research. What problem are your customers trying to solve by going to you? What research can you do to make sure that they’re having a good experience with your company’s website, emails, or content?
2. We should probably update our LinkedIn profiles to mind readers
As marketers, often we have to “read minds”. When other teams ask us for information or help on projects, we have to tease out the right information to get to a finished email or brochure that solves the business problem AND everyone will be happy with. Librarian, Anne Haines, is often in this situation as well. She gave us some helpful things to keep in mind when fielding requests across departments.
First, understand the situation. Get background on what the requestor is looking for and why. Second, find the gaps. What is it that they know and what is it that they don’t know? This helps to ensure you’re “speaking the same language” when coming up with a solution. Third, find out the use. What does the salesperson want to do with a new brochure? What deal will it support? The more you know about the applied end goal, the more you can help direct what you need to get there!
3. Content strategy is an iterative process, not just a deliverable
It’s easy to think of content strategy as a one and done. It’s a deliverable to show our bosses, the sales team and then execute. But more often than not, content strategy is an iterative process that documents what you have, how it’s doing and what you need. Content is the fuel that drives the marketing automation engine, and you need to constantly be refueling and performing maintenance checks to make sure everything is running smoothly.
Getting this sequence right can be tricky, and there are a lot of players involved from sales to marketing to senior leadership. If you’d like more information on executing a better content marketing and automation strategy, you may want to get started with an M2S Audit! Find out more here.
4. Content as an asset What’s the cost if you had no brochure, no website, or no lead generating e-books or lists or infographics? Content has real value, including monetary, when it comes to increasing sales through a marketing automation program or reducing calls to customer support for example.
As marketers, it’s our job to help reframe content as an asset, to bring out its true strategic power. When your company starts to rethink of content as an asset, you start to see a deep audience alignment between how well-crafted content can connect with your audience and fulfill your business goals.
Those were four, of many, many takeaways we gleaned from Confab Central this year. If you’d like to talk more about making the most of these content and marketing trends, we’re more than happy to chat with you.
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A marketing automation platform (MAP) can be the fast track to converting names to qualified leads for many companies. But it takes more than turning the system on to get the results you want as quickly as you need. You need to be able to optimize the platform to fit your company’s goals.
Here are 7 tips to help you on your path to better marketing automation.
1. Get a handle on your data. Bring together data from multiple systems, devices, and platforms so you can get a single view of where you’re at and where you’re going.
2. Pair with CRM. Make sure your MAP and CRM system are talking to each other constantly and consistently. You want to be able to view all of your marketing activity from within your CRM so you can automatically assign leads coming from your marketing efforts right to sales reps, and more.
3. Know your audience. Do you know who your audience is? What information they like to consume and when? What devices they use to consume information and how they interact with content? Start researching and tracking your audience to better inform your campaigns.
4. Develop personas. As you’re tracking and researching your audience, put that information into a set process like personas so you can keep track of the top 3-5 audience segments you’re targeting and their preferences, helping you organize and target your efforts.
5. Try progressive profiling. There’s always a balance between asking for the right amount of information so that prospects will still fill out forms, but you still have quality data in your CRM. If getting enough quality data on your prospect audience is a struggle, try progressive profiling. With progressive profiling you can gradually ask for new information from prospects to improve the quality of your database.
6. Personalize to your audience. Try personalizing more of your content directly to the personas you’ve developed or even to individuals based on certain actions they’ve taken on your site, whether it’s downloading a white paper or using an online tool.
7. Try lead scoring. Determine where leads are in the buying cycle and how closely they align with your definition of an “ideal” buyer by assigning “points” for how often a lead visits a web page, downloads a document and completes a lead gen form. Website visitors will start to accrue more points as they interact with your company, helping you determine who is most likely to to convert into a qualified lead.
Looking for additional tips to get more out of your existing marketing automation platform? We’re here to help! If you have a specific question on how you can get more out of your marketing automation strategy, contact us.
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Something we often hear from clients struggling with a newly minted automation tool is this: “I made the switch and it seems like I just have a more expensive email marketing tool.”
We get it. The excitement of implementing a new software tool is gone, the training is over, and now it’s just you and the platform, and a very lonely looking cursor on your screen.
When resources are tight you may be the only person handling the strategy to the implementation to the tactical execution of your marketing campaigns. It can get overwhelming and it’s easy to slip back into what you may already know how to do – send out batch and blast email campaigns.
When you get to that point, here are a couple tips to get you back on the road toward that ideal, automated campaigns strategy we know you can pull off!
Take a step back. Go back to your goals, both short term and long term. Are you trying to move leads more quickly through the pipeline? Get more qualified leads to your sales team? Get a clear idea of what your goals for the platform are, so you know where to prioritize your time and start building campaigns.
Map out a plan. Connect your audience, content, and communications back to those short and long term goals. Start with one campaign, maybe a new site visitor nurture campaign. Map out what a successful journey looks like, from when that person enters their email on your site to when you pass them onto sales and after. Think about what content and messaging you can send. Consider how automation can help fuel that journey. Once you’ve got a plan, it’s easier to start building out campaigns one leg at a time.
Talk to your team. Even if you’re the only person doing marketing for your organization, don’t forget to talk to your sales team, customer support team, basically any of the key players interfacing with prospects and customers. Get on the same page about your goals, and what success looks like. If your definition for a lead is different than your sales team’s, your marketing automation platform is already setup to fail, because you won’t be delivering to their expectations.
Commit to ongoing education. Take a Marketo University class, or talk to a services provider for insider tips on using the platform. The more committed you are to mastering the platform, the easier it will be to reap the full benefits from it.
Ask for help. One of the benefits of implementing a Marketo platform is the unparalleled enablement and support. Talk to your enablement consultant, contact customer support, or listen in to conversations in the Marketo community. Go back to your goals, it will be easier for a consultant to help you get across the finish line if you can say exactly what you’re trying to accomplish and the content and communications you’ve got on deck to back that up!
Talk to the experts. While you’re launching your first few campaigns, consider enlisting the help of a consulting firm to get up and running. Most expert consultants have run multiple campaigns addressing goals similar to yours and can help you navigate the challenges of fully optimizing your MAP.
These are just a few of the ways to avoid falling back into an email list service when you have a new marketing automation platform at your fingertips. For more tips or a full assessment of your marketing automation strategy, contact Leadous!
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Companies using marketing automation generate two times the number of leads than those who don’t (Autopilotus). It’s clear that a digital strategy centered on marketing automation can be extremely powerful for revenue-driven companies.
If you don’t already have a marketing automation platform, where do you begin? Here we’ve compiled the steps to take your department through before you decide which platform to buy.
1. Set Your Goals
What are you trying to achieve with marketing automation? Are you trying to increase leads? Re-engage cold leads? Move leads through the funnel more quickly? Think through your goals as SMART— goals that are specific, measurable, actionable, realistic and time bound.You can’t establish a successful marketing automation strategy if you don’t know why you’re marketing in the first place or if your goals are too vague to ever achieve.
2. Perform a Content Audit
The emails you send should be prompting an action from your audience, like downloading a relevant piece of content that will move them along the sales funnel. What white papers, guides or infographics do you have that match your audience’s sales stage? Does the content fall into specific themes or talk about certain products? Do you have a variety of content types tailored to your audience? Audit your content and categorize to the sales stages and themes that best fit your audience’s needs. Then check for gaps so you can get started on additional content creation.
3. Launch a Cross-Functional Internal Committee
Marketing automation platforms are powerful tools, but they still need people to manage them. You need to get the buy in of sales and marketing to turn your MAP into a well-oiled machine. Align your strategy between the two departments, starting by defining your terms (like lead, prospect, marketing qualified lead, sales accepted pursuit, etc). Then go through the journey from prospect to client and agree on how your company will be communicating with prospects through that journey. When does marketing hand off the lead to sales? Are you setting up nurture campaigns or calling campaigns along the way?
You know your goals and objectives, the content you have and need to get you started, and internal agreement around the road you’ll take to achieve your objectives. Now it’s time to start thinking about the features you need to fuel that process. Will you need to score leads? Use progressive profiling? Trigger communications when your audience takes a specific action? Match the features back to the strategy your internal stakeholders agreed to and start looking for a MAP that has the tools to power all your digital needs.
5. Ask for Help if you Need it
Implementing a marketing automation platform for your company is making a commitment to improved, intelligent communications. So you need to give it the time and thought necessary to make it successful. Make sure you’re able to pull in other team members, or outside consulting resources, to help plan the rollout, content writing and design, email writing and scheduling, analytics and campaign setup, and so on to get you on the road to success.
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Leadous has partnered with Adobe through their Accredited Amplify Program to bring best in class automation to those that are evaluating marketing automation platforms through the introduction of MAAAS (Marketing Automation As A Service).