Marketo User Summit 2012: Getting a Closer Look at What Works
As a marketer, you understand what you need to do: secure leads, nurture them with an enticing call to action and convert them into a qualified sales prospect (or better yet, a new customer). Seems simple enough, and finding the right tools should be easy. In a Utopia where sales cycles are of identical length and all industries have the same needs, that may be the case. But, we live in the continuously shifting landscape of the real world, where new technologies, diverse products and ever-evolving sales cycles create unique challenges every day. It is crucial to cut through the noise to find a way to quickly and efficiently reach your leads and deliver a pointed message that demands their attention. Events like last month’s Marketo User Summit 2012 give us the opportunity to step back, reflect and analyze how we’ve been solving these problems; discover new ways to think about the big picture; and learn fresh techniques for attracting and maintaining the interest of leads and prospects.
When I decided to attend Marketo User Summit, I assumed I would learn about new product capabilities in Marketo’s marketing automation application. As a bonus, I was hoping to network with others in the industry to swap ideas and laugh at the awkward moments in email marketing we’ve all come across second-hand or first-hand. I’m happy to report that the event actually went far beyond my expectations. It presented an opportunity to go beyond the app and really understand the common challenges marketers face today and how to apply the tools to which we already have access in new ways that are more dynamic and lead to more accurate, usable metrics. With an optional day of training and two days of user-led sessions, it was difficult to walk away from the event without giving in to the temptation to explore some novel techniques.
During the event, there were several ideas and tips that stood out that are agnostic to the type of marketing system used to manage leads and sales cycles (so they’re not just applicable to Marketo, but also Eloqua, Pardot, and others):
• Segment your lead database.
Marketing segmentation is vastly underutilized. Why talk to all your customers in the same way when their industries, regions and individual roles assign them different needs. Instead of offering them a generic whitepaper as a call to action, offer them “a chance to see how [insert industry-specific company] is solving business problems.”
• Look at long-term goals to gain support for marketing campaigns.
Marketers have the unique challenge of getting other departments and executives on their side when they want to introduce new campaigns (and often increase budget requirements). Sue Bostrom, former EVP and CMO at Cisco Systems, and one of the opening keynote presenters, explained how she managed this task. She urged the crowd to have their clients or companies to look out three to five years and decide where they want to be. This gives you, the marketer, time and context to work on convincing them and warm them up to your ideas, all of which will have this goal in mind.
• Think about measuring those results that really say something.
When you are determining how you are going to define your marketing analytics, put careful thought into exactly what insights you want and what would be most helpful in determining the success of your campaigns and programs. If you are using “opened email” as a measure, are you considering the fact that most automation systems count emails that are viewed in an automatic preview pane as “opened?” Using “clicked on link in email” might give you fewer results, but it will give you a better view into who you are actually reaching with your message. That can enable you to tweak an existing campaign or create a more targeted new campaign.
Aside from presenting many examples of the ways marketers are expanding their marketing programs and overcoming internal and external business challenges, the event left attendees with an important realization: We’re not alone. We all sooner or later face restrictive budgets, increasingly complex industries and the challenge of constantly creating something new that really hits the company message home. What matters most is that we aren’t afraid to try new things, even if we occasionally get results we don’t like. As long as we continue to be flexible, learn and shift our marketing approaches as techniques change, we’ll uncover the secret sauce for marketing tactics that really work with our specific audiences to help meet strategic business goals, including increasing our clients’ or companies’ revenues.