Is Marketing Automation Right for Every Company?

For those of us who work in and around the technology every day, it can seem like marketing automation is already pervasive. Industry data tells us something different. Analyst David Raab reports that for companies under $5 Million in revenue, marketing automation penetration is a miserly 5 percent. Even at mid-size companies ($20 Million – $500 Million), the figure is only 10 percent.

That might suggest that the adoption rate for marketing automation is lagging, but revenues for the leading companies are climbing at a torrid 50-60 percent per year. Even then, however, the vast majority of B2B marketers have yet to take the plunge. Which begs the question: is marketing automation right for every company? Is the untapped market opportunity as large as the data would suggest, or are some companies simply not a match for marketing automation, and never will be?

marketing automation decisionEarlier this month, I was interviewed by James Obermayer of the Sales Lead Management Association (SLMA) as we discussed how companies can decide when marketing automation is a fit for their organization, and how best to take the plunge.

That interview is now available as a free podcast. In a lively 30-minute discussion, Jim and I discuss:

• the key criteria that make a company an ideal fit for marketing automation …
• where companies fall short with marketing automation and the pitfalls to avoid …
• what resources a company needs to be successful …
• how best to choose a marketing automation solution …

In our experience, even the smallest companies can generate real, measurable ROI from marketing automation. However, specific factors make certain companies better candidates than others. Some of those factors (as I discuss in the interview) include: Read More »

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10 Tips for a Successful Trade Show Follow-up Campaign

Research has long suggested that the majority of leads generated by trade shows never receive follow-up by company representatives. A 2010 study concluded that fewer than 70 percent of exhibitors have any formalized plan or process in place for how leads are followed up after the show. In an era of automated lead nurturing, the situation may be improving somewhat, but simply having the technology with which to blast every trade show lead the same, tired email message instantly upon your return to the office doesn’t mean you should.

trade show leadsHere are 10 tips for designing an effective trade show follow-up campaign. Note: these strategies assume that hot leads – those prospects who specifically requested follow-up or were otherwise graded as “high priority” on the show floor, get prompt response directly from sales. A follow-up campaign is one designed to address the other 90 percent of show leads, including show attendees who never made it to your booth, and to ensure that no other potentially qualified leads fall through the cracks.

1. Prompt response to show leads is critical. Have the campaign designed and ready to launch so that response emails can go out immediately upon leads entering the system. A prompt, professional, tailored response is a great way to make your company stand out from the competition who may take days or weeks to respond.

2. Most trade show leads are routinely ignored by sales. The best use of a follow-up campaign is to qualify leads by offering a range of options for further engagement. Any response (e.g. a white paper download, a demo request) can help uncover hot leads that might otherwise be missed, or at the very least can help sales prioritize which leads merit being called first.

3. Using the same follow-up email to every show is the surest way to get your message ignored. Be sure to always identify the specific show, by name, in the subject line and in the first paragraph, at minimum. Read More »

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Email Campaign Gets an “A” on Design, “F” on Offer

At first glance, the email below from security solution provider Symantec seems engaging, attractive, and well-designed. And indeed, it is all those things. From a lead generation perspective, however, the campaign is a hot mess. Here’s why:

First and foremost, the offer is devoid of value. Witness the first paragraph:

symantec email campaign“Find out how prepared your business is to fend off cyberattackers by taking our quick, four-question Code Signing Security Assessment. After completing the assessment, you’ll know how to keep your code secure with Symantec(TM) Code Signing Certificates.”

Now, I have no issue with “self-assessment” offers, and indeed I’ve seen them used very successfully for other high-tech products. But here, any perceived value is obliterated because I’m told that the primary reason to take the survey is to learn why I should buy Symantec’s product.

I wrote in a recent post about how B2B marketers are seeing diminished returns from content marketing initiatives because they insist on pumping out content that is essentially product collateral in sheep’s clothing. This campaign is a perfect example. Here is a content offer that purports (on the surface) to offer an honest evaluation of code vulnerability, but is in effect an invitation to a sales pitch.

How much better would this campaign be if it promoted the value of the assessment WITHOUT introducing the product? What if the reason to take the assessment was to discover how to detect code vulnerabilities? Or to learn just how exposed my applications are compared to best practice standards? Or how my code stacked up against 4 key factors that are shown to protect critical applications?

But here, no, I’m being told I should take the assessment so I can learn how Symantec can protect me. Thanks, but no thanks. Read More »

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Forrester thinks Content Marketing Isn’t Working – They’re Half Right

Over at Forrester Research, Vice President Laura Ramos recently talked to Advertising Age (“Marketers Still Struggling to Get Results from Content Marketing“) about what she perceives as a general lack of return from the investment so many companies are making in content marketing.

content marketingIt’s a fair characterization to say that the state of today’s content marketing in B2B circles is a mixed bag. More specifically, there’s a great deal of bad content out there (especially on social media), and many companies who haven’t quite figured out yet how to best leverage the content they have.

Even then, the data from Forrester’s own study seem to indicate that the results from content marketing aren’t quite as downbeat as the Ad Age article would suggest (though I accept that bad news makes for more compelling reading.) For example, in answer to the question “During the past 12 months, how effectively have your content marketing efforts delivered business value?”

• 51% responded “somewhat effectively”
• 14% responded “very effectively”

That means just shy of two-thirds of survey respondents felt that content marketing is delivering business value. And more still, I would guess, probably feel that their content campaigns are “working” (generating response, engagement, sales leads) but perhaps aren’t yet convinced of bottom line value. That hardly seems consistent with the characterization of marketers “struggling” to get results. And that contrary view is reinforced, as Ad Age notes, by a separate survey showing that 75% of B2B marketers plan to increase their content marketing in 2014. It’s hard to imagine that such a clear majority of marketers would be increasing spend in an area where they weren’t seeing clear value. Read More »

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Case Study: How One Tech Company Used Humor to Launch a New Brand

In early 2014, Sungard Availability Services (Sungard AS), a leading provider of managed IT, cloud, and recovery services, announced that it was splitting off as a separate company from SunGard Data Systems Inc.

Sungard AS asked its demand generation agency, Spear Marketing Group, to help introduce business prospects within the company’s marketing database to the new brand. This was a critically important initiative because Sungard AS employs an extensive lead nurturing program (that Spear helps design and manage) to maintain brand awareness within that database and convert prospects to sales opportunities. One of the significant risks inherent in the split-off was that those prospects would react differently, or not at all, to the new brand.

The goal of the campaign was to forge an immediate connection with the new brand for those prospects who had been interacting regularly with the old company. In essence, Sungard AS wanted to get the message across that they were still the same great company — just with a new look and feel.

This presented a challenge. Busy IT executives, who form the majority of the Sungard AS prospect base, receive hundreds of emails every day, many of them from vendors like Sungard AS. Even under the best of circumstances, it usually takes a compelling business message, and information of significant value, to coax a response from an audience that is constantly bombarded with promotional emails. Read More »

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