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.

Marketers Strategic Priorities [report]

marketing strategiesProving the value of marketing activities with financial outcomes is the most important of 7 strategic priorities ranked by client-side marketers, details a new report from Tealium and Econsultancy. That result isunsurprising in light of recent survey results suggesting that only 1 in 4 marketers can prove their impact on the business. Interestingly, conversion rate optimization sits at the bottom of the list of priorities, despite being deemed “crucial” by a majority of marketers in earlier research.

marketers strategic priorities

That doesn’t necessarily mean that conversion rate optimization isn’t important, but rather that it’s not quite as high a priority as some other strategic initiatives. Indeed, the second-highest priority is also one that marketers are struggling with: achieving a single view of customer and marketing data. Only 14% of respondents said they had a strong capability in this area; while a plurality 39% rated their capability as average, almost half rated it as weak (34%) or non-existent (13%).

The problem appears to relate to an inability to turn data into useful information and action. On a 10-point scale (where 1 means “doesn’t apply to us at all” and 10 means “very much applies to us”), respondents averaged just a 4.6 rating in their ability to extract useful insights from data, with the most common complaint being that data is fragmented. That makes sense, given that the average respondent has more than 4 marketing application data sources, with roughly 1 in 5 dealing with at least 8.

The survey results come on the heels of another study that found half of digital media and marketing professionals claiming an inability to link data to create individual customer profiles.

Many marketers see the importance of achieving a single view of the customer as 47% agreed that their long-term success is dependent on it.

The study points to data unification initiatives as a potential solution. Those respondents with such an initiative (BI, cloud, common visitor file, etc.) were far more likely than those without to report an ability to associate marketing activities with financial results, turn data into useful information and action, and make the most of the tools they have.

Finally, the most important capability for tying together digital marketing applications and data is seeing how marketing channels work together to affect sales, per the study.

About the Data: The results are based on a Q2 survey of 313 client-side marketers, 31% of whom identify as B2C, 37% as B2B, and the remainder as an even mix. 40% come from companies with more than $1 billion in revenues, while 23% come from companies with $11-50 million in revenues.

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

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.

Why Personalize Your Website?

Personalized Web Sites
Over the last 10 years, marketers have gotten really good at personalizing emails. Retailers know your order history, style preferences, and sizes; airlines know your travel preferences and frequent destinations; and companies in all industries know what content you have downloaded and which events you have attended. Savvy marketers then use all this information to make sure their outbound messaging is as relevant and engaging as possible.

Websites, on the other hand, have lagged far behind email. How often do you go to a website and see offers and promotions for products you already own? We are at a point where the tools exist to make our websites just as targeted as our emails. Technology today allows us to customize experiences, messages, and calls to actions across any content management system.

Once you’ve decided to make your website as personalized as your email, you’ll have to determine how you will segment and target visitors. Here are four ways:

Visitor Information

This is the most basic level of personalization. At this level you use information that isn’t tied to any demographic or persona. The data is specific to each individual. For example, you can track the number of times a viewer has visited your page to craft an appropriate message. The premise behind it is simple – someone looking at the site for the fifth time should not be seeing the same screen as someone looking for the first time. A first-timer will find basic information useful, while a repeat visitor will likely need information that’s more in-depth. You can also capture how a visitor came to your website – did they type the URL directly into their browser? Did they navigate to the page from social media or a PR article? Identifying a referral visitor’s source can help shape the message and experience they receive on your website.

Location

Analyzing a visitor’s IP address can give you a physical location, and you can personalize the experience based on that. For example, my company has prospects from all over the world, and we personalize the currency we use to display our prices and customize the information we ask for on forms. As another example of using location, say you’re a clothing retailer: you can use the weather in a visitor’s area to suggest the most appropriate images to display. That way you’ll be able to offer a potential customer board-shorts in San Diego, a sweatshirt in San Francisco, and a ski jacket in Tahoe. Going further, you can use real-time to dynamically put in pictures of jackets and umbrellas when it happens to be raining outside.

Industry and Company

If a visitor is surfing from work, then their IP address allows you to look up their company, and in turn you can match that to an industry. Understanding which industry an individual works in can determines the images you use, the products you highlight, and the type of case studies you offer.

Knowing the specific company a visitor works for gives additional personalization possibilities. Most companies have a list of target accounts and ideal customers, and would want to know if one of those targets is checking out the website. When they do, you can specifically welcome them by name and perhaps use the opportunity to connect and say, “Three other departments at Acme Corp are using our product and are seeing a lot of success. How can we help get you on board?”

Marketing Automation Integration

Use the information in your marketing automation system for true 1-to-1 personalization. For example, you can identify where a specific prospect is in the buying cycle and customize the calls-to-action you give them. For prospects that you are nurturing, you can share educational thought leadership and offer a free trial. If you know that the sales team is actively engaged with the individual, he would get an entirely different set of messages, reinforcing your brand and showing why your company is a safe choice. And, of course, you would have an entirely different set of messages and offers in place for current customers. As another example, you can use the website to reinforce the last offer and email seen by a prospect, creating a true coordinated experience regardless of whether you send the message to the customer or they come to you.

Knowing where an individual is in the buying cycle isn’t the only road to personalization through marketing automation. Persona-based personalization is extremely helpful. You can create personas and match your visitors to a persona in your system to send them the most relevant messaging possible. You’re probably already customizing your nurture tracks to be relevant to each persona, so why wouldn’t you do the same for your website?

Websites should not be static. We’ve learned so much about personalization through email and there is no reason why we can’t have the same kind of targeted, dynamic efforts on our websites. Ensure your customers get the right message for them, whether you approach them or they come to you.-ClickZ

Take your web site to the next level. Call 877.447.0134 today.

What Are Marketers Most Excited About in 2014?

marketing opportunities
What are marketers most excited about this year? That was one question posed by Econsultancy and Adobe in their latest quarterly intelligence briefing. That it depends on who’s asked. While a surprising area topped the list for in-house marketers, the responses differed significantly when respondents were split into various groups.

marketers most exciting opportunities
According to the global survey, company respondents are most excited about customer experience (20%), beating out other topics such as mobile (18%) and content marketing (15%). Even personalization, social media and big data couldn’t hold a candle to CX, each picking up just 10% share of respondents.

It was a slightly different story among agency respondents, who tabbed the same top 3 opportunities, but in a different order. For agencies, mobile presents the most exciting opportunity of the year for a leading 21%, ahead of customer experience (17%) and content marketing (13%).

The differences are even more interesting when comparing B2C and B2B marketers. Content marketing shot to the clear lead among B2B marketers, among whom 24% named it their single most exciting opportunity. Customer experience (15%) was a relatively distant second, followed by multichannel campaign management (11%) and mobile (10%). For B2C respondents, mobile (22%) edged customer experience (21%) as the most exciting opportunity; only 11% are most excited about content marketing, on par with personalization.

The study also contains some intriguing results concerning what company marketers believe the most exciting opportunities will be in 5 years’ time. Notably, CX retains its position at the top of the list, with 20% share of respondents again saying it will be the most exciting opportunity. Next up, 17% believe that multichannel campaign management will be the most exciting area (as opposed to 10% today), while 15% feel that way about personalization (compared to 10% today).
While there’s tons of buzz about content marketing, social, and mobile, company marketers believe that the excitement surrounding those areas will die down over the next few years. A comparatively small 11% (versus 18% today) feel that mobile will be the area of most opportunity in five years; just 7% share that sentiment about content marketing (compared to 15% today) and 5% about social media (versus 10% today).

How about marketers’ top digital priorities? The study provided respondents with a list of 13 digital-related areas, asking them to name their top 3 priorities this year. The responses indicate that while some areas aren’t considered the most exciting now or in the future, they are top priorities. The top 3 for each group were:

Company Respondents
• Content marketing (36%);
• Social media engagement (36%); and
• Targeting and personalization (32%).

Agency Respondents
• Multichannel campaign management (35%);
• Content marketing (35%); and
• Social media engagement (34%).

B2B Respondents
• Content marketing (44%);
• Content optimization (26%); and
• Social media engagement (26%).

B2C Respondents
• Targeting and personalization (34%);
• Conversion rate optimization (33%); and
• Social media engagement (32%).

About the Data: The results are based on a survey of more than 2,500 marketers and internet professionals carried out at the end of 2013. 37% are based in the UK and one-quarter elsewhere in Europe. 46% of company respondents and 28% of agency respondents are exclusively focused on B2C marketing; the corresponding figures for B2B marketing were 29% and 33%, respectively.-MarketingCharts

What marketing opportunities are you most excited about?

B2B Marketing Budgets Set to Rise 6% in 2014 [study]

Marketing Budgets Set To Rise
Marketing budgets at B2B companies are set to rise 6% in 2014, according to a Forrester Research report released Tuesday. Despite that solid increase, spending will still trail pre-recession levels.

The report, conducted in conjunction with the Business Marketing Association (BMA), found that marketing budgets will go back up to 4% of company revenue in 2014. That’s still less than the 5% to 10% many companies had in place before the 2008 recession, but an improvement over the 2.5% Forrester reported two years ago.

Ms. Ramos said B2B marketing budgets went down severely in 2009 and 2010. And while they’ve inched back up in recent years, “we don’t believe they’re anywhere back to where they were in the pre-2009 level.”

Focus on tech

An emphasis on accountability and smart spending will lead to bigger bets on marketing technology in 2014. According to the report, 61% of marketers expect to increase the proportion of technology spend versus marketing communication/program spend. The technology can help marketers prove their programs’ return on investment by tracking prospects’ engagement during the buying process. It can also help marketers monitor the effectiveness of various tactics and programs.

Changes to the buying process are partly responsible for the greater investment in tech. Buyers have more control over the purchase process. They self educate, they look for information earlier in the purchase process and they’re waiting longer to talk to sales. From that standpoint, companies are saying, ‘how do we get involved in that purchase-making decision earlier, before sales talks to them?’

In response, B2B marketers are using technology to steer those doing pre-buying research to their websites or social media accounts.

And then there is the arms race factor. If your competitors are doing it and you’re not, they’re going to be more nimble and have more access to data and analytics. It’s going to let them figure out a strategy and make changes faster that you.

A love-hate relationship

Trade shows, the report found, still constitute the biggest line item on a B2B marketers budget, with nearly 20% of spend being committed to live events. While 30% of marketers told Forrester they would decrease their live event spending, 21% said they would increase it.

Take your marketing to the next level. Call BDS today – 877.447.0134.

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.