Learning Marketing Automation? Dive Right In

Learning by doingThe decision to work with a marketing automation program like Eloqua is no small decision. It’s going to involve a tremendous expansion of the skill-set that you possess. It’s going to tax your abilities, and half-measures (adopting it part-way) is not going to get you where you want to go. If you adopt Eloqua, your marketing department is going to need a re-think from top to bottom.

As the Topliners poll shows nearby, the best way to become comfortable with Eloqua is to simply dive right in. (Click on the chart to see a larger version of it).

While “diving in” may make some sense, you have to be careful about what you’re diving into. The process of learning Eloqua, from beginning to end, involves a great deal of effort (which is worth it). The instructions that Eloqua provided at http://growth.eloqua.com provide a realistic road-map of what that journey entails.

Take a look at the list of just first-level of things you’ll need to do to “lay the groundwork” from that chart. I’ll go through these and provide just a few brief words on each of them.

Laying Your GroundworkPersona Development: This involves fairly intensive discussions with the sales department to understand who the various people are who are buying your products and services, why they are buying them, and what the process is like to get from “interest” to “purchase”.

Data Management/Standardize Data: Do you have data already? If so, there’s a likelihood that it’s not been “normalized”. If you don’t have data, you’ll need to think through and understand what you’ll need, and how to make sure it’s captured properly.

Naming Conventions and Folder Organization: Eloqua’s folder structure is an important part of classifying your emails, and before you send your first email out, you should have some kind of roadmap to make certain your emails are organized correctly as you continue to build out your program.

Email Deliverability and Best Practices: This is a whole separate science. It’s not as if there’s a dearth of material here; rather, the challenge will be to understand what targets you’d like to achieve, and then figure out how to be selective about which “best practices” you need to adopt.

Increase Email Response Rates: In some ways, this is a subset of the previous item; in other ways, this is a function of testing to achieve the kinds of targets you have set for yourself.

Subscription Preferences and Management: It’s an opt-in world; people hate getting spammed, and users will want to be able to opt themselves into and out of certain categories of information they will receive. Thinking through these categories is going to be vital to your efforts.

Inactive Contact Management: Eloqua charges you solely based on the number of contacts you have in your database. That means, if you can reduce the number of contacts you have, you can reduce the amount of money you pay for your annual contract. But at what cost?

Web to Lead Form Integration: Imagine the process that your potential customers will go through while in your “sales funnel”. You’ll want to learn more and more about them as they move forward. But what do you need to know, and when do you need to know it?

Lead Source Capture: How will you capture the names of individuals in the first place? More and more marketers are popping up big “give-us-your-email-address-now” screens in front of the first visit to your website. Is that what you want to be known for?

Don’t think you don’t need to do all of this. If you have a website – if you hope to use your website as a part of your selling process, then you either need to do all this, and more, or risk having your business become irrelevant to your users.

Consider the broad range of disciplines that are involved in just this list alone. This is merely “laying your groundwork”, before you actually accomplish one thing. The amount of work that needs to go simply into laying your groundwork should be a sign to you that an Eloqua implantation is not going to be a one-time “set-it-and-forget-it” software installation. It’s going to be a way of life.

Building Personas: “Soccer Moms”, “Fearful CEOs” and other people who may buy from you

One of the most important things that sets your marketing message apart from the others is “relevance” – if your message is relevant to the recipient, it’ll go a lot more smoothly from the inbox to your prospect’s brain.

If you can understand who the various people are who buy your products or services, you’re much more likely to be able to select (or create) relevant messaging (or “content”) to send to them.

That’s why thinking through “personas” for your customers is the very first project that Eloqua recommends.

This is clearly not the “automation” portion of “marketing automation”, it’s the “marketing” part. You may have heard the tech-related phrase, “garbage in, garbage out”. This is where you need to make certain you are working with good information. This is the foundation for the rest of your efforts.

(In a sense, it’s a shame that marketing “automation” companies need to remind their customers of this).

It’s all about the money, and this is where “marketing” meets “the money”. It’s where you, as a marketer, sit down with your sales and product management teams and understand, who’s buying each product or service that you sell, how they are involved in the purchasing decision, and what their “buying cycle” is.

At a later date, for each of these, you’ll think through their “buying cycle” their particular needs (or “pain points”) at varying points of the buying cycle, and also the type of “content” that you will address to them.

But for now, what’s the point?

Thinking through your customer demographics should be a standard operating procedure for any business, and for some, it is a science. Consumer marketing companies have come up with a number of different personas — some of these, such as “soccer moms”, have become well-known through such marketing processes as political campaigns.

2013-04-02-Consumer-Demographics

If you properly understand who the buyers are, and what they’re buying, you can automate your marketing efforts to them in an effective way. If you don’t get them right, it’s going to be a case of “garbage in, garbage out”.

If you click on the “Persona Development” link on http://growth.eloqua.com/, it’ll take you to the page where Eloqua makes its “persona development” materials available.

(If you aren’t already a member of their Topliners community, you may need to join in order to access this material.)

Introducing 4Segments

4Segments
4Segments will revolutionize how you use and share data

4Thought Marketing introduced 4Segments at Oracle’s “Modern Marketing Experience” (#MME15) – this a tool that will revolutionize your ability to create, understand, and share the value of your marketing lists and segments. If you’ve built “segments” in any of the major “marketing automation” platforms (Eloqua included), you’ll love the simplicity that 4Segments brings to the task.

4Segments will enable you to take personalization to a whole new level in your marketing content efforts, as you seek to build the relevance you need to stand out in a crowded marketplace.

Contact me for a demonstration of this cool new tool.

Buyer Personas, the Editorial Calendar, Funnels and Real Life

Personas-the-Editorial-Calendar-Funnels-and-Real-Life

Buyer Personas, the Editorial Calendar, and Real Life

I’m discussing that topic in a series of guest-blog posts at Acooze.com, content marketing consultants from Melbourne, Australia.

You’ll want to have all of this content created and published according to your timelines, but you will also need to have it available for re-use, within “nurture programs” you’ll set up within the marketing automation platform.

This is where the “automation” comes in. You’ll need to make the information personally available not to “buyer personas”, but to specific individuals as they navigate your website at different times.

These “nurture tracks” may be triggered when individuals [not “personas”] reach or demonstrate certain key thresholds in your data, such as when they first express interest in your site (“new to list”), specific job role (identifying themselves as “executive”, “technical”, or “non-technical”), searching pricing information, when they first become customers, and other elements.

Read more here: Buyer Personas, the Editorial Calendar, and Real Life

Contact me on Twitter @johnbugay

“Buyer Personas and The Marketing Funnel – Its a confusing World”

Forrester Research: The New Marketing Funnel

What’s the right way to think about “buyer personas”? I’m discussing that topic in a series of guest-blog posts at Acooze.com, content marketing consultants from Melbourne, Australia.

… if you’ve studied content marketing at all, you’ve seen the sales funnel or the marketing funnel. This is traditionally how marketers are given to think about how customers progress on their journey from someone who doesn’t even know about you to being a customer.

About a year ago, Forrester Research published a new version of the funnel…. As you can see, the funnel has become a bit more complex.

My article this week walks you through the growing number of complexities that are being faced as marketers delve further into the world of marketing automation.

Read more here to see and understand the current state of “the marketing funnel”.

I’m @johnbugay

Caution: Heavy Lifting on the IT Side of Marketing

Alan Pringle @scriptorium has put together an article that could have been subtitled, “The Technical Side of Content Management: 11 Questions to Ask”.

When IT is MIA, content strategy crumbles.

Based on “hard experience”, he makes the following personnel-based observation:

Among those authoring content, have at least two tech-savvy employees who are the main points of contact with the IT department. These technical liaisons collect information about performance issues and other problems and then work with the IT group to solve the issues. Don’t play the I’m just a writer and don’t want to be bothered with the technical details card and leave all the heavy lifting to the IT group.

He notes, “Having a primary IT resource for content processes is a logical approach, but there needs to be a secondary resource who is more than just a backup in name only. The secondary resource should be well-versed in the tools and participate in basic maintenance to develop a working knowledge of the system.”

At this point, I just want to point out the line on my résumé where it says I was “marketing liaison with MIS/IT”. I’m a guy who can handle the heavy lifting on the IT side of the Marketing house.

Do you know someone who needs help with that?

I’m @johnbugay.