Marketing is More than Automation

Posted by Dan McDade

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on Aug 18, 2016 11:01:00 AM

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Marketing isn't just Marketing Automation

There is a back story to the development of the process called Account Based Marketing and that story was published in this blog by LeanData, Inc.:

“In 2003, Bev Burgess, SVP ITSMA Europe, was the host of a get-together in London. As she sat between two senior-level marketing executives for global companies Accenture and Unisys, the conversation took a fateful turn. They discussed an intriguing idea – creating campaigns specifically tailored toward individual accounts.

Her ears perked up.

‘I thought this was just really, really interesting,’ recalled Burgess, senior vice president of ITSMA Europe. ‘So we did some research around the idea and developed a process for it.’

“The rest, as they say, is history. In hindsight, the main course that night was a new way of thinking about business: Account-Based Marketing.”

Fast forward to 2016. Account Based Marketing (ABM) is all the rage. One company in the ABM space posits that ABM is hot now because technology is in place today that wasn’t available just a couple of years ago. However, when you look at the process the developer of ABM, ITSMA, designed, there is nary a mention of technology:

Account Based Marketing Framework

There are close to 2,000 sales and/or marketing enablement technologies on the market today and marketers as a group love them! I feel that, unfortunately, marketing automation has made it possible for marketers to send more poor quality leads to sales faster than ever before. It is not that I am against marketing automation or other marketing technologies, it is just that I am for accountability and ROI.

Here is a recent (REAL) example of a situation we were presented with and our ABM-based solution:

Presented Situation: The client provided 7500 contacts at 4200 companies and asked us to reach out to each contact at every company. Our objective was to engage a specific role at hospitals with 300 or more beds.

Our Solution: The number of companies provided to us was a huge “red light on the dash.” We know that there are not anywhere near 4,000 providers with 300 or more beds. As it turned out, the list provided contained fewer than half the number of hospitals that have over 300 beds – there are 803 and the list provided only contained 383 of them. Our approach was to build a great database (of 803 hospitals) and use a multi-touch, multi-media and multi-cycle process to have discussions with the specific desired contact and multiply results for our client.

What it would have cost to do what the client presented: $172,200

What it cost to deliver our recommended solution: $49,385

Results have exceeded the client’s expectations.

Disturbing Trend

There is a disturbing trend in the marketplace today that is costing companies millions of dollars and not generating much if any return. That trend is more email being sent to “target prospects” with follow-up being limited to those who raise their hands (respond) to whatever the offer is. There are a couple of problems with this approach:

  1. Lists suck! We have a lot of experience talking to providers about technology solutions and have built a great list of hospitals and hospital groups. But, most lists available on the open market are terrible. Had we simply emailed the 7500 contacts provided and only followed-up on responders we would have missed over half the market AND response rates on email today are so dismal that our client would have been lucky to get 50 responses.

  2. The target contact for this project was high level. The more senior the executive the less likely they are to provide so-called digital body language and score high enough to qualify for contact. I put it this way: Not every senior executive wants to be treated like the human equivalent of a pin ball, capturing your attention only after they have hit the right bumpers and scored enough points. Senior executives are much more responsive to a multi-touch, multi-media and multi-cycle approach and a lot less responsive to single media marketing automation campaigns.

Let me ask you a question. If your goal was to have a conversation with a high level executive role at 803 hospitals what would you do? Call 803 hospitals or email thousands of contacts hoping that you find some of the right targets and that they respond?

Guess what I would do.    


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Topics: B2B Marketing, Marketing Strategy, Account-Based Marketing


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