On Wednesday, February 23rd, I attended "The Future of Marketing Analytics and Automation Technologies, an event hosted by the Boston AMA. It was a Q & A panel with Brian Kardon from Eloqua, Kristin Hambelton with Neolane Inc., and Will Schnabel from Silverpop. Joe Moloney of Conselltants moderated the discussion. Below are highlights from the discussions.

Why Marketing Automation?
To "automate processes that humanly can't scale" according to Kristin (that was my favorite definition) including:

  • Lead scoring and nurturing
  • Ongoing prospect dialogs leading to purchase
  • Relationship building post sale
  • Helps B2B prove and drive revenue
  • Centralized leads
  • Intelligence gathering of online behaviors

Marketing Automation Growth
The above companies saw 2009, the economically worst year, as their strongest. This was mainly due to lay-offs in many companies leaving half the employees doing the same amount of work. This prompted the need for automation & efficiency. Additionally most tools within organizations (e.g., CRM) are automated creating a demand to automate marketing processes.

Currently, the marketing automation penetration rate among B2B companies is between 8-15% but it's growing rapidly. Reasons for low adoption rates include lack of marketing operations expertise and misalignment between sales and marketing.

The Power of Marketing Automation, a Story
Brian talked about a recent story where he tracks about 100 executives on Eloqua. One of those executives is Marc Benioff from salesforce.com. Brian saw that Marc was on the Eloqua website watching a video. He reached out to him asking how he liked the video. Marc was in Hawaii at the time and responded with an Aloha. This is an example of the real-time interactions Eloqua monitors.

Privacy came up as a major concern when it comes to tracking online behaviors fearing Big Brother and stalkers. The bottom line was if you're voluntarily putting information on the web, you take the risk that it could be used. There are some countries like Germany that do not allow online tracking. Until countries put privacy laws into place, the information is out there for companies to use.

Time & Staff Required for Implementation
It was emphasized several times that before even getting into purchase and implementation, you must lay out your processes. Work with sales and other departments if necessary to come up with an agreeable process. Marketing automation implementation is about three months and MUST have at least one dedicated staff member to manage it.  It takes about 60 days post implementation to start seeing tangible results.

How to Sell Marketing Automation to Management

  • Take a look at your internal processes first and focus on 3-5 processes you can change for quick wins
  • Communicate the reality that you have to "crawl before you walk" to see real results
  • Treat marketing automation as an event not a cost within an organization, especially in B2B

In closing, marketing automation is still mainly being used by the F500 but is being adopted in SMBs as well.  Marketing automation companies need to maintain focus on educating marketers as some still think a marketing automation system sends emails, and it's much more than that.

Meeting Handouts - Also visit the resources areas of the company websites for tons of great information including analyst reports!
The Social CMO - Eloqua (PDF)
2011 B2B Marketing Automation Vendor Selection Report  (36 pages - requires registration but worth it!)


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