By Kim Albee
updated October 17, 2012
I recently received some great questions about what's blocking organizations from purchasing marketing automation, and what are the biggest obstacles to using marketing automation technology as well as it could be used. Understanding that these are questions that could be helpful to a broader audience, I'm sharing the questions and my answers. Would love your thoughts as well!
1. In your view, what are the top 3 obstacles why Marketing Automation buyers aren't using it properly?
I'm not sure I'd say they're not using it properly -- perhaps I'd say the majority don't use it to it's fullest advantage, and instead use the parts of it they're already comfortable with. But here are some observations:
a. Most B2B Marketers do not know how to create compelling content that engages leads and actually pulls them through the buying process -- because they're just not sure how to do it. They still are putting together an email that goes to their entire list every week -- and might have the same "national" sorts of campaigns, like a webinar advertised, and possibly some local or regional items -- so maybe they're targeting into regions -- but that's it -- and that is really limited. Most marketers I talk with consider this "lead nurturing," until they really start to grapple with the personalized, relationship building potential that lead nurturing executed well can provide.
Update: While marketers are getting better at this, in the SMB space, there are still mountains to move here. Many are still doing "batch and blast" email sending -- some are using marketing automation tools to do it, and calling it "lead nurturing"! We've got an email-based course that provides a good start on setting up a lead nurturing campaign. Good marketing automation tools will help marketers segment their leads by interest, and help them understand better what content is most engaging. Here's a case study for small business email marketing that shows you how straight forward segmenting your leads can be.
b. To the same topic, there's all sorts of "noise" out there about what works and what marketers need to be doing, and it can be overwhelming and confusing. B2B Marketers don't necessarily understand their audience well -- I mean they do from a basic demographic perspective, but not really from an issues/pain/interests perspective. They're much more interested in talking about themselves and how they can help, rather than really identifying with the leads and building a rapor -- I think this is an area where B2B marketers do very poorly -- and don't have the patience to build it -- those who do, are doing well.
c. Content is the critical component, and that can take some time and thought. We notice that there is very limited interest in improving content, but lots of interest about how to assemble a lead nurturing campaign, or using marketing automation to pull in tons of leads -- so the flashy stuff or the "silver bullet" is still favored over getting in and doing the "real work" that will sustain an advantage -- but this is nothing new. Those companies that are excelling at it, are doing the solid, foundational steps with content.
2. In your view, what are the top 3 obstacles why Marketing Automation prospects aren't buying?
Marketing Automation is still in the early adopter portion of the growth curve -- while more vendors are entering the Marketing Automation space, the largest of us, has about 1,000 customers or so... and that is very very tiny given the numbers of organizations that could benefit. So part of the answer is due to the behavioral curve, and we're just not there yet.
a. Gets to the question above. Many want to get it all together before diving in -- and as such, they never start/purchase. It's the "analysis paralysis' syndrome that organizations get stuck in. And most of the marketers I've seen don't have a lot of spare time. It takes leadership and initiative to stop doing some things and make time for others that offer promise but are "new".
b. No straight-forward guidance about what/how to implement marketing automation software well - this is what Genoo (and other marketing automation providers like Eloqua, Silverpop, and Marketo) is really focusing on right now -- and you're seeing a lot of "institutes" and "universities" popping up, such as "B2B Marketing University", and "Inbound Marketing University", and "Online Marketing Institute" and "Content Marketing Institute" -- except they all still keep many aspects really vague with lots of gray area -- and until there becomes a clear pathway to success, given where Marketing Automation is on the adoption lifecycle, I think you're going to have people resisting jumping in.
We're offering a new 24-page booklet (that fits in your pocket), entitled, "Effective Online Marketing In A Nutshell", and a companion website that features interviews with top online marketing thought leaders and authors, as well as other articles that deepen different aspects of that conversation. As we add to it, the site will provide a "how-to" resource center that will be useful for assembling and implementing an online marketing and marketing automation strategy. The site also invites participation and input from visitors. If you're interested in checking it out, you can go to:www.internetmarketingcompete.com
c. Lots of marketers now see the value of email marketing -- but they haven't yet made the leap to what Marketing Automation gives them beyond email marketing -- so we need to do a better job to spell that out - because it is significant. We're using customer stories to help express that aspect. And most companies have no way to really segment their lists effectively -- and with email marketing tools it's not going to get any easier. I actually wonder whether smaller companies that are marketing resource constrained will leverage marketing automation more effectively than larger companies -- because they can get so much accomplished. We've got a great customer story that highlights what a single-person marketing department has accomplished (and it's amazing!). If interested, just follow the link to check it out:
There's also an updated blog post by copywriter Bob Scheier on this same business and their success to-date. It's called Content Marketing Success in just hours per week.
3. Does Marketing Automation work just as well for complex product/service companies other than IT/software?
The majority of our customers are not IT/Software companies, so I'd say yes. Anything where it's a longer sales cycle lends itself to Marketing Automation leverage and advantage - because essentially what you are doing is building a relationship with your prospects -- and then determining which of them are really interested -- so anywhere there is a complex sales process, Marketing Automation can make a huge difference.
It's a lot cheaper to use automation to help identify the "hyper responsive" prospects from what I'll label "the herd" of your list, and then develop the muscle/practice of talking directly to them in ways they appreciate -- once you get this nailed, you've got a greased slide to increased sales much less expensively than traditional sales processes.
Marketing Automation allows you to focus your human resource (Sales) on the low-hanging fruit (hyper responsive prospects), and if you get it working well, you can ramp it up very effectively - giving your sales folks top leads and much more effectiveness overall. That effectiveness is already coming out in the studies that the analyst organizations are conducting (i.e. Forrester and Aberdeen), from organizations that are employing marketing automation tools and strategies effectively.
4. Do you see a need for a middle-man type position to help companies with executing Marketing Automation strategies, such as helping to manage the process, provide a source for content creation, scrub existing databases, plan offers, assist with media strategy, social media, analytics, and really be a true conduit between marketing and sales so companies don't have to rely on current personnel.
Yes. There will always be those companies who want to do it themselves. But in larger organizations, there is a huge need for this -- and consultants can get so much more accomplished than internal staff - because they are trusted and have a different voice than do internal staff in many cases.
And there will be those companies that need to "prove" MA -- so just like there are design firms, ad agencies, etc., even though companies have skills in those areas, they still work with consultants -- so there will always be this need. the problem I see currently, is that there are very few consultants that actually "get it" and can implement programs using MA well. Each has a particular expertise or tactic, but very few get the whole picture and help organizations get the biggest bang.
So I think there will always be a big place for consultants as MA grows and matures, and in many cases, having consultants that build that practice up now, will reap big dividends, because the world is moving in this direction.
At Genoo, we're focused on the Small to Midsize Business space as it relates to creating the internet as a business building machine that fuels an organization's growth. We're building the case one customer company at a time, by putting together great material that people can use to implement their own strategies and campaigns.
I Would love to hear what you've been reading on the obstacles and hear your views as well.