What Marketing Automation Platforms Are Missing.

What Marketing Automation Platforms Are Missing.

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Do I Know You?

Stop me if you’ve heard this one. A marketing executive – let’s call her Sally – decides it’s time to invest in a marketing automation platform. It’s a new year and the new plan says sales must increase 30% over last year. There is no way the marketing team can generate enough new leads to fuel this growth by doing marketing campaigns manually. It’s just Sally, a marketing administrator and the email service provider (ESP).

Anticipating the need, Sally did her research and found out she can get a SaaS marketing automation tool that suits her needs for about $3,000 per month. The platform she has in mind comes with an email “engine” so Sally figures she can offset $800 per month expense by canceling her subscription with the ESP. So, for a net increase of about $2,200 per month, Sally can automate marketing and meet the demand for new sales leads. Seems like a pretty good investment considering it would take adding another fulltime marketing administrator to do the same work manually – easily twice the expense of “upgrading” to a marketing automation platform.

Sally pulls the trigger and signs up for the marketing automation tool. The first few days go okay. There are a few more data migration and system configuration challenges than what Sally was led to believe by the vendor, but Sally isn’t worried about a few short term set-up issues. The new marketing automation platform is a strategic investment. The additional “out of scope” implementation costs will be more than covered by the efficiency gained from the tool and by the incremental leads for sales. Plus, Sally is really looking forward to the reporting capabilities in the marketing platform. The email campaign measurement reports she has gotten from the ESP were pretty limited. With the marketing platform, Sally is looking forward to getting a more complete picture of her campaign results – email opens, click-throughs, web visitor traffic, and web conversions.

Fast forward a few weeks. Sally’s new marketing automation platform is set up with her existing contacts plus a new list of contacts she purchased just for the new email campaign. The campaign is configured for a three touch process over a six week period. Perfect to test the new marketing platform. The web landing pages are set up; new web forms are built; even a couple of new collateral pieces have been added to the web site. So that Sally and her administrator can track who views these new pieces, the collateral is “gated”, meaning that the interested web visitors need to complete a contact form to view the collateral. The campaign is set up according to the best practices tips sheet Sally got from her marketing automation vendor. All systems go. Ready to launch!
A couple of days after the campaign launch, Sally starts checking the campaign measurements as reported by the new tool. As promised, the key campaign metrics are reported in the new dashboard: email response rates, total web visitors, web conversion rates, data on web visitor traffic and a summary of the names sent to sales as new leads from the campaign responses. The campaign data reported by the new marketing automation platform is delivered as promised.

Sounds good, right? Well, there’s something wrong with this picture.

If you consider what the marketing automation tool is designed to do and report on, Sally is getting what she paid for. But, if Sally wants to get a true picture of her campaign results and if she wants to maximize the number of leads she can deliver to sales, there is a big problem. The picture is incomplete. The problem is the marketing automation platform is tracking and reporting only on the contacts Sally can identify. What about the other 95% of the web visitors Sally can’t immediately identify because they haven’t directly responded to the email campaign or they haven’t self-identified via a web form? These “invisible” visitors go undetected and are not included in the metrics reported by Sally’s marketing automation platform.

Here’s why. Marketing automation platforms are process automation systems for marketing. Just like financial accounting software that automates the “best practices” and rules of accounting, marketing automation tools implement marketing “best practices” that have evolved over time. And, there in lie the core of why Sally has a problem. The marketing “best practices” implemented in marketing automation platforms go all the way back to before digital marketing – back to the days of “snail mail” and direct marketing. The assumption used in the design of marketing automation platforms is that the user has the contact information of the target. How else would a marketer know how to reach their target buyer? And, because these systems assume the user knows who their target buyers are, marketing automation platforms track and report only on web visitors they can identify.

“Out of the box,” B2B marketing automation tools are blind to invisible visitors.

To get a complete picture of her campaign results, Sally needs to add anonymous web visitor data to her marketing automation platform reporting. Sally needs VisitorTrack from netFactor. VisitorTrack is specifically designed to identify and report on the web visitors that digital marketers like Sally can’t identify using their marketing automation platform. VisitorTrack “reads” the IP address of the visitor(s), then identifies the company to whom the IP is registered. Once the visitor company is known, VisitorTrack will provide the key contacts and their contact information at these companies. If the contact is already in her marketing database, Sally can tie the visitor back to her campaign data. If the company or key contact is new, Sally can add the information to her marketing automation platform. In either case, Sally now has the ability to track, monitor and measure on B2B web visitors that would otherwise remain unknown. Sally gets more compete data and sales gets more leads.

Marketing automation platforms are great for what they are designed to do.  By adding VisitorTrack to their marketing systems investment, digital marketing executives like Sally can get a more complete view of their campaign results and maximize the number of leads for sales.

Get the picture?