Jeff Ernst from Forrester on The Marketing Automation Podcast

Jeff Ernst from ForresterOur guest for this episode of the Marketing Automation Podcast is Jeff Ernst, Principal Analyst for Forrester.

Jeff serves CMO & Marketing Leadership Professionals and he is a leading expert in B2B marketing and sales. Prior to joining Forrester, Jeff served in executive and marketing leadership roles at several companies including FatWire, Infinium, Kadient, and Open Market. Jeff is a frequent speaker and blogger on B2B marketing and sales, and has been featured by Forbes CMO Network, Mashable, Huffington Post, NPR, ReadWriteWeb, Financial Times, ClickZ, AdWeek, and Reuters.

This interview covers the following topics:

Advice on how to systematize B2B social marketing activities and insight on what marketing automation vendor(s) are leading from a Social Media perspective:

We need to rethink social media as another push channel but instead put together an engine together for social media marketing.  Content is the fuel for this engine.  Content that is inspiring and in short form that entices people to respond and conveys thought leadership that gives insight or expertise into the problems that your customers have.  And then it is a combination of doing a couple of things simultaneously.   You need to be listening for where the discussion is happening around what you do, the problems you solve, the issues you help customers deal with.  You need to be sharing that content and participating in those places where people are actively engaged around your particular topics.  You need to take advantage of the fact that people like to share things that they find insightful.  So you need to get your advocates and customers to spread your content.  All the while building social profiles of how people interact with you.  

The people that do social marketing well are the people that realize that the type of content that engages people in social media is different then what you would place in the resources section of your website.  So think about things like infographics, blog posts, ebooks.  A big part of it is making sure the content is created, topics and format is socially consumable.

The demand gen focused vendors, Eloqua was the first to go down the social path of creating plugins that help people improve the conversion of their landing pages by showing friends that like this page.  Marketo made the first big move when they acquired CrowdFactory.  CrowdFactory is more interested in social amplification, getting more people participating in your campaigns and spread those campaigns to their social networks.  Where I have not seen anybody do a good job is in the whole area of social publishing and that’s where some of these social media platforms like Vitrue (purchased by Oracle) and Buddy Media (purchased by Salesforce).  This is big missing piece by marketing automation vendors.


How Forrester segments the marketing automation space.

When we speak about marketing automation we tend to focus on those that come from a lead management background as one big category that gets broken up.  There another category known as marketing resource management suite which would include companies like Neolane, Aprimo, and Unica and those types of platforms.  The ones that are more demand gen focused at the large enterprise level based on what my clients come to me interested in evaluating.  Clearly we are seeing Eloqua having more of the mindshare and starting to see them used for cross company deployments.  Where as more than a year ago they tended to be more at the departmental usage within the larger enterprises. I think Marketo is nipping at their heels on the large end of the enterprise market and getting it to more departmental deals.

In the mid market it probably flip flops a bit with Marketo having more mindshare in the mid sized enterprise market with Eloqua still doing some competing there.  At the low end of the market, depending on what a company’s needs are, a lot of times the SMB market the needs start at lead origination and where I am seeing a lot of companies embrace Hubspot. Hubspot is also trying to expand to the middle of the funnel in order to try and do more of the traditional marketing automation, lead nurturing, and lead management type functionality.

Another company to keep an eye on at the small end of the market is Act-On.  I know they have a very much email centric approach but really making marketing and lead management so simple for people.  Taking a lot of the fear and uncertainty out of the marketing automation process.

The SMB market is companies up to $25M in revenue, mid sized enterprise might be $25M – $500M and large enterprise would be $500M – $1B+.

It is still a fragmented market and I wish I had a crystal ball but what I think that we see now as trends will continue with Oracle, IBM, Salesforce and big platform players are the ones that are going to be rolling up this space.  I can’t imagine that Salesforce is going to stay on the sidelines too much longer.  They have already made such big investments in social listening with Radian6 and now with Buddy Media.  They are covering the social media aspect of it but the bread and butter of lead management and marketing automation is a big hole in the marketing cloud.


A 3 step process to prepare for marketing automation technology.

When I put together this body of knowledge a lot of it stemmed from interviews that I did with about 35 companies that had implemented marketing automation and these were all companies that had been at it for one year or more.  I found that most were making basic simplistic use out of these very powerful platforms.  They were using them for not much more than an email blaster.  Most of them said they were using to streamline capture of their website leads or they were using it to drive people to their webinars or deliver our customer newsletter.  We have been looking at a way to deliver a revenue engine for a company and all the things these platforms provide.

The platforms are very powerful, well designed, well built, smart people behind them but I think they are ahead of the market’s ability to make use of them.  Not because the technology is hard but the business problem they are trying to solve is so hard.  When I wrote about how marketers need to be better prepared, where it all starts is having a clear definition and understanding of your buyers journey and mapping of their information needs as they go through those journeys.

A lot of times prior to implementing marketing automation people may never have put much thought into what those buyers journeys look like.  Especially prior to someone submitting an RFP or being in an active buying cycle where they are engaging your sales team.  So at the core is understanding those buyer journeys and the information that you need so that you can map them.

  1. Define lead to revenue process: End to end process of who is going to do what.  What are the handoffs between sales and marketing.  
  2. Content: People underestimate how much content you need to fuel your marketing engine.  If you think about the type of personas and selling situations there is an exponential increase in content that you need.  Content needs to be problem focused versus product focused.
  3. Measure
Customer journeys are driven based on personas (IT Manager, End User, Finance, etc) will all participate differently at each stage of the problem solving cycle that the company is going through.  They are going to have different needs for information, different questions that they are going to need answered as you go through each stage.


Marketing metrics that marketing professionals need in order to maintain credibility in their organization.

I tend to look at it in terms of category of metrics with some examples within each one.  If you think about it for marketing to really have that credibility at the executive table  they need to be contributing to what the CEO and CFO care about – revenue growth and profitability.  When I look at it that way I break it down into a couple of different categories.

  1. Tracking revenue cycle: Look a volume of leads and opportunities that you have going through each stage of the revenue cycle at any given point in time.  How much time are they spending in each stage and where are the choke points where they are spending too much time.  What is the value of each stage from a revenue perspective?  What are the conversion rates for each stage.  The reason for tracking this information is it will allow you to focus on the places where you want to make investment.  Let’s say you are getting a 50% conversion rate from an inbound lead into a marketing qualified lead and you have a 5% conversion rate from that to a Sales qualified lead.  That is going to tell you that you are either being too generous on your first criteria or you need to do more things to improve conversion at the second point.
  2. Impact measures: I recommend to CMO’s that they track marketing’s contribution to pipeline both in terms of opportunities that you are creating and the value of opportunities that close that were contributed or influenced by Marketing.  The warning with tracking these metrics is to use them for internal purposes so that you can know if you are improving you effectiveness.  It is not something you want to be throwing in the face of the Sales team which can cause friction and defensiveness between Sales and Marketing.
  3. Core efficiency: The cost of customer acquisition is so important in bringing down over time. 


B2B Marketing Trends and Predictions for 2012.  What has taken place and what has not.

I predicted that marketing automation would hit a tipping point this year and go mainstream.  Even as much as we hear customers deploying it we estimate market share at a very early stage in the adoption process.  We don’t think it is more than 15% penetration worldwide in terms of companies of all sizes.

I am getting more inquiries from companies outside the technology space about marketing automation.  In particular, more industrial manufacturers, healthcare companies, financial services companies especially insurance, asset managment companies that are really now starting to embrace the way of doing marketing that marketing automation enables.  This idea of building a revenue engine and nurturing people until they are ready to be engaged by a direct sales team.

Expanding the use beyond email has moved slower than I would have hoped.  A lot of the marketing leaders I have spoken to have plans to do more.



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