What exactly is “marketing automation” and what can it do for today’s B2B marketing operation? April Brown, president/CEO, Rubicon Group, offered her views at the April 6 Marketing Automation 101 webcast sponsored by DM News with Eloqua.
Brown explained that marketing automation is fundamental to four practices common to B2B marketing – data management, lead management, demand generation, and metrics+analysis.
To work at top efficiency, the marketing and sales functions must be perfectly aligned, she says… and that requires automating repetitive tasks. The goal is to build a database that tracks prospects from initial engagement through revenue, with a strategy to help the marketing department first generate demand and then drive leads to the sales force. “In order to succeed you need clean data and a lead management program that integrates processes,” Brown notes.
Is the investment in marketing automation worth it? Brown is emphatic, citing statistics from an industry study. “Marketing automation brings much better results: sales forecast accuracy up 17%; lead conversion up 107%; revenue per sales rep up 20%; 40% greater deal size.”
Fundamental to the effort is a lead management system that links the marketing database to the sales database. “With marketing automation you get the ability to nurture leads based on prospects’ roles and nature, score [the results] based on both what they say and what they do… and then send that lead to sales.”
Essential to greater relevancy in messaging are using contact profile data and then analyzing prospects’ interactions with various campaigns. “Lead nurturing involves marketing that progressively ‘warms’ a lead until the lead is ready for sales,” Brown says. She stresses that lead nurturing efforts involve different corporate roles at different times (e.g. IT, human resources, network architecture).
For example, one dimension of the marketing process involves using content (fresh or repurposed) to pull a given prospect into the buying cycle, and then track the stages that prospect goes through in becoming a loyal customer. “What matters is that you are delivering content at the right point in the buying cycle to match with the stages of decision making,” she says.
How do marketers know if the lead is warm enough to pass along to the sales department? Through a lead “scoring” system in which a prospect’s readiness to talk is evaluated through multiple dimensions.
Lead scoring demands a crisp plan and ongoing evaluation. “The key thing we have seen over and over again with clients vis-a-vis lead nurturing through marketing automation is not thinking through the logic, not identifying the genuine entries, exits, and decisions the prospect is making.”
You’ll find many more resources online. In fact, Slideshare has 143 pages of slides presentations related to marketing automation. Here are just a few samples from the lot:
• From Allinio, The CFO’s Quickie Guide To Marketing Automation
• From Marketo, “How to Generate More Sales Revenue with Marketing Automation”
• From Leadsloth, “What Is Marketing Automation?”
• From Marketo, “B2B Marketers Must Prepare for Marketing Automation” (pdf download)