A Brief History of Marketing

February 25, 2013

I was made aware of the new infographic “The Evolution of Marketing Automation” by Jaclyn from BlueGlass, the company that worked on it for Marketo. It provides you an interesting look back through time showing some key moments in marketing history and, of course, it ends with the advent of marketing automation.

Although interesting, I am not sure the infographic format is the best way to visualize this information. First, there is a lot of text, a lot of data, and you have to scroll through infinity to reach the end. My recommendation would be for them to transform this into a nice SlideShare presentation.

Also, the infographic seems to focus more on the evolution of marketing channels rather than the evolution of marketing automation per se. It completely ignores the rise of Fax machines, for example, which were used for B2B outbound marketing until email came along (and also until the Junk Fax Prevention Act was passed in 2005). Other important marketing channels like direct mail, and the once-popular online banner ads of the 90’s are strangely not mentioned.

So for someone who is publishing content with the title of evolution of marketing automation, they are surely missing out on a LOT of stuff that happened before in marketing history. Sure, I get it that they want to focus on the ‘old’ broadcast systems to contrast with the ‘new’ marketing tools (email, social media, marketing automation), but by leaving them out makes the “Evolution of Marketing Automation” topic a bit of a mismatch with the content.

Maybe a good source of comparison is another infographic titled “The History of Marketing“, published by HubSpot about a year ago. HubSpot’s version is also brief (the point of any infographic, sure) but doesn’t overlook key events in marketing history. Another marketing automation vendor, Eloqua, also published an infographic about the same time as HubSpot titled “A History of Disruptive Innovations in Marketing” which focused mostly on the technology advances. Heck, even the simplistic “History of Marketing Channels” infographic from Visual Loop published back in 2010 had more meat.

Maybe I am being too picky. What do you think?

P.S.: for those interested in more information about the evolution of marketing and marketing through history, check out the following links:

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Maximizing Marketing Spend with Attribution Models

February 20, 2013

Note: This is a guest post by Ashley Verrill.

Once upon a time, marketers just played the quantities game. Pay for the biggest audience you can afford – whether that’s a billboard, newspaper advertisement, radio or otherwise – and trust that increased sales after the fact resulted from that investment. Well, times have changed. Today’s marketer can target prospects to an increasingly granular degree and measure return on spend to the cent.

But this ability raises another issue. With so many options available, it’s difficult to know where to prioritize your spend. Which channels move your ideal customer down the sales funnel fastest? Which content produces the highest quality lead, and does it matter where we measure this success in the customer journey?

Marketing automation solutions reviewer, Software Advice, created this video guide recently to help guide businesses along this uncertain terrain. Analytics expert Laura Patterson describes step by step how to create an attribution model. This method maps channels and content along your customer journey, then identifies those with the highest rate of success for moving contacts to conversion.

LauraPatterson_Video

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About Ashley Verrill
Ashley Verrill is a market analyst that writes for theSoftware Advice. She has spent the last six years reporting and writing business news and strategy features. Her work has appeared in myriad publications including Inc., Upstart Business Journal, the Austin Business Journal and the North Bay Business Journal. Before joining Software Advice in 2012, she worked in sales management and advertising. She is a University of Texas graduate with a bachelor’s degree in journalism.


Your Content Focus: Narrow vs Wide

February 19, 2013

After getting your first content marketing pieces out there, the question usually revolves around “what’s next?”. Startups who are strapped for cash and resources want to know if they should go wide, trying to reach more industries or segments, or if they should narrow their focus and create additional content materials to go deeper into the segment they have already started to work with. In established companies the question is similar, but it often is a question of where to focus their resources to get the best results.

When asked about the narrow vs wide focus in content marketing, my first question is always “what is your goal?”. Do you want to generate leads to the top of the funnel or do you need to close deals that are being worked on right now? Do you need to test whether your message is on target (based on your buyer personas) or do you need to get prospects through the marketing funnel and further qualify them?

These are simple, but important questions. I’ve seen lengthy discussions arise because the marketing team is not in sync. Some want to go after additional industries so that the message can be spread out and the company name (or product) can become known elsewhere. Others don’t want to “abandon” leads they have already generated and argue for more nurturing campaigns with content that will guide those leads down to eventually close a sale.

So how do you solve this? I believe it is a matter of understanding a few important things before making a decision, such as:

  1. How long is your sales cycle?
  2. Who are the decision makers and all the personas involved?
  3. What content has already been created?
  4. Which content pieces were successful in the past and why?
  5. What is the profile of your ideal customer?

Number 5, although the last one, is typically the first thing your company should know. This sounds obvious but for startups it might take them a while until they figure out who exactly is their ideal customer, which can change from the day they set out to actually sell the product until they close their first few deals.

If you have a relatively short sales cycle, then developing content focused on driving leads down the marketing funnel to help close deals might be the best bet. If, on the other hand, you don’t expect deals to close within the next 6 months, then you can afford to verge off track for a bit and create content for other industries/personas/segments and come back later with additional content for existing leads.

Whatever your decision, make sure you understand what and why you are doing it and have some metrics in place to tell you what is working and why.


How to Build a Lead Scoring Program

June 7, 2012

By Ashley Furness, guest blogger and Software Advice market analyst

Every company wants high leads volume – but not prioritizing those opportunities can leave sales wasting time on leads that will never buy, while the best prospects fall through the cracks.

Fortunately, an effective lead scoring program can address this problem. Below is a two-part video series from Software Advice that outlines tips for creating such a program. In it, VisionEdge Marketing President Laura Patterson demonstrates how to use “fit” and “behavior” metrics to rate your leads. Then, what to do with the scores once they are determined.

To measure fit, she recommends using questions that help decide if the potential buyer is a match the company and its products. This can include queries such as: Is it in the right market? Is it the right kind of company? Is this person the decision maker? Do they have the right kind of problem? Does our product solve that problem?

Behaviors, on the other hand, are observable actions that show where the prospect is in the buying process. To create these metrics, first map out your buying process pipeline – from first contact, for example, to fills out online quote form. Next, decide on metric behaviors for each one of the incremental buying process actions.

Once you have these metrics and create a scale for each, your team can decide what scores trigger marketing or sales action.

This content was provided by Software Advice.


Getting Started Guide for Marketing Automation

June 1, 2012

With all the (deserved) hype surrounding marketing automation, is no wonder that many companies, startups especially, are adding the technology as a key component to their marketing activities. Problem is, sometimes the rush to get the software installed and running ends up trampling the creation of processes, content planning, and other key ingredients that are necessary for a successful marketing automation implementation.

But let’s say you got approval and have purchased the marketing automation software of your dreams. Now what? Before you jump into it head first and spend countless hours setting up all the landing pages, workflows, and start messing with scoring models it’s best to take a step back and make sure you and all your team are in sync. So here’s a quick “getting started” guide that looks at the marketing automation implementation process from a 10,000 foot view and gets you ready to used what will become your most important lead generation engine.

Getting Started with Marketing Automation

Step 1: Sales and Marketing Alignment and Documentation

If you did your marketing automation purchase following best practices, the sales team (or at least sales management) was involved to help make the selection. If not, stop what you are doing and meet with the sales leadership. Make sure that you have documented (yes, written somewhere so that everyone can see) a few important definitions such as:

  • What is a lead (and expand it to include MQL, SQL, SAL and any other relevant lead stages)?
  • What does the sales and marketing funnels look like?
  • How and in which stage will marketing hand leads off to sales?
  • Will leads be saved to the CRM or will they stay in the MA solution until they are qualified?
  • How will marketing get feedback from sales?

Step 2: Buyer Personas

If you don’t have your buyer personas documented yet, now is a good time to get started. Make sure to validate with sales and other relevant departments. The personas will help drive your content marketing efforts and your lead nurturing programs.

Step 3: Content Marketing Audit

Conduct a content marketing audit and have an inventory of your marketing assets. Content drives marketing automation, so the best starting point is to understand what you already have. You can then start leveraging those assets with your marketing automation solution while you and your team craft new content.

Step 4: The Content Marketing Plan

Plug the resulting content inventory into a matrix containing the buyer personas and the sales cycle (different lead stages). The resulting spreadsheet or matrix will show you gaps you have in your content plan and also which content will be used in which stage for which type of buyer. This is the framework you will need for your nurturing campaigns.

Step 5: Scoring Model

Lead scoring is a tool that requires constant refinement and that will become a key element in helping you track your leads through the funnel. Scoring will require involvement of sales, and of understanding what piece of content or which demographical information from your prospect is more relevant when qualifying a lead. You can automate the sending of emails all day long but unless you have a thought-out scoring model you won’t be using the MA system to its full potential. You can go back to that content marketing matrix you created earlier and start plugging scores for the different types of content, or use it to guide conversation with sales on how to score leads.

Step 6: CRM Integration

Sure, during the vendor presentation the integration between CRM and the marketing automation solution was shown as seamless and easy. If you have the standard flavor of Salesforce.com with no customizations or if you are a startup just beginning to make use of the CRM system, then integration won’t be a problem. For other companies where the CRM system has been extensively customized, or if you already had different ways (screens, triggers, etc.) of managing your leads then you need to make sure that the marketing automation software won’t mess things up especially with how your sales team operates (another great reason to involve sales early in the process). Basically, make sure you understand how the integration works and how leads will be synced to the CRM and what the feedback loop looks like.

Step 7: Short-Term and Long-Term Marketing Automation

You can’t wait to get started, and that’s fine, but think ahead and create a short-term versus long-term plan. There are many things you can start doing right now, such as working on the registration pages and ensuring all web-based content is being captured by the MA system, leveraging existing marketing assets and start creating simple nurturing campaigns, and take advantage of events and other marketing programs that are around the corner and get your marketing automation system to support them.

As you get started using marketing automation, don’t forget to go back to the content marketing grid or matrix you created and plan for the future. What types of content do you need to create? What messages make sense based on different buyer stages and personas? Map out more complex nurturing flows based on different types of customers, products, and behaviors. Rinse and repeat.

Where to Go From Here

If implementing Marketing Automation seems like a daunting task, then I hope that this short “getting started” guide has helped to break things into smaller, manageable pieces. There are also a few very good free resources on the internet that you can read as you get started, such as:

Happy automation!


Deconstructing an Email Marketing Campaign

April 10, 2012

What does it take to put together a successful email campaign? It all sounds pretty simple when you think of it. Segment your list, create the email, send it out, evaluate results, repeat. Right? Well, not so fast.

I’ve now spoken to small business owners and startup founders and they have the same initial feeling that it should just work. But, when it comes time to actually execute, something is missing. Although “email marketing” is the name of the game, there are actually many pieces you have to put into play and organize in order to make the most of it. There are landing pages, thank you pages, linking all to a CRM system and ensuring you are capturing leads and nurturing them.

So in order to help those thinking about how to start their own email marketing programs, and also for those interested in looking at the whole process in more detail to see what else can be done to improve results, let’s take a moment to deconstruct a typical email marketing campaign. The following is like the anatomy of an email marketing process with the pieces each dissected and analyzed.

Anatomy of an Email Marketing Campaign

In general, most email marketing campaigns will look something like the image shown below. You have an Email that is created, which will have a link to a specific Landing page, which in turn will link (not always, but usually if you have a form) to a Thank You page, which typically triggers a final Thank You email.

Anatomy of Email Marketing Campaign

Click to Enlarge

The Email

The email is the message you are sending out to a segment of your list. It contains the following key elements:

  • Subject line
  • Headline
  • Content / Offer
  • Call to Action
  • Unsubscribe link

Things to consider when crafting your email are:

  • Time of day
  • Day of week
  • HTML vs. Text
  • Send yourself vs via third party
  • Design the email with the message in mind
  • Dynamic content based on job title, role, industry, etc.
  • Personalization (i.e. “Dear John…”)

All of these combined will influence well your email will perform.

The Landing Page

The landing page is the web page that holds the offer you talked about in your email. It doesn’t need to be an “offer” like in sales promotion, it could simply be a piece of content that you download or watch online.

The landing page contains usually the following elements:

  • Headline
  • Offer / Content
  • Registration Form
  • Call to Action

Things to consider when crafting the landing page:

  • Taking out website navigation
  • Don’t just restate the email text, add more compelling reasons for the person to proceed with what you want them to do (i.e. what is the call to action)
  • Short registration form instead of lengthy form
  • Having no registration form at all (give away the content/offer)

Having people click on an enticing offer in an email is only half the battle. Will they actually go through with their intent and do what you want them to do, whether it is downloading the whitepaper, watching the video, or filling out a form? The design and content of your landing page is critical.

The Thank You Page

If your landing page has a registration form, you will need one of these. What happens after the person fills out your form? They should get access to the content they registered for. Your thank you page typically has:

  • Thank you text, acknowledging the user’s time and interest
  • The offer itself or a link to download it

Things to consider in your thank you page:

  • Make it simple, people want to see their content right away
  • Show them another offer after the links to their content (people who downloaded this are usually also interested in this other thing…)
  • Tell them what to do if they have a problem downloading or accessing the material. Usually just an email address should do.

The Thank You Email

Not doing this one is a missed opportunity. After someone registers for your content, make sure they are able to download the offer by emailing them a quick “thank you” email containing a link to the material they were promised.

Your thank you email will typically consist of:

  • Subject line
  • Header
  • Content / Offer
  • Link to download

Other things to consider when crafting the thank you email are:

  • Be brief. You are not trying to sell them on something they have already expressed an interest in
  • Make the links to download/access the material very obvious
  • At the end, you could tell them about another piece of content they might be interested in, with the appropriate link
  • HTML vs. Text

Leveraging Email Analytics

You can also leverage your email marketing analytics to further enhance your campaign. After that first email goes out, you may want to craft a follow up email to people who didn’t take any action. For example:

  • People who didn’t open the email
  • People who didn’t click in any links in the email
  • People who clicked but didn’t complete the registration form

The follow up email is a good opportunity to re-think the message and craft a different email that might entice those who didn’t take any action after the first one went out.

The image below shows the process taking into account the new email you may want to add to your email marketing process flow.

Email Marketing With Follow Up Email

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What Happens Behind the Scenes

As people click through your email, register on your landing page, and download your offer, you will want to make sure it is all being captured in a database somewhere. There isn’t a single email marketing software vendor out there that won’t have at least the simplest of analytics. From the moment you schedule your campaign to go out the email software is tracking everything. It will tell you who it was delivered to, who opened and didn’t open, which ones bounced, etc.

The next step, the landing/registration page should also have a way to communicate back to you the registrations. The least you want done is to have a way to get that information back to your CRM system so that you can track which prospects or customers interacted with the campaign and registered or downloaded your offer.

As you get to a point where Email Marketing becomes  a key ingredient in your marketing toolbox you will want to start investing in a Marketing Automation solutions, because most of the MA solutions out there will give you some way to make this whole process a bit easier. The Marketing Automation software can not only track the email responses, but also the registrations from your landing page (if you used a form) and the downloads. In addition, the Marketing Automation software will help get people who responded to your email campaign into a lead nurturing process. In fact, many of your email marketing campaigns, once you have a Marketing Automation solution in place, will start looking very much like part of a bigger nurturing process themselves!

The image below shows the process flow with the Marketing Automation solution component.

Email Marketing with Marketing Automation

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And how about scoring? As you start playing with Marketing Automation, that’s the next step in thinking through your email campaign process. How will you score different interactions between all components? What score will people receive for opening but not downloading your offer? What score will you attribute to different offers on your landing page? And what score will you attribute to different fields in your registration form (if you have one)?

Where To Go From Here

Don’t worry if this sounds like too much to digest. Start small and go slowly. Don’t have a Marketing Automation solution yet? No worries.. use your Email Marketing system and just make sure that you have a way to get the results back to your CRM or whatever contact database you are using. Then, as you get more comfortable and grow your list and the frequency of campaigns, you can start looking at Marketing Automation.

The important thing is to use this anatomy of email marketing to think through all the steps and components and make sure that you are crafting compelling, consistent messages and that each step of the process is being optimized. I hope this brief exercise helped you get a better understanding of what goes on in creating an email marketing campaign.

Email Marketing Process Flow

Click to Enlarge



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