Want to help your marketing department perform at a higher level? Then consider marketing automation.
At a high level, marketing automation is all about improving your marketing team’s operational efficiency, and thus your sales effectiveness. Marketing automation software helps do that by automating numerous activities associated with running high-impact marketing campaigns, from demand generation and lead management to handing off leads to the sales team and analyzing overall campaign effectiveness.
Marketing Automation Essentials
To help businesses quickly improve their CRM programs through marketing automation, Cloud Sherpas regularly helps clients evaluate multiple providers, including more lightweight marketing automation vendors such as ConstantContact, ExactTarget, SalesGenius, and VerticalResponse, which greatly simplify the challenge of distributing large numbers of emails to designated recipients.
But to handle more advanced automation requirements, including full-fledged lead management, Cloud Sherpas also partners with such marketing automation software providers such as Eloqua and Marketo. Both offer advanced, enterprise-class automation capabilities, including:
Profiling and targeting: Pick the right group to send any marketing communication, based on job title, conferences attended, white papers downloaded, “likes” to your corporate Facebook page, Twitter communications, and more.
Lead nurturing: Warm up prospects, so that sales can swoop in and quickly close deals.
Lead-scoring: Use a decision-making engine that helps determine when a lead is ready for sales.
Analytics: For any campaign, how many emails were opened? How many white papers downloaded? How many tweets reposted? Use these marketing metrics to feed your lead-scoring engine.
Campaign workflow: Manage complex decision trees based on who opens an email or clicks links inside emails and use that feedback to adjust lead scores and drive trigger-based campaigns to further nurture leads.
Comparing Eloqua And Marketo
How do Eloqua and Marketo compare to one another? For answers, I turned to consultant Oliver Dunford, who said that overall, Eloqua is a bit more functional than Marketo; it will do just about anything you need, but requires a bit more setup time, infrastructure, and management. Accordingly, many of Cloud Sherpas’ clients select Marketo, because they see it as the easier system to use, meaning they can typically just give it to their marketing teams and let them run with it. Finally, with its acquisition of Crowd Factory, Marketo now enables social marketing automation.
While each application sports its own database, they both hook into your salesforce.com environment. The idea is simple: use the marketing automation tools to nurture, understand, and build relationships with people. Then, after they’ve shown interest, you can push them from marketing to sales and into the CRM system.
Know The Business Case
Regardless of any marketing automation tool you may ultimately select, the starting point should be looking at how your marketing programs work now, and what might be done to make them perform better.
The principle marketing-related challenge for most organizations with which we work is campaign management, because without automation running campaigns is a chore. Marketing personnel have to liaise with Web developers to create good-looking marketing emails, coordinate with IT to pull the required customer lists and find that running trigger-based campaigns–in which customized follow-up emails get sent after a prospect visits the website or downloads a white paper–is pretty much impossible.
Marketing Automation Closes The Loop
By using marketing automation, however, an organization can track the successfulness–or ROI–of their marketing campaigns. Previously, marketing personnel may have used one tool to send bulk emails and another to analyze what happened next–a prospect opened the email, or clicked on a link–but the “marketing intelligence” stops there. The biggest problem is the difficulty of tracking links from the initial email to the point where the prospects get on the lead-nurturing radar to logging the closed business in the CRM system.
Better Leads, Lower Sales Costs
Another principle driver for adopting marketing automation tools is for its usefulness for sales teams. Given that having salespeople call on customers is one of the most expensive parts of the CRM operation, reducing the time salespeople need to spend chasing leads can deliver huge benefits to the business.
Making that happen requires practicing the art of lead management. Too often, sales teams complain that lead quality is poor, that they’re being handed job titles that aren’t authorized to make purchasing decisions or that buying power is weak. Using marketing automation helps ensure that, until leads have been properly massaged and rated as being high quality, the sales team never sees them.
Scoring Leads Speaks To Sales
To help, many businesses use lead scoring, and ask the sales team to help assign scores. For example, any prospect with a c-level job title might receive 10 points, anyone working at a business with 10,000+ employees might receive 10 points and anyone who’s opened four of your marketing emails in the past two weeks may get 20 points. Using criteria such as these, sales can look at the leads sent from marketing, review the scores assigned to all prospects and then work their way down the list.
After initially setting up this type of program, it’s important to circle back and refine the point system–as well as any handoff thresholds. Then again, maybe sales will simply want to see more leads, because they’ve been closing all of the ones you sent.
The Power Of Marketing Automation
That’s the power of marketing automation: the marketing team can run advanced campaigns that reach a greater number of people at once while the sales team sees only the high-quality leads that come through. In terms of sales and marketing power, not to mention revenues, closing that loop equals big bang for your buck.