Tag: Marketing Automation

  • What is marketing automation and how can it help B2B marketers?

    What is marketing automation and how can it help B2B marketers?

    What factors are driving marketing automation platform use, and what capabilities do MAPs provide for B2B marketers? MAPs help businesses identify potential customers and automate the process of nurturing the leads to sales readiness using channels like email, social media, webpages and display ads to bring customers and prospects to customized landing pages and through other experiences designed to move them down the purchase funnel. These platforms integrate tightly with CRMs and CDPs, continuously collecting more data about leads to fuel insights and further personalization, often with the assistance of artificial intelligence and machine learning. MAPs are often overlooked by marketers amid the chase after the shiny new thing. They are taken for granted in part because of their ubiquity and critical importance as the central hub of many businesses’ marketing stacks. Marketers double down by replacing MAPs Perhaps that’s why, in a time of rapid change, marketers are replacing their MAPs more frequently than other technologies — it is critical the MAP does what the business needs it to. MAPs were replaced by 23% of the respondents to our MarTech Replacement Survey in 2022, similarly to the 23% that reported replacing MAPs in 2021. Digging down into the motivations for replacement, the marketers who said they replaced MAPs in 2022 generally went from one packaged commercial solution (rather than a homegrown application) to another commercial tool, with most seeking better features (58%) and improved integration (23%). Dig deeper: MarTech Replacement Survey. The top 5 solutions replaced How vendors differentiate on capabilities The more basic functions of marketing automation have become somewhat commoditized, so platform vendors mostly try to differentiate on the ability to scale (especially to new marketing channels), usability, ease of implementation and customer experience features. Vendors continue to expand training programs, as well as add-on professional services, to improve platform use. Online communities — for both customers and developers — are also increasingly important to strengthen platform support, advocacy and market penetration. Many MAP vendors have roots in email marketing, which continues to be a core function andis often the only function customers use. However, many platforms offer an evolving range ofemail marketing features, including advanced lead management, ABM tools and predictiveanalytics. Core and advanced functionalities of an MAP Virtually every marketing automation solution comes with tools for email campaign development andexecution (including landing pages), as well as lead capture, scoring and nurturing. Vendors continue to add features, including the following: Dynamic content creation and delivery Virtually all MAPs let users create, send and measure personalized email campaigns. Wherethey differ is in how email, landing page and website content are created and personalized.Some offer wizard-based campaign design or content templates, while others provide a morecustomized approach. Lead management This encompasses lead nurturing and scoring and is based on leads captured from the various sources feeding the marketing automation database. These include, but are not limited to, website visitors, social media, paid digital campaigns, email marketing respondents, trade show attendees and purchased third-party lists. Predictive analytics Marketing automation vendors generally provide analytics that track quantifiable data such as website visitor activity, pages viewed, time spent on site, emails opened, content downloaded and campaign responses. More vendors are offering predictive analytics and models based on machine learning. This uses algorithms to process data and surface trends or insights that enable marketers to customize visitor experiences and marketing campaigns. Mobile marketing Creating an engaging experience for mobile prospects and customers is a must-have capability.As a result, many MAPs include responsive templates for email, landing pages and web forms. More advanced mobile marketing features include SMS/texting, in-app marketing and remote platform management from mobile devices. Account-based marketing Vendors continue to add new ABM features to enable marketers to address the buying group as well as individual members, including enhanced account nurturing and predictive scoring capabilities. Native CRM integration With more businesses seeking to align marketing with sales, native or out-of-the-box integration withCRM systems has become a critical feature for MAPs. Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics 365, Oracle NetSuite and SugarCRM are some of the most commonly available connectors. Data is synchronized between the two systems and shared in both directions at frequent intervals. Other advanced capabilities Some MAPs also offer matching of leads to social media profiles; APIs and app marketplaces to access and integrate third-party software solutions; and AI-based recommendations for next-best-steps. The market is quickly evolving, as B2B marketers demand integrated marketing functionality. For much more detail on this rapidly changing space, download the latest edition of our free report, “B2B Marketing Automation Platforms: A Marketer’s Guide.”

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  • A 4-step guide to creating a self-service marketing organization

    A 4-step guide to creating a self-service marketing organization

    Marketing operations teams have a big problem with staff burnout and turnover. Among the many reasons for this is the amount of time spent doing the same tasks over and over for different campaigns. Fortunately, there is a solution — one that resides entirely in MOps itself. And what is that solution? “Self-service, something that I really think is a huge missed opportunity for many marketing operations teams,” said Justin Sharaf, vice president of marketing operations at data intelligence company Collibra. “The best way to be more productive yourself is to train others to do their own work and do their own work better. This is what I mean by self-service.”  In other words, get the marketers up to speed on these basic things they need so they can take care of it for themselves. This increases efficiency for both marketers and marketing operations. For marketers there’s less time spent waiting for someone else to do the thing they need to do their job. For MOps it means more time they can spend on strategic issues.  Dig deeper: Strategic marketing operations leaders can earn a seat at the top table “If you’re looking to advance your career in marketing operations and get out of the execution and into the strategy,” said Sharaf, speaking at The MarTech Conference, “looking at self-service options for your marketers can really get you on your way.” Here are four things you need to focus on to “really make self-service pop for your organization.”  Documentation  Enablement Robust QA process  Access management  1. Documentation Training is essential, but it isn’t enough. No matter how good the training, many people won’t come out of it completely ready to execute. Things will be forgotten or misremembered. As a result some steps don’t get done or get done in the wrong order. Either way, the result is the same: It doesn’t work. That’s why you have to document what you want them to do and how to do it.  “You can use Confluence or Wiki or SharePoint as an encyclopedia of knowledge for your marketers,” said Sharaf. “You can teach them and train them on what they need to do to be able to utilize Marketo or Eloqua HubSpot themselves. [That way they’re] using your team as a support mechanism rather than using your team as an execution mechanism.” This is really important for marketing operations professionals trying to move from execution to strategy and advance their career. This is a piece that I think a lot of marketing operations professionals are able to take advantage of and many are not. 2. Enablement For Sharaf enablement means two things: reference and support.  “Enablement to me is the most important thing that marketing operations can do for the marketing organization,” said Sharaf. “Because the more you enable others, the more time that marketing operations professionals can focus on more strategic projects and advancing the goals of the marketing organization.” Documentation is one part of reference, the other is recordings of regular trainings. “You want to constantly be doing trainings and recordings so that new people in the organization are able to access the information they need for self-service solutions,” he said. Support means being available to answer users questions, but need to set boundaries around that. If you don’t, you encourage them to contact you about anything at any time. That undermines their ability to “stand on their own” with marketing tools. Dig deeper: Marketing operations talent is suffering burnout and turnover The solution is setting up regular office hours — like a professor does — when people can come and ask questions about things you’ve previously trained them on. These can be weekly or daily. That depends on the size of your group and the needs of the organization.  “Showing them how to do these things through regular trainings and then answering their questions through office hours is a great way to get them up to speed quickly and also keep them up to date with what you’ve been up to more recently,” Sharaf said. 3. The QA process “One thing marketing automation professionals miss when they’re doing self-service is they don’t have a great QA process and they don’t have a great go-live process,” he said. “They do all the training in the neighborhood and they just send the marketers on their way. Then the marketers make some mistakes and you think, ‘Oh man, I don’t want them to do it anymore because they’re making mistakes.’” Don’t do that.  Instead, create a robust QA process. Have the marketers do the self-service by building the email, landing page, program, etc. Then, have your team confirm it’s ready before it goes live. “A robust QA process makes the marketers feel more comfortable, makes you feel more comfortable, and gives you a lot of time to focus on other things rather than building and rather than worrying about something going wrong after the fact,” Sharaf said. 4. Access management  Access management is key to protecting both you and your users. Everybody needs access to the level of their skills and no further.  “You don’t want a beginner to be able to make edits to your database,” he said. “[Proper access management] limits the risk of mistakes being made and allows you to progress users through the access process. So, as they become better they get more access and more autonomy to be able to do more with the marketing automation platform.” Most marketing automation tools let you create different roles for different users. Sharaf suggests having beginner, intermediate and expert roles. Not only does this limit access appropriately, it lets you know how well your training is going.  “If we see too many people in the beginner role, it means that we’re not doing our job training them,” Sharaf said. “If we have too many in the expert role, it probably means that we’re being a little too little, too flexible in allowing people to get through to that expert role.” Self-service takes work but it’s a win/win proposition. Marketers get more skills and you get more time to help the organization and yourself by working on bigger picture issues.

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  • 4 easy ways to optimize data intake on your marketing automation platform

    4 easy ways to optimize data intake on your marketing automation platform

    Nearly every marketing organization uses marketing automation platforms these days. However, just having a MAP isn’t enough. You have to understand how to use and extract value from it. That starts with optimizing the data intake process. Justin Sharaf, vice president of marketing operations at data intelligence company Collibra, shares four easy ways to do that. “The first thing that I always tell people in optimizing the intake process is that garbage in is garbage out,” Sharaf said, speaking at The MarTech Conference. “The quality of information coming out…is only as good as the quality of information that went in. So if you have a really bad process for getting data into your marketing automation platform, then it’s probably going to be garbage coming out to your sales team, to your marketing partners and anyone else that utilizes that data.”So here are four things you can do to fix that.   1. Consolidating web forms The best practice is to create two or three web form templates you can reuse across all of the forms on your website. You can use these for resource downloads, for contact sales requests, for starter trial requests, registering for a webinar, or any other type of content that someone would access from your website.  “With two or three templates using the same information across all of those forms, you can have consistent data in the same format across all of your sources, getting into your marketing automation system,” said Sharaf. “The other thing this allows you to do is to ensure that when others outside of your team are creating web forms they know exactly how to set those things up and there’s no manual intervention from your team.” Dig deeper: Spreadsheets remain critical for marketers He also suggests using hidden field values. “Create one template and then use hidden fields within that form to tell your marketing team where that person came from, what content they downloaded, what form they filled out, etcetera,” he said.  2. Normalization of fields When asking for personal information, you want to make it as easy as possible for the visitor to answer. This can mean limiting the options so you get the data you really need. “Instead of asking somebody for a free form job title where they could enter in one of a million different job titles, try asking for job level and role,” said Sharaf.  That way you don’t get different responses from people who all essentially have the same position, like “director of marketing,” “director, marketing,” “DAR, marketing” and “marketing director.” Instead you get, “I am a director and my role is in marketing.”  Dig deeper: Study: Marketing automation teams mired in execution, neglecting strategic priorities “This is something that can make your data very clean and also allows you to do better segmentation in lead scoring based on these normalized fields,” he said.  3. Dropdown selection This is a classic irritant that everyone has encountered: You’re asked what nation you’re from and are confronted with a dropdown that lists every country on the planet in alphabetical order. It may seem inclusive, but it’s really one more way to discourage a visitor. Unless you’re getting customers from all over the world, don’t do this. “If you are doing a form for U.S. based prospects or customers, put the United States at the top of the form,” said Sharaf. “If you know that it’s a North America program, put Canada at the top of the form. If you know it’s a European program, put the top ten European countries at the top.”  This will give you a much higher conversion rate on your form and also get people to select the correct value.  “I know when I’m filling out a form very quickly, oftentimes if I don’t want people to have my information, I’m just trying to get through it quickly,” he said. “I’ll just select the very first value in the pick list, even if it’s not the correct value. By putting the most popular values at the top, you eliminate people doing that.” 4. Offline list uploads  “Everyone does them,” said Sharaf. “You use them for your offline events, sometimes use them for your webinars, etcetera. There are a bunch of different use cases. Sometimes third party vendors will send you a list. The thing that will streamline your intake process best as possible is to create an Excel or Google Sheets template for marketers to use.” In that spreadsheet, set the field names to ones you want them to use. Set validation rules to prevent putting a number into the country field or a letter in the phone field. Another thing you can take advantage of is using X lookups or V lookups to turn things like country names into country codes if that’s what works with your system.  “So you can ask the marketers to put very minimal information into the list upload template and then you, as a marketing automation expert or data analyst or whoever you are, can then utilize that information for a simple upload into your marketing automation platform,” he said. These steps will let you take advantage of clean and enriched data, providing cross-functional value for teams beyond just sales. Also, they are system agnostic and can be used with any MAP. “Personally, I’ve used Marketo, I’ve used IBM, Acoustic and others,” Sharaf said, “but this obviously can apply to anything, whether it’s HubSpot or Eloqua or any of the other marketing automation platforms.”

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  • Marketo’s October releases: A manager’s guide

    Marketo’s October releases: A manager’s guide

    Marketo’s Dynamic Chat updates were aimed at improving user experience — from minor updates like automating meeting links within calendar invites to more major updates like allowing new data types to use more fields.  The October release continues a series of Dynamic Chat chatbot enhancements. Previous chatbot enhancements are here. The release of Dynamic Chat is discussed here.  Dynamic Chat now supports Boolean logic, integers and floating point data  Dynamic Chat audience targeting was enhanced by adding support for data types that will enable the Marketo chatbot to target based on scores and answers to yes/no questions. Support was added for booleans, integers and floating point data.  Didn’t get that far in math class? Here’s a quick rundown: Booleans enable the chatbot to determine whether a field is “True” or “False” and store that value on the record.   Why it helps: An organization may use the Boolean logic to ask questions that more accurately route customer calls. For example, if a prospect answers that she is in Canada and wants to speak to a salesperson — both are “true” in this case — her call could be routed automatically to the proper field office. This is known as “truth values” or “truth variables.” Integer: Integers, commonly referred to as “int,” are whole numbers that can be either positive, negative, or zero. Integers cannot be a fractional number. Examples of integers are -2, 0, 2, 10 and 15. Why it helps: Integers could be used to identify highly engaged leads. By leveraging the Lead Score attribute, an integer data type, Dynamic Chat users could define the audience criteria based on their score. In this case, the chat would only appear for leads with scores that meet the Lead Score defined in the audience criteria.  Float: Short for “floating point,” this is a number with a decimal point. Floats are typically used when more precision is needed. Why it helps: This feature will allow users to leverage more existing Marketo fields by syncing native and custom attributes across all three data types for better audience targeting. The data type can also be used to better target key accounts, something that all demand generation teams can appreciate. This increased level of precision will help create more meaningful experiences for both the visitor and the website.

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