The 4 ingredients of Marketing Automation’s Secret Sauce

June 12, 2017 By


Marketing Automation was supposed to solve all of your problems, right? So why are your campaigns still under-performing, leads or engagement alerts not converting to opportunities and sales just ignoring whatever you generate?

As with all things, technology alone is never the answer. Your Marketing Automation Platform is, for the purpose of a good analogy, the cooker. As long as your cooker is in good working order — there is no barrier to performance — the cooker will not limit your ability to produce an amazing dish.

But if you are experiencing a marketing automation problem, i.e. you are not getting the results you want, then we suggest you move upstream and take a look at the core ingredients:

  • People
  • Process
  • Technology
  • Data

Let’s examine each in context, in reverse order – you’ll see why.

Scenario 1: Emails or newsletters with minimal opens and few or no clicks

Skip the creative and look at your data first. This is one of the ingredients that has the biggest impact on results. You need more contacts, more contacts with correct email addresses, and more data that matches and describes the persona you are targeting. Then you can personalize and segment giving your generic newsletter and individual experience for each recipient.

Scenario 2: You are handing over qualified leads or engagement alerts to sales, but they are not converting to opportunities.

Now, rather than assuming this is a people problem and taking the sales force to task, we suggest you look to the technology for the answers and make sure that your sales team have all the tools they need to efficiently follow-up on your leads and do the conversion work. Returning to the cooker analogy — it might be a feature you’ve never used, or a special type of saucepan — in Eloqua it could be that you are not taking advantage of having Eloqua Engage embedded in your CRM. With Engage, sales can send the right follow up emails after conversations or voice mails. They can also track a prospect’s response to emails and website visits. This will help them time phone calls and other follow up activities, and thus nail down a lead for conversion.

Scenario 3: Are you feeding the pipeline with leads — just to find they are being ignored?

They don’t mean to, it’s just that the sales team might not know quite what to do with your leads and they have hotter ones to work on. So, the task is to make it easy and give them a process, guidelines and content to support the leads. For example:

  •       Use email template A for HR prospects, template B for Finance.
  •       Follow up with a phone call within 2 hours, leave voice mail with verbiage you suggest.
  •       Follow these talking points if you get the Lead on the phone.
  •       Check back within 2 days, but immediately follow up if your prospect opens an email or visits your site.

Scenario 4: Wait, the process, guidelines and content aren’t being used either!

This is a people problem. Sales and marketing have a history of being at odds with each other. You have to bring sales along to make sure they understand what you are trying to achieve and deliver guidelines, content and a process that makes it easy for them. Don’t be afraid to run training sessions to help sales execute effectively and what’s more, be ready to listen to their needs too.

The reality is rarely, if ever, can the problem be isolated to just one of the ingredients: people, process, technology or data. Like great cooking, it’s about getting the right blend of ingredients all working together at the right time.

Let’s go back to the data problem to look at another example and see how people, process, technology and data interconnect.

Scenario 5: We don’t have enough contacts with email addresses! Why do sales people keep entering contacts with no email addresses?

In the first instance the solution might look obvious. ‘I know, I’ll use technology. We’ll add required fields in CRM so sales can’t enter a new Contact without an email address! And phone numbers too, while we’re at it, by golly!’ But then, entering contacts for sales people becomes a hassle. Often, a rep hears a name and immediately enters under the Account, then later finds the email and phone. Now you’ve made that difficult, sales resists, and adoption of CRM plummets. First you had a data problem, now you’ve created a people problem!

A better approach would be to align with sales on the importance of data. Create dashboards indicating percentage of contacts with and without emails by sales rep, maybe even give rewards for top ‘performers’. Attack this problem from the people perspective and your data problem may be solved.

Your problem rarely, if ever, falls into one category. And in fact, focusing on just data, or just technology, will unveil a process problem. And in the end, ALL marketing automation problems have a people component.

If problems arise, identify if people, process, technology and data is the main issue. Then consider how the problem and your solution affects the other three.

And next time you launch a campaign, make sure every part of your master plan considers each ingredient: people, process, technology and data:

–      Align with the people (sales) on campaign ideas.

–      Create the campaign process together to make sure it’s easy for both marketing AND sales to follow.

–      Get agreement with sales on your target audience – your data. For example, they may have better luck with re-engagement of customers who purchased more recently.

–      Make sure your process includes steps for sales follow up. Don’t just hand out leads and hope for the best.

–       Take advantage of nurturing, scoring and progressive profiling technology. Give sales the technology to communicate more effectively with prospects and make sure they have talking points for when they finally get a live one on the phone.

People, process, technology and data – kind of just rolls off the tongue and tastes great going down!