Archive for October, 2007

Use Marketing Automation to Do More with Less

Monday, October 29th, 2007

B2B marketers who have budget surpluses, more than enough staff to accomplish all of your objectives, and work from 10-4, please raise your hands. Why don’t I see anyone with her hand up? Yep, you guessed it, B2B marketers are chronically overworked and understaffed. What’s worse is that most organizations require the marketing department to spend significant time and resources on items that will not necessarily increase lead generation effectiveness or return on marketing investment, the two most import key performance indicators for a b2b marketing program.

Brian Carroll, author of Lead Generation for the Complex Sale, states that B2B marketers spend too much time on non-revenue-driving activities. He cites a post from Michael Webb of Six Sigma selling who lists the following tasks that take up valuable time and resources from already understaffed marketing departments:

  • Time spent on administration, reporting, and menial tasks (leaving little time for customers)
  • Trade shows and events that generate boxes of “leads” not worth calling on
  • Marketing literature that no one reads
  • Wasting time with the wrong prospects

Each of these tasks can be made more efficient or alleviated altogether through technology. Marketing automation solutions provide advanced micro-level analytics and automation allowing marketers to focus their efforts on their most promising leads and marketing vehicles.

Less time spent on reporting — by consolidating all marketing vehicles into one interface, slicing and dicing data should be a lot easier than when using disparate tools

Automated nurturing for “boxes of trade show leads” — let the software do the work by nurturing these “suspects.” The ones who respond will be flagged by your system and the ones who don’t… well… they were probably interested in your free iPod.

Marketing literature that no one reads — micro -level web analytics shows you exactly which white papers your promising prospects are downloading and reading. Use what you have learned from your first few papers to tailor any future collateral.

Wasting time with the wrong prospects — automatically scoring and/or grading prospects will show your sales teams exactly where to spend their time. Scores are typically based on implicit factors (online behavior — clicks, page views, etc.) and grades are based on how well the prospect fits your ideal customer profile (industry, job title, etc.). Combining these two factors gives your reps a very objective way to prioritize their time.

There are a number of good solutions available and they are starting to generate some press. It is only a matter of time before these tools are mainstream. In the mean time, marketers who take advantage of marketing automation will reap the benefits of streamlined marketing and sales processes.

Who has time to reengage leads? You do.

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2007

Everyone talks about lead reengagement. Very few companies do it. Even fewer companies have found a reliable way to automate it.

If you are a B2B marketer, it probably seems as though your marketing budget is always too small, no matter how cleverly you stretch your dollars. One way to get more out of your lead generation spend is to reengage old leads when the end of the year (and the budget crunch for most companies) rolls around. Just because some of your leads haven’t been converted to opportunities doesn’t mean that they’re worthless. In fact, some of them might be waiting to hear from you!

If your organization makes the small initial investment in software that lets you track leads and automate your marketing programs, reengaging leads can be easy and profitable. Setting up a drip marketing program specially designed for old leads will ensure that even if your sales reps forget to follow up, your marketing automation software won’t.

You can create an emails that are less about advertising and more about thought leadership. This is a much softer sell and can be especially effective when reengaging dormant leads who may be turned off by receiving what amounts to a sales pitch. Many leads that fell through the cracks earlier were simply not sales-ready, but that things might have changed. Talking to old leads is the perfect way to get the most of a tight marketing budget and can improve the bottom line.

How much does it cost you to generate a lead? A lot, right? I thought so. Fight hard to keep that lead in play.

Third Party Data via APIs to Massage Your Data

Wednesday, October 10th, 2007

In a recent post, Brian Carroll talks about evaluating on-demand lead generation solutions. Needless to say that as a big proponent of marketing automation and demand generation software I was excited to read further. A steady stream of leads to pull from is part of the battle, but what is even more helpful is using this data to augment or “massage” your existing leads.

I’d rather have my data mart of prospects be able to call out to Dun & Bradstreet, Hoovers, or Web 2.0 technologies such as Jigsaw or LinkedIN, and pull in additional data points or company information. It is now possible to do things like this because so many services make their APIs avilable.

  • Dun & Bradstreet: API available through StrikeIron
  • Jigsaw: No API available but planned within next year
  • LinkedIn: Major API /platform to release within next 6 months

I am definitely excited about all three and am sure that marketing automation companies will look to integrate with them once available. Imagine having an anonymous visitor on your site from a company that matches your ideal customer profile. With one click, you can get the D&B, Jigsaw, and LinkedIn data to find objective company data as well as any contacts that are available. Pretty powerful stuff.

The end of installations?

Thursday, October 4th, 2007

Seth Godin predicts the end of installed software in a recent post and really hits the nail on the head. popularized this craze in the CRM world and rivals soon emerged (see Netsuite’s impending IPO). You know they are on to something when Microsoft, king of the installed software world, enters the space. Microsoft has announced an on-demand version of it’s CRM offering, Dynamics. Not only will it have functionality mirroring salesforce’s, but they will price it at roughly 40% less in a bid to capture market share.

The success of these solutions is no surprise. There are many compelling reasons for B2B marketers to turn to hosted solutions, and indeed most email, analytics, and ad serving solutions are on-demand. Obvious benefits include:

  • no (or lower) capital outlay
  • less (or no) IT involvement needed
  • more likely to work out of the box
  • seamless upgrade process as everything is done on the provider’s end

A common theme to the above mentioned benefits is that the marketer is put in control of the marketing software. This is a simple idea, but it is not always the case with heavier, server installed applications where budget and IT approval often kill any hope of integration. By lessening IT involvement, and splitting payments into monthly fees, a marketer is much more likely to be able to implement a new solution without jumping through hoops for approval.

If only I could find an on-demand operating system before Vista crashes my computer again. Service Pack 2… where are you?