In today’s business ecosystem, technology is everywhere and it comes in many forms. There are SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) solutions addressing a seemingly endless list of challenges faced by companies in virtually every vertical and industry.
Among them: CRM, ERP, Accounting Software, Project Management, Email Marketing, Billing and Invoicing, Collaboration, Web Hosting and E-Commerce, HR, Public Sector, Compliance and EDI Transaction Processing, IT Security and that’s just to name a few!
The most sophisticated technology marketers at the companies creating and selling the SaaS solutions mentioned above, are very likely employing some form of marketing automation software as part of their lead generation strategy.
However, recent data indicates it’s not necessarily the majority of them. According to David Raab (Raab Associates, 2014), here’s the breakdown of who uses marketing automation software: 60% of companies with revenue over $500 million, 10% of companies with $20-$500 million in revenue, 5% of companies with revenue of $5-$20 million, and 3% of companies with revenue under $5 million. Nevertheless, the trend is clearly towards the adoption of these tools, so let’s explore exactly what they are and what they do.
Marketing automation refers to software platforms and technologies designed to allow marketing departments and organizations to more effectively market on multiple channels online and automate repetitive tasks.
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Here are just some of the areas marketing automation tools can assist with:
- Email marketing
- Landing page creation
- Cross-channel marketing campaigns
- Lead generation
- Lead nurturing and scoring
- Cross-sell and up-sell
- Measuring ROI
- Website personalization
It’s important to realize, you don’t have to be the CMO of a large enterprise software company in order to take advantage of a marketing automation software. Small and medium-sized businesses can also avail themselves of these solutions, as can both B2C and B2B companies.
One of the benefits of utilizing marketing automation tools is they allow you to create programs that combine email, text messages, and social ads. As opposed to blasting the same message simultaneously across multiple channels, you can plan and time your different campaigns together in order to maximize your reach without spamming your customers.
There is no shortage of stats to support the efficacy of these tools from an ROI perspective, but here are a handful of salient data points:
- Companies who use marketing automation convert 53% more leads to marketing qualified leads, and report revenue growth 3.1% higher than non-users – Aberdeen 2015
- 10% increase in marketing’s contribution to pipeline – Forrester 2014
- 20% increase in generated sales opportunities for nurtured leads versus non-nurtured leads. – Demand Gen Report
- 68% of best-in-class companies use lead scoring (a marketing automation feature), in comparison with 28% of laggard firms – Aberdeen 2014
At this point, the value of marketing automation tools should be fairly evident, so let’s now explore some of the more popular solutions. Keep in mind, the title of this blog post is the basics of marketing automation. Accordingly, this is going to be a high-level assessment of these tools. If you want to get granular, I certainly encourage you to conduct your own due diligence in order to determine which solution is right for you and your company.
This is the most common choice for large enterprises. Founded in 1999 and currently with more than 1,300 clients, 100,000 global users, and 400 employees, it’s by far the most popular marketing automation solution. In December 2012, Eloqua announced it had signed an agreement to be acquired by Oracle Corporation for $871M. One of the reasons may be, when compared to some of the other solutions we’ll examine shortly, it benefits from being highly customizable, if not overly user-friendly.
For those of you in sales familiar with the BANT (Budget, Authority, Need and Timing) acronym, Eloqua’s “Co-Dynamic Lead Scoring” technology uses these markers, as well as key qualification data, including lead response, activity and behavior. The 2012 software release updated the lead scoring engine and allows companies to run multiple scoring models at the same time so they can have different lead scoring modules for various geographies, product lines, etc. and a prospect’s score always updates in real time based on what they’re doing online or responding to.
Check out this video for more information about the functionality of Eloqua 10.
Founded in 2006, Marketo has over 2,300 customers and 300 employees. This company has enjoyed explosive revenue growth, posting a 3,545% revenue increase over a three-year period ending in 2011 ($32.9 million) and was named the 78th fastest growing business by Inc. magazine the same year. According to their latest 10-K filing, Marketo has 4,549 customers as of December 31, 2015. (This probably means about 50,000 users.)
It terms of functionality, Marketo offers the capability to score leads based on an unlimited number of dimensions such as: Demographics, product-specific scoring, sales rep input, prospect behavior (downloaded a white paper, attended a webinar).
The Marketo website offers not only a good description of their solution, but also a great description of marketing automation itself.
“Beyond the time-saving and efficiency benefits, marketing automation enables business processes that are essential to any modern marketing department. For B2B companies, this includes lead nurturing, lead scoring, and lead lifecycle management. For B2C companies, it includes cross-sell, up-sell, and customer loyalty. And for all companies, it includes marketing ROI analytics.
Nurture relationships with leads that aren't ready to buy. On average, only 20% of leads are sales-ready when they first come in. This means you need a disciplined process – known as lead nurturing – to develop qualified leads until they are sales-ready. Done well, nurturing can result in 50% more sales leads at 33% lower cost per lead.
Retain and extend customer relationships. The marketer's job is far from finished once someone becomes a customer. For most industries, the real value comes from retaining and deepening the customer relationship over time. This includes selling more of the same product to the customer (up-sell), selling additional products to the customer (cross-sell), as well as customer loyalty and retention. Note that relationship marketing means more than sending a monthly newsletter. You need multiple tracks for each buyer persona and buying stage that "listen" to how the customer behaves, and adjusts accordingly – just like a real-world relationship.”
Marketed as the online sales and marketing solution built exclusively for small businesses, Infusionsoft features lead generation tools and marketing automation, email and social media tools to engage and convert leads. Customer relationship management (CRM) functionality aids users in attracting leads, streamlining sales and closing deals. E-commerce tools help with online sales, automate fulfillment and get repeat business. In addition to the software, Infusionsoft provides personalized, one-on-one coaching services to help users get up and running.
The Infusionsoft website lays out the three main ways their solution allows you to “organize contacts and speak to their needs.”
- Import and organize the contacts that come to your business (both online and offline) with tagging and segmentation
- Collect data about contacts' behaviors, score them based on marketing interactions, and prioritize the leads that are hottest and ready to buy
- Track engagement and customize follow-up messages based on unique customer profiles
Again, in terms of functionality, sometimes a video is worth 1,000 words, so here’s a great one about Inusionsoft to watch when you have 12 minutes!
In the interest of full-disclosure, this is the marketing automation solution we use here at Fielday and we love it…we’re even a preferred partner.
In 2004, the founders of Hubspot met as graduate students at MIT, while helping venture-backed startups with their go-to-market strategy, they started to notice prospects had gotten really good at blocking out interruptive marketing and sales tactics. The tried and true tactics of old (direct mail, email blasts, cold calls) simply weren’t effective anymore.
Meanwhile, one of the eventual founder’s blog OnStartups was seeing massive growth in traffic. We’ll admit, we were surprised. How had this tiny blog with no budget generated more traffic than companies with professional marketing teams and way bigger budgets? To them, it seemed like a modern-day David versus Goliath.
The conclusion they arrived at was, people don’t want to be interrupted by marketers or harassed by salespeople. They want to be helped. From their perspective, it was time to make the marketing and sales process human. Time to treat buyers like people, not numbers on a spreadsheet. Time to build an inbound community and help people achieve their business goals in a more personable, empathetic way. HubSpot was born.
In order to remain objective and equitable, since this is the solution used by yours truly, I am going to let you read what others have to say about this solution. Check out the reviews on the G2 Crowd website. With well over 1,000 reviews, Hubspot enjoys a 4.5-star rating (Out of 5 stars) and I think that speaks volumes.
Also, check out the many, many case studies on the Hubspot website detailing the successes of their numerous customers.
Essentially, Pardot is marketing automation brought to you by Salesforce, with a growing client base ranging from small and mid-sized businesses to divisions of large enterprise organizations. Since this is a Salesforce product, its compatibility with all Salesforce-related products and solutions is unmatched.
Like many of the other solutions examined above, it offers a solution that allows marketing and sales departments to create, deploy, and manage online marketing campaigns from one central platform. Together, Pardot and Salesforce empower every rep to act in the moment of engagement, and every marketer to drive greater results from campaigns.
Pardot, much like Salesforce, prides itself on innovation. After all, Salesforce basically invented Cloud Computing in the late 90’s/early 2000’s. The Pardot team is dedicated to helping companies to exceed their revenue goals, better align their sales and marketing teams, and do more with the resources they already have.
Pardot is dedicated to supporting the needs of growing B2B organizations, and can help marketers and sales reps at any size organization work together and win together. Check out this side-by-side comparison of Pardot, Hubspot and Marketo for more details about functionality.
In the end, the results and effectiveness of inbound/content marketing are well-documented, provable, and replicable. It should be said, however, that there’s one thing that none of the above solutions will do for you. Namely, create content. Compelling and original content, desired by your clients and prospects, is truly king…or queen. Whether you’re creating e-books, whitepapers, case studies, or conducting demos/webinars, there are certain things to keep in mind.
- Who is your audience?
- What is your audience looking for?
- Where does your audience consume content?
- How are your competitors promoting themselves?
- What content do you have to work with already?
Remember, keep it relevant. Answer the kinds of questions that are common in your industry; the ones you’re encountering on a daily basis. Also, make it actionable. Put out another whitepaper or e-book. Why not try a checklist or a how-to piece of content? Solve a problem for them, and they’ll want whatever it is you’re creating!
Until next time, keep on marketing!