20 Ideas from Power Users to Power Up Your B2B Marketing Automation
We’re at an exciting point in the evolution of marketing automation.
There is a growing range of specialized approaches and technologies available to help marketing and sales teams drive real results–starting with the core of lead lifecycle management, lead nurturing, and lead scoring, and expanding out to cross-channel nurturing, website personalization, account-based marketing, and predictive lead scoring, to name a few.
Perhaps more importantly, as the industry matures, leading-edge marketing automation practitioners now have many years, or even a full decade, of experience under their belt. The insights from these power users can help any marketing automation user, beginner or novice, see rapid returns on their efforts.
At Bedrock Data, we recently launched a Marketo Power User Series featuring 20+ Marketo Power Users and their backstories about how they got started in marketing automation and their best practices, tips, and tricks for getting the most out of a marketing automation platform. This group has collectively earned over 20 Marketo Champion awards, which honor the most advanced and active Marketo advocates, with over a century of Marketo day-to-day operational experience amongst them.
In this blog, I’ll share 20 insights from power users that you can apply to your own marketing automation practices. Let’s get started:
The first marketing automation win is to save your marketing team time. Gregoire Michel, Founder and Managing Partner at Inficiences Partners, explains that implementing a marketing automation system should first and foremost pay itself back by taking time out of your marketing program implementation. It’s also something that your marketing team can, by in large, do on its own without cross-departmental dependencies. By focusing on that first, you can establish a quick win and gain organizational momentum, after which you can focus on other wins such as driving revenue growth and aligning sales and marketing.
Without strategy, people, and process, Marketo is just another email tool. Jason Long, Senior Solution Engineer at The Pedowitz Group, speaks about the importance of using an overall programmatic approach to drive improvements in your revenue engine. His quote is meant to be provocative–of course, Marketo offers many more features than an email tool, but Jason’s point is that if you don’t have a plan with a defined process that’s backed by the right resources, you will not be set up to get the most out of your marketing automation system.
Avoid the shiny object syndrome. Jeff Canada, Manager of Global Marketing Operations at Quantcast, cautions about focusing on the tool du jour and losing focus on the things that matter. The core fundamentals are lead stages, lead scoring, and lead nurturing–and ensuring you have basic versions of these three program types in place for you to benchmark, learn from, and iterate. Make sure you get this done first to set yourself up for success.
Leverage tags to structure your programs to enable the reporting you’ll want. Dan Radu, Principal MarTech Consultant at Macromator, describes the importance of setting up a range of tags to allow you to categorize your programs. Dan recommends a tagging system that includes geography, product/solution area, offer type (blog, case study, data sheet, etc.), and objective (acquisition, awareness, cross-sell, etc.).
Try a webinar series to get more impact from your webinars. Many B2B marketers are trying to break through the webinar clutter. Bethany Tomich, Demand Generation and Marketing Operations Manager at Rapid7, suggests packaging up a series of webinars on common themes and leveraging Marketo programs to set up a scalable, repeatable webinar process and make it easy for your audience to subscribe to the series or a single event.
Tokens are powerful for scalable, data-driven marketing program setup. Mike White, Marketing Automation Specialist at Ipswitch, advises that you should leverage tokens when setting up your program structure to make your marketing operations process much more scalable and reduce errors. Tokens allow you to setup programs with many different elements that are data-driven and quick and easy to update.
Test, test, test your automated flows. Flora Felisberto, Senior Manager of Global Marketing Programs and Operations at Perfecto Mobile, speaks about the importance of testing your automated flows and not discounting the likelihood for human error. You need to be very robust with testing your automated programs, particularly around list logic, and always go back and check the actual results after putting a new automation live to see how it performs in the ‘real world.’
Lead Scoring and Nurturing
Score your customers for better upsell and service performance. Paul Wilson, Solution Architect at Perkuto, describes the opportunity around leveraging your marketing automation system to collect and share customer data across marketing, sales, and support by using one or more dedicated customer lead scores. Paul recommends using customer data to identify better upsell candidates for sales and feeding valuable information about customer engagement to support teams to improve customer success and support. Customer lead scores should be tailored to specific cross-sell/upsell offerings and should score customer demographics and engagement–including content consumption or specific sales and support activities–to rank customer fit.
Connect your lead nurturing into your SaaS Product. Ed Masson, Head of Sales and Marketing Operations at Searchmetrics, reveals that there’s an opportunity to tie in intelligence from how a prospect interacts with your free trial (for SaaS businesses) into your lead nurturing programs. Tailoring your communications based on what users have done in the product, and how far they have advanced in their trial, will help you improve your conversion rates to the next phase of trial consumption or sales qualification.
Tailor your lead nurturing by persona. Sushee Perumal, CEO at MaxSold, reveals that this is their approach to tailoring their lead nurturing. They use different message streams based on their core audience segmentations and the information they gather about their prospects.
Use a three-tier framework to manage your lead sources. Edward Unthank, Founder at Etumos, believes that figuring out the right approach to lead sources is a key underlying element to marketing automation tracking. Edward recommends using a thorough approach in which you should track three levels of information: lead source category (e.g. inbound vs. outbound), lead source (e.g. direct, referral, social media), and lead source details for the specific source (e.g. Facebook). For the depth of reporting you’ll need to optimize your programs and prove ROI, do it for both first-touch and last-touch conversions as well as the touchpoints in between.
Unify your data around the customer. Paul Green, Director of Global Demand Center at Extreme Networks, works in an environment with dozens of MarTech tools powering his team and encourages a customer-centric view to data management. Paul emphasizes the value you’ll get from ensuring a common customer view across marketing, sales, and support and how that will lead to higher quality customer interactions across all departments and, as the ultimate outcome, greater customer satisfaction and revenue growth. This customer-centric data approach requires having a strategy whereby all of your systems that manage customer data are aligned with a unique identifier, usually email addresses for individuals and account identifiers for accounts.
Identify the data points that matter to you, and be diligent about managing data quality. Elizabeth Downing, Manager of Marketing Operations at Pantheon Platform, speaks about the importance of identifying key data points that matter to you, which could include demographic data such as geography and intelligence data such as lead source–and being diligent in ensuring you are effectively capturing that data throughout your lead process. By focusing on the fields that matter to you and applying full attention to that process, you will ensure you have the right quality of data to drive your reporting.
Data hygiene is key. Bobby Burns, Marketing Automation Consultant at Marvel Marketers, stresses the importance of data hygiene and using automated trigger campaigns to help keep your data clean–which includes handling unsubscribes and invalid, blacklisted, or inactive emails. If you don’t have a process for handling these leads, you could overestimate your addressable marketing database, which will lead to significant inaccuracies in your analytics. Data normalization is also part of this–keep your data field values consistent to ensure your targeting is precise.
Marketo is a very effective data management tool. Jeff Coveney, President at RevEngine Marketing, reveals that smart campaigns can be used to normalize data across different fields, such as ensuring a country’s values like US, USA, and United States are unified to a single value. Clean marketing automation data means clean CRM data downstream and greatly increases the effectiveness of your targeting and the accuracy of your reports.
Be selective around syncing data to your CRM. Jame Ervin, Marketing Operations Manager at Optimizely, works in a cross-functional operations team and encourages taking a close look at the rules for data synchronization between your marketing automation and CRM systems. This will allow for a more effective and efficient synchronization process–impacting delivery times on leads to sales.
Revenue Funnel & Reporting
Define your revenue stages so you can improve your performance. Justin Norris, Solution Architect at Perkuto, articulates the massive value of defining and tracking your revenue stages. Setting up these metrics allows marketing to frame their objectives as pipeline improvements (e.g. “We are looking to improve the conversion rate between two lead stages by X%, and based on our baseline metrics, this will have a forecasted pipeline impact of Y.”) and describe all the programs and activities that are being put in place to meet those objectives. It provides the bedrock for marketing to have a leadership seat at the revenue table.
Simplify your processes around your lead marketing funnel. Following the Datto-Backupify acquisition, Chris Rudnick, Senior Marketing Manager at Datto, had a real driving force for simplifying their lead stages, which meant consolidating their two Marketo and two Salesforce instances into one of each. Chris believes it’s important to simply the process, especially since the sales team can benefit as well from a simpler, clearer process that’s not over-engineered.
Make sure you have the right setup for full funnel reporting and focus on what delivers the most value. Eddie Morales, Director of Demand Generation at Revel Systems, reinforces Justin Norris’ recommendation to ensure that you define your revenue stages. He advises that it’s also critical to have the right methodology in place to measure it across your marketing automation and CRM systems. Then, as you make decisions on where to spend your time, choose areas that are going to make improvements along the funnel.
Take a phased approach to closed-loop reporting. Pierce Ujjainwalla, Founder at Revenue Pulse, recommends starting with program structure and tags, and then using a three-phased approach to get the insights you need. The first phase is making sure you have good data. The second phase is to track metrics from your marketing automation platform and/or CRM. The third phase is to leverage a data visualization tool for deeper drill-downs and a dashboard tool to get more real-time visibility.
There you have it–20 tips from 20 power users. Do you have any of your own? I’d love to hear them in the comments below.