Posts Tagged ‘marketing automation systems’

Marketing Effectively with Less Information

Monday, July 22nd, 2013

anonymousB2B buyers are doing most of their research online, anonymously. They research your website, they research your competitors’ websites, and so it’s very important that when they do engage with you, you make a great first impression.

But how much information do you need to market effectively, and how much time do you have to gather that information?

The bad news: you don’t have a lot of time. By the time a prospect has filled a form on your website, he’s likely done a great deal of research already and might actually be almost sales-ready; and if he filled out a form on your website, he’s likely done the same on your competitors’ websites, so it’s imperative that you are the first to call.

The good news: You don’t need a lot of information before you make that call. The anonymous history collected by marketing automation, such as page views and downloads, gives you a lot of information about the prospect’s areas of interest, so you don’t really need to wait to get that information from them. In fact, burdening the prospect with long forms to fill should be avoided, as it is very damaging to the sales process.

Anonymous visitor data

One of the best features of a good marketing automation system is that it transforms anonymous web visitors into known visitors. Any time a visitor comes to your website, they are tracked. When the same visitor returns, tracking resumes. An anonymous visitor is converted into a known visitor by clicking on a link in an email or by filling out a form on your website.

This means that you have a very rich anonymous history – such as how many pages the prospect visited, what pages she looked at, what content she downloaded, how much time she spent on each page, even what company she’s with (via derived data). Once the prospect decides to reveal herself, you can tie her anonymous history to her email address. Now you can proactively market to her.

Dynamic progressive forms

B2B websites typically achieve a sad 10-15% completion rate, unless they use progressive forms – then completion rate jumps to 30%. In other words, asking for less data upfront can have a huge impact on your lead flow. Ask the same questions, but ask them overtime, and always ask yourself, do I really need all this information to market to the prospect effectively?

Never ask for information that you already have (via derived data, for example), and don’t ask the wrong questions – ask questions appropriate to the prospect’s engagement level and job title – the only way to do that is using progressive forms.

When it comes to forms, less is more. When a prospect first downloads content, just ask for their email, first name and last name. The less information you ask for, the more engaged prospects will be. You can dig deeper and ask more questions later, but the first form they fill should be as short as possible.

In fact, if you have an email address, first and last name and a short visit history that fits your criteria, that should be enough to make the first contact.

Real-time lead alerts

The next step, once you have enough information and once the prospect has achieved a certain lead score, is to alert your sales reps, using real-time lead alerts. Real-time lead alerts are important, because the odds of connecting with prospects are ten times greater if you call within 30 minutes of their visit to your website.

Even if you started out with very limited information on a prospect, with some very simple tools you can end up having a robust and fairly accurate picture of them and their needs. Don’t forget that B2B buyers do most of their research online, anonymously – so once they do fill out a form, even if it’s just email, first and last name, use marketing automation to append that information to their rich anonymous visit history, and get in touch. If you don’t, your competitors will.

Marketing Automation: One Size Does Not Fit All

Tuesday, August 21st, 2012

One size marketing automation does not fit allHow true! I thought when I read the following sentence in a recent article by Heinz Marketing: “One size does not fit every organization looking for a marketing automation solution.” It’s important to realize, that while the very decision to purchase a marketing automation system is a very smart decision indeed, that’s not where it ends. You will still need to determine which system is the best for you, and since different marketing automation systems are very different in terms of what they offer and how they are priced, what might suit one organization may not work for another.

The parameters mentioned in the article are all very relevant and worth considering. Definitely look into what the system actually offers, and make sure it has all the capabilities you are looking for, including prospect segmentation, lead nurturing, lead scoring, real-time lead alerts, and, of course, comprehensive marketing analytics and reporting.

I wholeheartedly agree that customer and product support by the vendor are crucial, and would like to add that the ideal marketing automation system is intuitive, easy to set up and to operate, because while you want product support to be available to you should you need it, you want to minimize the time you spend on learning the system and maximize the time you spend actually using it.

Obviously, size matters, and I’ll second the recommendation to find the platform with the right level of power that can be implemented as quickly (and I’ll add – as affordably) as possible. It makes no sense whatsoever to go for a big, expensive system with lots of bells and whistles that you end up not using because you have no need for them, can’t figure them out, or don’t have the resources to hire dedicated personnel to deal with a heavy, complex system.

When it comes to marketing automation, one size does not fit all. Before committing to a marketing automation vendor, do your research and learn as much as you can about each system you’re considering. The differences are significant, and they can have a huge impact on your level of satisfaction with this important purchase.

Marketing Automation Systems: Why Easy Works

Thursday, January 12th, 2012

“Many of the top performers are now using their second marketing automation system because their first was too hard to use.”

I had to smile when I read this sentence, written by David Raab in a recent, excellent blog post.

I knew that companies were ditching complex, hard-to-use marketing automation systems and adopting user-friendly, intuitive ones, because eTrigue is one of the first marketing automation vendors companies approach when they look to simplify their marketing automation. When they come to us, they often tell me, “We bought this system that’s supposedly great, but once we did, we quickly realized that it was so complex, so non-intuitive and non-user-friendly, there was no way we were going to actually implement it. It simply required resources -in terms of staff, training, and continued investment – that we don’t have and can’t afford.”

So these expensive systems are gathering dust somewhere, while eTrigue is purchased, implemented and used in a matter of hours. How cool is that? It’s certainly one of the aspects of our product I’m most proud of – ours is a marketing automation system that companies find affordable, accessible, intuitive, and easy to use. As a result, they actually use it – and when they do, they start seeing results within a few months, because “easy” and “simple” does not mean it lacks power – on the contrary.

A simple marketing automation system can and should be very powerful. As evident by Raab’s blog post, marketing automation success is not measured by how many bells and whistles your system has. Rather, it is measured by the results it brings the marketing organization and the company as a whole – increased revenue, better leads, more leads, and improved marketing efficiency.

It is indeed interesting, as Raab points out, to see that experienced top performers are saying that training by itself can’t overcome a difficult system, while less-experienced companies tend to rely heavily on training – even though they may find, down the road, that it’s simply not enough.

It’s true that software – any software – is often non-user-friendly. A Technology Review article from 2002 said,”In an amazingly short time, software has become critical to almost every aspect of modern life. Yet all too often, code is bloated, ugly, inefficient and poorly designed; even when programs do function correctly, users find them too hard to understand. Groaning beneath the weight of bricklike manuals, bookstore shelves across the nation testify to the perduring dysfunctionality of software.”

Two years later, David Platt, in his brilliant book Why Software Sucks, added, “Every programmer thinks he knows exactly what users want. After all, he uses a computer all day every day, he ought to know. He says to himself, “If I design a user interface that I like, the users will love it.” WRONG! Unless he’s writing programs for the use of burned-out computer geeks, his user is not him.”

Back to marketing automation. Want marketing automation success? Don’t underestimate the importance of a user-friendly system, and don’t overestimate the value of training. After all, purchasing a marketing automation system is a long, complex process – I’m pretty sure you don’t want to be doing it again, a year from now, because the system you bought is impossible to use! Remember: easy is important, and simple, light, yet effective is the way to go.

Companies not Leveraging Marketing Automation

Thursday, July 7th, 2011

I wasn’t exactly shocked to read that most companies are not fully leveraging their marketing automation systems.

With less than half of the respondents saying they are using lead nurturing effectively, and 55% saying they “somewhat” use nurturing, it seems like such a waste – investing is a complex, expensive, full-fledged marketing automation system, only to find out that deployment means hiring dedicated technical staff. Oops! Back to square one – using just the most basic features of the system, even though you paid for the whole thing.

“The report showed a skills and experience gap in utilizing more advanced functionalities like lead nurturing and lead scoring” – and this is exactly why we developed eTrigue DemandCenter – Affordable Marketing Automation for the Rest of Us. The idea is to allows marketing organizations of all sizes and expertise levels to quickly develop and execute demand generation programs.

eTrigue DemandCenter was created with the goal of simplifying marketing automation. In fact, we wanted to make it so simple that anyone could fully deploy it – no special training or technical skills required. We knew that companies are still very careful with their budgets these days and are not in a position to hire more staff or pay for special training.

So we developed a user-friendly interface that allows anyone to run successful marketing campaigns in less time with limited training. This includes creating and executing lead nurturing programs, lead scoring and real-time alerts, email marketing and visitor tracking. Unlike the more elaborate marketing automation systems, eTrigue DemandCenter enables full use of every single one of its features, right from the start, with no extra investment in training or hiring dedicated staff.

I’m very glad that marketing automation has become mainstream. I think it’s great that more and more companies are realizing that marketing automation is a necessity rather than a luxury. But I also think companies need to do more research before picking a specific marketing automation system. Some marketing automation vendors could probably be a little more transparent about what it really takes to make full use of their systems.