The New Normal in Marketing Automation

Uncomfortable is the new normal in the world of marketing automation…that is, if you are pushing the envelope and exploring new technologies. If change is uncomfortable, then how do we navigate the wild, wild west of marketing automation? How do we temper the power and control of this wild tiger and yet, help our teams understand the importance of change management, leadership and accountability?

Yesterday, I was told that I have a tiger by the tail. I do believe there is more than an ounce of truth to this saying. Not only am I dealing with new technologies, testing the boundaries of what is possible, but I am having to manage global expectations, executive expectations and team emotions all within the framework of implementing new processes and technologies. Some say you must have the skin of a Rhino to do this, but there is a balance. I believe there are four keys to success when you are holding the tail of the tiger.

1. Change Management Strategy: Create a communication strategy and ensure your teams are prepared for the upcoming changes in process. For example, if you are preparing to embark on new features or a different marketing automation platform, be prepared with a communication plan, get your team trained, and network within your organization to ensure all impacted by the new technology are ready for the change.

2. Accountability. If you are a member of a marketing automation team or leading the charge, you have responsibility to ensure necessary parties are informed about new tests, email campaigns, new lead scoring, or any other shift in your technology or implementation that could impact the organization. For example, we are getting ready to launch Chatter tomorrow on our SFDC platform. In doing so, we have a communications and user adoption plan that we are implementing. We will be using the tool to communicate with the field sales teams and in doing so, we are sending a variety of communications during the next two weeks to the field to increase awareness and user adoption. Last week, we communicated with the management team about how we planned to execute and received their buy-in. Bottom line, it is your to ensure the communication about what’s happening gets out.

3. Candor. Taking calculated risks is part of any marketing automation strategy that blends best of breed marketing solutions with game-changing campaigns. The other side to this is when those risks fail and you will. You must be okay to fail and try again. Having the ability to accept that you failed, admit it and move on is a critical component to success. Knowing when to hold and when to fold so to speak.

4. Leadership. Having a tiger by its’ tail means you have to be willing to call the shots, make decisions and own the tiger. You must own the responsibility. The other day, I had one of my team members state, “That’s not my job.” To which, I replied, “Think again.” The idea that we can even think of saying that in this day and age is absurd. Rather, one should question, “How can we do this better, faster, stronger?” This comes from within. Each day we need to set the example in our organization. We need to be the beacon of light for possibility.

So get that tiger’s tail, hold on and go for the wild ride. Marketing automation implemented cannot be done without change management, leadership and accountability. Remember, you are placing your signature on your organization, so make it shine. Sometimes, this means calling the tough shots, saying no or being perceived as the tough ‘guy’ so to speak. However, making choices for the highest good of the company and it’s people should always be front and center. Remember, there was a book written years ago entitled, The Goal. If the company don’t make money, ain’t nobody makin’ money.

Get that tiger’s tail and hold on for a wild ride.

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Who’s the chef in your marketing automation kitchen?

The chef is the one who brings all the elements of the dining experience together. As seen on reality TV this can often be a painful experience. Chef’s must be concerned with the quality of the food, the preparation, the presentation and the delivery by the food servers. The hosts, the restaurant manager and all the team members either make the dining experience a memorable one, a complete catastrophe or somewhere in between.

Similarly, as marketers we must own the marketing automation execution and delivery. What does this involve? How do we do this? After exploring this theory and testing it in a global organization of over 11,000 employees with many locations across the globe, here are some recommendations.

1. OWN IT! You must own the responsibility for the relationships needed to create a holistic funnel. If you truly want to create an award winning marketing automation platform, then it is mission critical to partner up and become buddies with Sales, Sales Ops, Finance, IT, Web and anyone else you think may have a stake in this new system and the results that come out of it. You must invite yourself to meetings. You must play nicely with others. You must commit to creating a network of supporters that see your vision and understand fully what this system can do for them.

2. DELIVER. Deliver on your promises. Once these relationships are built, it is essential that the ideas presented in order to sell them on the premise that marketing automation is awesome is supported by statistical reporting that backs these claims up. Create monthly and quarterly reports that the execs can take to the bank. Start simple with a few KPI’s and then add as you move forward. If you don’t have the talent in house, find someone who can help. Leverage your networks, but don’t ever, ever make promises you can’t keep.

3. COMMUNICATE. Create vehicles for communication with each group that they can count on. Perhaps finance has a monthly meeting you can attend. Or, perhaps you create a sales newsletter to keep the front lines aware of improvements to the systems. Maybe, you create a really cool and colorful dashboard that is auto delivered to the management team’s inbox each week to show the progress of campaigns. Whatever it is, ensure you create communications that showcase your team’s work and how this system is helping the company win.

Remember, a marketing automation system is only as good as the head chef who envisioned it. Be the chef you always wanted to be and mix up a wicked brew that is sure to please!

Written by Kimberly Prescott, Author, Consultant and Marketing Automation Expert

Get Kimberly’s NEW book, The Tiger and the Autobahn: A Journey into Marketing Automation Now at https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/299672

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5 Steps to Marketing Automation Made Simple.

Ever noticed a football team practicing. They practice blocks and tackles. They run plays. They constantly go over the same moves to get them right. They understand the underlying strategy of the game. They know their opponents. The team leader knows what it takes to win against the competition. They run plays. They block. They tackle.

So, what makes marketing automation so different? Why do we make it so complicated? There are basic blocks and tackles that must be done in order to optimize your system. Most people never get to these because they are too busy trying to get fancy. However, if we get back to the basics and focus on the blocks and tackles, how much more effective could we be? 

BASIC BLOCKS and TACKLES of Marketing Automation

1. Know your audience. Really understand who your customer is and provide relevant content to them at the right time. This sounds really easy. This sounds like a no-brainer. However, how many companies actually send you the right information at the right time. Think about it. Content is King only when it is relevant to the individual…otherwise, content is just content. 

2. Feel the rhythm. There should be a cadence to your messaging. Not just slap it on the wall and see what sticks. Be thoughtful in both the content and the timing of your communications.

3. Leverage Social. Everyone is talking about social media, but few are truly using it as one of the levers in marketing. This can be your greatest asset. A great example of a company using Social Media daily is Mashery in San Francisco. They listen to their tweets. They know what people are saying about them and respond virtually instantly. Remember, your customers are speaking, are you listening?

4. Provide Value. Don’t sell. Selling to your customers is a thing of the past. When customers approach, they are already in the buying process. Be the hero and provide them with education that will help move them along the buyers journey. Be their expert consultant and you will score a touchdown. 

5. Keep Score. Many marketers forget this all-important step or create such wildly complicated KPI’s (key performance indicators) that is becomes impossible to track. Keep score. Keep it simple. Perhaps all you can do to start out is track number of leads and number of conversions. Fine, do that. Then, with more practice, you will be able to add how many interceptions you did…for example, at one company we started with the basics. Got that down to a science, then added more complicated KPI’s. Within one year we were tracking the whole funnel with certainty. 

Basic blocks and tackles. Keep it simple. Do it consistently. Watch your numbers grow. Don’t waste time on trying to be fancy. Authenticity comes through in the simplest of ways. Educate your clients. Know what matters and most of all, have fun playing the game. Play to win.

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Batch and Blast No More!

Do you or someone you know still perform batch and blast approach to email marketing? This type of email marketing gets the blood pumping and leads flowing in the door, right? Well, while this appears to be true at the onset, please be aware that the long term viability of this strategy is far from exciting.

Many companies are still leveraging this batch and blast method sometimes multiple times per month or, dare I say, a week. This type of marketing does bring leads into the system, however it truly undermines the credibility of marketing to sales and impacts this relationship in a negative way. Why?

The leads that come from the batch and blast strategy are frequent, yes, but they lack the authenticity and quality that comes from a programmed approach where thoughtful content is delivered at an acceptable cadence to the right audience at the right time. When, forming a marketing outreach strategy with a thoughtful approach the quality of the leads go way up as does the way marketing is perceived by the sales department. It takes a bit more time, a lot more thought and some planning, but well-crafted content delivered at the right time, to the right audience is mission critical in this new era of marketing automation.

Remember, marketing automation does NOT give us a license to batch and blast. That ship has sailed.

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Should Modern Marketers carry a Quota?

Marketing carrying a quota? This is one question that has been tossed around for years. In today’s corporate culture it is essential that sales and marketing teams are inter-dependent. That is, they must collaborate on the demand generation funnel such that there is one view of the truth. If this is so, then why wouldn’t marketing carry a quota…it’s called Marketing Contribution to Revenue.

Today, achieving this number and growing it should be the goal of marketing departments worldwide. As illustrated in the book, The Goal by Eliyahu M. Goldratt, if companies don’t make a profit they aren’t in business anymore. This philosophy goes along way to supporting the premise that marketing should carry a quota. More and more, clients we work with are adopting this strategy with great success. Why?

Simply because it increases effectiveness in marketing campaigns and spending and ultimately creates affinity with sales team members. Remember, with your sales team, modern marketers are sunk. Without total allegiance from your sales team members, leads will not be followed up with, and thus, marketing contribution to revenue is unattainable.

So what should the number be? In some organizations it is as much as 40% of the total revenues. This needs to be developed internally, but the number should be something that gets the attention of sales team members. Then, that number should be checked quarterly against results and reported with trending and such just like pipeline and forecasting. This gives you a clear indication of how demand generation professionals on your team are doing.

After all, the era of batch and blast and see what sticks is coming to a close. Measure Marketing Contribution to Pipeline and see what happens to revenues. It is really something.

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Creating reality.

What if our world is a direct reflection of our thoughts and beliefs? How does this impact marketing automation? If we believe something, do we have the power to make a difference?

Consider that as modern marketers, we hold the keys to companies success or failure. We have the opportunity to directly impact the bottom line. To that end, our core beliefs have the ability to either set us up for success or destroy our future. Here are some lessons learned over the years…

1. How you do anything is how you do everything! This phrase as many of us know has some element of truth to it. I sat next to someone yesterday who said, “My clients don’t follow through.” If that is your belief, then, your clients will not follow through. I, for one, believe my clients are awesome and always believe they want the best for themselves and their companies. Thus, my experience of my clients is nothing short of amazing.

2. We create our reality. Don’t like what you see? Then change it. Don’t complain, condemn or criticize. Simply make some small changes inside you. For example, five years ago, I looked at my life and wasn’t so excited about the results. Today, I have more love, more prosperity, the “best” clients and all because I chose to change my mind. It is true, change your mind and you will change your world.

3. What you focus on expands. For awhile in my life, I focused on the negative. So, my life reflected that through lack, despair and frustration. Today, I have learned to focus on the good. I expect good. I know that good comes from every situation and I expect nothing less. When I do make a mistake, I admit it quickly and fix it. We are not perfect after all. Thus, my life has transformed simply by the ideas I am focusing and giving my energy to.

How does this all apply to Marketing Automation?

Well, I have been in companies and on teams where there is very low expectations. The result, very limited progress. I have been on teams and in companies where the belief of anything is possible and guess what, magic happens. I have witnessed the above first hand and in marketing automation where your head is at is critical to long-term success.

Change your mind, change your world is the truth. As modern marketers, we must first and foremost, set the stage for success. People are watching…what is it you are focused on?

To your success.

Creation vs. Marketing Automation

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Tadpole to a Frog.

A Tadpole to A Frog…Explore How Leads Evolve…

Did you know a tadpole lives in the water, has no legs and is not a fish? Although they may look like a guppy, they are not.  At this stage, a tadpole just simply doesn’t reveal the features of its grown self as a frog. Similarly, leads may come into the system looking like one thing and grow up to be something entirely different. Let’s explore this  by sharing the Life of a Lead and how it grows from a mere tadpole to a frog with four legs…truly a metamorphosis.

Marketing gets leads from many places. Some from the web. Others from Field Marketing campaigns. Still others from the call center or advertisements. Sure enough, these leads hit the system daily. These leads could already be grown frogs with four legs and acclimated to land. In other words, some leads come to us ready to hit the ground a hoppin’. Others, are like tadpoles, and simply need some time to nurture. These leads need time to grow and mature to become truly active frogs.

So, in some organizations, leads come into the system and only frogs (A and B leads) go to you the sales team. The remaining leads remain in the pond for further nurturing. We take the tadpoles and help them on their way. Sometimes we send them an email update. We might call them from time to time. In fact, we may even reach out to a specific segment of them and do a focused one-to-one nurturing campaign. Either way, that is the commitment of marketing to the sales team to move those tadpoles along their way to becoming Frogs.

Together, marketing and sales can team to develop tadpole leads into frogs. What this requires is patience and more importantly, feedback. Marketing should want feedback from sales on good leads. Marketing should want feedback on leads that just don’t work out. This helps marketing gauge what leads being sent to sales. With this, marketing can use sales help specifically with three things:

  1. Always update, convert or close leads
  2. If converted, enter in opportunity amount
  3. Close all opportunities and update the amount as necessary

So, when sales has a lead that shows up as a Frog, record it as an opportunity so marketing knows that was a good use of sales team members’ time. So help marketing help sales…let’s get those frogs a hoppin’!

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