I love chatting with other marketers about Marketing Automation. The completely automated possibilities, the changed and/or eliminated processes, data cleansing/normalization, ROI tracking… The list goes on. As a Marketo Champion, I’ve participated in a number of reference calls with other marketers who are kicking the tires, comparing Marketo to Hubspot, Eloqua, Silverpop, Act-On, et al. Needless to say, conversations with the uninitiated tend to involve them sitting on the edge of their seats, biting back an absolute *deluge* of questions.
The fact is, almost every one of those conversations is practically the same.
So, obviously the best thing to do is outline the most common questions and their responses here… Because Marketing Automation has completely spoiled me for doing anything manually twice! 😉
Bear in mind, what follows is the opinion of a single user, and much of my perceptions are colored by my extensive experience with Marketo. In the past, I’ve also used Act-On and have had a limited amount of interaction with Eloqua. All things considered, I think all these tools are great, and as marketers, we really can’t go wrong. So with that single caveat, please… Read on!
DOES MARKETING AUTOMATION WORK FOR SMALL TEAMS?
The TL;DR version is yes– an emphatic yes. Not only does Marketing Automation work well for small teams, I think it really maximizes what a highly motivated, deeply inspired group of individuals can accomplish. If you read nothing else in this section, know this: Marketing Automation is a force multiplier for your marketing efforts.
When I started with Marketo, there were 4 people on our marketing team, and really only two of us were involved in the initial set up and program rollout. So for all intents and purposes, our Marketo team essentially started out as a dynamic duo.
Marketing Automation is a force multiplier for your marketing efforts.
Prior to our Marketo rollout, we only occassionally interacted with our database of leads. A quarterly newsletter, product announcements, and a little tradeshow marketing was basically all we ever did. We had a system, but it wasn’t very efficient, scalable, or repeatable. We practically started from scratch on every new project.
With Marketing Automation, we can create one program that does everything we used to, and more. Better yet, when we do something similar in the future, we can just duplicate it and quickly customize it for our current needs. That’s what I mean by scalability. This allows a small team to pivot much more nimbly than ever before, and means that instead of focusing on the procedure of marketing, you can now focus your attention elsewhere– overall strategy, ROI tracking, or, more often than not, your next big project.
Does Marketing Automation benefit from a larger team? Absolutely– many hands make light work. But is it still feasible for a small team?
DO I NEED TO HIRE A WEB DEVELOPER?
Full disclosure: I believe that any marketer in the year 2015 ought to at least know the basics of HTML and CSS. But I get that some people find basic coding to be a daunting prospect. Here’s the deal: every Marketing Automation provider offers free templates that are incredibly easy to customize. Still don’t feel comfortable with that? Find a partner like Unbounce or Knak. Their WYSIWYG editors make the customization process a breeze. If templates aren’t your thing, outsource to a web developer once or twice a year.
The point is that once you have a few templates in your system, you don’t build emails and landing pages so much as you write them. Open the editor, drop some text in, swap out an image here or there… and you’re done. Simple and easy.
Here’s a free life hack for you: be super lazy and just make providing X number of templates a condition of the agreement with your Marketing Automation provider of choice. It costs them practically nothing, and you won’t have to stress about it.
WHAT IF MY DATA IS TOO DIRTY?
Alt Title: Will it integrate with my instance of CRM?
Listen, we’ve all been there. I defy you to show me an instance of CRM that doesn’t have at least some data quality issues. Perhaps the greatest thing about Marketing Automation is that many of the big name providers can (and should) be indelibly tied to your CRM. When you combine that fact with the ability to change data values at scale, you have the recipe for down and dirty data normalization.
Here’s an easy example. You probably have a field in your CRM that denotes industry or business vertical. Now imagine within that field, you want to combine grocery, big box, and convenience stores all under a single new name, like “Retail.” Just about any Marketing Automation tool will allow you to make sweeping changes like that to your CRM in a matter of seconds. In fact, I’ve literally been typing this paragraph longer than it would take a new user to figure it out. No joke, it’s that simple.
So don’t let your data be the thing to hold you back. If anything, Marketing Automation helps you fix it!
WILL I CONSTANTLY HAVE TO PURCHASE NEW LEAD LISTS?
It certainly doesn’t hurt to augment your organic inbound lead generation efforts with the occasional purchased lead list, but this question misses the point of Marketing Automation.
Every time I wanted to send a tradeshow email in the past, I used to have to wait on sales to send me their lists, compare that to the registered attendee list, scrub the whole thing for competitors and vendors, and finally upload the final version to MailChimp, Campaign Monitor, or a similar service. That’s a lot of work and time that I could be spending on smarter things.
With Marketing Automation, you’re tied to your CRM. So for that same email, I can simply define who my target audience is, and proceed on my merry way. No more waiting on lists, because now I can segment our entire lead database based on any combination of data I choose… all in a few keystrokes.
WHICH PLATFORM IS THE MOST INNOVATIVE?
Okay, this is obviously a troll question. It’s going to be a matter of much debate and opinion. Like I said earlier, my most in-depth experiences have been with Marketo. So the only fair way I can answer that is by saying that they’re all fast cars that will make you look super cool while cruising down the highway.
But… I will share one amazingly innovative anecdote from my experience with Marketo. Other providers may have something similar, so before I dive in, take a moment to rejoice that you are the customer, and all these guys are tripping over themselves to provide useful new features that will win your business.
Ah… who’s got it better than us? 😉
Here’s the deal. Marketo has these things called “tokens.” A token is basically just a string of text that, when placed into an email or landing page, dynamically populates data in its place. The most basic use for tokens is personalization, like greeting someone by their first name in an email salutation. Thinking about these in a more advanced way, Marketo lets you create entire programs what can be completely customized simply by editing the tokens.
Now, if you don’t have marketo experience, that likely doesn’t make a ton of sense. So let me illustrate. Simply by editing the text or links contained in these tokens:
You can dynamically update all the content that appears on a landing page or email in a single step. So the finished output for this responsive landing page would look like this:
Pretty cool, right? Once you set it up once, you don’t even need to touch an editor. The main advantage to this tokenized setup is that it really makes your marketing automation programs scalable, and saves you a ton of time! My fellow Marketo Champion (and much smarter marketer than I), Edward Unthank, has been one of the main pioneers of the token. Bask further in his wisdom here.