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Q&A with Laura Ramos of Forrester Research – Part 2: Market Momentum

Thursday, March 4th, 2010

Following up on my post last week, I am releasing the second part of my interview with Laura Ramos of Forrester Research (blog).

Part 2:  Market Momentum

4.    Dwyer:  What key trends drive adoption of Lead Management Automation (LMA) today?

Ramos:  Besides the economy and the need to improve sales pipelines short term, I think there are 3 more systemic changes driving lead management automation investment and use. These are: 1) the need for greater marketing accountability, 2) the need to produce not just more demand, but better qualified demand, and 3) the need to scale the sales process more efficiently (another way of putting this is reducing the cost of customer acquisition).  There are a number of macro trends driving widespread change in B2B marketing, where I see automated demand management as a key response to these trends. In short, I expect marketers to adopt lead management automation to build customer dialogue and relationships much earlier in the purchase process and counteract issues like advertising avoidance, commoditization, and social computing (which creates unprecedented transparency and information sharing that is wonderful for buyers, but challenging for sellers).

5.    Dwyer:  What impact will a Lead Management Automation (LMA) system have on the typical marketing organization?

Ramos:  I think the impact of automation on a large marketing organization can be quite different than the impact for a small one.  Both experience different issues and challenges. Let me focus on the midmarket here and refer to the three trends I mentioned in the prior question to address the question of impact:

1) Greater marketing accountability. Over the past 10 years, B2B marketers have witnessed an explosion in available marketing approaches, especially in the digital world. While this has made more channels available, many marketers struggle to execute tactics in an integrated fashion that engage B2B buyers during what is often a lengthy sales cycle. Running from tactic to tactic, B2B marketers can also fail to demonstrate marketing’s impact beyond the point of campaign execution. Lead management automation helps marketers get a handle on the marketing mix and to learn which approaches work at which points in the buyer’s journey. LMA can also give marketers more flexibility to try new approaches and experiment with new techniques because the system lets them see, more directly, the impact between marketing activity and the volume and quality of leads that result.

2) Better qualified leads. Sales doesn’t really want more leads from marketing, but they do want better ones. Lead management automation helps marketing and sales get onto the same page and to answer the critical question “what makes a great lead?” Without automation to score leads across the purchase cycle, and the capability to nurture leads – start a conversation, educate, build dialogue, persuade – marketers will fail to put the best leads in front of sales and to help sales to convert pipeline into closed deals.

3) Scaling the sales process. Many executives think LMA helps marketing.  In fact, it helps sales. And it helps the bottomline.  Starting in the last decade, trends like software as a service, virtualization, and on-demand provisioning have changed how firms deliver high technology products. The services component of any solution has become more important. And IT buyers want to pay as they go. Long-term, on-premise, perpetual licenses will decline in favor of the on-demand model.  This also means that long sales processes, backed by high-commission sales reps, must become less expensive. Marketing will become key in this transition as buyers rely more on online channels – and communities of like-minded participants – to inform and validate purchase decisions. Lead management automation can help marketers connect with these buyers long before the first sales call and make selling more efficient as a result.

I think large, multinational firms can certainly achieve these results at the departmental level.  However, the challenges associated with building a global brand, driving message consistency, and managing marketing interactions across geographies, regions, industries, and multiple product lines increases demand management complexity significantly.

6.    Dwyer:  Are you seeing a shift in focus from traditional outbound marketing activities to inbound marketing? If so, how can marketing leaders prepare themselves?

Ramos:  In 2009, we saw B2B marketers shift from traditional to digital channels in a big way as marketing budgets got the ax and as buyers became harder to engage.  Social media popularity also accelerated the digital transformation.  However, much of what I see happening online in B2B – with social media in particular – I would characterize as “outbound marketing using new channels.” For example, firms put out a stream of press releases and marketing communications, and then tweet about them on Twitter.  Little value is added and certainly not much happening there to make buyers want to strike up a conversation.

To truly move to inbound marketing, B2B marketers need to stop thinking about campaigns and start thinking about multi-step conversations.  They need to efficiently reach buyers at a group or individual level. Mass marketing doesn’t work in B2B, relationship marketing does. This is where I can see LMA playing a key role because lets vertical industry, product management, or local marketers in the field have conversations with targeted groups of prospects – customer segments in the truest sense – using online tools and social media to fuel the dialogue.  By tracking their behavior and interactions, marketers can then pass a rich set of “background” information – behavior, preferences, activity — to sales and help them close deals more efficiently.  When this doesn’t work, because it doesn’t always, the LMA system can now give both marketing and sales quantitative, factual information about what they need to do differently.

Next up, Part 3:  Selection Criteria & Process

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Q&A with Laura Ramos of Forrester Research – Part 1: Defining the Market

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

Without question, Laura Ramos of Forrester Research (blog) is an expert in the marketing automation space with a specific focus on the best practices in lead management.  While I did not actually meet Laura in person until late 2009, I have certainly known that she is a thought leader in the industry.  I have enjoyed getting to know her over the past few months and I think Laura has become more familiar with what Loopfuse has to offer B2B marketers, especially in the product releases that Loopfuse has made in late 2009.

As Laura and I recently discussed, one of the challenges to Lead Management Automation adoption is education in the marketplace.  So I asked Laura if she would be willing to answer a handful of questions for me about the market and talk about what she sees happening in 2010.  So I sat down with Laura a few weeks ago for a quick chat and today we are releasing the first part of our interview:

Part 1:  “Defining the Market”

1.    Dwyer:  The term Marketing Automation is thrown around internally at companies and in the marketing media, how do you define Marketing Automation?

Ramos:  As part of Forrester’s research team that serves the marketing professional, I agree that the term Marketing Automation is bandied about ambiguously. To help marketers use technology to improve marketing effectiveness and efficiency, Forrester writes about the Marketing Technology Backbone.  It’s a term we have used since 2004, defined as, “A technology infrastructure that supports an integrated, quantitative approach to marketing strategy, development, delivery, and measurement — across the marketing mix.”  This definition helps to keep marketers focused on the entire discipline of marketing and not just on technology for executing tactics and campaigns. It also includes two important words, integrated and quantitative, because I see B2B marketers worry too much about running programs and not enough time connecting the dots between marketing activity and bottomline business results.

Looking at the marketing technology landscape, Forrester sees marketing automation focus on six core applications: 1) campaign management; 2) customer analytics; 3) interaction management; 4) marketing resource management (MRM); 5) marketing asset management (MAM); and 6) lead management.  Lead management plays a key role in the marketing automation space and in our view of what marketers need to put an effective marketing technology backbone in place.

2.    Dwyer:  From a B2B perspective, when a direct salesforce is involved, what is the difference between Marketing Automation and Lead Management Automation?

Ramos:  In my research, I study and write about lead management automation specifically.  My counterpart, Suresh Vittal, writes about marketing automation generally. In B2B marketing, where a direct salesforce or channel partners sit in the driver’s seat for winning new deals and retaining existing customers, technology that manages demand is an essential part of the marketing technology backbone.  Wikipedia has a solid definition of lead management that I used to develop a working definition in my research.  In short, lead management is the tooling and processes that help firms generate new business opportunities, manage volumes of business inquiries, improve potential buyers’ propensity to purchase, and increase alignment between marketing activity and sales results. Increasingly this process is becoming tech-centric, and lead management automation is the technology that helps marketers to manage this process.  I would also point out, however, that technology alone is not sufficient and that automating ineffective, immature processes – especially those that lack a tight alignment between marketing and sales measured in the creation of more qualified opportunities and closed sales — will likely cause more problems than it solves.

3.    Dwyer:  Is Lead Management Automation (LMA) a term that is catching on in mainstream business?

Ramos:  I would like to see it catch on more than it has. The 2009 recession, which appears to be experiencing a slow recovery in 2010, forced many firms to concentrate on demand generation as business investment was deferred, delayed, or shrank. The down economy benefited lead management solution providers as marketers invested in LMA technology to get sales pipelines pumping again. Despite this trend, lead management automation is still an emerging industry category. Today, LMA has yet to emerge as a separate, distinct category from Marketing Automation.  Based on our estimates, I see market penetration growing from 5% to 10% over the next 18 to 24 months – but there are many marketers out there who have yet to explore the value that lead management automation can bring to their organizations.  This can be both a blessing and a burden to firms like Loopfuse who look to grow their share in this emerging space.

Stay tuned for Part 2:  “Market Momentum” coming soon

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Summary of 5 Ways Marketing Automation Provides Job Security for Marketers

Monday, February 22nd, 2010

And to summarize from my original post in January:  The rules of engagement are changing, but the rules of marketing accountability are changing more quickly.  Measurement and analytics bring job security to the marketing function; particularly when traditional antiquated thinking and manual systems are failing to deliver a competitive advantage in any economy.

Marketing automation tools can help automate the process of optimizing marketing effectiveness and more importantly help marketers demonstrate their impact on top and bottom line results.  The question every marketer should be asking is “How do I maximize my value to the organization?”  If the answer involves demonstrating results or linking performance to top or bottom line organizational objectives, then it might be time to start embracing a marketing automation initiative.   Don’t wait much longer to get started… it could cost you your job.  Instead, adopt marketing automation within your organization and ask your boss for a bonus based on qualified leads.

Download a free copy of 5 Ways Marketing Automation Provides Job Security for Marketers

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Make Marketing Intelligence Actionable

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

And now the fifth way marketing automation provides job security for marketers from 5 Ways Marketing Automation Provides Job Security for Marketers.  Below is the excerpt from the white paper:

“5. Make Marketing Intelligence Actionable

For most marketers, the challenge with channel proliferation is not a lack of data, but a lack of data integration.  Disparate systems (email marketing, web analytics, landing page creation tools, digital asset management, and CRM) often fail to bring critical information together in one centralized location.  Marketing automation tools should integrate with CRM solutions (e.g. to deliver a centralized source of multi-channel analytics for one version of the truth in simple, drill down dashboard reporting designed for marketers.

Website Analytics allow organizations to quickly assess website trends with accurate statistics covering a wide-range of metrics. This type of real-time insight is critical to marketers so they can identify areas of improvement and better tune the website to increase message response.  Likewise, marketers can measure response and engagement by incorporating call to action website links in email campaigns.

It’s also important for marketers to track the success of their email campaigns, in real-time, to make adjustments or additions to a campaign based on user response. Marketing automation can provide comprehensive reporting across CRM and marketing tools, so marketers can see a complete picture of recipient activity, email bounces, bad email data, link activity, geographic breakdowns, as well as associated opportunity. Comprehensive reporting allows marketers to adequately judge the effect of marketing campaigns on real dollars.

Job Security Scorecard:

  • Drill down reporting gives marketers the confidence to say “We have that information” instead of “I’m not sure” when the CFO or CEO ask for more granularity on trends in the data.
  • Centralize prospect behavior across marketing channels.  Marketing becomes an offensive asset in the organization. Rapidly adapt to changes in the market and streamline marketing campaign execution.
  • Real-time dashboards standardize key metrics: funnel analysis, call-to-action, click-through rates, the number of qualified opportunities, website performance, and collateral downloads.”

Download a free copy of 5 Ways Marketing Automation Provides Job Security for Marketers

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Identify exactly how marketing can reduce the sales-cycle time and nurture prospects to action

Tuesday, February 9th, 2010

We are now up to fourth way marketing automation provides job security for marketers from 5 Ways Marketing Automation Provides Job Security for Marketers.  Below is the excerpt from the white paper:

“4. Identify exactly how marketing can reduce the sales-cycle time and nurture prospects to action.

When was the last time you sat down and mapped your marketing collateral to your prospects buying cycle?  Funnel analysis provides marketers with quantifiable data, reflecting the rate at which prospects are advancing through your sales process. This report answers the most important question a marketer has to answer – “At what rate are my prospects moving along the lead funnel?”  Marketing automation can transform this analysis and benchmark it over time delivering key metrics, such as the rate of conversion between first contact-to-conversion or lead-to-opportunity. This analysis can help marketers beef up nurturing and campaign initiatives accordingly.

Funnel analysis gives marketers visibility into the sales cycle and helps identify how marketing can do a better job educating prospects from lead to sale.  Marketers can use funnel analysis as the basis for collaborating with sales by working together to build programs more efficiently at each stage of the pipeline.  Marketers can then support the sales process with thought leadership or specific campaigns while sales may be able to provide key insight about the customers’ buying triggers.

Did you ever want to know how many days it takes for your prospects to move from one step of your sales process to the next?  Marketing automation can empower marketers with dashboard analytics on marketing and sales cycles.  Insight into the funnel progress enables marketers to know exactly how long it’s taking for prospects to move along every stage of the sales cycle and lead funnel. The ability to benchmark this metric over time further extends the power of this reporting tool. This information can be used to build better budget forecasts for finance and help the marketing department become more responsive to unpredictable market conditions.  A sudden change in the sales cycle could alert marketing to changes in the competitive landscape or macroeconomic environment.  The quicker marketing can take advantage of these changes, the more valuable they are to the organization.

Job Security Scorecard:

  • Benchmark the lead-to-sales conversion rate over time.  Identify when campaigns or initiatives drive above average close rates.
  • Forecast more accurately by benchmarking the total number of leads it takes to drive revenue targets at the bottom of the funnel.  Set realistic achievable targets for marketing and sales during strategic planning sessions with the CFO and CEO.
  • Identify what roles are most likely to evaluate products and services and how to meet the unique needs of these individuals based on role, region, or industry.
  • Identify how long it will take for prospects to convert to revenue based on historical averages.
  • Identify bottlenecks in the sales cycle.  Are sales reps incapable of addressing specific objectives?  Does marketing material address all of the buyers core needs?”

Download a free copy of 5 Ways Marketing Automation Provides Job Security for Marketers

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Identify which marketing channels, or combination of marketing channels, have the greatest impact on lead conversion and revenue

Thursday, February 4th, 2010

Following up on my blog post last week, we are now up to third way marketing automation provides job security for marketers from 5 Ways Marketing Automation Provides Job Security for Marketers.  Below is the excerpt from the white paper:

“3. Identify which marketing channels, or combination of marketing channels, have the greatest impact on lead conversion and revenue.

With so many marketing channels, it’s difficult to tell which combination of channels to build into the marketing mix and how much budget to allocate to each of them.   By measuring customer acquisition across marketing channels, the CMO can determine which channels are more likely to impact top-line revenue and allocate budget more effectively based on tangible results.  Conversations with the CFO become much more meaningful when the cost per customer acquired can be linked to expected revenue targets and to the marketing spend.  It’s difficult for finance to reduce overall marketing budget without also reducing revenue targets when marketers can demonstrate the relationship between cost per acquisition and revenue.

The marketing mix can be analyzed based on the tangible impact specific marketing channels have on cultivating prospects.  This allows the CMO to make better decisions about where to allocate budget based on tangible metrics, not gut feel.  At the same time, marketing automation tools become a central database with marketing campaign information and sales information allowing organizations to calculate return on marketing investment by campaign, period, or marketing channel.

Job Security Scorecard:

  • Justify marketing budget by demonstrating exactly which marketing channels drive the highest conversion rates.
  • Calculate customer acquisition by marketing channel
  • Forecast more accurately by linking customer acquisition rates to overall marketing budget.  “If we spend this much money in the following channels, history tells us we can achieve the following revenue.”

Download a free copy of 5 Ways Marketing Automation Provides Job Security for Marketers

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Automate the distribution of leads to sales and identify how many resulted in a closed sale

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010

Building off my last post, we are now on the second way marketing automation provides job security for marketers from 5 Ways Marketing Automation Provides Job Security for Marketers.  Below is the excerpt from the white paper:

“2. Automate the distribution of leads to sales and identify how many resulted in a closed sale:

One of the biggest challenges for B2B marketers is articulating marketing’s impact on closed deals.  Marketing automation gives the CMO visibility into the entire prospect pipeline from unqualified leads to each closed sale.  This allows both marketing and sales to run win-loss analysis by marketing mix, or campaign, for a coveted return-on-investment analysis.  Most marketing automation solutions tightly integrate with CRM solutions such as to close the loop between marketing and sales.  This dispels the myth that field sales organizations are the sole source of new prospects, not marketing.  Both organizations can have a clear view of each lead, where it was generated and the close potential.

Marketing automation solutions also deliver a tangible impact on sales efficiency.  Sales can focus their finite time on real qualified opportunities (based on the internal sales definition of a qualified lead).  Marketing automation helps shift the burden of prospect nurturing and cultivation to marketing, which is where it should be.  Marketers and sales functions can collaborate in lockstep to optimize the entire lead lifecycle process with joint accountability and real tangible metrics to measure success.

Job Security Scorecard:

  • Win-Loss analysis from one centralized tool
  • Identify which marketing messages had the best influence on close rates
  • Marketing becomes an advocate instead of an adversary to sales — delivering true “sales-ready” opportunities to the hands of sales reps
  • Demonstrate exactly how many prospects engaged in a call-to action and how many of these converted on a periodic basis”

Download a free copy of 5 Ways Marketing Automation Provides Job Security for Marketers

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Track customer engagements and qualify the best leads for sales

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

Last week, we released 5 Ways Marketing Automation Provides Job Security for Marketers, and we have received very positive feedback from B2B marketers.  So, I’ve decided to share more sections of the white paper to help marketers be more effective within their organizations.  Here is an excerpt of the first way marketing automation provides job security for marketers:

“1. Track customer engagements and qualify the best leads for sales:

The process of engaging with customers and prospects across one or more channels is complex, and marketers simply can not realistically build relevant, timely, personalized relationships with every prospect unless they can automate this engagement. Marketers need to realize, it’s not about the quantity of leads, rather it’s about quality of leads.  Marketing automation can help marketers review their pipeline and find out the attributes of the best opportunities and then automate prospect nurturing so only the most qualified and educated prospects are passed to sales as “sales-ready” leads backed by qualified and verified data.

Marketing automation tools integrate email marketing, web analytics, landing page creation, and other marketing channels for a comprehensive account-by-account view of the customer engagement.  By tracking the number of “sales-ready” leads that are passed to sales over time, marketers can literally demonstrate how effective marketing collateral has been at converting prospects into qualified opportunities.  Marketers gain credibility with sales and executive stakeholders when they can demonstrate exactly how the marketing budget translated into top-line opportunities for the organization.

Job Security Scorecard:

  • Identify the number of qualified opportunities that are passed from marketing to sales
  • Real-time visibility into the sales pipeline for the C-suite, marketing, sales, finance, and operations”

Download a free copy of 5 Ways Marketing Automation Provides Job Security for Marketers

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5 Ways Marketing Automation Provides Job Security for Marketers

Monday, January 18th, 2010

Today, we released the Loopfuse whitepaper, 5 Ways Marketing Automation Provides Job Security for Marketers, in an effort to help B2B marketers be more effective within their organizations.  In short, this is a must read for any B2B marketer that is curious about marketing automation, thinking about deploying a marketing automation platform or currently evaluating a marketing automation platform.  Below is the “about the whitepaper” section:

“Expectations for business-to-business (“B2B”) organizations to measure return on marketing investments and to justify marketing decisions have never been greater. New marketing channels, global competition, and rising internal expectations convolute budget allocation and make data driven marketing decisions more important than ever. It feels like the bar is constantly rising…and just out of reach for marketers. These pressures are causing B2B marketing leaders around the globe to evaluate software solutions that help measure marketing programs, validate and optimize budget decisions, and help them articulate the marketing performance to key stakeholders. This paper will review how marketing automation solutions can help B2B marketers automate marketing measurement and analytics to demonstrate the effectiveness of marketing programs and validate the pivotal role of marketing in the 21st century.”

I hope you enjoy it.

Download a free copy of 5 Ways Marketing Automation Provides Job Security for Marketers

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Is Your Social Media Marketing Accountable?

Tuesday, December 15th, 2009

Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Digg, Delicious, Yelp, YouTube, FreindFeed, Slideshare, Flickr… it seems like every day another social media channel is launched. With ever dwindling resources, marketers must choose where to spend their time and effort. It’s tempting to just engage on the most recognized channels. But how many of us really know which of these channels is most effective for our particular audience?

Many of these services can offer metrics and statistics, but how easy is it to compare the efficiency of your LinkedIn question versus your blogpost, versus your tweets?  Marcus Tewksbury of “The Marketing Mojo” fame is hosting a webinar on this topic for Alterian on Thursday of this week. I’ve been reading The Marketing Mojo site for almost a year now and they have a good handle on both social media and general marketing.  I’m curious to see what Marcus has in store. Here’s a link to the webinar if you’re curious.