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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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!


A Tough Road for Marketing Automation

June 20, 2011

Marketing Automation is a hot topic. News about multi-million dollar investments in the space has sparked not only interest from marketers but a multitude of competitors crowding an already jammed market. Is like driving down the highway only to see the traffic stopping right after you take the next curve. As the traffic is slowly moves, some cars faster than others, many drivers start wondering if they should take the next exit.

What’s Ahead for Marketing Automation Vendors

Continue reading my thoughts on what’s ahead for marketing automation vendors on a recently published article at the Marketing Automation Times website.


How Everybody Wins with HubSpot’s Funding

March 10, 2011

As everyone in the marketing industry surely knows by now, HubSpot raised $32 million in additional funding. This means that is time to update my previous charts on marketing automation funding (see below) and the funding timeline, because HubSpot just surpassed Marketo as the highest funded marketing software vendor to date. (Note: yes, I wouldn’t necessarily say HubSpot is a ‘marketing automation’ vendor per se, but they are moving towards that end).

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With the new round of financing, HubSpot now leads the pack in terms of VC funding and takes the total amount raised to date by key marketing players to over $220 million.

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Updated above is the timeline of funding for the key players in the marketing automation space (you may argue HubSpot is not a marketing automation vendor, this is subject for another post).

Everyone Wins

But it also means something else. The money flowing to companies like HubSpot is impressive, and the results of the investment will not only benefit them but also the whole marketing automation and marketing software industry in general. Is almost like a virtuous cycle, where money goes to marketing software vendors, who use it to build better products and educate the market, which then learns about the benefits of such solutions, purchase those solutions, and publicize it themselves and pay those vendors for services.

Industry Impact

Should established marketing automation players be worried about HubSpot’s sudden infusion of capital? After all, now that they have the deep pockets to invest in improving their product, maybe their solution will start looking more like what marketing automation vendors have been selling for some time now. For Eloqua, at least, they say there’s no need to worry since HubSpot is serving a very different market.

Market Segmentation

And here is worth pausing for a moment. We sometimes tend to bundle all of the vendors into one big basket, because a search for marketing software solutions will show more results than you would care to browse and the sales literature of most of them will make you think they all do very similar things. Nothing could be further from the truth, since after taking a few of those solutions out for a spin you will discover there’s much difference under the hood… but that is a topic for another post, since it can take some time to untangle the value propositions and real benefit all the marketing software vendors make.

So HubSpot’s recent capital infusion should be treated as good news by all marketing vendors. It does seem the whole industry is due for a shake-down but until then, the awareness and market education will benefit everyone.


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