The Future of Marketing is Automation

marketing automation infographic
Email is one of the most widely used and established platforms and has long been the cornerstone of many business-to-business (B2B) marketing plans.

Even as new digital marketing and advertising platforms, formats, and channels draw companies’ attention and budgets, email remains vitally important and is arguably more valued by B2B marketers now more than ever before. While its core function has not changed substantially, there are new developments and challenges marketers must address: mobile, content marketing and automation.

marketing automation

For B2B marketers today—personalizing messages and integrating channels are vital, and automation is essential for executing those tactics.

With content marketing now mandatory for email marketers and mobile making it critical that B2Bs reach the right individual with the right message at the right moment, it becomes nearly impossible to personalize email marketing without some form of automation.

B2B marketers recognize the value of marketing automation solutions, but many have been slow to fully integrate the technology into their sales and marketing efforts. Data released in November 2013 by BtoB Magazine showed just 26% of US B2B marketers had completely integrated automation into their sales and marketing initiatives at the end of 2013. More than half (52%), however, expected full marketing automation adoption for this year.

marketing automation features

Automation solutions are often broad and can be applied across multiple channels and formats, but for most, email automation is vital. B2B marketers surveyed by Regalix in March 2014 reported that among marketing automation features, email automation was the most important to them.

One significant insight from the Regalix data is that marketers say the email technology they need is not simply mechanisms to automate and manage email. Instead, they want sophisticated systems to manage cross-channel campaigns and deliver personalized, targeted experiences to customers.

Have you automated your marketing? To learn more – call Lori today at 877.447.0134.

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How Digital Optimization Leaders Differ [study]

Digital Optimization Leaders
Increasing conversion rates is a top digital priority for marketers this year, and a new study from Adobe offers insights into the ways in which the top 20% of performers (by conversion rate) differ from the other 80%. Among the highlights, the survey results indicate that the top 20% are more likely to use testing as a form of decision-making, and are 54% more likely to be allocating more than 5% of their marketing budgets to optimization activities.

Digital Optimization Leaders Differ

In fact, 1 in 10 top performers reported directing more than one-quarter of their total marketing budgets to optimization activities (including agency fees, professional services, technology), versus 5% of the bottom 80%.

Not surprisingly, the top-performers were more likely than the rest to use a range of customer experience measurement and optimization tactics. Some of the biggest gaps were for audience segmentation (+111%), use of mobile analytics (+90%) and performing A/B testing (+60%).

Also of note: the top 20% was almost twice as likely as the rest to report that multiple departments have input into the optimization process (15% vs. 8%). They were also more likely to use an automated program to determine significance and program winners and far less likely to use manual testing and analysis.

Finally, the study’s results indicate that top-performers are more attuned to mobile than their counterparts: some 83% said that it is very (41%) or somewhat (42%) important to focus on mobile to support their cross-channel efforts this year. By contrast, a relatively smaller two-thirds of the other respondents placed that degree of importance on mobile.

About the Data: The Adobe 2014 Digital Marketing Optimization Survey had more than 1,000 respondents globally – 60% from North America, 27% from Europe, and 13% from Asia.

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Which Marketers Are Using Marketing Automation [survey]

Email Marketing Automation
24% of marketers say they don’t use any tools to manage their email campaigns, according to a recently-released Marketo study. But that figure masks significant differences when sorting by company size, as small companies (0-50 employees) are almost twice as likely (43.5%) to eschew the use of email marketing tools. Among larger companies, by contrast, marketing automation platforms are a popular choice – and use of these tools is linked to greater emailing frequency.

Email Marketing Automation
When asked how often they email any segment of their database, two-thirds of respondents overall said they send less than 10 emails per month, and 45% reported emailing less than 5 times per month. Among those sending less than 5 emails per month, almost half – 46% – aren’t using any marketing tool, whether that be an email service provider (ESP) or a marketing automation platform.

Use of an ESP doesn’t seem to be tied to email sending frequency: in fact, 58% of those using an ESP were sending less than 5 emails per month. By contrast, only 27% of marketers using a marketing automation platform send less than 5 emails per month, and that figure drops to 15% among those who have been using a marketing automation platform for more than a year.

It may well be that the greater emailing frequency among marketing automation users is tied to their company size and marketing sophistication – at least half of mid-sized (51-100 employees) and larger companies use marketing automation platforms to manage their emails, compared to 36.5% of smaller companies, for whom cost may be a factor.

Indeed, according to preliminary results of a survey being run by VentureBeat, the top 3 concerns about implementation of marketing automation software are:

  • Whether the in-house skills are available to effectively implement it (55.4% choosing as one of top 5 concerns);
  • Concerns over marketing automation software’s ability to produce real results (54.2%); and
  • Budgets; not being sure whether it’s affordable (53%).

The Marketo study also finds that document planning strategies also influence the number of email sends per month; those respondents without a strategy were far more likely to be sending fewer than 5 emails per month than those with a strategy.

Of course, it’s debatable whether increased email frequency is a good thing, though Marketo argues that “while over-burning your database is an obvious no-no, you can also go too far in the opposite direction… If you don’t contact your database enough, you can’t stay top-of-mind.”

Email remains the most popular marketing channel out of those identified in the survey. Some 86% of respondents reported using email programs, with social channels (81%) next-most popular. Physical events such as trade shows and user conferences (77%) are being run by more marketers than virtual events (49%), while a majority are also using webinars (60%) and PPC (53%).

About the Data: Marketo surveyed 493 B2B and consumer marketing professionals from companies and teams of all sizes, and with all different levels of technology adoption. The survey was fielded at the end of 2013.

Take your email marketing to the next level. Call Lori at 877.447.0134 to learn more.

How to Increase ROI with Marketing Automation

Automated campaigns deliver 200% higher conversion rates compared to other emails.

 

Automated Campaigns
How to achieve similar returns on your automated marketing initiatives:

1. Targeting

Targeting is no longer a simple matter of demographics. Successful automation combines online behaviors with known information to create a complete picture of:

  • A person’s roles and responsibilities.
  • Specific business pains that need resolution.
  • Their position in the buying process.
  • Any previous interactions with your brand.

This information then helps marketers to craft highly effective messages tailored to the user, increasing the chances of a successful conversion.

2. Engagement

Talking to customers is as old as the sales process itself. In the automated marketing arena, however, the focus has shifted away from your company and its products to the customer’s needs and preferences.

Your customer engages with you when they are ready. Your team needs to know how to handle and act on that information.

Your business needs to collect relevant background data so that when your customer reaches out, you have the correct content with which to engage them. Finely targeted information will help convert that engagement into a sale.

According to Gartner, event-triggered marketing can potentially save 80% of your direct mail budget.

3. Conversion

Having engaged your customers with relevant content, by the time they reach out to your sales team they will have almost certainly already made their purchasing decision.

The marketer’s job now shifts from providing information that informs, to content that enables the customer to make a decision.

This means:

  • Identifying and addressing specific customer pain points.
  • Maintaining contact with leads through their chosen communications channel.
  • Using experience and knowledge gained from previous transactions to assist the customer.

4. Analytics

Each engagement and subsequent conversion yields information that can be recorded and analyzed to yield additional insights and value.

By automatically collecting data at each stage of the customer journey, your marketers can see:

  • Which assets used in a campaign were most effective.
  • Segmented figures to calculate performance according to position, geographic location, company turnover or any other metric you care to consider.
  • Whether certain actions were more effective than others in moving customers along the sales pipeline.

These analytics can then be applied to future campaigns to further increase conversions and return on automation investment.

The data can also be funneled into traditional CRM functions to provide both service and sales teams with a full relationship history to improve customer service.

BtoB research shows that only 21% of marketers say their current tools are even capable of measuring the right things. Furthermore, only 26% believe the data they collect is even accurate.

5. Marketing technology

The magic behind marketing automation technology is the actual infrastructure that turns guidelines and triggers into actions. Technology is responsible for engaging with clients initially, then supplies them with the information they need in a format they choose.

Marketing automation technology should:

  • Complement existing systems to recognize maximum value.
  • Help unify sales and marketing departments for collaborative selling.
  • Assist with achieving revenue goals.
  • Provide you with the tools you need to reach your customers in the ways they choose.

Research from the Aberdeen Group found that marketing automation platform users have a 53% higher conversion rate from marketing response to marketing-qualified lead than non-users.

Remember, marketing automation can help you:

  1. Target – be relevant to your customers and leads.
  2. Engage – provide your leads with the right information, at the right time, at their request.
  3. Convert – close the deal with compelling decision-based content and conversations.
  4. Use analytics – learn from previous experiences to create better campaigns in future and to provide your new client with higher levels of service.
  5. Gain maximum benefit from technology – by using innovative tools to automate the marketing cycle in line with revenue goals.

Take your marketing to the next level. Call us now 877.447.0134.

Increase in Online Presence a Priority For 2014 [study]

Online Presence
Next year, SMBs are planning to focus on building more of their businesses online.

Research from j2 Global indicated that a general increase in online presence, including things as basic as setting up a website or online store, was the top priority for 2014 for nearly three in 10 SMB professionals surveyed. Automating marketing email function was the No. 2 priority for the group, while a comparatively small 13.4% were focused on mobile—one of the key areas of growth for marketers are larger firms.

When SMBs do take to mobile, however, Facebook rules: Nearly seven in 10 respondents said they either currently used or plan to adopt in 2014 Facebook for mobile marketing purposes. About 43% said the same of Twitter.

More than 45% of the US population will use the mobile internet at least monthly this year, a figure set to rise to nearly two-thirds by 2017. But small businesses have been slow to go mobile—not just in their advertising efforts, but even in something as basic as creating a mobile-optimized website that will put them conveniently in the hands of consumers on the go.

Nearly half of respondents to an April 2013 survey by ControlScan and TransFirst said they did not have a mobile-optimized website; an additional 17% did not know or were unsure, suggesting that up to two-thirds of small businesses surveyed were unprepared with mobile-optimized websites.

Take your marketing to the next level. Call us today at 877.447.0134.

Companies Increase their Social Media Management System (SMMS) Investment

In the last couple of years Social Media Management Systems (SMMS) have cemented their position in the marketing arsenal of many large companies.

The Econsultancy / Responsys 2013 Marketing Budgets survey recently revealed that 38% of companies will be increasing their investment in SMMS this year, and 62% will increase their social media investment.

This highlights the strength of an industry which has seen some major acquisitions in the last year, but is still experiencing an influx of start-ups due to sustained investment and interest.

Econsultancy’s Social Media Management Systems Buyer’s Guide highlights the latest trends in the SMMS marketplace and containing profiles of 17 vendors of Social Media Management technology. Vendors range from software giants Adobe, through to more niche providers of specific services, such as Comufy and Conversocial, specializing in social CRM and social customer service respectively.

The common ground between these companies is the aim of making social media marketing easier to manage by enabling activities such as monitoring, conversation management and data collection across multiple social channels through one platform.

The ability to converse with engaged fans is one of the main advantages social media has provided marketers with, and SMM systems facilitate this conversation.

Historically, social media marketing has been like gambling on the unknown, without any case studies of real ROI being proved, or any industry-acknowledged way to measure its impact.

Many companies watched the rise of social media use among consumers and began to use it because they felt there was something to gain, while others watched their competitors using social media and decided to follow suit because they felt they had to.

As this trend progressed, so did that of consumers turning to social media for customer service, to share products and reviews with friends, and to find news and offers from their favourite brands.

Along came Social Media Management Systems (SMMS), which allow brands to engage more systematically with consumers across multiple social channels, facilitating workflow, accountability and analytics.

The minefield of potential catastrophes that can occur through a brand using social media has been well covered by this blog. Our round-up of the top 10 fails of 2012 provides some cringe-worthy examples. SMMS provide a way of managing multiple social networks and campaigns, while making the most of the unique way in which social media can affect the relationship between brand and consumer.

As a result of the wealth of different social networks, and the breadth of insights that they can provide, the services provided by SMMS vendors can vary dramatically, especially due to the different sizes and stage of development of vendors within the industry.

Market positioning overview: Platform capabilities
Social media management system

Though the SMMS market is still expanding with small innovative start-ups invading the space, consolidation is occurring at the enterprise end, with some significant acquisitions occurring over the last year, including Vitrue by Oracle, and Buddy Media by Salesforce.

Social customer service is a trend which is well established. Consumers have long turned to social media to vent their opinions and often frustrations around poor quality products, bad in-store service, delayed delivery or dysfunctional ecommerce design.

Platforms such as Facebook and Twitter have increasingly become the first place that consumers look to for customer service, which is a service that some vendors specifically focus on, such as Conversocial.

Anna Drennan, Managing Manager at Conversocial said:

“Social customer service is now a fully acknowledged requirement for most businesses looking to have a social presence, with dedicated social customer service teams and resources becoming an expected standard. Social media is steadily shifting hands from pure-marketing ownership as businesses realize social engagement has more complex needs.”

Other trends include the growing social dataset, and an increasing need to demonstrate social ROI. The latter is seen as a key challenge in the SMMS industry, highlighted in the threats and weaknesses section of the buyer’s guide. Which metrics to focus on and how to attribute value to social media marketing activities is a continuing point of debate among marketing professionals.

The pressure to prove the efficacy of social in the overall marketing mix is a threat. As more money is allocated to social, there will be increasing scrutiny on the return on investment. It is still too early to make direct comparisons about how social performs compared to email or PPC. However, companies need to be working to align social projects to deliver not just a managed presence – but also a social presence that drives specific, meaningful business outcomes.

The question of how to measure social ROI is accompanied by the debate of where the responsibility for social media should sit within a business. Advocated by many is the theory that social should span silos, and that it cannot be pinned down to a particular role or purpose.

Workflow processes for SMMS
Social Media Management

Enabling a company to become fully ‘social’ is another challenge faced by the SMMS marketplace. Those that don’t scale social across their organization will either struggle as laggards, or will die off as the collateral damage of a new world order where the empowered consumer drives brand engagement.-eConsultancy

Take your social media marketing to the next level.
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