Our customers, prospects and B2B Lead followers often ask us about marketing automation. Since ReachForce targeted role-based leads are fed into many of these solutions we decided to give each of them an opportunity to explain their key benefits and features in their own words. Thanks to Adam Needles (Twitter: @abneedles) -- Silverpop's Director of Field Marketing and B2B marketing evangelist -- for this post.
What is Silverpop Engage B2B?
There are many challenges facing B2B marketers today, but they are almost all traceable to one inflection point -- a fundamental, Internet-age shift in power that has taken place. Today, the B2B 'buying unit' has immense information-based resources at its disposal. Couple this with a corporate accountability and transparency mindset, and the result is a B2B buyer that is now calling the shots ... not the B2B vendor.
The implication is a new B2B marketing dynamic that demands responding to customer 'pull' over a traditional marketing 'push' mentality. MarketingSherpa has published data indicating that for every sales-ready lead that comes into a B2B vendor, there are 5-6X more leads that are longer-term and must be patiently nurtured until they are ready to purchase.
Buyers increasingly set the ground rules on when and where they will engage. Buyers also increasingly turn to trusted third parties for education, not sales people ... whom they engage as an almost final stage in their process. This means B2B marketers must focus heavily on 'getting found,' nurturing prospects and managing pre-sales buyer dialogue.
And yet the impetus for B2B marketers to proactively generate leads, drive sales and support customer lifetime value has never been stronger. Enter marketing automation.
How We're Different
The drivers above explain the rapid growth in the marketing automation marketplace. But what makes one vendor different from another?
At Silverpop, we believe assessing how one marketing automation vendor is different from another comes down to understanding their approach to helping marketers address this 'brave new world' of B2B marketing as described above.
Our approach is simple.
- Total Focus on B2B marketing. First, we have a marketing automation solution built, from the ground up, around the unique needs and issues of B2B marketers. This is our focus, and it's how we rationalize everything we do to extend, expand and innovate its features and capabilities.
- Orchestrating buyer-centric marketing; powering sales and marketing collaboration. Second, our products and services are designed to address the major external and internal issues facing B2B marketers today. What are these issues? At an external/marketplace level, it is being more buyer-centric than ever before (given the environment described above). At an internal/organizational level, it is better aligning and collaborating with the sales organization.
This is the approach that underpins and drives our Silverpop Engage B2B marketing automation platform.
Total Focus on B2B Marketing
B2B marketing is different. Sure some of the trends cited above -- especially the shift in buyer power -- are common to both B2B and B2C. But B2B marketing is still different. How?
In B2C marketing -- especially with 'fast moving consumer goods' -- scale matters. Thus, a top-down strategy is taken ... where mistakes in customer communication may be made at the individual consumer level, but that is assumed to be okay as long as it is a small percentage of total interactions.
But in B2B marketing -- especially with high price points and low unit volumes -- relationships really do matter. One mistake made upstream in the lead-cultivation phase can have disastrous effects downstream. Thus, a 'bottoms-up strategy' in marketing is more appropriate.
The challenge of modern B2B marketing, thus, lies in building that granular and continuous 'one-to-one' relationship with a prospect, pre-sales, while also scaling overall activity to ensure a sufficient volume of leads to meet revenue targets.
This is why Silverpop's Engage B2B platform is built around the entire lifecycle of developing and nurturing B2B buyer leads upstream through converting leads to customers and maintaining those customers downstream.
- Lead management: The lead management capabilities within Silverpop Engage B2B are an integral part of the entire platform. These capabilities include: information capture, scoring, routing, nurturing and monitoring.
- CRM integration: The system has pre-built integration with industry-leading CRM suites, including Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Netsuite and Salesforce, and the system can integrate with any other CRM suite via standards-based Web application programming interfaces (APIs).
- Marketing measurement and ROI tracking: The system tracks every action taken by a marketer to cultivate and covert leads into sales. The result is a granular, account-level picture of what campaigns worked (and what didn't). This helps marketers continuously tune their tactics.
- Industry-leading B2B marketer education: Successful marketing automation begins with successful B2B marketing strategies. That is why Silverpop spends significant time and resources on marketer education. The keystone of this effort is the company's recently-launched B2B Marketing University series.
- Service and support: An intelligent technology platform, alone, is not sufficient to ensure the success of a marketing automation deployment. That's why service and support is a hallmark of Silverpop's offering and one of the top reasons why customers select Silverpop Engage B2B.
Orchestrating Buyer-centric Marketing
I highlighted the critical issue in B2B marketing of having a bottoms-up strategy and of driving one-to-one dialogue with prospects. This leads to a subsequent operational challenge: It takes a tremendous scale of raw leads to filter down to a single buyer. Research from SiriusDecisions indicates that an average B2B organization yields 2-3 sales conversions for every 1000 raw/upstream leads. Given this, how do you effectively market on a 'mass' one-to-one level -- building a repeatable lead management strategy that gives each and every lead individual and tailored attention and personalization and that responds to their pull?
Laura Ramos with Forrester touched on this in a recent blog post on sales-marketing alignment: "As any rep can tell marketing, no two deals close the same. Learning how buyers buy is a huge challenge in B2B made more complex by the myriad of digital channels that buyers now use. "
This is why at the core of Silverpop's Engage B2B platform is a smart, powerful, yet easy-to-use campaign management interface for building and managing buyer-centric marketing.
- Dynamic campaign management: The campaign management interface allows you to build complex, dynamic campaigns that deliver marketing communication actions in response to the 'pull' of buyers. For instance, did your prospect recently visit your Website, download a white paper or dial your call center? By identifying actions and dynamic responses, Silverpop enables B2B marketers to manage complex, buyer-centric campaigns.
- Campaign GUI: A key differentiator of the campaign management interface is something we call our 'campaign GUI' -- a graphical environment that allows marketers to drag and drop campaign planning elements, that operates a lot like video-editing software and that is highly intuitive.
- Industry-leading e-mail expertise: Often prospects' actions respond to or trigger an e-mail. E-mail communication is a critical component of modern B2B marketing, and with a decade of experience, expertise in e-mail communication is a core competency of Silverpop.
- Multi-channel campaigns: The system is not limited to e-mail communication. It can manage and trigger multiple communication channels, both online and offline -- ensuring you engage with prospects when and where they prefer.
Powering Sales and Marketing Collaboration
The major 'internal'/organizational challenge marketers face lies in better syncing up with their sales teams -- an issue closely related to being buyer-centric and of critical importance as sales people are tapped by buyers later and later in their buying process. This requires B2B marketers to better understand and empathize with their sales team colleagues. It also requires systems that can promote transparency and collaboration.
SiriusDecisions highlighted this issue in a recent blog post, which discussed the era of 'Buyer 2.0' and its impact on sales/marketing alignment.
Technology is the driver behind the shift in buyer/selling behaviors, but more so in terms of its impact on the buyer rather than the seller. Buying 2.0 amplifies the power technology has given buyers and further increases marketing's role throughout the buying process beyond demand creation. Buyers seek out knowledge in their education phase independent of a campaign or cold call. Content, collaboration and knowledge drives marketing's messaging impact into the opportunity. Pipeline acceleration initiatives and nurturing strategies further influence the buying dynamic. Measuring marketing's contribution and improving its ability to target their initiatives puts marketing in the cross-hairs of sales productivity. Sales and marketing integration is a requirement for success in the next "new" economy.
This is why Silverpop's Engage B2B platform also focuses on improving collaboration between sales and marketing teams -- so lead management and buyer dialogue is seamless.
- Lead scoring and routing: A robust lead scoring and routing engine both creates a catalyst for improving sales and marketing agreement on what constitutes a 'good customer prospect' and also helps to manage roles and lead hand-off on an ongoing basis. Key features include the ability to score based on a variety of demographic (explicit), behavioral (implicit) and BANT (budget, authority, needs and timing) factors, as well as mechanisms for returning cold leads from sales back to marketing for nurturing.
- Sales-team transparency: Another key feature is the ability of sales team members to view granular details of lead activity from their Salesforce account. This ensures that a sales team member has complete insight into the pre-sales dialogue that has occurred and can pick up and run with a lead with maximum insight.
Are You Ready for the Brave New World of B2B Marketing?
Responding to 'buyer 2.0' and leading in this new B2B marketing environment requires a blend of know-how and firepower. Silverpop is focused on both.
The Silverpop Engage B2B marketing automation platform combines best practices with robust performance. And the Silverpop team is dedicated to delivering solutions that meet the unique needs of B2B marketers. We invite you to take a test drive of the system.
And if you're interested in taking your B2B marketing 'game' to the next level, we hope you will join us this Fall at B2B Marketing University -- either in Palo Alto, Boston, Atlanta or Seattle, or in another city after the New Y ear.