As part of our open beta launch this December, ShareBloc ran a contest to find the Top Content Marketing Posts of 2013. More than 640 voters selected their favorite posts from eight key areas in sales and marketing,and four posts about marketing automation made it into the top 50. Here they are:
1. Marketing Automation 101 by Jon Miller, Marketo
#1 in Marketing Automation, #2 in the Overall Contest
Why it was chosen: Without a doubt, Jon Miller’s seminal post on the “what, why, and how” of marketing automation made the importance of this technology clear. Marketo’s IPO may have been in May, but Jon Miller’s February post and companion e-book, The Definitive Guide to Marketing Automation, was the real coming out party for data-driven marketers.
What it means for marketing automation in 2014: For the first time, marketers could efficiently track the effectiveness and ROI of their marketing campaigns, tying them to sales leads and, more importantly, revenue. This post gave anyone unfamiliar with marketing automation — whether a recent graduate or your CEO — a succinct explanation of how marketing automation leads to revenue growth. Jon Miller’s prior post on the ROI of Marketing Automation didn’t make the 2013 cut (it was posted in October 2012) but you can view it as a companion piece.
Key Quote: “Marketing automation is the technology that propels your business into a new era of relationship based marketing with quantifiable results. When powerful technology meets effective implementation and internal process management, your company will soon find itself on a journey that leads to new heights of business success.”
2. What Physics Taught Me about Marketing by Jon Miller, Marketo
#2 in Marketing Automation, #29 in the Overall Contest
Why it was chosen: Another great piece by Marketo’s Jon Miller. In the not too distant past, marketers were seen primarily as right-brained professionals, because creativity could not be quantified or measured. With the advent of marketing automation, we are now seeing more left-brain marketers. This has also given rise to hybrid marketing attributes, which are shared by the growth hacker or data scientist. This piece cleverly weaves physics laws with marketing lessons, teaching the reader that a marketer’s intuition can and should be supported by data-driven perception.
What it means for marketing automation in 2014: We will continue to see more data-driven roles emerge out of marketing and enabled by technology. Gartner predicted in 2012 that by 2017, the CMO would spend more with IT than the CIO. Marketing will become more integral in product development and drive future iterations based on real-time feedback and A/B testing. As more campaigns can be measured and leads scored, marketing will be even more integrated into the FP&A function of the CFO’s office. It’s possible that marketing automation will give rise as a new platform in the enterprise, comparable to a traditional ERP system, but with a focus on revenue.
Key Quote: “Too often, we want customers to buy from us on our schedule, when we have campaigns to run or monthly goals to meet. But we need to recognize that each buyer has her own natural frequency for when she wants to act. Like pushing the swing, marketing can be a powerful effort to drive the system – the right message at the right time can really resonate with the buyer. But we need to recognize the buyer’s natural timing and synchronize our marketing pushes with it. Otherwise, the marketing may end up pushing against the buyer’s natural frequency, damping the energy and reducing marketing effectiveness.”
3. Intensely Personal Revelations via Marketing Automation by Justin Gray, LeadMD
#3 in Marketing Automation, #47 in the Overall Contest
Why it was chosen: There is something very back-to-the-future about Justin Gray’s anecdotal piece on sales calls powered by marketing automation. Some of the voters who participated in the contest were already successful marketers and sales people before marketing automation became popularized.
We spoke with Justin Gray to expand on his post. He told us: “We all know content in and of itself isn’t enough anymore, and at LeadMD, we work hard to create compelling content with which people truly want to interact. I think the reason this particular post resonated with a large audience is because it illustrates how central it is for marketing efforts to retain humanized elements and remain conversational.”
What it means for marketing automation in 2014: Running counterpoint to Jon Miller’s physics post, Justin Gray reminds us that there is still a human aspect to marketing and sales. To use a baseball analogy, the relationship between marketing automation and marketers is similar to the relationship between advanced sabermetrics and baseball scouts. While there are some scouts who prefer intuition to perception in the Moneyball era, advanced sabermetrics don’t make scouts obsolete. Instead, they empower scouts to make better decisions.
Key Quote: “Know your buyer and their preferences before you ever pick up the phone. Many buyers need to engage with someone verbally or even (gasp) face-to-face once they get to a certain place of engagement with a company.”
4. The Emerging Third-Party Era of Marketing Automation by Scott Brinker
#4 in Marketing Automation, #48 in the Overall Contest
Why it was chosen: Scott Brinker’s post offers a comprehensive overview of various marketing automation platforms, the proliferation of their app ecosystems, and the types of third-party applications they are integrated with. Third-party developers build their applications with multiple APIs in mind, similar to the way a mobile app developer thinks about iOS and Android. This ubiquity makes these applications stickier across organizations and makes marketing automation a necessary cornerstone.
What it means for marketing automation in 2014: Just as we’ve seen the rise of applications built off CRM platforms, we are now seeing the same with marketing automation. We’ve discussed how data derived from marketing automation can be used by teams across the organization, from product managers to the financial execs. But how will these platforms continue to mature, and how they will integrate with other enterprise-wide platforms like ERP, CRM and even HRIS?
Key Quote: “I believe that a set of ‘backbone’ platforms will serve as the foundation of marketing’s technology infrastructure, but they will promote open APIs and robust third-party developer communities. Marketers will have the best of both worlds: a coordinating platform for standardized data and back-end processes, strategically enhanced with select point solutions for differentiated marketing capabilities.”
Curious about other top posts? You can view the rest of the top 50 content marketing winners here, including all the marketing automation nominees.