Systym at Utah Eloqua User Group Event

Systym was thrilled to be invited as a presenter to the inaugural Utah Eloqua User Group event.  The kickoff event, held at the beautiful new Xactware facility, was an opportunity to meet and greet local Eloquans and share marketing automation and content marketing stories and ideas.  Thanks to Matt Miller and Mark Freestone for getting the event pulled together and thanks to all those who joined us for a great afternoon.  If you’re interested in joining the group and staying informed on upcoming activities, you can join the group at the following link.   http://bit.ly/YWocqD

Interview with Outmarket CEO You Mon Tsang

Big news in the marketing technology world was the recent spin-off of the marketing automation unit of Vocus into a new company OutMarket.  Leading this newly formed entity is CEO You Mon Tsang.  You Mon was kind enough to take a few minutes from his hectic post-launch schedule to speak with me about the launch and the OutMarket perspective on the marketing automation space.  Below is an audio recording and transcript of our conversation.  (Apologies for the quality of the audio).

 

Chris:              Let me just kick off by thanking you for joining me. OutMarket had a huge launch this last week spinning off from Vocus. I appreciate you taking some time to speak to me this morning. Let’s just dive in. Marketing automation is a super noisy category right now, lots of players, lots of activity, very difficult to keep up with. How do you see what you’re doing at OutMarket really differentiating from some of the other things that are happening in the space?

You Mon:       Of course, thanks for having me. Let me start by saying that while I think the marketing automation space can be noisy, the other thing I would also say is that it’s also nascent. If you think about the number of customers who could use marketing automation actually using marketing automation, that penetration is low. We hear a lot of noise because some of the early adopters are in the spaces that are noisy, whether we’re getting that from the tech space, software space. When we look at companies that are under $500 million in revenue, the penetration of marketing automation is less than 10%. The growth is all ahead of us.

When you think about it even the large players in the space, whether they’re public companies, like Marketo or Vocus was, nobody was more than $150 million dollars revenue from their automation. We are all small players. There was not a Salesforce.com size company. There was no Oracle size company. There are no billion dollar companies out there. While it’s noisy, I would say it’s very early. What makes us different?

Specifically, we’re trying to provide integrated marketing automation for the marketing teams who don’t have the resources, whether that’s budget or technical resources to put in what I would call one of these early enterprise marketing automation systems. I think those systems can be out of reach for the vast majority of folks out there and that’s what we’re focused on.

Chris:              What do you think has been the barrier to adoption of marketing automation technology, is it a resource constraint? Is it price driven? What do you think is the reason that a lot of these folks haven’t, at the smaller end of the scale, adopted marketing automation yet?

You Mon:       You do bring up 2 major barriers and I’ll bring up a third. Now, I guess all 3. You bring up price. You bring up resources. I’ll also bring up just a lack of awareness of what it is. Let me start with the third one. I’m going to date myself. About 15 years ago I was in the business intelligence and analytic space. Back then data was sort of a back office type of activity and if you wanted to really understand how your business was doing you would talk to an analyst. You didn’t really have a lot of data.

Certainly today nobody would believe, everyone believes that they should have access to data, but back then people didn’t know they really needed to do it and they had no idea how they would do it. There was a real lack of awareness of what they were supposed to do. Marketing automation is in that same place now. You talk to a typical marketer, of course they’ve heard of marketing automation, but they’re still trying to figure out what it is and that really speaks to the sub 10% penetration rate that I was talking to.

Now the more practical matters is certainly price is an issue. Currently many of these marketing automation systems out there today can get into 6 figures and that’s certainly out of reach for many companies. Resources, if you think about the early marketing automation systems they were fairly technical. Some of them required you to drop in HTML. Some of them had to think about work flow, or possibly supporting with a dedicated programmer.

A lot of them would lead you to get into your website, dig around, and play with some HTML. Those early systems are harder for many people to use. They do not have either the technical resources or in fact the ability to hire a specialist to do that. I think those are the biggest issues. I think that you’re seeing a lot of companies, OutMarket being one, trying to solve that problem.

Chris:              A dynamic that we’ve seen is companies who get excited about marketing automation and will spend the money for a solution. Then a year later or a couple years later, come to the realization that they’ve spent a lot of money on something that they’re still primarily using the same way they used an old batch and blast email solution. Have you seen that dynamic? If so, I’m curious what you guys are planning to do at OutMarket to proactively get in front of that.

You Mon:       There’s an old term called shelfware, which is a little harder to talk about when it comes to software in the cloud, but you buy the software and you end up just putting it on the shelf and never really using it for whatever reason. We’ve certainly seen our share of that. I would say because I still think we’re early, we see more people who’ve never used marketing automation than we do people who are sort of been bitten by marketing automation. You speak the truth. If you do not have a plan to use marketing automation, you won’t get the most out of it.

How do we try to address this concept of people buying marketing automation and not doing anything with it? We’re doing a few things. One is in the software we wanted it to be very easy to implement. If you need to integrate with other systems, you just go into a wizard. If you are producing an email newsletter or a landing page, we offer you templates out of the box. It makes it easier for you to create a beautiful looking landing page. If you need to integrate with your blog or your website, we make it as easy as it would be to put Google Analytics in there. One, just make the software easy to implement and easy to use.

Also, we know that out of the chute we want our folks adopting our software. We actually have a launch team whose only job is to make sure at the end of your launch that you do have your system up and running, that you’ve sent out your first email or sent your first press release. We offer that. Or put up your first landing page, get your contacts in there, and perhaps even get a work flow going. When you see the first bit of automation working it just gets the customer excited to do more and really adopt it.

Chris:              Have you seen any particular trigger event or any kind of a common scenario that tips someone from not using an automation solution to using one?

You Mon:       The one thing we do try to focus on is helping our clients increase their lead database, or their contact list. If we can show that through a better landing page you can convert people coming to your site to sign up, to learn more about your company, having that number pick up is often the most impactful thing that we can do in the very short run for our clients. There are many ways to do that. One is increase your conversion rates, optimize a form with a better form, but also one of the other things that we focus on at OutMarket is we focus on generating leads and generating awareness.

We have, unique to us, this is from our heritage Vocus, we have access to press releases, which allows you to get your news out in a way that you may not have been able to with just a blog. We have a very strong social recommendation engine that actually tells you who’s influential in spaces so you can start connecting with them. We have Buying Signals, which is really helping you find folks in social who are interested in your product or service. Between that, as well as what you would know as more typical marketing automation, which is optimizing forms and optimizing lead conversion, we want to increase the number of people that show up in your contact list.

Chris:              Are you saying that’s a key metric that you’re seeing a lot of your clients, that’s something that’s definitely one of their KPI’s is just growing the size of their contact list?

You Mon:       Like most good marketers, their bottom line is the same as the company’s bottom line. If you’re a for profit company it’s all normally sales, revenues, or whatever you want to call it, whatever is important to you. If you’re membership driven, then it’s more members. If you’re not for profit, maybe it’s more donations.

The way you get there is just to get more people interested in what you have to offer, the product and service you have to offer. The marketer wants to see more and more people interested in what they have to offer. The idea is to convert them into a sale or into a member or into a donor.

Chris:              How would you characterize the most successful of your clients? What are those companies doing that maybe others aren’t in their use of the automation solution?

You Mon:       Our most successful clients really focus on all parts of the customer journey. Marketing automation, at least the early systems, have been focused on data fact side, which meant that I don’t know how you’re getting awareness. I don’t know how you’re generating your leads, but once you’ve done that, our marketing automation system will grind those leads, nurture them, and convert them. I would say that part goes further down the journey.

That’s of course very important because you want to convert people who actually expressed interest to people who are actually customers of yours. Our system certainly does that as well, but if you don’t focus on all parts of marketing you’re not going to be near as successful. Our most successful clients, many of them have been very successful in generating more awareness for their product and service, communicating with folks who become a prospect.

Then also work the lead, converting them, nurturing them, hoping they become a client. Those folks who really spend the time thinking about the entire journey, they tend to be happier, more successful clients.

Chris:              We see that as well when people who holistically, it’s definitely an old idea. 360 marketing, that’s not a new idea, but people who really think that way and really try to execute that way, that does still make a huge difference.

You Mon:       That’s right. It’s all bottom line. The bottom line, I’ve told this to many of my colleagues in the marketing space, is that the closer that any of our systems can, say that we generate whatever the bottom line is, sales, donations, members, the better off we are, the closer to success that we can be and the more likely we have people reaching to use the system.

Chris:              I appreciate you spending time. Just a last question for you here this morning, obviously it sounds like where you’re seeing a huge opportunity is with companies who have not yet adopted a marketing automation solution. That is clearly where you’re seeing a lot of the blue sky opportunity. What counsel would you provide to a company who has thought about it but hasn’t yet made the jump? What would you tell a company that was in that space?

You Mon:       We talk to these folks everyday, these people who have not made the jump to marketing automation. The math for marketing automation can be very simple. If you’re a marketer, you’re probably thinking about what kind of impact can my marketing department have on the business if I generate 5% more leads, more prospects. What impact can my marketing department have if my conversion rate from someone who had showed interest to someone who became a customer increases 10%?

If you can do that math and say, “Hey, well, if both those things happen, what’s my impact on the business?” Therefore, the investment that I’m making for a marketing automation system that can help me get there would be worth it. Unlike a lot of marketing tools where the ROI can feel elusive, you can make the case for marketing automation on paper. It’s a simple spreadsheet that you can then sell to yourself, sell to the CMO, or if you need to sell to your CFO. I think it can be a fairly straightforward process. I would recommend anyone who is on the verge of making the step, just think about it that way. It can be a very simple math problem.

Chris:              You Mon, thank you so much for spending some time today talking to me about this. Congratulations on the launch and we’ll be excited to see how things evolve in the space and with OutMarket over the coming weeks and months.

You Mon:       Thanks Chris, I appreciate it. It’s a very exciting stage, despite the noisiness. I think we all, even in this space, expect huge growth over the next 5 to 10 years.

Chris:              Absolutely, thanks again.

You Mon:       You’re welcome.

Systym and Hudson Printing – A New Era In Customer-Centric Communication

Systym has established a partnership with Hudson Printing, a company doing amazing things at the intersection of print and digital.  The work we do at Systym with personas, customer-centric messaging and content strategy is a perfect fit with the variable data digital printing services at Hudson Printing.  At Systym we believe understanding your audience and their context and delivering exactly the right message at the right time is the key to effective communication.  The message maps and other deliverables from a Systym engagement can become the foundation for a completely customized communication, or series of printed communications, created and delivered by Hudson Printing.

Hudson Printing is reinventing print, and we love that.  The days of the stodgy, old-school printer is gone, the new era of print is digital-savvy, connected and highly personalized.  Systym structures the story, Hudson Printing delivers the story.  A powerful combination.  If you print anything, Hudson Printing can make it better, wander over to their site and learn more about what they do.  Download the press release here.

Hudson-Systym-partnership

HP T330 Digital Inkjet Web Press

Marketing Automation and Content Marketing Survey

Take The Survey Button

Calling all marketing automation users, we want your input.  Smart use of marketing automation has the potential to be nothing short of rocket fuel for content marketers.  The challenge is, well, it’s a challenge to truly connect the technology with the content.

We wanted to dig into how marketers are thinking about this intersection of marketing automation technology and content and share the results with the larger community.  If you currently have a marketing automation solution, from any provider, and can spare about 3 minutes to share your thoughts, we will gladly provide a full copy of the results and report in October.  We expect to collectively learn some interesting things.

So if you’re a marketing automation user, appreciate your input and of course spread the world if you know others who might be interested in participating and receiving the results.  Survey start page can be found here.  Thanks in advance for your interest and support.

Marketing Automation Foundation

No, this is not an announcement of a new non-profit benefiting marketing automation companies. They all seem to be doing just fine for themselves. This is about the importance — and necessity — of doing foundational work to realize the full potential of marketing automation.

Marketing automation has exploded over the last few years. There’s more vendors than you can keep track of and a range of sizes and sophistication levels. A handful have been acquired/integrated/assimilated by the software titans like Salesforce.com, Oracle and Adobe, while others are still out there feisty and independent. Adoption continues to grow and most marketers have at least kicked the tires on a marketing automation solution at some point.

We all love the vision of how marketing automation can make our lives better and easier; reducing manual work, dynamically generating highly–targeted messages, scoring leads and providing great measurement and analytics. Whether you’re already down the road with a marketing automation solution or thinking of getting started, it’s absolutely essential that you pause for a moment and assess your status in some core areas.

Accurate view of current state – Knowing where you are now in terms of communication and process is essential as a grounding element and baseline for creation of new communication plans.

Defined target profiles – Every business has a handful of core buyer profiles.  These profiles can be based on a wide variety of criteria, but defining your profiles is a requirement for developing targeted messages.

Understanding of prospect/customer experience – It’s difficult, if not impossible, to configure and automate an experience that you don’t fully understand. Clarification of the buying stages and dynamics will inform how and where you can best leverage marketing automation.

Clear messages – While this may seem like one of the most obvious areas to have crisply defined, surprisingly many organizations are murky on their messaging. Developing and defining your message is a distinctly human exercise, technology can help amplify your message, but the messages themselves need that human touch. Get clear on your messaging.

At Systym, we occasionally see instances of marketing automation backlash: marketers who have made the technology investment but are disappointed in the business impact. It’s rarely a technology problem, most often it’s a marketer who hasn’t done the important core work and is still using powerful technology the same way they were using a $29 per month email solution.

What we do at Systym is help marketers define relevant, insightful marketing experiences. The plans we create can then be used as a detailed blueprint for configuring a marketing automation solution. Our belief is a more relevant experience better serves the interests of both customers and businesses.

Regardless of how you do it, invest the time and effort in the foundational work. Marketing automation in some form is likely in your future, nail the basics and realize the full value of whatever flavor of marketing automation solution you select.

This post approved by the Marketing Automation Foundation

How To Sell Me A Lot Of Marketing Software

Marketing Software - Ben Franklin I’m evaluating marketing software vendors.  If you’ve been through a vendor search and evaluation you know how time consuming, tedious, and frustrating the process can be.  In the spirit of helpfulness and at the risk of tipping my hand to any prospective vendor who may read this, I’m going to share a few tips on how to land me as a customer (or maybe not).  Consider this a little “Tough Love” for marketing technology sales.  A companion post for “How To Be A Good Prospect” is likely to follow so everyone will get their moment in the sun.  All in good fun.

Take your time responding to my initial inquiry – I know you’re busy and being too responsive may make it appear you actually want my business.  Be coy, take your time, and don’t seem overly anxious.

Hide your number – If I go “old-school” and try to call your company, be sure to bury your phone number deep, deep in your website or just remove the number altogether.  Make me work for it.  If by chance I persist and find your number, do not under any circumstances provide a way for me to be connected to a live person.  Voice mail should be good enough for everyone.

Be crazy busy – Provide only one potential meeting time, preferably earlier than 5:30am or after 7pm in my time zone; and never, ever talk to me in the same week as my initial contact.

Be late, or better yet, no-show for our meeting.  Let’s face it; your time is what’s important in this equation.  I should feel lucky you’ve agreed to meet with me at all.  Showing up on time is so old-fashioned anyway.

Don’t learn anything about my company – Understanding anything about how I might use your technology in my business is only going to slow this whole thing down.  It really doesn’t matter  what industry we’re in, whether we’re B2B, B2C, services or product oriented.  Just do your off the rack, vanilla pitch and I’m good.

Assume I’m a simpleton… – Explain things to me like I’m in first grade.  If you’ve honored my request to stay uninformed about my business, you’re likely unaware of how much or how little I know about technology.  A slow cadence and condescending tone works magic.

or assume I’m a rocket scientist – If simple doesn’t work you can bring a member of your “technical team” to dive into a sea of acronyms, jargon and otherwise unintelligible technospeak.

Stop for nothing – Our conversation should be more soliloquy where you speak continuously for the full duration of our meeting.

Avoid my questions – In the event I do get a question in somehow, do not answer the question directly.  The skillful deflection and redirection of my question to align with your canned PowerPoint presentation will score big points with me.  Ideally, I should be left with the odd sensation that my question received a response while I still end up without the information I needed.

Price is unimportant – When pressed for pricing details, provide meaningless price ranges.  “Our solution is typically between $1 and $1,000,000 depending on a number of variables.”  Applying the “If you have to ask, you can’t afford it.” tone is also a nice touch.

Be a closer – Ignore anything I have shared about my evaluation and buying process.  Always be closing, preferably as aggressively as possible.

Don’t sweat your follow-up – There is no information I could request that is likely to have any real bearing on our ultimate decision so don’t waste your time jamming up my inbox with anything I may have asked for.

There you have it vendors, the keys to success and a surefire way to sell me a lot of marketing software.

NOTE : If the snark factor was a little high on this post, my apologies.  There are many vendors I’ve encountered who have NOT followed the aforementioned suggestions.  To those vendors, thank you.  You know who you are.

Augmented Reality Check

Augmented Reality World Image

I was fortunate to attend the Augmented World Expo earlier this week and I think I can say my reality has been augmented in a very positive way.  The event itself was very well run (Great job to Ori Inbar and his team) with an impressive roster of presenters, vendors and AR experts.  For me this event crystallized many of my thoughts about AR and opened my eyes to an infinite number of possibilities.  We are currently working on a research project for this Fall which will dig into AR in more detail and explore how marketers can begin thinking about tapping the amazing potential of this new set of capabilities.  In the interim a few quick thoughts related to Augmented Reality for marketers:

AR is amazing!  The experiences and capabilities available right now, today, are incredible.  I could fill an entire blog post with links to demonstrations of AR that showcase the whiz-bang, oooh, aaaah impact of well executed AR campaigns.  With great restraint I’m including a handful of links to provide a flavor of what’s possible.  This truly only scratches the surface.

No shortage of Hype.  Given the nature of AR and the new experiences it can provide the hype factor around this new bright, shiny object is high.  I contributed to the hype myself with the initial portion of this post.  Reliable data about the industry and AR impact on marketing campaign performance is tough to find at this early stage.  Our upcoming report will include a sampling of metrics, but right now there is at best a loose connection back to specific marketing ROI in most cases.  If you’re looking into AR from a marketing perspective, ask a lot of questions and make sure you push for clarity on what vendors can actually provide, which pieces they don’t offer and what success stories they have in your space.

AR is in it’s Wild West phase.  It’s a little chaotic, there’s a ton of energy, talent and potential but also a lot to sort through.  Being involved with AR at this early stage is likely to be a little bumpy, but an exciting ride.

The future is now.  It’s not big news we’re living in a mobile, multi-platform, always-on world.   AR is in many ways just an extension of this mobile lifestyle.  As devices continue to become more pervasive and seamlessly integrated into our lives the more valuable and effective AR-style marketing programs will become.  If you’re in marketing you WILL be involved in AR marketing in some shape or form sooner than you think.

So much more to cover on Augmented Reality for marketers, much of it to be included in our upcoming report.  The YouTube channel for Augmented Reality Expo is worth some time, a solid collection of interviews with many of the key players in the space.  Learn what you can, AR is here to stay.