Recently we shared our presentation from a healthcare technology conference. You can find the video of that presentation, Making the Most of Marketing Automation: Tested Tips and Techniques, here. We understand that not everyone likes to watch video, and/or would rather read to learn, so we’ve transcribed the video for all the readers out there.
In the transcription below you’ll find our most asked marketing automation (MA) questions along with our answers. This presentation mostly includes MA information at the beginner and intermediate levels, with some advanced info. If you have another question we did not answer or would like clarification on a topic, let us know.
HITMC 2019 Presentation Transcript
Chris Slocumb: We are so excited to be speaking here at our sixth HITMC. I’m Chris Slocumb, the president of Clarity Quest marketing.
Ava Haekler: And I’m Ava Haekler, the social marketing lead consultant here at Clarity Quest.
Chris Slocumb: We’re talking today on marketing automation because we feel it is one of the most important marketing channels you can implement. But it can also be one of the most expensive if you’re a small to mid-size company, in terms of the technology that’s required to buy, in terms of the resources that you have to dedicate, and the processes that you need to learn. So the more efficient you can get at marketing automation, the better your return on your investment.
We have over 10 years of experience in working with different MA systems. Everything from the lower end basic mail chimp marketing automation, or the monkey mail, as Michelle calls it, all the way up through Aprimo and Eloqua that are 5,000 dollars a month, and everything in between.
We’ve also done quite a bit of integration with systems like Salesforce, Sugar on the customer relationship management front, and with third-party, and even custom in-house apps like custom accounting systems; that gets really fun.
Today we have a unique format for you. Because we have ten years of experience, we’ve actually captured questions over those years, from prospects, from clients. These are real world questions that we’re going to throw up there. It’s everything from basic all the way through some more advanced.
Ava Haekler: By the end of our session today, you’ll have three main takeaways. If you’re selecting a system for the first time or if you’re switching your MA system, you’ll understand how to select one that’s best for you. Your keys to MA success are goal-planning and engaging content, and for best MA and sales conversion results, you’ll want to integrate with your CRM and implement late scoring.
So what is marketing automation?
Marketing automation is a technology platform that streamlines, automates, and measures your communication across email, web, and social. So your marketing automation will allow you to personalize that content you serve based on the needs and behaviors of your personas.
Imagine if you had to manually track your interaction, from an email to the landing pages and content, just to figure out what you’re going to send next, that would be very daunting in manual. So marketing automation comes in and does the heavy lifting of that, following that workflow automatically.
One questions we are often asked is if email marketing is the same as marketing automation. This is very common, I’ll be honest, I thought they were for a while, in the very beginning when I was learning. So, your short answer is, no, these two terms are not interchangeable. Email marketing is just one process that can be automated along with social postings, landing page selection based on segmentation, etc.
There are a lot of benefits of marketing automation, but since we only have about 45 minutes, I’ll just give you a few of the top ones. You’ll be able to save time on previously manual and tedious tasks. You’ll be able to align your sales and marketing departments, and then you’ll also be able to generate more high-quality leads.
Who needs marketing automation?
Any company that’s reaching out to multiple audiences on a continuing basis, via email, social, or both. We recommend marketing automation for anyone that’s sending two emails or a couple social posts a month is ready.
So you may be wondering, okay of course this agency’s going to be promoting this, they probably offer this as a service. Yeah, we do, but we do want to share with you guys that this really does work. And research even shows that four out of five users increase their leads by using marketing automation software, and almost as many saw an increase in conversions.
So now Chris will talk about how to select an MA system.
Chris Slocumb: So whether you are looking at a system for the first time, or, as many of you raised your hand, you already have a system but maybe you’re not quite happy with it. We’ll talk about the differences in terms of the systems.
So which MA system should we choose?
You may not need one, if you are sending one email a month, say, an email newsletter, and there’s really no personalization. It’s just basic, maybe out to an entire audience. You’re find with a constant contact, or basic mail chimp. You really are. And we see a lot of companies who go and buy a two year contract with a system that’s 2500 dollars a month, and then they end up sending one email a month. And that’s really, really, you’re never going to get your ROI on that, okay?
If you’re already at the point where you are personalizing your flows, you want to send to different audiences, you want to segment, then you certainly can go with one of the higher end systems. But, again, look for a system where you’re going to use 90 to 98% of the capabilities and features in that system. And when you’re looking at demos and talking to sales reps, really try and dive in to figure that out.
Also, look for a system that has a really easy user interface. Unless you have a graphic designer, HTML coder at your disposal all the time internally, you are going to get very frustrated with some of the systems, especially at the higher end. Some of the lower-end systems, they’re going to allow you to template a lot of things, and you’re going to be just fine with that.
Also, test the systems at the very beginning. Oftentimes you’ll be allowed to have a test account, even if you’re not a customer, yet. Push for that. Make sure you’re getting what you see is what you get, over different email systems, that your social postings are happening correctly, that the emails on mobile look good as well. Then again, you’re going to save yourself a lot of time.
Finally, tech support. We have a lot of customers, clients who want to go with the most basic package that is probably only email support. You’re going to tear your hair out.
So how much should you spend on a marketing automation system?
Most of them are based on number of contacts, as many of you know. So let’s say you have 20,000 contacts. Mail chimps going to start at $350 a month for 20,000, you’re going to go all the way to an Aprimo that’s going to be five, six thousand dollars a month. The middle of the road systems are going to be two to three thousand dollars a month.
They are going to push you for a two year commitment. Push back. Especially if it is the end of the month or end of the quarter, end of the year especially. It’s just like buying a car. Unless you know and you are committed, and your leadership is committed to this effort, you do not want to get yourself locked into more than you need to right up front. Because you may find that the company is not as responsive as you thought they were during the sales process, and then you’re locked into a two year commitment even though you’re getting a discount.
Should you integrate your marketing automation with CRM or accounting systems?
This is a big question we often get. Oh, my goodness, we’re doing this whole MA, and now we want to bring in multiple departments, IT, multiple folks.
Yes, you do, actually, because it’s really where the power lies. And it’s where you’re going to be able to show your management team that marketing leads to dollars. If marketing is sitting in its own system, and it never shows conversion through the accounting or through the CRM system, your management team is going to look at this and say, “Oh, yup, line item expense. Nice to have, maybe there’s some interaction, but you can’t show that it leads to revenue.”
If you have integration, even at a basic level, I don’t care if you’re just QuickBooks, you can integrate these things. And show that it’s leading to conversion, you’re going to have a lot more buy in from the management team and you’re going to get that renewal budget when you need it.
Big thing is, think of your business goals up front. Don’t just look at the sexy technology, we need MA because our competitors are using MA, right? What do you really want to accomplish? Do you want to interface better with leads? Do you want to nurture? Do you want to upsell more business or help sales with sales enablement? Do you want to reduce churn? So there’s a lot of things you can think about at a business level, and then get everyone to buy in. It’s not just, hey, this is marketing’s flavor of the month.
We’re going to switch over to Best Practice tactics, and we’re talking about onboarding as a process, and we broke it down into eight steps. As all of you know, it’s a lot more complicated than eight steps, but we’ll give some little tips and tricks in each one of these.
The first is to make sure you define your personas really granularly. You’re all brilliant marketers out there, I’m sure you’ve defined your personas, but take it one step more granular. Okay? You’re going to market differently to a CFO than a revenue cycle manager, most likely, right? A management level, versus VP level, versus sea level. Get as granular as you can, with that first persona segment. Segmenting. And then you’ll actually want to segment your list. And oftentimes we’ll get a question, well how many contacts do we need? Well, what’s your market, right? Are there 20,000 people in your market? 50,000 in your market. Try and go get 70 to 80% of them opt-in. With great content that’s out there.
If your market’s only 5000, your market’s 5000. We have a customer, their market’s 5000, it’s very niche. But they have 4500 really solid contacts in their list, that are engaged. So they have 95% of the market in there.
With MA, we found the return on investment starts at about 3000 contacts. Below that, stay with the Constant Contact or MailChimp. You’re really not going to get the return on investment. We see it really ramp up around 10,000 contacts, and be optimal around 20,000. Because then you can really start to do the segmentation you need to do, and the personalization you need to do. If your list is only 3000, really, how many segments can you break that into? And if it’s more than five, I feel sorry for you. That’s hard. That’s really, really hard to market to.
How should you structure your contact lists? Three things that we look at in structuring. One is clean it before you put it into the MA system. As much as possible. I don’t care whether it’s a Sequel database, whether it’s an Excel file, get rid of the bad records, append empty fields where you can, get rid of those missing characters or weird characters that are in there. Have as clean a list as possible, and then test that list using something like Brite Verify. B-R-I-T-E verify dot com. That will actually ping the email servers of all your contacts and figure out whether it’s a valid contact or not.
Number three is update it. So the keys are clean it, segment, update it.
Look at that dynamic list, look at tagging, look at deliverability. After you’ve sent out your first few campaigns, and then on an ongoing basis. We clean our lists every three to six months. And take out the bad contacts, don’t leave them in there, or you’re going to affect your deliverability.
Okay, the second one is generating and organizing your content. And this is one that we find a lot of companies often wait until after they get the marketing automation system, and then they figure out, oh, we need content. So Ava’s going to be talking about that.
Ava Haekler: So content is key because at the end of the day, we’re trying to engage with people on a personal and an emotional level, right? We’re not just trying to hit people over the head with a bombardment of emails and social posts. I mean, I know we all get a lot of that, too. I know last week, a lot of us were on the HITMC Twitter chat where we talked about how content is just everywhere and how it can be very overwhelming, and we talked about is that going to end, is something new coming?
I think we all pretty much agree that content is not going anywhere, we just need to make sure that when we do share and create content that it has value. We don’t want to just be sharing content to say that we’re sharing content.
So in the beginning you’ll want to start with about four to six emails per campaign for optimal engagement. So you’ll need content for those email sequences, otherwise your marketing automation doesn’t work. That’s the key there. So that would be like if you went to go on a fishing trip, and you had your premium fishing rod all ready, and then you forgot your bait. You wouldn’t catch anything and it wouldn’t work, right?
So, based on our experience we put this chart together. It outlines the amount of baseline content that you should have per product line, like Chris said, before you launch your MA workflows. So that’s the key there, to have all that ready before you launch your workflows.
Chris Slocumb: Yeah, and you might say, ooh, that’s a lot, right? Ooh, we’ve launched more successful campaigns and didn’t have all this. If you can at least get it going and head towards this, you’re going to have much better success, because you’re going to have different kinds of content for different personas. We know we consume content differently, as we’re humans, right? So we like different things. You like a red car, I like a blue car.
Ava Haekler: An optimal content marketing cadence doesn’t follow your sales funnel. So your sales funnel’s going to match the needs of your sales team. So you might create blog posts for the awareness stage, webinars for discovery, and conduct surveys for intent. You need to remember that your customers content needs, they’re all different.
Remember when you first bought your car, your process was probably very different because it was unique to your needs. I know for me, I reached out to my brother-in-law, he’s a car guy. He was able to send me some cars that were based on my needs. We met with one of the owners, switched the title over, and now I have my car, Ruby. Chances are, you did something different. Maybe you went to a car salesman, test drove some cars, looked at some reviews online. But you just need to remember that people are going to buy along the needs that they have in this outer ring here. So when you’re creating that content, you’ll build it around those personas.
So this chart just shows which content resonates best with prospects at different points of their needs journey. So just notice that website has content in all five categories here.
Ava Haekler: And now Chris will talk about drafting workflow flowcharts.
Chris Slocumb: So, this gets into the meat of the process, right? Exactly how do you want to marketing automation to work? And where we see a lot of folks go down the road, is they start working within the system itself, before they really know the capabilities of the system. And I’m old-fashioned, I either like pencil and paper, or whiteboards, or virtual whiteboards like Ziteboard, if you’re working with remote teams. Flow it out the way you think you want it to work, before you start putting constraints on yourself because the system can or cannot do it, right?
Then you’ll get an optimal workflow, versus, oh, I’m just going to leave this step out because I don’t know how to do it yet. Right? So if you’ve drafted this, and you say, this is really important to our business that x, y, and z happens, then you can ask the tech support and make sure that happens. Show them the flow chart. Your onboarding team and tech support with your vendor should be able to follow your flowchart, and then you’ll be able to get it implemented.
When you’re looking at different kinds of workflows, at the very simplest level, probably many of you have done these, a drop campaign is the simplest, that’s a sequence flow. There’s usually not a ton of personalization unless you’ve segmented it out, it’s one of those we’ve sent three emails and there’s no user behavior changing the workflow.
A nurture campaign is where the real power of MA comes in. That is going to be campaigns with email and social posts going out based on interaction. So, let’s say Brian downloads a white paper on patient engagement, then I send him down a different path than Stacy, who downloaded something on security, right? So different paths for different people that are very customized. We’ll talk later about account-based marketing and how you can even get more fun with that in terms of advanced personalization.
An MA makes this possible, because imagine if you had to do all this stuff manually. One of the simple things about marketing automation that I love is that it doesn’t matter where you are in the cycle, right? So, you may have a contact that has been in your system for three years, they’ve already been through a workflow. And then the next day, Cynthia is on there and she fills out the form, she begins the workflow, and you don’t have to remember. Oh, this person already went through this, this person already went through this, or this group already went through one workflow or not. It’s really powerful in terms of getting that done for you.
You want to decide on those system integrations. So to answer lots of questions about system integration if you were just in the last session, they talked a lot about website. So you’ll want to, at a minimum, integrate your website, CMS, and your analytics whether you’re using google analytics or another analytic platform, your MA system, and then your CRM system if you have one. This is a baseline system, it’s not that hard these days, especially if you’re using things like hard out sales, force marketing, that have native integrations, you’re going to be able to get it done fairly easily. And even these days if it’s a custom system with an API and you’re going to get a lot of information flowing between those systems. So those are at a baseline what you should integrate. Accounting systems are also getting more popular for that.
And then we get the question if I already have Salesforce, can’t that do everything? Can’t that manage the entire life cycle? And these systems were set specifically and designed specifically for sales on the CRM side or for marketing. Can you send emails out of Sales Force? Absolutely. Can you do some of the other things you’re going to need to do from a marketing standpoint, and nurture standpoint? No, not as easily and not as effectively. Same thing on the marketing automation side. Marketing automation is not going to track conversions for you, unless you link it up with another system.
Fifth is my favorite and I think the total, total brain trust of marketing automation where you can get really downright geeky if you want to. And that’s setting lead scoring metrics. And a lot of companies will take, this is, it’s hard to see probably in the sun here, but, a lot of companies will take a template that’s out of the box, and they never touch the lead scoring template. Bad, bad idea.
Well, it’s an okay system (template), usually, but it’s not customized to your business. You don’t have things that are in the top manual things, like, oh, this person actually picked up the phone and called. How do we record and set a lead score for that? Or, oh, we met them at a trade show. So those offline events, you want to be able to assign a score to those and manually input those.
So this is the template you’ll usually have a bunch of different fields, each with a different variable assigning different scores. And then every single person your system will have a score from zero, if they’ve not had any engagement up to some maximum. And then you can triage and that’s super powerful.
So how should you set the lead scoring? Talk to your sales team. See what points of action actually lead to conversion.
Is it, we met someone at the trade show? or like, only five percent of the people we meet at a trade show actually convert. Is it, they saw a demo? Is it they called and asked for more information? And score those actions higher. If you take nothing from this talk other than this next line, it’s the best one.
Understand intent versus interest. Intent is intent to buy. If you call and ask for a demo, or call and ask for more information, there is some intent there. If you download a white paper, that’s not necessarily intent, that is interest. If you attend a webinar, that’s interest. Your job in marketing is to get them from interest to intent.
But you’re going to to want to score intent variables and actions a lot higher than interest. And you want to set a time to reevaluate your model. Don’t just set it and forget it. Make sure you’re talking with the different teams in your organization and reset your model.
You’ll want to create templates ahead of time. Don’t try and do them within while you’re setting the workflow, that’s going to probably drive you insane. Try and get all the templates up front, work with your design teams if you need to. Get those saved. Draft the copy as well, that you’ll need for landing pages, emails, social posts, as much as you can. And then test, test in all different kinds of systems, to all different kinds of emails, to mobile, get Gmail addresses, corporate addresses, etc. It’s going to look different, sometimes, on every different system.
You can get an improved return on investment by spending that time up front, and really making sure what you want to accomplish with the system, and then doing the integration, and that tracking of ROI is mostly through the integration unfortunately. You can show engagement metrics, but I like showing hard cash at the end of the day. Showing the dollar signs, that’s what management’s really going to be interested in.
So now for those of you who already have marketing automation, we’ll just be touching on a few topics on advanced marketing automation.
How can MA assist with ABM?
If you’re a business to business company, and you’re already either implemented account based marketing or you’re thinking about it, in which you actually try and target specific accounts. Let’s say you go after marquee hospitals, you go specifically after Cleveland Clinic, and personalize Hopkins and Mayo, then you can actually really effectively combine marketing automation with account based marketing, whether you’re doing what we call kindergarten ABM, right? And you’re trying to target those folks through maybe a LinkedIn account, or you have something as sophisticated as DemandBase. Those ABM systems are not going to do some of the things you need to do in terms of the communication aspects. They’re more advertising and identification channels.
So marketing automation gives you the opportunity to personalize your outreach. Real quick, who’s already doing personalization? Okay.
On a basic level, like many of you already know, you can personalize an individual’s name, company name, location, and engage and attract readers. But on a more advanced level, those mid range and above systems will allow you to personalize because of things like geolocation, content downloads, web visits, past purchase history, and a lot of other features. So, for example, you could serve very targeted mobile content to someone that’s downloaded an app. Or you could potentially personalize content on different landing pages. So it all just depends on your MA system and the capabilities that it has.
Personalization is just one of many MA features that will change based on AI. Speaking of AI, it will impact a lot of areas in marketing automation, but your bigger ones will be personalization, campaign optimization, and data analysis.
Like I mentioned with personalization, that will start to change a bit. So, you’ll be able to define some touch points along the purchase path and define those parameters of your target customer, and then AI will be able to take over and personalize automatically, because it will know what personalization works best with those different segments.
For campaign optimization, that will also improve, so it will be able to figure out what does and doesn’t work, new tactics to optimize campaigns, and then lower the cost of running of campaigns altogether. And then for data analysis, AI will be able to step in and take over that process of gathering the data, cleaning it up, throwing out any exceptions, and then enabling faster, more accurate analysis, to the point where it will be able to provide recommendations almost instantly.
Then just one other small area that I want to touch on with AI that it’s impacting is voice. So, we’re not going to get into that too much, but we actually recently developed an app, so you can come to our table. We’ll be here for the next couple of days. You can come test that out with us, but that’s just another area that AI is impacting.
So hopefully you were all able to take away a couple nuggets depending on where you’re at with your MA journey. We’ll be here for the rest of the week, so if you want to come and ask us questions about your personal situation with MA, we’d be happy to answer questions or any more general questions we’d be happy to answer now, so thanks for listening.