Survey results: marketing automation drives improved business results

A March 2011 survey conducted by Patricia Seybold Group and Information Technology Services Marketing Association (ITSMA) found a correlation between leadership in data-driven marketing and increased sales productivity as well as improved market share over a two year period.  Pretty exciting results!

Digging deeper into technology factors affecting their success, we found that more than half the data savvy marketing organizations have had a technology strategy and roadmap in place for more than a year, compared with only 12% of the other marketing organizations in the survey.

Chart from Data-Driven Marketing Survey

We also found that the data savvy use more kinds of marketing data in more ways.  Significantly, the uses achieved through the capabilities of marketing automation systems, such as determining which leads are sales ready, predicting campaign effectiveness, and segmenting markets for targeting campaigns, stand out among those that the data savvy use but others don’t use.  We see this finding as further validating the importance of marketing automation systems in driving improved business results.

Look for the survey report later this week at the Patricia Seybold Group site.

The Role of Context in Curation: B2B Marketers Take Note

Every B2B marketer should read Arnold Waldstein’s thoughtful post entitled, “Context, not content, is king.”  The context he describes is exactly what B2B marketers need to provide in their content curation.  He points out that, “Few of the curation platform players seem to understand that content without dynamic context is really neither interesting nor that valuable.”

Waldstein talks about, “finding groupings around information needs” and the tremendous opportunity for business to invigorate new groupings relevent to its products/services.  This is the challenge for the B2B marketer:  pick the topics/issues that keenly interest a particular audience and provide a point of view that keeps bringing them back.  The point of view adds the value.

Marketers who use curation to establish a thought leadership position can’t stand on the sidelines, just aggregating and selecting relevant content.  That’s like saying, “I know what’s going on.”  By contrast, being a thought leader means you are saying, “I know what’s going on, what’s coming down the road, and here’s what it means to you.”

A lot of Waldstein’s post refers to the role social voting is having on curation:  if a lot of people like something, some consider it more valuable.  He doesn’t.  Neither do I.  Social (i.e., friendships) can’t provide the context that adds value.

Why Marketers Invest in Technology: Survey Results

Survey results:  investment in technologyIn today’s B2B buying environment, marketing can not be effective in driving demand, building brand, or charting strategies for future growth without technology.  There are hundreds of reasons why marketers should invest in technology but I am more interested in what marketers report as their reasons. So, in a recent survey conducted by Patricia Seybold Group and ITSMA, I asked.

First a few details on the 107 survey respondents:

  • Large B2B companies (half over $1 billion in revenue)
  • Half from companies that primarily sell services; half from companies that sell products and services
  • Marketers all managed one or more marketing functions in their companies.

The top four reasons these marketers invest in technology are to:

  • Improve efficiency
  • Make marketing investments based on data
  • Hand better quality leads to sales
  • Obtain greater understanding of prospects and customers to improve offers, products, services

Those who had made much more investments in technology for longer periods of time didn’t have significantly different reasons.  In other words, the leaders haven’t moved on to focus on new horizons.  They are continuing to invest to improve efficiency, accountability, sales productivity, and customer understanding.

If you are a marketer just beginning to invest in technology, you face a tough game of catch up.  Data keep pouring in that correlate technology investment with data-driven marketing and correlate data-driven marketing with greater improvement in market share, lower cost of sales, and higher sales velocity. If you are just starting out you do have the benefit of learning from others’ mistakes…so take full advantage of the research on implementation success.  There is no time to waste.

Three Ways Data-Driven Marketing Improves Performance

Data-driven marketing and sales performanceAccording to a survey just completed by ITSMA and Patricia Seybold Group, today’s B2B marketers recognize the importance of data-driven marketing.  So what?  Well, now we have statistically significant findings supporting that view. 

Data savvy organizations outstripped the others in “significantly or somewhat” improving their market share, average time to revenue, and sales costs per order dollar over the last two years.  That’s hard data that associates leadership in data-driven marketing with market and sales performance increases.  While we found no such relationship to revenue or profitability, that may come in time as marketing data gets more widely used in organizations.

There is a thoughtful post by Neil Mason republished in ClickZ this week on this subject.  His title: The price of light is less than the cost of darkness.  The cost of darkness (i.e., not knowing information gleaned from the data) is getting higher.  As more companies invest in the technologies, processes, and leadership needed to excel at data-driven marketing, the harder it will be to compete if you haven’t adopted new practices. 

The ways that marketing organizations get data savvy, is the topic of an upcoming webcast by ITSMA and Patricia Seybold Group.  It answers the question, “what does it take to become a data savvy marketing organization?” and addresses survey findings on technology, processes, organization, and more.  Mark your calendar for May 17, 2011 at 11 a.m.  Complimentary for ITSMA members. Register here.

If you want to learn more about the results and can’t make the webcast, send me an email.

7 Steps to Success with Marketing Automation

Nobody wins when marketing automation system implementations don’t yield expected results. Yet it happens so frequently that some industry observers predict slow adoption of this important technology because of implementation problems.

Recent research by Patricia Seybold Group and McKittrick Associates shows that there are more than 20 skills, practices, and organizational practices important for a success implementation.  While suppliers, consultants, and marketers have amply documented what needs to be done and often how to do it, the extent of the changes that may be needed makes if hard to focus on what to do first.  Unfortunately, many turn to system selection as their first step. 

Views of five suppliers, representing more than 2000 marketing automation implementations, show remarkable similarity and point to seven steps to success with marketing automation.  Significantly, all seven can be substantially underway before  selecting a system.  In rough order of priority, the seven steps are:

  1. Establish clear objectives, performance measures, and metrics
  2. Agree on the end-to-end lead management process
  3. Have a champion in senior management
  4. Improve the sales-marketing relationship
  5. Develop a process for lead scoring and updating lead scoring
  6. Build skills in segmentation and targeting
  7. Develop a content strategy and plans

The suppliers indicated that these are areas in which a) their less successful customers struggle most, b) their more successful customers excel, and c) experienced customers continue to face difficulty.  Yet marketers can, and should,  begin making the changes within marketing and between marketing an other stakeholders before selection of a system. 

More information is in the full research report, available for download at no charge. 

5 Reasons for Low Adoption of Marketing Technology and How to Move Forward

Many of the technologies that comprise the marketing technology ecosystem have been around since before the shift to customer control of the buying process, a shift that has made technology essential to marketers.  Hence, low adoption rates of marketing technologies can’t be explained by lack of availability of appropriate solutions.  Progress has been slow for five major reasons:

  • An evolving marketing technology ecosystem, in which capabilities of dissimilar elements often overlap.
  • The time required to develop a culture of experimentation.
  • The gaps in process knowledge and skills needed to both chart the path and execute the tactics of this new marketing.
  • All the usual budget constraints, organizational silos, and accountability questions that have plagued marketing for years.
  • Lack of, or delayed, IT support.

Moving forward in this mostly uncharted territory requires important business skills: the leadership to work effectively across functions in the organization, the knowledge to plan a technology strategy, the judgment to reengineer processes and train/recruit the right team, the focus to engineer activities to support business objectives, and the analytical skill to keep finding ways to improve outcomes.

Marketing has, in many companies, fallen into an almost Rodney Dangerfield position in the executive suite: they don’t get respect—and perhaps they haven’t been earning it. Start today to make marketing a legitimate business function in your company.

Top Two Areas of Struggle in Marketing Automation Implementation

So you’re in the market for a marketing automation platform.  You’ve gone through the Step-by-Step Guide to Selecting a Marketing Automation System by David Raab.  He takes you from defining your requirements to making a decision and then (Step 7) directs you to “Invest in Deployment.”  Good advice.  Better advice:  start investing in deployment well before you choose a platform. 

When you succeed with marketing automation, you win big, but when you fail to achieve the revenue increases, cost reductions, and increases in accountability and agility (as a third of implementations do), you are probably only using a small fraction of the platform functionality.  You got stuck early in your implementation because you shied away from the fundamental transformations needed in order to market effectively to today’s customers. You spent the money and maybe put your career on the line. The results aren’t there. No one is happy.

When you look at the advice — and there is plenty of it — on how to succeed in marketing automation, it looks like a laundry list for the marketer who has little else to do.  The key question is:  WHERE DO YOU FOCUS?

I’ve started to explore that question with major suppliers of enterprise platforms for B2B marketing automation and show in the chart below the skills, processes and organizational practices at which less successful customers struggle the most.  Four out of the five suppliers reporting to date say their less successful customers come up short in:

  • Lead management processes
  • Clear objectives, performance measures and metrics

These are NOT practices that marketers can come up with in a flash AFTER selecting a platform.  The objectives, in fact, should come FIRST.  The work with sales on lead management processes takes time to build understanding and explore needs and viewpoints.  Take a look at the illustration below (courtesy of Patricia Seybold Group and McKittrick Associates) and think about implementation before you get deep into selection. 

Your thoughts?

Struggles for Less Successful Marketing Automation Implementers

Top Struggles for Less Successful Marketing Automation Implementers

Source:  Upcoming report from Patricia Seybold Group and McKittrick Associates. Suppliers reporting were: Aprimo, Eloqua, Marketo, Manticore, and Silverpop.  More to come.