New Marketing Automation Buyer’s Guide Offers Valuable Advice

TrustRadius, an online community designed to help business software users make better product selection, implementation, and usage decisions, just released their first-ever “Buyer’s Guide to Marketing Automation Software.”

TrustMap For Mid-Size Companies_TrustRadiusThe 44-page guide is based on 400 in-depth reviews and more than 10,000 comparisons performed by Marketing Automation buyers, and provides a very detailed and useful comparison of the leading brands. (You can access the guide from the TrustRadius site here.)

The guide also includes insights from leading marketing automation practitioners. I was interviewed by TrustRadius barely two months ago, and it’s a sign of just how fast things change in marketing automation that in those few short weeks, three significant developments occurred:

IBM acquired Silverpop, removing yet another independent vendor from the landscape
Marketo announced an open ecosystem platform strategy
Act-On raised $42 million and appears heading for an IPO

But don’t think the guide obsolete just yet. The TrustRadius guide segments the marketing automation market by the size of the company that each product serves (Small, Mid-Size, Enterprise) and then rates solutions within each category in visual grids based on user ratings and how much it deems a company’s solution is focused on that particular segment. Read More »

Why is Inside Sales So Scared of Lead Nurturing?

Recent studies tell us that while the adoption of marketing automation technology continues to gain momentum, fewer than 20 percent of marketing executives say that they are fully integrating the technology into their current sales and marketing initiatives.

Inside Sales & Lead NurturingOne of the reasons for this under-utilization, and the inability of some marketers to deploy, for example, automated lead nurturing at every stage of the selling process, is resistance from the sales organization, and in particular, Inside Sales.

In our work developing lead nurturing programs for B2B companies, we often hear statements like the following:

“We won’t be implementing lead nurturing for new leads because our telesales manager says his team is following up on every lead.”

In a situation like this, it may be that the Inside Sales team feel they have all leads “covered” as it were, but most likely the real issues are 1) Trust and 2) Turf, namely:

1) Trust – Inside Sales doesn’t trust marketing to deploy lead nurturing without fouling up the sales process; and
2) Turf – Inside Sales fears that inserting marketing campaigns into the lead follow-up process will either a) diminish the value of their department or b) assign credit for SQLs elsewhere.

Whatever the motivation, any “push back” from Inside Sales to marketing automation and automated lead nurturing/qualification is misplaced. Time and time again, we see marketing automation improve the productivity, efficiency, and job satisfaction of Inside Sales. Here’s just one example: Read More »

In Defense of Unsolicited Email

Over at marketing automation firm Marketo, CEO Phil Fernandez just wrote a full-throated rant against the evils of unsolicited email and purchased email lists used indiscriminately:

unsolicited email“How does anyone think that these are sensible emails to send to the CEO of a fast-growing public company? Do they really think that I’m going to spend my Tuesday morning getting signed up for some cheap BI training, order up a website review, and do a deep dive on our corporate telephone system?”

I’m guessing the answer to these questions, in Phil’s case, is a big fat “no.” In fact, he concludes:

“Stop sending batch email blasts. Stop buying lists. Use email only to contact your customers when you have something specific to say to them, and explicit permission to talk to them. This is the only way that email is going to survive as a useful tool for any of us.”

Now, I hate spam as much as the next guy (though possibly slightly less than Phil.) I’ll even agree that any type of “spray and pray” advertising – the type that makes no attempt to target the right audience, deliver relevant content, or offer information of value, should be frowned upon if not outlawed completely.

But that’s different from saying (as my Marketo friend would have it) that email should never be used for any situation other than a) to an existing customer and b) any other contact from whom you’ve received explicit permission. Read More »

Give Your Next Demand Gen Campaign A Reality Check

We’ve all been there.

The copy is winding its way through the marketing group and is now on its fourth revision. The CEO didn’t like the photo at the top of the email so it’s back to the drawing board, design-wise. The marcom director wants to change the headline so it conforms to the “approved company message”. And you need to broadcast by the end of the week.

marketing reality checkWhen you’re this close to a campaign, there comes a point in the process where it’s no longer easy to evaluate the creative objectively. You just want it out the door and off your desk. But it’s also times like these when your campaign is most at risk.

Creative development can be an insular process. Even the best of companies tend to evaluate copy, message, and other creative elements against their own internal set of standards, usually standards based on how the “powers-that-be” have decided your product or service should be positioned in the marketplace. It’s also at the end of the creative process, with deadlines at hand, that changes can so often be made with these internal factors in mind, particularly when it comes to language. Sometimes we get so used to our own “marketing-speak” that we think everyone talks that way. Well here’s news: they don’t.

Take the time (and the process could take just a few minutes) to run your copy, your email, your landing page, whatever, by an independent third party. A customer, for example. Your spouse or significant other, even. (Don’t laugh – sometimes the best way to evaluate technology marketing is to show it to a layperson.) Whomever your victim is, make sure he or she is someone outside the review process, immune from office politics, brand guidelines, magic quadrants, and other internal factors.

Call it a “reality check.” It could be the one thing that saves your campaign from imminent disaster.

Excerpted from “The High Tech Direct Marketing Handbook”. To download your free copy, click here.

A Marketer Goes to Disneyland

A few weeks ago my wife and I took our two children to Disneyland for the first time in almost a decade. Two things made the trip markedly different from our last visit: one, no stroller, and two, cell phones. Cell phones are omnipresent at Disneyland. As far as I could tell, the only people not looking at a mobile device were those carrying churros (churros, for those not familiar, are a very portable and highly addictive Mexican doughnut.)

churroHowever, one of the essential charms of the Magic Kingdom is that many things don’t change. Guides still tell corny jokes on the jungle river cruise. Lines are still long (even in February, on Super Bowl Sunday.) The food has improved marginally but is still high-priced and faintly institutional.

Disneyland is also a weird tapestry of finely-tuned systems (the general cleanliness, the way lines snake back and forth to provide the illusion of progress) interwoven with paper-based procedures of almost prehistoric inefficiency.

Take, for example, Fast Passes. To receive a Fast Pass ticket – assigning you a specific window of time for one of the more popular rides – you first need to find the kiosk that dispenses those tickets, and then insert your park entrance ticket into the machine in order to receive the fast pass (ka-CHUNK) telling you when to return. (Not to the same place, naturally, since fast passes are never redeemed at the same location where they’re issued.)

It’s all so very quaint. In 2014, it’s also ridiculous. Read More »