MARKETING AUTOMATION IN PRACTICE

27 September 2017

Recently we had the pleasure to host our partners from Belgium, Czech Republic and Finland in our office in Warsaw. The goal of the meeting was training in Marketing Automation and exchange of experience related to sales processes.

On the first day, Tero Rantaruikka shared his knowledge on how to create powerful, dynamic and responsive Marketing Automation campaigns using the latest cloud solutions and also how to generate leads and increase sales by choosing the specific methods of reaching the right audience with adjusted message using the capabilities of MA. Participants deepened their knowledge, for example they learned how to manage databases, how to segment contacts, create landing pages, use forms in campaigns, and learned the different lead scoring methodologies.

The second day we devoted to share our experience on multi-level campaigns development and data analysis. The last part of the training led by Ben Verleysen and Marcin Stawowczyk focused on optimization of sales processes in the context of creating responsive marketing tailored to customer needs and customer journey.

8 WAYS TO IMPROVE YOUR INBOUND MARKETING PROCESS

16 August 2017

Is your inbound marketing process generating high quality leads? Is your marketing automation platform returning solid ROI? If your answer to these questions is no or not sure, you should read this blog post.

When I first started using a marketing automation platform years ago, I just jumped into writing blog posts and white papers. I had no clear marketing plan, no strategy, no personas, no buyer’s journeys. I was creating, publishing and promoting content for a buyer persona that did not necessarily exist.

I like new technology. I was blinded by the cool things it could do and how much easier the marketing automation platform made my work. It was so simple. Rather than using separate tools for blogging, emailing, promoting and monitoring, I had one integrated environment with uniform UI conventions. And there was just one contact database. But the forest was lost. All I could see was the beautiful waterfall.

The most important functionality of a marketing automation system is the ability to automatically trigger a large number of personalized messages. And still the most common use case seems to be an annual or bi-annual campaign-based email delivery. Something MailChimp could do almost for free. According to many studies and the interviews I have conducted, most companies use only a small part of their marketing automation platform’s capabilities.

This seems to be a challenge especially for subsidiaries of large global companies. They often get little advice or help from the head office on how to plan and design an inbound marketing program and how to run the marketing automation platform. The global inbound marketing team is busy and does not understand the local language, cultural and business differences. Local inbound marketing professionals are left to sort the way forward by themselves.

I used these sources for this blog post: My own experience running a marketing automation program and creating all content for www.etuma.com during the past three years; Talking with the leading B2B integrated marketing agency in the Nordics www.idbbn.fi; Talking to multiple large B2B companies that use marketing automation platforms; And reading multiple B2B marketing automation market studies, especially by B2Bmarketing.net.

If you think that your marketing automation program and platform is not returning the results you desire, here is a list of eight things you should do to remedy the situation. I know that inbound marketing professionals should have these things in good shape but I have learned during the information gathering process that this is not necessarily true.

1. Create a comprehensive inbound marketing scoreboard.
Companies often focus on lead statistics. That is not enough. The IM scoreboard needs to reflect how each email, landing page, and piece of content is performing. Make sure that your marketing targets are aligned with overall business goals, especially sales targets. At the end of every week you need to know what is working and what is not. You know exactly what to focus on the following week.

2. Conduct a contacts data audit.
It is impossible to run an efficient and effective content marketing program without rich and clean data. Do everything you can to make sure that the data you are working with is as clean as possible. Some marketing automation platforms like Hubspot have the contacts inside the system. Others like Eloqua are usually also integrated to a CRM platform. You, the IM professional, need to have the authority and right to cross organizational boundaries, establish a solid real-time integration, and create the necessary additional fields that MA requires in the CRM platform. Rich and good data is paramount!

3. Create an inbound marketing (and MA) learning and development program.
One of the biggest problems seems to be the lack of knowledge. You need to educate your own team by creating a holistic L&D program to ensure that your team (or your integrated marketing agency partner) has the required skills. You also need to spread the inbound marketing gospel. Keep the CFO in the loop. This will come handy when you need more resources.

4. Close the marketing and sales process gap.
Sales professionals are used to generating leads from their own sources: by word of mouth, trade shows or by other traditional means. Now, when new leads pop up in their CRM platform (hopefully automatically), salespeople get suspicious. I have heard many stories about salespeople ignoring leads generated by the marketing automation platform. Most, if not all CRM platforms, have a data field for indicating the lead status. Ensure that the salespeople use this field also for leads generated in the marketing automation platform. Educate salespeople about the importance of letting you know which leads are valuable. Sell them the idea that in the long term you will make their work easier because they do not have to generate their own leads and they can spend most of their time pushing prospects forward in the sales funnel.

5. Create (or review) buyer personas.
This is something you have probably done, but if not, please do it now. Without this, it is impossible to create high quality leads and push prospects forward along their buyer’s journey. B2B purchase decisions often require buy-in from not only the business owners, but also technical experts, procurement managers etc. You need to create a unique persona for all the people required in the purchase decision process because their information requirements are different.

6. Map each piece of content to one or more buyer personas.
It does not make sense to develop content (which is the most time consuming part of inbound marketing) without having the buyer persona in mind. Without the personas, your content might not be relevant.

7. Map each piece of content to a stage of the buyer’s journey.
At minimum this means that you have content for the four main journey stages:

On top of the funnel: to increase awareness
Middle of the funnel: for increasing the overall domain, technology, and solution understanding; and
Bottom of the funnel: for assessing which vendor and product best fits the buyer persona’s requirements.
Customers: increase satisfaction and loyalty so that customers can become your best marketing people.

8. Start by developing a few short automation loops and testing them.
It is difficult or even impossible to map a single buyer-persona-specific buyer’s journey. Personas often take their own paths to the purchase decision. It is easier to start with short automated loops.

For example, Email -> landing page with a call-to-action to download a white paper -> thank you email -> end. Develop a couple of loops like this and test them with different messages (but same premium content or event). Once you have learned what loops work, start stringing them together (thank you email with recommendation for next action).

Inbound marketing program will never be ready and there are no quick wins. According to B2Bmarketing.net it often takes two years or more before you see the first concrete results. Create a system and monitor it. Keep improving and optimizing. High quality leads will start emerging and leads will be pushed forward along the buyer’s journey. And do not forget the customers: you need to educate them on how to better use your product, and maybe they will buy more or at least re-subscribe. Loyal customers are the biggest contributors to your bottom line and your best brand ambassadors!

Matti Airas via ID BBN

B2B MARKETING AND SALES

20 March 2017

In the first half of March we had the pleasure of attending the B2B Marketing and Sales meeting held at Oracle headquarters. The subject of the meeting was a B2B marketing communication strategy based on a content tree and a marketing automation class system based on Eloqua.

After the first presentation that focused on the content matrix and the content tree, the whole meeting was transformed into a very energetic and interesting discussion. We talked about the importance of creating precise content for specific audience groups, matching the content to the person, phases of the buying cycle, buying context in which the customer is located and the benefits of using so-called content tree that helps you understand the context better in which a potential customer and content consumer are embedded. In the second part of the discussion we focused on Marketing Automation. We emphasized the importance of creating a content strategy that should precede the MA implementation. We have also addressed issues such as the “content trap” in terms of exclusion of contacts that are not potential customers and who is the actual persona. We are already looking forward to another B2B Marketing and Sales event :)

MARKETING AUTOMATION – HOW TO SEND OVER ONE MILLION PERSONALIZED EMAILS IN AN HOUR

23 January 2017

Marketing Automation is a true revolution in the world of marketing. It changes the approach to the client and to communication itself: it enables delivering an individual message to a defined person at the right time. Marketing automation has the following benefits: obtaining leads, increased sales efficiency, cost reduction, increased conversion, up-selling and better targeting. What does marketing automation really involve and what can be achieved by it?

Globally, Marketing Automation (MA) is one of the most dynamically growing markets of marketing and sales support systems. In Poland, this topic is still a terra incognita, although over the next few months, we will be observing increased interest, and above all, implementation of this solution to many companies operating on our market. As research demonstrates, just over half of the companies using MA realize the potential that lies within this technology. There is a great amount of software and tools of this type on the market, however there are only a few comprehensive marketing automation platforms which fully respond to the needs of contemporary companies. According to recent reports by Gartner, the leader of this market segment is the Oracle Eloqua system, used by over 5 thousand companies worldwide. The vast majority of these are the biggest international corporations. One of the first companies in Poland to use Oracle Eloqua is Sage Polska.

What is a marketing automation platform?

In a nutshell, it is a tool for building complex interaction schemes with the client, which uses digital impact. The strongest MA software is Eloqua, which is also part of Oracle Marketing Cloud, an even farther-reaching solution, aimed at supporting businesses at every level: from data management, marketing and sales to service or support for decision making.

Eloqua is a fully cloud-based solution, so data are stored on servers located in data centres, using state-of-the-art security procedures. Therefore, access is possible from any place on earth which has Wi-Fi.

It is a multidimensional system, which means that it enables combining many types of actions and evaluating their effectiveness. It enables for example creating and distributing emails (it is capable of sending as many as 1 250 000 emails per hour!), creating a landing page, tracing user behaviour on websites, in forms and emails.

oracle_eloqua

This is the creator of landing pages – dedicated websites which may be built and launched on Eloqua. A site launched this way makes is possible to collect information about the behaviours of users who visit it.

MA tools enable a more effective combination and partial automation of operational and sales processes. This in turn allows you to formulate new tasks and create sales opportunities or generate leads. A great advantage of this type of system is the integration of various databases, as well as updates and verification of data from various databases. For example, Eloqua also uses other measures of impact, such as: text messages, webinars, virtual presentations etc.

MA systems enable the collection and analysis of Big Data, but also of Small Data. Any user interactions with digital media in order to create behavioural profiles may be recorded and analysed, which enables, further on, to create impact schemes matching user preferences.

One example of such an impact scheme may be the following sequence:

  1. A user has filled in a form and granted consent to marketing communication, and then over the following two weeks paid two visits to a website which offered training.
  2. The system automatically sends them a pre-composed e-mail with the offer.
  3. If they open the email, click the link, follow to the landing page and fill in the form, then a moment later it sends a thank-you note for filling in the form.
  4. Then, for example 5 days before the training, the system generates an e-mail with a reminder about the event, but if it is not opened for two subsequent days, the call centre receives and order to contact the client to remind them about the training.
  5. One day before the training, the system sends another reminder, this time with a map of the location and other useful information.

Sounds complicated? When adequately prepared, the system does all these steps for us automatically. This is what marketing automation is about: after prior programming, it performs such (seemingly) complex client interactions.

How to measure the effectiveness of MA actions?

Advanced Marketing Automation systems, such as Eloqua offer users a wide range of analytical tools. Thanks to these, we are able to measure precisely the effectiveness of our actions, better manage marketing budgets, even secure against various risks related to legal restrictions concerning marketing communications or personal data protection. For example, at every stage of the impact scheme, Eloqua checks whether the user has not withdrawn their consent for market communication.

One of the biggest advantages of MA platforms such as Eloqua is the ability to combine them with CRM systems. What is more, the system can also connect to the data bases of various digital products or aftersales databases, e.g. data bases of departments dealing with aftersales support. Using many sources of data, Eloqua enables the creation of a multidimensional, multifaceted profile of a prospect or a client, and thanks to the easy execution of complex, tailor-made schemes of marketing impact, it allows better effects in sales, aftersales support, training, informing or building relationships with clients.

Adam Małachowski

*This text was originally published on Sage Poland blog.

INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION

27 October 2016

Our international cooperation with Ark Communication from Belgium and ID BBN from Finland features a number of projects in the area of marketing automation and a broad range of topics in the area of digital marketing. Our partner from Finland – ID BBN, is an award-winning advertising agency specialising in marketing automation. In their own words, they “produce results, measurable results”! ID BBN includes over 30 experts who combine strategic thinking, creativity and technological know-how. Ark Communication, our Belgian partner is an expert in effective and creative comprehensive marketing and communication campaigns. As they themselves say “At Ark, we like to invest in innovations we believe in” – which is why the chief part of their action focuses on the development and optimisation of marketing automation and content marketing. Together with our partners, we combine specialist expert knowledge with state-of-the-art technology, thanks to which companies we support gain customers, increase sales and achieve higher ROI.

ELOQUA IN PRACTICE – TRACKING SCRIPTS AND TAGS

11 October 2016

Eloqua system has useful functionalities which help marketers act effectively and efficiently. One of them is the possibility to track websites through generated tracking scripts, which we place on our sites. From this moment on, we can collect information about user behaviour. In order to streamline this process and make it simple and user-friendly, Eloqua enabled another very useful functionality – allocating classifying descriptions (tags) to the tracked sites.

Why do we track websites at all? Certainly one reason is to collect data enabling us to get a better picture of our prospect, i.e. lead. Another reason which follows is to precisely describe specific contacts (allocate features, create profiles) and capture the key moments in its decision-making process. Knowing exactly who is who, we can trace the lead’s level of involvement each time, when s/he interacts with our sites, emails, etc. Using Big Data, Customer Experience and Marketing Automation, we are able to maximise the effectiveness of the company’s marketing communication, and consequently to improve sales and increase ROI.

Usually, tracking user behaviour consists in knowing that the user visited a certain site which we see, from the system side, as links. Eloqua makes it possible to link user visits with the following element of marketing action, for example we can send to the visitor (if we have their email address) automatically a suitable email or information to the sales department. Additionally, in order to increase the comfort and effectiveness, Eloqua enables tagging sites, i.e. giving them specific names. Instead of a complicated and unpleasant url, we may work with clearly named sites, e.g. “a site with high potential for selling product A”. Certainly, we may use each of the tracked sites in a simple way to build subsequent elements of marketing logics. If we have a large number of sites that we would like to tag, we may use the mechanism of making site tagging patterns and tag them automatically.

The tags added in Eloqua are integrated with other software functions such as filtering, segmentation or building marketing campaigns. The introduced labels are also visible while reporting. Eloqua responds to the needs of users who have a large number of websites. Thanks to the so-called rule of automatic tagging, we are able to label even a very large number of links, based on previously adopted criteria.

To sum up, thanks to the collected data, we are able to track user behaviours and expand lead profiles. Tagging sites containing tracking scripts facilitates and speeds up the job of marketers, and using reports with friendly names that we set ourselves significantly increases work effectiveness. Knowledge + right software = delivering the right messages to the right recipients at the right time.

Want to know more? Contact us!.

Adam Małachowski

6 GOOD REASONS NOT TO START WITH MARKETING AUTOMATION

15 December 2015

There are many reasons why companies would and should use a marketing automation platform. But there are also good reasons not to! Here are just 6 of them:

1. You don’t have an inbound strategy
Congratulations, this is probably THE best reason! You see, marketing automation is a lead nurturing tool. You use it to send relevant, contextual messages to different contacts in your database. But before you can do that, you have to create buyer personas and define where they are on their buyer’s journey so you can use the right content at the right time and place in order to attract, convert, close or delight.
But, if all of this is hieroglyphic to you, marketing automation won’t do you any good. A fool with a tool is still a fool, right? So find yourself an inbound specialist first and start from there.

2. You haven’t set clear goals
Goals are essential to your marketing automation. Platforms like HubSpot are built around your marketing goals to nurture your leads at just the right time with just the right content with context, helping you achieve your goals. But if you don’t have goals, there is little to achieve. If you don’t like KPI’s, marketing automation is not the right toy for you and you’re better off spending fortunes on ads nobody ever reads.

3. You don’t have the right team for it
Inbound marketing is the best way to align sales and marketing and to set common goals. And for once IT can talk about something other people actually understand (in a way). What a great opportunity to create a dream team! Unless you don’t have any players of course…
If you have invested in a marketing automation tool, and you do not know how to use it, the investment probably will not give you a return. Remember that software is only software, the success of investments always depends on the right people. So start looking for the right people before you look for the right software.

4. You just want an email tool
Ok, it’s a start. But why stop there if you can accomplish so much more than just sending emails to prospects. You can use your platform to send internal notifications, score leads, and even personalize the content on your website to each viewer. You can build targeted segments from your contact data, create workflows, and use branching logic and visualization so you can nurture leads efficiently down the funnel.
And what happens when your list runs low or the addresses erode? A full-funnel marketing platform can give you tools to grow your list in addition to sending information to it. Well, it’s all about ambition I guess.

5. You’re looking for a quick and easy solution
Well, that’s definitely a good reason because a full-grown platform takes time and effort to integrate. And you will need even more time to learn how to handle it. But once you have done that, you will catch up so fast it’ll blow your competition away! So yeah, it’s an investment. But think about all the time you have wasted on things that didn’t work… And you’re still reading so it can’t be that bad.

6. You don’t have the budget
If you don’t have money, your business isn’t doing too well and you probably need an inbound marketing plan to get more leads and convert them into customers. Talking about a catch 22!
But hey, what about all that money you spend on advertising and fairs and cold callings and ineffective marketing partners? Consider redirecting the money that you are already spending to something that is efficient, effective and measurable.

So there you are: 6 good reasons not to go out and buy any marketing automation software. Spend your money wisely instead and start looking for a real inbound marketing solution.

Do you want to learn more about Inbound Marketing and Marketing Automation? Contact us.

Peter Foubert

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