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Marketing Automation News & Analysis

Customer Journeys Trump the Traditional Sales Cycle

2014-15-September-Rock-Paper-Scissors.jpgWhile pointless debate continues in organizations as to who “owns” the customer experience (the customer, of course!), the responsibility for nurturing and shepherding the continuous customer experience belongs to all teams that impact customers. At the core, much of the work should be accomplished by strong, continuously evolving collaborations between marketing and sales. Unfortunately in many companies there are still ridiculous and harmful walls between sales and marketing -- and a lot of political nonsense, mainly tied to the "blame game" when forecasts aren’t met and deals aren’t closed.

In reality marketing and sales have intertwined roles for engendering positive outcomes from customer journeys, whether they realize it or not.

Customer-Centric Content Journeys: Your Duct Tape Is Showing

2014-10-September-Quick-Fix.jpgGetting the right content to the right person at the right time was first evangelized by the programmatic ad buying platforms. It was a vision that stemmed directly from a doe-eyed interpretation of their capabilities.

Now content marketers have latched on to the same philosophy, without fully appreciating an important distinction: Content marketing, unlike ad buying, generally assumes an active and intelligent customer who wants to educate him or herself (not simply a target for the right sales reminder at the right time).

Gleanster Names Leaders in 4 Key Software Categories

customer experience, Gleanster Research's Leaders in Four Key Software Categories

It's not the Gartner Magic Quadrant. It's not the Forrester Wave.

And that's exactly what Ian Michiels likes about it. Michiels' firm, Gleanster Research, has produced four software industry ranking reports. 

Gleanster calls each of them a FLASH, and the latest come in the areas of marketing automation, business intelligence, social engagement and web content management.

"What I like about our FLASH approach is it offers a different perspective than Forrester or Gartner," said Michiels, CEO and principal of the Pleasanton, Calif.-based research firm. "It's not about market presence or vision, which have value. And it's not biased by analyst opinion or relationships with Gleanster."

Digital Marketing's Easy, Until You Try It

2014-28-August-Rubiks-Cube.jpgDoes this sound familiar?

"Marketing is no longer an art; it has become a big data analytics engineering discipline where every marketing dollar can be optimized for maximum impact. All you need to do is give away a free version of your product and crank up the ______ <select one: ‘digital,’ ‘content,’ ‘social,’ or ‘automated’> marketing engine and you are good to go. Display ads to free users or offer a premium paid version of your product and you too will soon be able to sell your company to ______ <select one: ‘Google,’ ‘IBM,’ ‘Microsoft,’ or other company> and retire. Hire Millenials to feed this amazing new automated marketing. These folks totally ‘get’ the social stuff because they already spend all their waking moments on _______ <select one: ‘Facebook,’ ‘WhatsApp,’ ‘Instagram,’ ‘SnapChat’>.”

Unless you're completely off the grid you have surely seen some variation of this theme. Sounds great … if only it were this easy.

Is It the Right Time for HubSpot's $100M IPO?

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Digital marketing technology is all the rage in the CRM space and HubSpot co-founders Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah must believe Wall St. knows that.

The Cambridge, Mass.-based marketing automation provider filed for an IPO late today hoping to raise as much as $100 million. It will trade as HUBS on the New York Stock Exchange.

The IPO market for Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) vendors is lukewarm at the moment. But investors like General Catalyst, which owns 27.1 percent of the company, and Matrix Partners, which owns 17.1 percent, must think that now is the time.

Marketing Automation: 3 Trends to Watch

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As of December 2013, 58 percent of all top performing companies were using marketing automation according to a Forrester report. That number has only increased since then. Why? Because automation’s benefits are impossible to ignore in the current marketing landscape.

Sophisticated, plugged-in customers require marketers to look at them as more than a catch-all audience. Regardless of what they’re buying, they want brands to provide truly unique journeys for them. And if you don’t deliver, then you’ll be tuned out, cast aside with the rest of the generic content they’re bombarded with.

What CMOs Have - and What They Want

2014-18-August-Megaphone Man.jpgAn study of chief marketing officers today revealed some interesting contrasts between their optimism and their realities.

The 8th annual "State of Marketing" report from the CMO Council, a 7,000-member group stretched across 110 countries, showed senior marketers are gaining status within their companies, but still want closer ties to their fellow "chiefs."

It also found that while they're optimistic about their ability to meet the shifting demands of their employers, most of them are behind their targets for the current year.

LeadSift Promises Smarter Ad Targeting through Twitter

Twitter has yet to reach its full potential when it comes to ad targeting. The social networking site has long been playing catchup to Facebook, which launched its email-based targeting service in 2012. Twitter didn’t announce its “tailored audiences” service until this past January.

With Facebook, advertisers can also target people by the “interests” the site asks new users to fill in when creating an account. Twitter’s answer to this was to let advertisers push their marketing messages to users based on who the user follows.

For example, if a user follows several football players, coaches and commentators, they may receive a targeted ad from a company selling sports drinks. More recently, Twitter announced the ability for advertisers to target consumers based on keywords found within a user’s tweets.

AdStage Invites Clients to Build Their Own Algorithms

2014-13-August-equations.jpgIn a market where the best known advertising platforms focus on high-end customers, a growing San Francisco startup is aiming for the masses.

AdStage today introduced a simple tool that allows its 1,000 beta customers to build their own algorithms for placing ads across the four networks it currently serves: Google AdWords, LinkedIn Ads, Facebook and Bing Ads.

The company's 11 engineers tried to find the right algorithm themselves, but quickly discovered that normalizing the code for such diverse networks tended to make the result less efficient. So AdStage designed a relatively simple interface called Automated Rules that lets its clients design the algorithm that suits their needs.

Yep, Facebook Generates a Lot of Hate

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Let's face it, social media networks are annoying ... but we can't live without them.

Especially Facebook. The controversy around the social media giant's re-launch of Facebook Messenger has once again stirred up a nest of privacy concerns.

Like all social networks, Facebook has benefits and warts. The benefit is that it is sublimely designed, it works very well, its got a gigantic user base (including most of your friends) and its got a world-class team constantly refining and tweaking it.

The downside is that Facebook is an immensely commercial operation and it doesn't seem to care too much about your privacy. This is not Craigslist. Let's face it: Facebook is chronicling every subtle activity in your life in a gigantic database so it can cash in on your life. 

Facebook Shuts the Gate on Likes

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Here's disappointing news for every consumer who likes to "like" a page on Facebook just to get a $10 off coupon or a by-one-get-one-free offer.

The social network has blocked companies from requiring customers to like a Facebook pages in exchange for contest entries or other company rewards — a practice known as like-gating.

According to a Facebook developers blog post, effective Aug. 7, companies are prohibited from incentivizing customers to “use social plugins or to like a page.” It's still acceptable to ask people to like your page — but they have to like it because, well, they actually like it. Existing apps have until Nov. 5 to comply with the new mandate.

Jim Belosic, CEO of ShortStack, said the move shouldn’t be a big surprise to most seasoned social media marketers. “The overall reaction has been great because I think that many businesses saw this coming, or if not, had turned away from Like-gating on their own over the last six months to a year,” he said. 

So, why have companies moved away from like-gating, and what can marketers use in its place? 

CPM Rises, CPC Drops for Facebook Advertisers

Advertisers are becoming more sophisticated in their Facebook advertising strategy. That's one of the key takeaways in the latest data about global Facebook advertising from social marketing software provider SHIFT.

Of course, Facebook is a big target, with seven percent of the total digital ad spending in the world. The data in the report is based on activity from SHIFT's advertising platform, its Open Marketing Cloud for social ad campaigns that was introduced in spring of last year.

"Advertisers are beginning to learn how to leverage the user data available to them," SHIFT co-founder and CEO James Borow told CMSWire. They are also "applying that data to set the strategies around ad creative, content, ad type and device type," he said.

Salesforce Adds Mapping and Data Features to Journey Builder

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Salesforce announced plans for a new drag-and-drop mapping option to Journey Builder today, one of several new features that should make the tool more user friendly for marketers.

The new tool gives users a canvas that they can use to map the customer journey across channels such as social media, web, mobile and desktop devices.

Salesforce also added a Journey Triggers function based on predictive analytics that can automatically send special offers and other content based on shifts in customer behavior. The idea is to nudge consumers back onto the purchase path if they abandon a shopping cart, leave a web page or indicate a change in product affinity.

Marketo Q2 Results Show Growth of Marketing Automation

digital marketing, Marketo Reports Numbers Growth in Marketing Automation Space

It's probably too early to tell if Marketo's latest customer experience-driven offering will be a slam dunk.

But it isn't hurting the company.

On the heels of its latest major platform announcement -- its new customer engagement platform unveiled at its annual Marketo Nation Summit in April -- the San Mateo, Calif.-based marketing automation provider reported revenue growth this week for its second quarter.

“Across the board, we delivered a strong quarter as customers adopted our customer engagement platform and purchased new applications such as our Real Time Personalization product, which we released early in the quarter,” Phil Fernandez, chairman and CEO of Marketo, said in a statement. "From new customers in the business-to-consumer category such as Unilever and 3-Day Blinds, to major business-to-business leaders such as Cisco, Principal Funds and SGK, marketers are choosing our innovative solutions to build individual and personal long-term relationships with their customers.”

Salesforce Unveils Sales Reach with New Tools for Mobile

"Instant marketing and selling." That's the idea behind Salesforce's new Sales Reach offering, announced today. 

It combines the Salesforce1 Sales Cloud, marketing automation suite Pardot and Communities into on-the-spot marketing and selling tools. Salesforce1, announced last fall, is described by the company as its "next-generation social, mobile and cloud customer platform" with more APIs and options for mobile development and cloud development.

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