Marketing automation: it’s a term that can either carry negative connotations, or just plain confusion. Those who actually manage successful automation programs know that it’s a process that can move mountains for any company, if executed correctly. The purpose behind this technology is to oversee and achieve business goals without having to participate in repetitive, time-consuming tasks.
Marketing automation is about cultivating relationships with your audience, built on trust. By freeing your company from many of these monotonous and mundane activities, those within the organization can focus on what matters most; customers and potential prospects.
Recently, Fanatics Media CEO Mark Fidelman, sat down with 3 of today’s most well-versed marketing automation experts, Andy MacMillan, Brandon Larocque, and Paul Adamson, to get to the bottom of how to implement an efficient and effective marketing automation solution. Check out the full replay of their conversation below:
Andy MacMillan is the CEO of Act-On Software, the leading marketing automation provider for SMBs. As the former COO of the Salesforce product division, Senior Vice President and General Manager at Data.com, and Vice President of product management role at Oracle, Andy has developed a proven track-record for enterprising business demand and increasing customer adoption.
Brandon Larocque, Managing Partner at Access Marketing Company, possesses nearly two decades experience in leadership in fields such as marketing, operations, production, and engineering across multi-billion dollar global companies. With intimate knowledge of marketing services such as paid advertising, SEO, and marketing automation, Brandon’s background sets him up as a true master of his craft.
Paul Adamson is the Director of Business Development & Marketing for the Spinnaker Management Group, a premier supply chain services company. He has spent more than 20 years focused on providing large public & private firms with optimized solutions for returns management programs and reverse logistics. Paul also recently assembled a team to develop electronics recovery and recycling programs in Central America.
Take a look at the knowledge these three bestowed:
Question #1: How do you define marketing automation, and why do companies need it?
“Marking automation is helping the automation of systems and programs to engage with prospects and customers in a systematic way.”
He discussed how the process requires thinking about how consumers are put into the sales funnel, how they are engaged while present, how to recapture folks who fall out of the funnel, and how to rate prospects as they go through all the steps.
His company looks at how automation technologies help companies to do better and scale up. He then layers great marketing on top of each hidden opportunity; this is where marketing automation really gets the chance to shine.
His company deploys automation software as a decision to engage in conversations with the people in the company’s known universe, and then tells those stories on a repeatable basis. This opens the doors to engage prospects and customers in a meaningful dialogue that was previously unavailable.
Question #2: How do you roll out marketing automation solutions properly and how do you choose which channels to market through?
He discussed how the rollout for his company was simple; they first looked at how the technology integrated with their CRM, what data it provided, and how easily it could potentially be broken. For these tasks, he assembled a team from marketing, IT, and sales to test the software and report on the metrics they most wanted to see and then built out the key four or five areas to meet these needs. The goal in mind was to produce a full lifecycle of communication that would ultimately promote the brand; he reported it has been “99% successful” thus far.
“Start with the end in mind and work backwards.”
While business goals will undoubtedly vary from client to client, he felt it is necessary to prioritize the company objectives and then begin to identify marketing campaigns to meet those goals.
He recommended a big project mentality, while also seeing immediate projects that have value; from there a balance can be established. He stated:
“We look for some really quick wins and then those help us build some momentum and success around the product for the big wins.”
Question #3: How do you determine a proper lead scoring system?
“My advice would be get started with something and start looking at how that plays out in terms of how it impacts your sales.”
Too often, he said, businesses try to develop the perfect plan, taking an indefinite amount of time, and ultimately never having the plan go live. The best way to implement a system is to just do it and then refine the plan with knowledge of your own business. That involves knowing what makes a good customer versus a not-ready customer, and layering this knowledge over the lead scoring scheme. By constantly making tweaks to the criteria companies, can identify the best of the best and become more accurate.
He reflected on how his company worked with a client success manager who provided scoring guidelines. From there, the system was tried and refined over and over again. Now he reviews the material on an end of quarter basis to refine even further and utilize the data to make better decisions.
For him, there is not only mathematical scoring but also qualitative feedback involved. He proclaimed:
“If you start doing lead scoring, what you’ll find is you’ll get feedback not only from the actions of the customers but your salespeople.”
It is important to determine what the indicative signals of a potential buyer are based off of the materials provided.
Question #4: What are some specific marketing automation tricks and hacks that moved the needle for you?
It’s all about becoming familiar with past engagements and the trends that can be mined from those closed deals. What pages did the prospect visit? What materials did they download? Etc. By determining this information you gain a higher likelihood of closing, or as Paul put it:
“Buyers make decisions in a pretty set pattern and if we can identify what that pattern is then we can exploit it.”
He recommended implementing a “sales rip cord”, or CTA’s to purchase or book an appointment to the top and middle of the sales funnel. He proposed:
“Don’t overlook the opportunity to let someone spend money with you if they have a need right then and there. Don’t force them to go through the whole funnel if they make a decision, give them a mechanism to act right then and there.”
While it is still important to focus on the fundamental material of that portion of the funnel, it is equally important to always give prospects the opportunity to become a customer.
His company does an excellent job of putting themselves into the prospect’s shoes to understand their behavior in the market. He asserted that too often companies lose this perspective through getting absorbed with their own content and activities. It is vital to think of the other signals a prospect may be giving off outside of interactions with your company, and leverage those as well. This could be this like seeing who is using trials based off of tweets or social activity, or any other sort of digital footprint to open the gateway for your company.
Question #5: Do you have any specific examples of marketing automation that produced high ROI?
“The biggest thing when we enter in a relationship with a client to help them and leverage marketing automation, the data has to come first.”
His company walks clients through connecting any existing system to gain success metrics and he stated that if a company has a CRM to connect, it should always be done. Brandon also stated that companies must:
“Measure the things across your organization that you need to do more of or do less of.”
He declared that some of his clients have dropped entire portions of marketing campaigns because they started to measure them and found it was not driving opportunity or revenue.
For him, the importance of measuring lifecycle engagement and reporting it monthly is vital. He recommended that companies look at who visited the website, who went through campaigns, how they engaged, and what drove those engagements. From there a set of metrics can be created and published for executives as a step-by-step guide on how the system helps to close deals.
Many organizations want higher average sales prices and increased sales productivity, however, what salespeople genuinely need is better, more qualified leads and more time to be productive; this is exactly what marketing automation helps companies achieve.
Question #6: What are some of the most common mistakes you’ve seen?
“Marketing automation is a combination of practice and tools.”
A common issue he finds is that people don’t focus on a solid marketing plan before implementing marketing automation to scale things up.
His company made the mistake of not prepping enough content out of the gate. He learned the hard way that once the marketing strategy has been built, developing usable content is paramount.
Too often customers don’t invest in long-term automation or content. They will run a campaign for a few weeks and declare it as a failure. Additionally, he has noticed that companies never get things started as they take forever formulating the perfect rules and scoring system. He advised that if marketing automation is something you are investing in, it will get refined and improve. Be pragmatic and get things started.
There are many more brilliant insights to be gained from the full conversation, or you can reach out to Fanatics Media and we can get your automation needs aligned with your company goals.
Call us at 760-262-4252