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Marketing Automation News & Analysis

Constant Contact Becoming a Platform Vendor

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Known mainly as a provider of cloud-based email marketing solutions for small businesses, Constant Contact has been expanding its product offerings, transforming itself into a platform vendor.

With more than 605,000 customers (including roughly 40,000 net new additions in 2013 and 10,000 in the first quarter), Constant Contact has the ability to sell a greater number of solutions (covering event registration, online surveys, coupons and social media campaigns) into an increasingly large installed base.

Now it has the potential to do even more with a product called Constant Contact Toolkit, which it claims which brings together all of the online marketing tools needed to drive new and repeat customers across key channels.

Why Marketing Automation is a Must

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Imagine engaged and nurtured customers, who enjoy personalized, quality content that you deliver to them at the right place, at the right time, on the right device … customers who love your brand so much they just keep buying your products.

Meanwhile, your sales and marketing teams feel empowered to do their jobs better and act accordingly to sell your products more effectively.

Fantasy? Not exactly. One of the technological ways to get to this digital marketing Garden of Eden is marketing automation.

Do We Still Need Sales Reps?

2014-30-June-Sales-Reps.jpgWith widespread adoption of CRM and marketing automation, what is the purpose of sales reps? Do we even need them anymore?

A rhetorical question, but the expectations we should have with automation are worth examining. According to Forrester Research, companies worldwide are spending 19 percent of their SG&A (selling, general and administrative) costs on average in sales support-related activities. With a nearly 14 percent growth in worldwide CRM sales in 2013 -- and over 30 percent growth for Salesforce.com itself in the past two years -- companies are connecting the dots between marketing and sales automation efforts, and the desire to streamline the process of securing and winning customers.

Good News for B2B Marketers to Share with the C-Suite

Marketers are usually a paranoid bunch, we've come to learn. Will I go extinct? Does my work even matter?

Bizo says it does. Its annual State of B2B Lead Nurturing Report revealed 60 percent of marketers deliver at least 20 percent of B2B company revenues — and almost 25 percent contribute more than 40 percent. 

"Marketing organizations everywhere are taking on more influential roles when it comes to supporting company revenue growth targets," Jennifer Agustin, senior director of marketing at Bizo, told CMSWire. "Data like this supports the idea that marketing is more accountable than ever, and can play a more active and strategic role in the way companies are run."

Feed the Marketing Automation Machine with Interactive Content

2014-26-June-Hungry-Gator.jpgMarketing automation is a powerful technology. But to extract the most value out of it, you need two things: 1. content that magnetically attracts your audience -- both initially and throughout your nurturing program -- and 2. data that reveals the specific interests and characteristics of each prospect.

Without that, marketing automation is a blender with nothing to blend.

Stop Screaming: Just Put Your Customers First

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Successful marketing is no longer about who can scream the loudest about their products. When this was the norm, the voice of the customer was drowned out by a cacophony of marketing mayhem. 

In the past two decades, things have changed. Marketing has evolved from product-focused to customer relationship management (CRM) focused. In other words, successful marketers today have shifted their focus from their products to the people who buy them.

In addition to closing the sale, marketers now realize that they need to find ways to continue the conversation. They need accurate feedback and preferences from their customers to better understand their needs, and it also needs to be done to scale as their customer base grows.

Signs Along the Road to Digital Marketing

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Marketing is fast becoming digital.  But the market targeting now done with computers has been around at some level for a while now, and there may be some lessons for us in it.

In times past, you targeted your marketing and sales by placing your name (ads, posters, Burma Shave road signs … whatever) where you thought your prospective customers might show up -- fishing ads in the sports section, theater listings in the entertainment section, luxury car ads in coffee table magazines, and so on.

Sounds crude but it worked if you were careful, and it saved money by allowing you to place -- and pay for -- your message only where it was more likely to be effective.

Content Marketing Fuels Pipeline Growth

Marketing automation has changed business as we know it. In the last decade, it has elevated the role of the CMO, helping marketing to be more productive and measurable through email and nurturing programs, scoring and reporting. Your marketing team more effectively manages all of your company’s contacts so they turn into customers more efficiently.

But how do you more efficiently engage new buyers? Turns out marketing automation has improved marketing, but it’s not the end-all, be-all of marketing optimization. There’s still a massive group of potential buyers who are not addressed by marketing automation alone -- those who have no idea your company or product exists.

Transforming Connections in an Age of Digital Change

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The goal of marketing still revolves around accelerating new and repeat sales. But the means to that end has shifted over the past few years.

This fundamental shift can be tied, in part, to digital innovation. However, it’s not just about technology. It’s about the lifestyle shift and what could be considered a "workstyle" shift, which I define as a person’s expectations and preferences in how they work and engage with a company.

How can companies transform the ways they engage with customers and partners and connect to their existing marketing automation systems? Here are three significant points to consider.

Context Defines the Future User Experience

2014-19-June-You-Are-Here-2.jpg"The better we know our customer, the more effectively we can market to them." This has been true since cavemen traded animal skins for berries. But it was with the advent of the Internet that marketers suddenly had the tools to truly understand their consumers in real time. First it was websites and email marketing, followed by social media marketing. More recently, marketers have turned to inbound marketing, in which they gently "prod" customers with valued content, until the customer signals they are ready to engage.

Now there’s "context marketing." Context marketing, in the words of one marketing firm, “uses technology to glean insight on the person behind your persona, and deliver customized messages in a way that most appeals to that individual.” But what do we mean by context?

Marketing Automation Tweet Jam: Meet the Experts #CXMChat

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The role of the modern digital marketer is not an easy one. Every day, another program, process or product is thrown their way claiming to be the one solution that will make or break their marketing strategy. As marketing automation continues to evolve, will providing customers with a positive experience become easier in the near future? What's preventing everyone from jumping on the marketing automation bandwagon? Find out at this Thursday during this month's Tweet Jam!

Escape Digital Experience Deja Vu

2014-18-June-Mimes.jpgDéjà vu, a French term that literally means “already seen” is defined as the phenomenon of having a strong sensation that you have already experienced something that is actually happening for the first time. Up to 70 percent of people report having experienced some form of déjà vu.

For me it happens all the time. Especially in terms of the marketing messages and offers I receive.

Marketers: Embrace the Extended Customer Lifecycle

2014-17-June-Capilano-Suspension-Bridge.jpgIn the past, marketers had the job of using a handful of channels to create brand awareness and offers to engage customers on a broad level until a sales team could come in and take control of individual accounts, or until a customer visited a local store. Sales teams or store employees were then responsible for delivering a personalized experience and for building the relationship.

Not any more.

Shaping the Future of Customer Responsive Marketing Automation

2014-16-June-Cast-Net.jpgMarketing automation (MA) has shown that it can be a smart tool -- when done right -- for shepherding and converting leads and automating marketing processes. As MA technologies have become more sophisticated, its near future role has evolved to deliver customer-responsive interactions on any channel. If this evolution continues, the name "marketing automation" will become inadequate to describe what can be accomplished when these technologies are combined with customer-focused processes, practices and strategies.

Discussion Point: Does Marketing Automation Enhance CX?

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The terms "marketing automation" and "customer experience" trip off the tongue of the modern marketer with increasing frequency. But it's not always clear how the former enhances the latter.

We took that question to several marketing practitioners who were in San Francisco for last week's Innovate conference, which focused on customer experience management across all channels.

The Question

How is marketing automation changing the customer experience for your customers?

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