What Really Excites me About Marketing Automation

More of the right marketing activity to the right contact at the right time

Up to now I’ve been intrigued by how marketing automation systems can enable a resource-limited marketing department to execute more lead generation and lead nurturing activities, more systematically, with more rhythm, and do a better job of capturing metrics along the way.

To my way of thinking that represents a pretty strong value proposition—more of the right marketing activity to the right person at the right time. I can see immediately how a marketing automation solution contributes to revenue growth when the system is used to support a funnel management strategy agreed to by both Sales and Marketing. (I can also see how a system could fail if it was implemented before a funnel management strategy was in place).

All marketing automation solutions have an Achilles Heel. They need accurate contact information. Contact names have to be input from a database, or generated via some marketing response vehicle (800#, web form, etc.).

Marketing to the Anonymous Majority

Today’s marketing executive recognizes that there is an  “anonymous majority” of potential buyers for their product or service who are researching solutions and vendors online and in social networks in secret well into their buying process.  A multitude of buyers are out there, invisible to the vendor because they are concealing their identity and/or their purchasing role. Without a name, purchasing role, and contact info these valuable buyers cannot be systematically marketed to via Marketing Automation system and outbound tactics.

However, what is exciting me about Marketing Automation today (okay, call it 2.0 if you must) is how some solutions are able to reveal the identity of these anonymous majority buyers.

A caveat before I go further. I am not an expert on marketing automation tools or systems. Neither am  I a professional product reviewer.  I don’t live and breathe this stuff. I don’t make my living from within the category. This is not a product review round up.

Marketo , and Manticore Technology, to name just two of many marketing automation vendors, provide anonymous web visitor identification functionality.  By cross referencing the domain name of a web visitor with domain registration information and contact databases such as LinkedIn and Jigsaw these systems can basically point you in the right direction. You won’t know for sure who visited your site, but at least you’ll know that someone from a specific business location visited your site and it could be one of half a dozen people that work for the company and surfaced in LinkedIn and Jigsaw. This is great information for an inside sales team to use.

It’s also very valuable information to turn over to a company such as ReachForce who is extremely proficient at identifying people within an organization that have the right roles for purchasing a specific product or service, and can obtain accurate contact information for those individuals.

With Marketing Automation, a little data mining and elbow grease it’s  possible to continually harvest for the funnel fresh names who just days before were anonymously browsing your site.

This excites me. If your site receives 10,000 visitors a month and only 2% fill out a web form or send an email identifying them that means 9800 visitors come and go every month without electing to identify themselves. Certainly, not all anonymous visitors are worth chasing down, but shouldn’t we be interested in proactively engaging with those who spent, say, over 1 minute on our site and who visited a certain set of pages? If just 30% of 9800 anonymous visitors met this test, we’d have an opportunity to identify and add up to 2,940 new names to our funnel every month using Marketing Automation and our own inside sales team, or a lead qualification service.

LeadForce1 is a relative new comer (2008) to the Marketing Automation field. What intrigues me about their product is how it evaluates a visitor’s behavior and activity to assess the visitor’s intent. When the visitor’s intent is known we have a better understanding of what stage in our funnel the visitor should be placed (and how we should interact with the contact).

I envision using a system like LeadForce1 to:

  1. Automate the process of identifying anonymous web visitors (this can’t be completely automated; it requires some human touch and decision making).
  2. Score or classify each contact based on intent and behavior
  3. Place the contact in the appropriate stage of my funnel
  4. Automatically initiate outbound marketing/sales tactics to that contact that are appropriate based on the funnel stage level.

Chasing down anonymous web visitors must be done tactfully, with a good heart, and in compliance with your site’s privacy policy.

I’m looking forward to hearing from practitioners who are using Marketing Automation systems to identify and connect with anonymous web visitors.

5 replies
  1. Tewks
    Tewks says:

    Hi Chuck,

    Let me pile on with a couple of added points…

    Identifying the anonymous visitors is certainly an important aspect of marketing automation. At the end of the day generating new identifiable contacts, or leads (without going into an extended conversation about what a lead is!) is the aim of the game.

    Really, though, this is a discreet, atomic function that you can find outside of the marketing automation ranks. Arguably the best at it is someone like LeadLander.

    From my perspective, the most important aspect of marketing automation tools is their ability to track brand engagement across multiple channels. Take Google Analytics. Awesome for looking at page views, referrers to your site, but you can’t integrate that with your email, social, or channel strategies.

    Marketing automation vendors that get it (right now I’m high on http://www.Optify.net and http://www.Loopfuse.com) enable you to figure out which channel and which piece of content is creating awareness (growth of anonymous contacts) and driving adoption (conversion into paying customers).

    From a marketing perspective those are huge. Yes, generating leads is the ultimate end goal, but helping me understand which channels and content are producing help me focus in on what’s really working. It’s great to know where your headed, but you need to focus on how to get there.

    Alright – so there’s my rant!

    – Tewks

  2. Joe Zuccaro
    Joe Zuccaro says:

    Well, we are entering the “Golden Age” of online marketing and marketing automation is going to get us there.

    There will be missteps and dead ends, but overall it’s the right direction.

    I’m glad to see others so enthused about this exciting development!

  3. John Sweeney
    John Sweeney says:

    Hi Chuck,

    Interesting post. I’m using a Marketing Automation product called Acton Software which offers amongst other things the anonymous web visitor identification functionality of which you speak in your blog.

    My own personal experience is that there is a limited value in chasing down annoymous visitors. It’s good to know who is coming onto your site but its usually quicker and more profitable to connect with known prospects. The Acton Software system also tell you this too – so if you have a good drip-feed campaign going there is plenty there to engage with. My own strategy is to get the annoymous visitors to ‘wave’ interest by contacting me or downloading a white-paper. Once they’ve done this I’ll reach out to them.

    The reality is there is a significant amount to learn, plan and build when adopting Marketing Automation systems. As one user said to me recently – it’s like being given a Ferrari when you’ve only driven lawnmowers before.

    From my perspective if Marketing Automation is to work for marketers in resource restriced small businesses (which is my area of focus) it needs to ‘progress’ buyers to a point where they are ready to be contacted – at a quicker rate and in higher volumes than the alternatives.

    If your business is already contacting all the ‘known’ leads then ‘annoymous’ leads can be chased. I suspect that for most businesses this will not be the case.

    • funnelfan
      funnelfan says:

      John, good points. The value of an anonymous visitor would have to be tested of course, as would the nurturing tactics for progressing buyer. The bottom line for me is that I’ll be able to put more names into the early stages of the funnel than I would otherwise. Metrics are okay, metrics plus names are golden.

      Charles Besondy, President Besondy Consulting & Interim Management, LLC http://www.BesondyLLC.com 1.512.692.9642 Aligning Marketing for Revenue Growth


Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *