Friday, May 24, 2013

Marketing Automation & Search – 3 Strategies for Mutual Success

Over the past few years, marketing automation has continued to gain influence. For most organizations it's now a crucial piece of the marketing puzzle. This is especially true of the B2B sector.

One of the key points that has caught my attention is the high level of synchronicity that exists between marketing automation platform strategies and my experience with "search" and "top of the funnel" marketing. By identifying and exploring these parallels I've been able to greatly improve my understanding and the results from both disciplines.
Lets look at some of these revelations with you by discussing three of the key areas where these two disciplines overlap and complement each other.

1. Content

A point that's often over-looked when organizations begin building a business case for a marketing automation platform is content. One of the key selling points of any marketing automation platform is its ability to streamline and improve engagement.
The problem is, if there's nothing for your prospects to engage withyou will have no engagement. That's where content comes in.
The variety, volume, and velocity of the content you produce is the only way to fill the top of the funnel and to give leads a reason to continue the conversation. Simply put, marketing automationneedscontent.
This need to feed your automated marketing platform with whitepapers, guides, articles, videos, podcasts and infographics is great for those of us living in the top of the funnel. The content that will be created can be utilized and repurposed for SEO, PPC and content marketing.
For example, if the marketing automation team is developing a monthly whitepaper, the SEO team can break apart a piece of the whitepaper and turn it into a blog post, web page or PR piece. This can be done on a separate budget that doesn't hit the search marketing team's (shh.. don't let the automation team catch on). Additionally, this whitepaper can be used behind gated lead forms via PPC campaigns. These shared resources are good for the entire company.
Word of caution: I'm not advocating duplicate content or content "spinning". There's a fine line between repurposing good content and making Google angry. Let's look at some good and bad examples:
  • Rewriting an article three different ways and posting in three different locations (internal blog, external byline article, and web page)
  • Writing articles and using the same content within boring press releases.
  • Repurposing a byline article as a PDF in automation outreach that doesn't get indexed or republished.
  • Turning a video interview into a summarized blog post (published and indexed) along with a guide (not published or indexed and used for MA).
  • Turning automation guides into click candy slideshows or images that are published online.

2. Insights and Analytics

Most marketing automation technologies (e.g. Marketo, Act-On, Pardot, Eloqua etc.) will provide deep behavior insights and analytics. This data can be extremely useful, not just for increasing engagement and conversions at the bottom of the funnel, but also for top of the funnel activities. How?
  • Keywords: For example, marketing automation platforms will give deep insights into which keywords existing leads are using to search for your product or service. Why is this important? Well, if you know how often a typical SEO/PPC lead is going back to Google and using a particular search term to reconnect with your service or product, you can then attribute this lead back to a particular marketing activity which focuses on leads much further up the funnel. This can help with the ongoing issue of attribution when reporting and re-allocating resources.
  • Return on Investment: If you're like most digital marketers, you probably have difficulty correlating ROI to marketing initiatives. The classic case is SEO. You probably know a conversion occurred, but don't know who converted. A good analogy from the sports world is the team score vs. the box score. You might be winning, but who is actually scoring the goals? Marketing automation platforms can track conversions to the person that actually converted and the value of the closed business (if any).
    For example, ROI can be attributed to keyword data and used to identify phrases from leads that are closer, or farther away from the decision process. When we get our hands on this data, we were able to identify that business closed, the timelines and ratios of that closed business based on phrases. We can also recognize the value of the closed business within your CRM, like Salesforce. For example, a series of contacts that had an original lead source from a keyword like "software solutions" can drive a great deal of SEO and PPC leads, but have an 8 month sales cycle and close at 10 percent. Another search for "software solution integration timeline" would typically close within 60 days of that search at 50 percent. Our marketing automation platform showed us that "software solution integration timeline" was a phrase that should definitely have a large emphasis in our SEM and SEO efforts. It may have lower volume, but the higher close ratios and shorter timeframe made it an extremely valuable term.

3. Conversion and Dynamic Pages

Marketing automation platforms have the ability to deliver dynamic content based on visitor data and demographics. This is extremely powerful for marketing initiative. For the purpose of this post let's explore how this can help with our search efforts:
  • PPC:Using a piece of Java code, dynamic pages can insert different messages based on user data from automation and CRM. Let's see how:
    • No Marketing Automation Platform Data: If you're running a campaign on Adwords and a random visitor clicks on your ad from the keyword "software solution", you'll serve a page that is all about your "software solution".
    • With Marketing Automation Platform Data: If you're running a campaign on Adwords and a known visitor clicks on your ad from the keyword "software solution", we recognize that is Bob Smith, who is the CEO of a manufacturing company. Our landing page will now serve information catered to Bob. This can be a piece of gated content that speaks to how our software solution works with manufacturing organizations. This will dramatically increase your conversion rates.
  • SEO: Using the example noted above, we can dynamically insert information on internal pages catered to Bob's demographics, which include his vertical, manufacturing, and his title, CEO. Our internal pages can replace standard logos with the logos of our manufacturing clients and also display snippet testimonials from other CEOs who love our software. Doing this will increase the stickiness of the internal pages and dramatically increase the conversion rate. 
    The downside to creating these dynamic pages is the time associated with setting up the 1 on 1 communications. A better approach is to create buckets that recognize common demographics and serve dynamic content to each bucket. Using the example of Bob from the manufacturing company, we could recognize all visitors that work in the manufacturing vertical. This is much more scalable.


Advanced marketing automation platforms can have a huge impact on your engagement, conversions, and new business. It can improve the way your organization handles prospects at the "bottom of the funnel". But the data and insights can also help improve "top of funnel" activities and performance from initiatives like SEO, SEM, social, and content marketing.


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