Marketing Automation: 3 Trends to Watch in 2012

The field of marketing is quickly transitioning from an art form into a precise and measurable science. Simultaneously, interactions with prospects are more complex than ever before as social media marketing comes of age and new channels of communication are conceived all the time. Luckily, marketing automation is evolving just as quickly. Here are three prominent marketing trends in 2012, and how marketing automation platforms can help marketers navigate these changes.


1. Varied Content and Distribution Channels.

Content may be king, but social media has given power back to the customer – and the customer is sick of the same old content. The incomprehensible wealth of content on the internet and the ever-shortening attention span of the average consumer require that B2B marketers explore content marketing beyond strictly emailing out white papers. Creative content (think infographics, promotional videos and animated ads) is no longer limited to B2C marketing. In 2012, B2B marketers are faced not only with the challenge of producing more diverse content, but with finding more creative ways to distribute this content as well.


What does this mean for marketing automation?

It will become increasingly important in 2012 that marketing automation systems integrate with a wide variety of social media channels. As new social media channels continue to crop up (look at the growth of Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest in late 2011 alone), brands need to interact with prospects and clients through a multitude of channels at once. Given that many businesses now maintain five or more separate social media channels, a marketing automation system that enables the marketer to both post to all outlets simultaneously and track activity on each outlet separately becomes invaluable. Marketing automation has evolved far past a tool geared strictly towards email marketing and will continue to evolve in 2012 to include integrations for all modes of communication.


2. Personalization.

The internet has become a personalized space in ways formerly unfathomable. As previously discussed, the trend of social media marketing that has exploded over the past several years has allowed consumers to interact with brands on a more intimate level than ever before. Take that one step further in 2012 with the advent of personalized searches on search engines (if you’re unfamiliar with this, check out Search, plus Your World) and dynamic content on websites. Consumers will come to expect access to information tailored perfectly to their needs, and fast.


What does this mean for marketing automation?

Marketers must produce marketing automation campaigns that are even more personalized, pertinent and timely. The good news is, this is a trend that is already progressing naturally. As marketers become better acquainted with their marketing automation systems, they are moving beyond basic use and digging into the powerful capabilities of advanced business rules. Using action-based triggers and creating a variety of different tracks, content like drip nurturing programs can be adjusted based on how an individual prospect prefers to interact, which channels they favor, the type of content they respond to and more. Tailoring marketing campaigns to a prospect’s preferences will drive more engagement and help speed up the sales cycle. When done correctly, recipients aren’t even aware of this behind-the-scenes personalization; they simply feel that the company has a deep understanding of their needs.This in-depth insight into prospects’ behaviors and preferences means that 2012 will see deeper list segmentation, more highly targeted email campaigns and an overall more personalized experience for prospects and clients.


3. More Sophisticated Metrics.

As reporting systems continue to advance, traditional metrics have become outdated.  Rather than measuring page views and click rates, marketers are starting to focus on numbers that relate directly to revenue – such as the number of MQLs generated, the percentage of MQLs that converted to opportunities and, ultimately, the dollar value of these opportunities. As 2012 progresses, marketers will be able able to see the value of their campaigns like never before, and gain insight to how marketing impacts revenue across the board.


What does this mean for marketing automation?

Over the course of 2012, many marketing automation systems will begin to offer more advanced reports than ever. Reports on funnel velocity inform marketers of how quickly leads are closing the deal and creating revenue, reports on funnel volume allow marketers to see how doubling leads would affect revenue overall and waterfall analysis reports provide insight into how leads are moving through various stages in the pipeline. Furthermore, users will begin to measure marketing-influenced leads – leads that may not have entered the sales cycle through a marketing campaign, but were influenced by marketing efforts at touchpoints along the way. As these high-level reports provide a better understanding of the successes and failures of marketing campaigns, marketing becomes less of a guessing game and more of a measurable science.


About the Author

Adam Blitzer is Co-founder and COO at Pardot.  He is responsible for product management, marketing, and operations. He is a frequent speaker at industry events such as Dreamforce, SugarCon, and American Marketing Association panels. In 2011 Adam was named to BtoB Magazine’s annual Who’s Who list.  Adam was previously a senior email marketing consultant for InterContinental Hotels Group, a consultant at Moxie Interactive, and spent four years in Japan at an advertising agency.  A native of Cincinnati, Ohio, Adam holds a bachelor’s degree from Duke University and studied abroad at Waseda University.

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