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September 3, 2012


Does Marketing Automation solve your “too much data” problem?

by Tom De Baere

I still remember the time when I started thinking about how to automate a number of the marketing activities in the company I work for. The term marketing automation was unknown to me, little did I know.

As a marketer I had the following challenges:

  • We had many incoming “interactions”, but we had no way of tracking these interactions and actually do something with them beyond responding to these interactions. With interactions, I mean we had people mailing us, visiting our website, participating to webinars, showing up at tradeshows, etc…
  • We had no way of identifying all of these interactions (well, not always).
  • I had no way of storing the marketing intelligence that these interactions brought me (now that’s where the challenge began).
  • We had no way of actually converting these interactions into leads, or at least “micro-convert” them further along the buying cycle.

The biggest problem of them all

And probably the biggest problem of them all: we had so many data and list from all these different actions, that it was extremely cumbersome and time-consuming to get them into a CRM system and actually do something with that data.

Many incoming interactions, but no way of tracking them

Of course did I know about cookies on website, ID tracking in e-mails, and other techniques.

But how do you track behavior across multiple channels?

  • Someone visits your website, and registers for a webinar
  • He/she then participates to a webinar
  • And finally he or she visits your website and downloads a whitepaper.

I knew in the back of my mind that it would be great if I could:

  • Capture the fact that someone had interest in a webinar about a certain topic, market, or product.
  • Link and store the fact that he participated to that webinar
  • Link and store that he downloaded a whitepaper on a certain topic.
  • Link and store that he subscribed to a certain mailing list.

All this information would allow me to track his interest and MICRO-SEGMENT his interest. Based on this micro-segmentation I could build a descent segmentation of a particular buyer.

And all of you marketers know that your buyers don’t like to fill in there contact details, and that they tend to fill in crap or dummy information.

The basic concepts of marketing automation

Bit by bit I started learning about an automation concept called marketing automation.

Marketing automation is build around a number of basic concepts:

Tracking and identification: each interaction is stored in a database, no matter the channel your buyer is using. All these interactions are usually not stored in your CRM database.

  • Clicks on pages on your website
  • Clicks in e-mails
  • Forms filled in on your website
  • Webinars subscribed to or participated to
  • Product interest on tradeshows
  • Subscriptions to mailing list
  • Seminars attended

Progressive profiling: because nobody likes completing forms on website, this system will not ask information to your buyers which is already in the database. But, it will ask information that is missing to further segment the buyer.

Scripting & drip campaign: this mechanism can actually trigger new actions based on a previous action. For example, when someone clicks on a subject in an e-mail, and then doesn’t subscribe to a webinar, he/she can get an e-mail 2 weeks later giving him the recorded version of the webinar. Smarter systems will actually time the different campaign actions based on the behaviour of the buyer e.a. Does he react to a certain mail or not. Based on his reaction, the timing and action of the next campaign part will be different.

Lead nurturing: sometimes, leads are not yet warm enough, and buyers just not ready to buy. The result is that an account manager will neglect the lead and forget about them. The concept of lead nurturing is capable of keeping that lead warm by regularly sending that lead information about his interest, and in that way keeping your company top of mind.

What do all these concepts give me?

Based on the data gathered by these mechanisms, the following can be calculated:

  • Identity completeness: how well to we know our buyer.
  • Responsiveness: how responsive is our buyer. A very responsive buyer is not necessarily ready to buy.
  • Sales readiness: how sales-ready is our buyer. In general, you want to know if he has a budget, a timing to buy, a need, and a the authority to buy.

Based on these 3 elements, a marketing automation system is capable of calculating when the time is right to start contacting your prospect. A lead manager, someone in your organisation, will then further qualify these leads and hand them over to the sales force or the sales channels.

Don’t start with marketing automation

As with any automation, it will fail if you don’t have the right processes and organisation in place. In a previous post I have explained in detail when you are ready to step into marketing automation.

But to end with the questions of this post : does it solve the “too much data” problem? Yes, I think it can. Marketing Automation is extremely powerful, and is part of the toolbox of modern marketers.

That’s it. I would love to hear about your marketing automation adventures.

Warm regards,

Tom De Baere