marketing automation

by Jon Russo Jon Russo No Comments

Bigger deals that close faster!

We’re still not yet hitting the full promise of what marketing 2.0 could be delivering on.  In an informal poll of 3 CMOs of B2B companies with revenues from $50M to $5B, I asked about their progress with new revenue acquisition effectiveness around gaining bigger deal sizes with decreased sales cycle time by leveraging effective marketing automation deployments and other inbound techniques of marketing.  The findings mirror what MOCCA (Marketing Operations Community) reported in January 2012 in a webinar survey of over 200 companies – on balance, companies that invested in marketing automation platforms experienced better (and more) leads at a lower cost per lead, not yet bigger deals that closed or a faster close time.

How do you get better conversion and more effective utilization out of your technology investments, specifically around your marketing automation platform?  Here are 3 suggestions:

  • Data – I use the ‘sight on the rifle’ analogy with data.  If your rifle sight is off by the slightest, you’ll miss your target by a mile when you go to shoot at it.  The single biggest area which is most often misunderstood by executives is the integrity of your company data.  Without complete data (contact names, phone numbers, email addresses), sales teams invest an inordinate amount of research time to get the right information.  (see previous post on the cost of this).  There have been tools that have improved ascertaining some of this information (LinkedIn plugin to salesforce.com, Data.com, InsideView, RainKing, etc.) to start down this path.  However, even the tools in and of themselves do not solve for data integrity issues of appending, cleansing, and preventing duplications at the contact or account level.  With the right up front planning, sales effectiveness can be increased.
  • Buyer cycle knowledge – a surprising number of organizations way underestimate the need to build out content around their buying cycle.  First, organizations miss on understanding the ‘moments of truth’ of how their buyers actually buy and when buyers leverage digital technology to buy.  How they can get a better understanding here is through surveys, customer forums, and unpacking previously won deals to piece together successful elements.  The second area they miss out on is targeting the right content at the right time in the cycle.  As an example, Rackspace does an exceptional job of targeting end of funnel conversion by leveraging LinkedIn recommendations by clients such that other potential clients can see what their friends purchased.
  • Metrics/Reporting – probably the trickiest area of all and at the nexus of data, process, and content.  Without the other pieces in place, marketing ROI is a myth.  The vendors in the space are happy to sell you their capabilities which are either set up leveraging very specific use cases or require a fair amount of care and feeding to get operating correctly.  It will take people energy and an excel template to get the right data reported out on but without doing this, you won’t know what areas to improve in.  Veracity always comes into question when data is formatted outside of CRM systems, so be prepared to identify all assumptions in data gathering and use those assumptions consistently.

How have you improved your processes in getting bigger deals with shorter sales cycles?

by Jon Russo Jon Russo No Comments

MOCCA DC – Trends in Marketing Operations

Marketing Operations as a B2B discipline is rapidly growing.  As one data point that supports its growth, we had our largest attendance to date for today’s MOCCA meeting in Washington DC with Andrew Gaffney and Amanda Batista of Demand Gen Report covering recent readership survey results on trends in marketing measurement, changes in b2b buyers, and shifts in content preferences.  Rather than rehash the survey results which are available on DemandGen’s website, here are 4 key takeaways from our hour long question and answer session that followed the presentation:

Content:  this area was the theme and background of DemandGen, so it was not a surprise to hear this topic come up.  We spent considerable time discussing the pros and cons of webinars, both live and recorded, and came to the conclusion they are a worthy, cost effective tactic to consider as part of the overall marketing mix.  With today’s integration in marketing automation platforms, there are more benefits reporting wise to use webinars versus in years past.  Video is also a tactic that can be repurposed toward mobile devices and non-mobile devices.  There were a few audience members who suggested that having  4 videos of 5 minutes each were more powerful than one 20 minute video and easier for a buyer to digest.

Data Warehouse:  this is an emerging area for enterprise companies that are trying to do data manipulation and more sophisticated reporting.  B2B companies are realizing a shortcoming of their CRM systems and marketing automation systems in terms of lack of data reporting flexibility.  Thus, they are looking to front end load their systems with a data warehouse that interoperates with disparate data sets and can do sophisticated reporting through easier manipulation of data.

Mobile:  this area remains an enigma for b2b marketers (my data points extend beyond this session with the CMOs of both Cisco and Xerox confirming this same data).  Contrary to what is happening in the market, marketers are just not yet ready to think about rendering b2b campaigns in mobile, either through their marketing automation platform or through companies like Litmus Technologies.  One company mentioned it was beginning to source 15% of its lead flow (not web traffic) from mobile devices yet the majority were not optimizing campaigns or content specifically toward mobile devices.  There are likely too many other competing priorities for marketers to be focused on, thus crowding out mobile for the moment.  Everyone knows they should be doing it (like working out at a gym), but few actually do it.

Reporting:  the majority of companies were at the early stages of connecting marketing investment to new revenue struggling with both systems as well as cultural – cultural meaning does marketing ‘source’ revenue or do they ‘influence’ revenue.  The theory models would suggest marketing does both, but not every culture absorbs that methodology.

We didn’t have time to cover it, but data and its accuracy seems to be the next hot topic for MOCCA to talk about.  What areas in marketing operations are you seeing that is hot?

 

 

by Jon Russo Jon Russo 2 Comments

Next Gen Marketing Automation Platforms – Revenue Impacting

It’s time for the next generation of marketing automation – a revenue generating marketing automation system that focuses across new areas of predictability, effectiveness, and a wholistic view of a prospect/customer situation with the right analytics.  As a former high tech CMO that understands SaaS companies and platforms, I’ve implemented multiple instances of marketing automation platforms and more recently started a business digging deep at the marketing automation/CRM ecosystem to get more revenue, quicker.

 

Here are 4 areas that I think the next generation of marketing automation will solve for:

Predictive:  while the lead scoring models of yester-year are a good start to sorting out the needles from the hay, people are starting to realize that companies cannot ‘set and forget’ to hope the scoring methodology works long term.  Buying behaviors change and a buying committee in B2B is complex.  A predictive element with newer analytic capabilities is emerging in the B2B world, leveraging similar technologies that B2C marketers use (i.e. Amazon and best picks).  A company can then determine what products or solutions are most likely to be purchased based on similar demographic or segmentation sets.

Raise Sales&Marketing Effectiveness:  as I’ve previously posted on my blog, the data element is the single most important area for companies to understand and harvest, yet at the executive level it is often the least understood.  Bad data is like a rifle with its sight off;  if your sight is off by a ¼ inch, you’ll miss your end target by a mile.  If the data is bad, you’ll never reach your target or lose valuable time trying to reach the target.  Newer marketing automation systems that leverage the right SaaS integration will be more sophisticated to go beyond the deduplication at the account, contact, and lead level (like they do today or with other 3rd party tools like CRM Fusion, Dupe Blocker, etc.) by providing real time feedback on phone numbers and contact information to increase the effectiveness of the inside sales organization.  Outsourced data cleansing strategies will become less prevalent as time goes on.

Assist with 360 view of a prospect:  with SaaS environments leveraging CRM (Salesforce.com) and new integration technologies (Dell Boomi, etc), there is a newer way to get intimate understanding of your customer prior to sales reaching out real time.  Billing information, trouble tickets, and other service questions can theoretically be displayed to a sales person so they are not ‘surprised’ calling into a new or existing account trying to up-sell.  With a 360 view, coupled with the predictive element, there will be new ways to get more revenue for companies that are savvy. Customer marketing (up-sell, cross-sell) is the hardest type of marketing to do and measure, this 360 view will help complete that circle. The single most important aspect is to make it easy for sales rep to get access to it from their current system.

Analytics that are meaningful:  the first generation SaaS marketing automation vendors have made an attempt at analytics, either licensing 3rd party software (Micromuse, Good) or attempting to build on their own.  The next generation analytic dashboards will be visible by anyone that has CRM access, not just marketing users with marketing data.  These analytics will show the areas above – marketing influenced revenue, 360 viewpoint, and data quality.  While some of this can be reported in systems today, it’s challenging at best.

What do you think, what are you seeing for future marketing automation environments to get more revenue, quicker?  Where are the pain points and shortcomings in your environment?


by Jon Russo Jon Russo No Comments

LIKE: new SiriusDecisions Demand Waterfall

Yesterday in the 106 degree Arizona weather, we received a needed waterfall – SiriusDecisions unveiled their upgraded view of the latest demand waterfall model at their annual conference.  With an array of color codes and arrows, the new direction is spot as it accounts for revenue sourcing across all elements of the business rather than taking a more myopic view of just what marketing does for the business for net new revenue.  It is no longer the ‘marketing waterfall’ but the ‘business waterfall’ in the 2.0 approach.

 

Here are my views of the new structure and why it is positive:

  • At an executive level, one should be measuring the velocity and cost of the source of leads converting to new revenue, regardless of the source (inbound, outbound, teleprospecting, sales).  According to Adobe’s 2012 CMO report, fewer than 20% measure their ROI on marketing, this framework will help contribute to defining the ROI element.
  •  At a more tactical inquiry level, a senior marketer needs to make a more intentional decision around resource allocation across inbound and outbound marketing mix and tactics.  When the demand creation model was created 10 years ago, social media (LinkedIn as an example) was less prevalent than that of today).
  • The model highlights the importance of the teleprospecting function in accepting, qualifying leads, and generating leads – this function’s importance is often underestimated or routinely outsourced without thinking through strategic revenue implications.  (See previous post here).  It’s the toughest job in the business in my opinion.  By explicitly calling out outbound teleprospecting accountability, a key skillset for account executives, sales leaders should welcome this new framework as it also spells out a clearer career path for teleprospectors.
  • Within the marketing qualification step, by putting more accountability within teleprospecting to ‘accept’ the leads rather than work all leads by marketing, the chances of marketing dumping several unqualified leads onto sales is further reduced.

There are nuances depending on the type of business that the model may need to be tweaked for – specifically around channel partners or other 3rd party mechanisms that generate revenue though the idea and flow should largely be the same.   Also, what’s not discussed is how to implement this kind of waterfall depending on the current stage of current processes – it will take an organization a committed period of time, so phasing and testing should be key to implementation. Lastly, I’ve surprisingly found a number of organizations, particularly larger ones, dancing around the conversation of ‘sourced’ vs. ‘influenced’ revenue, with some larger companies driving in one direction or the other rather than looking at both.   As SAP CMO @jbecher tweeted from the audience yesterday, ‘culture eats strategy’.  Specifically, one needs to be aware of the rigor and thoroughness this model represents and the willingness of the company to absorb the model.

It is critical for companies to do this kind of measuring to improve performance.  It is the right thing to do.

What are your views of the model?

by Jon Russo Jon Russo No Comments

CMO Changes & Challenges: Cisco, Xerox, GE

The Chief Marketing Officers from Cisco and from Xerox presented at today’s Philadelphia America Marketing Association (AMA) on “Changes and Challenges CMOs face” and I attended with about 100 others.

Much of what they said reinforced recent observations I’ve had with client and prospect companies in terms of what are executive marketing priorities.  The theme was ‘measure and be accountable but don’t be afraid to go with the gut’.  There are 3 specific areas that were covered today that are worth delving into:

  • Segmentation – There are several key questions to be asking which will later inform the content creation and/or marketing automation strategy to reach prospective customers.  Usually this step is surprisingly overlooked in prospect companies of mine where they have not done enough recent diligence to understand how their buyer buys today (not how they bought 3 years ago) and Cisco reaffirmed this position by offering up some basic questions to review such as – who is our customer?  Do we really understand what is happening in our buying cycle?  Do we understand what message resonates and why?
  • CRM/Marketing Automation – Cisco invested billions in new company acquisitions but the back end infrastructure has not kept pace.  Consequently, the nirvana of a ‘closed loop’ lead system is not yet in place where one can track inquiry to close, likely because of several instances of CRM and/or marketing automation.   A strategy in place to not only identify how to consolidate these instances but how to measure the impact is needed.
  • Experimenting – Xerox emphasized the importance of keeping 5% of their annual budget as an ‘experiment’ budget that gets used with CMO approval.  So often, prospect companies that I work with have hamstrung themselves so much, that the ‘experiment’ promise sounds really good, but executing to that is really challenging.  A good experiment bet to make right now is LinkedIn (see my prior posts here.)

 

GE Healthcare’s CMO who was an audience member asked how both aligned with emerging market sales efforts.  There seemed to be universal agreement that China and Russia were growth markets.  However, Cisco (and I later discovered in GE) really do not have the marketing resource today to invest in branding and campaigns in these regions, so much of the marketing is event driven marketing.  This is where the puck is headed for marketing and in business – to understand how to get to these new markets by leveraging cost effective technology that has been proven in mature markets.  This runs under the assumption that in region, campaigns are accepted in a digital format (in China for example, YouTube is not allowed/utilized in the buying process.)  This is probably an emerging opportunity for marketing to consider as they plan their campaigns to reach new prospects globally.

What have you found as your burning priorities?

by Jon Russo Jon Russo No Comments

Marketing Operations – MOCCA East Coast

Today’s MOCCA meeting in Washington DC covered what role marketing operations plays in B2B with a diverse set of companies and vendors in attendance.  We discussed the scope of the marketing operations role, benchmarked data from a variety of analysts, and summarized our discussion by sharing our practical operational experiences to overcome a number of challenges.

Here are 5 key takeaways from our MOCCA discussion:

•  From a pool of twenty choices, the two most popular challenges for marketing operation heads were reporting/analytics and data management.  Based on other experiences here, this did not come to me as a surprise (mainly because this is also my primary business focus area of connecting marketing investment to new revenue);  Adobe/Omniture recently said in their 2012 report that fewer than 20% of CMOs were confident in their ROI reporting ability.   As for data management, companies are constantly wrestling with data quality issues where process is king for long term resolution in this area.

• All companies acknowledged process issues across the board, though few dug into what those process issues really meant (nurturing, data quality, lead treatment, etc).  From a non-marketer viewpoint, process is less visible than a more tangible reporting/analytics and data structure for people to see, but without good process, the analytics will be in rough shape!

• There was an interesting discussion around the credibility of marketing as it relates to marketing sourced vs. marketing influenced revenue.  Some companies focused on one category or the other depending on what their culture was willing to absorb.  This is a really fundamental point that is often overlooked in the theory frameworks of tracking/trending marketingan organization as a whole (beyond marketing) really needs to ‘buy in’ to what the definition of revenue that is ‘marketing sourced’ and/or ‘marketing influenced,’ else the marketing organization risks credibility or relevance issues if the definitions are at question.

• Social is not moving the needle enough for lead generation or is not measurable enough to quantify revenue impact at the top of the funnel.  Twitter and Facebook seem to be ‘nice to do’s’ , yet LinkedIn continues to show strong within groups where a large community can be gathered by word of mouth vs. investment.  This finding is consistent with my post here, although my finding was LinkedIn is helping both top of funnel and later in sales conversion.

• All participants struggle with the ‘HOW’ to get something implemented;  there were theory frameworks which were used as strawman, but when the rubber met the road, people had to wrap their minds on how to execute with limited resources vs. talking about great ideas and new strategies.

All in all, a very good investment of time.   What are some of your marketing operation challenges you wrestle with?

by Jon Russo Jon Russo No Comments

Improving Conversion through Win/Loss

Most organizations have a quantifiable goal toward improving KPIs and analytics on more closed marketing sourced revenue.   An effective method to accomplish conversion improvement is to do a ‘win/loss’ analysis on specific areas of the buying process. One really important element here is to make sure sales and marketing understands and buys into what you are trying to accomplish – the goal is not to audit company losses to fingerpoint, the goal is to improve on conversion rates once armed with data/information on what is and is not working in the buyers cycle.


The key process flow areas to measure are within the CRM system on closed lost opportunity, closed lost leads, and open leads. Try to keep to a maximum of ten questions with an incentive to fill out the survey (though I’ve not found a correlation to an incentive and survey responses.)  You’ll need a big enough pool to get a statistically valid sample size to work, a recent example is we had about a 2% response rate.  There is some validity in having an outside party do these surveys vs. inside party, though depending on budgets and timing, inside may need to suffice.   Externally, firms charge approximately $1250 for each completed survey.

There are two approaches we typically use – ongoing and retroactive.  Most organizations fall into the retroactive category because it’s the best way to get aggregate data quickly, though there are substantial benefits to establishing an ongoing approach.

1.  For an ongoing approach, you’ll get real time feedback as to how you are performing.  How to do this is to create process flow survey questions and structures via CRM/SFDC workflows within key trigger points of buying cycle, thus providing REAL TIME feedback to marketing.  SFDC has a number of surveying tools that are free and can be utilized via the app exchange (note for some SFDC editions, there are a limit of the number of apps that can be deployed.)

2.  Rear view mirror looking – Best used by deploying a survey to a pre-determined pool of closed lost opportunities and closed lost leads for interpretation of data.  While CRM systems allow this batch communication to occur, it’s likely a prospect or existing customer will need to remember what their buying cycle experience was like at the time of purchase.  Looking rear view mirror also allows you to use other tools (SurveyMonkey) for a pulling in of results.

Ideally, the information should be captured in your CRM and/or Marketing Automation instance such that an ongoing analysis can take place on the data.  If it is captured, the prospect will have to reveal their identity (required for the incentive), otherwise they may prefer the SurveyMonkey or anonymous route.  Lastly, if doing this on your own, there may be some survey bias versus having an external firm or company do this.

What have you found that works for you?

 

 


by Jon Russo Jon Russo No Comments

Wow, what a year!

Wow, what a year!  As 2012 revs back up, I want to take a moment to reflect and share some brief accomplishments of my company that started the second half of last year.  It was an exhilarating ride that only gets better each day!  Here are a subset of the highlights.

  • My B2B client base expanded to 6 different companies – helping them predict their revenue by tying their marketing investments to new revenue activities at an executive level.  These companies were global in nature with headquarters throughout the US with revenues ranging from $50M to $15B+ spanning a range of industries.  I am very grateful for the opportunity for my company to help them!
  • Forrester Research cited my company in their first report on best practices for business to business key performance marketing indices (KPIs). This was very exciting for me!
  • I spoke at a number of engagements including presenting with one with one of my customers showcasing how we established KPIs for her business by working through key process elements.  We also spoke at the leading demand generation conference on this same topic.

Interesting observation across my 2H11 experiences – each of my clients had a different set of sales and marketing technology choices around marketing automation (as an example Eloqua, Marketo, Manticore, Leadformix) and CRM/data sourcing (Zoominfo, Jigsaw, Data.com, Dun and Bradstreet) leading to very different outcomes in segmentation, data quality, campaign effectiveness, and overall marketing ROI.  There was a strong correlation to those first working on their business strategy, then selecting their technology to support the strategy, in terms of sales and marketing ROI effectiveness.

2012 looks very promising so far – there is an underserved need at an executive level of connecting marketing to new revenue – in large part because there are so many technological combinations and a varying skillset of people.

Thank you again to my clients!  Good luck to all in 2012!

by Jon Russo Jon Russo No Comments

Marketing ROI through automation

There are 3 system components to getting effective marketing ROI leveraging marketing automation:  Content, Process, and Data.  Think of ROI as a 3 legged stool – the automation (seat) is supported by 3 legs of Content, Process, and Data.  The stool falls over if any one element is missing.  Let’s dive in.

 

Content:  Must be relevant for the segment of audience we are going after, and built to keep the segment engaged over a period of time.  Lead nurturing, or the art of keeping in front of a prospective buyer with their permission is the key stage leveraged here.  The example I use in presentations is think about the JetBlue or other airline emails you receive at home – the content is relevant as the emails focus on your local airport and they keep in front of you on a regular basis even when you are not considering an airline purchase.

Process:  Can vary depending on organization size and structure and is most acutely needed when handing off sales ready leads to the sales organization from the marketing organization.  Processes need to be built for the ‘not now, maybe later’ buyer where sales has a clear disposition path of these inquiries.  Processes need to be considered a ‘system’, not a ‘handoff’ – the prospect to customer conversion experience must be seen as one whole, not as two parts with a handoff.

Data:  Quality makes the difference between good conversions and so-so conversions.  This area is often overlooked, particularly around field integrity and processes that eliminate duplication in entries.  In some clients, I’ve seen up to 60% bad data in their database.  Marketing campaign effectiveness is directly proportional to database quality.

When these three areas are tackled, marketing ROI can be measured and improved upon.  Focusing on just one of these elements risks not getting the right return – leads that are hung up in bad processes can not be fixed with good content or good data.  Think of ROI as a system and not as individual pieces and you’ll be on the right road of success.

by Jon Russo Jon Russo 3 Comments

Leveraging your Salesforce.com investment

As you’ve seen in previous posts, customer needs and revenue trajectory dictate technology decisions for the companies providing services.  As mid-sized companies contemplate how to get their sales teams more productive and get revenue quicker, they have a variety of marketing automation choices – Pardot, Infusionsoft, and now Marketo.  After listening to Marketo’s newest offer and watching a detailed demo, and contrasting it to the capabilities that some of my clients have, I am really impressed with Marketo’s offer.  I am not compensated by them in any way nor by any other marketing automation vendor.  Here’s why I’m impressed:

  • After studying a variety of models at high and low ends, the integration with Salesforce.com is key.  Marketo has perfected a native connection that makes it easy for companies to do this integration.  From my client experiences and my own, other automation systems lack in this area.  They’ll claim they have the functionality but it isn’t as clean as that of Marketo’s.
  • At $750/month,  it’s competitive with other offers – but what’s nice is if the company grows and has more need, there is no rip and replace needed in this cloud based solution.  A configuration change is needed in the cloud.  Now while I’ve not actually deployed this Spark software, it is my sense that with the upgrade, more business processes will be needed to be defined.  This is a category of ‘good headaches to have’.  The other lower end solutions do not have this capability.  This makes Marketo an ideal ‘try before you buy’ scenario.
  • Ease of use – the 4 step process makes this system incredibly easy to use so for a marketing shop with few or limited resources, this is definitely a solution to be aware of.
  • On the fly lead scoring which enables more leads to flow to sales depending on definition criteria.

Some other things to be aware of regarding Spark:

  • Marketing campaigns only get measured on first touch, not last touch or multi touch like the ‘Marketo Classic’ offer has.  This may impact how one allocates their marketing budget.  First touch allocation is common in about 45% of companies according to numerous industry surveys.
  • There is limited PURL capability or personalized URLs which are more prevalent in the ‘classic’ version.
  • There is a limit of 30,000 emails per month.
  • Emails are sent through Marketo – not through your company.  Email deliverability rates are high for Marketo but it’s an area to pay close attention to that not many in the industry know or study.

I think this move for Marketo is the right move and wish them luck tackling this new market.