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5 Hidden Gems in Your Marketing Data

In today’s world of limitless data, marketers find themselves in a similar quandary. There is a strong temptation to collect all types of data simply because it’s cool or available. It’s no wonder that 82% of CMO’sfeel unprepared to deal with the explosion of data. As data-driven marketing matures, it’s time for us to step back and ask ourselves what data is truly valuable for growing relationships. It’s less about amassing data in our CRMs, DMPs, and marketing automation platforms, and more about inspiring connections with our customers.

Marketers need to consider the possibility that they already possess much of the data they need. Like polishing rough stones, the focus needs to be on refining and putting that data to use to drive growth. With that in mind, here are five types of data that, while often overlooked and underused, have the potential to transform your marketing efforts:

1. Identity data – All the data you collect is useless without a way to tie it all together. Building omni-channel relationships requires data to be consistent and available across all channels. This includes capturing the identity of anonymous web visitors for personalization and linking together CRM and marketing automation data for alignment with sales.

While basic identity data isn’t sexy, it’s critical to breaking down data silos and building a consistent customer experience. For example, two inquiries from the same prospect could create duplicate records in your CRM that prompt follow up calls from two different sales reps. This type of negative experience can be avoided by using identity data to build a single view of customers across channels.

2. Connection data – Have you considered how your customer and prospect records are connected through legal, social and organizational relationships? While marketers often treat contacts as isolated targets, the truth is that they are often deeply interrelated. For example, one prospect in your database may work for the subsidiary of one of your customers. Another two contacts may work for the same VP, or they may be connected through social networks and share articles with each other (shockingly, only 55% of marketers use insights from social data). Finding these missing links between people and business entities is crucial to how you segment, route and communicate with your potential buyers.

3. Signal data – From the background noise of clicks, opens and bounces, successful marketers are using data analysis to extract signals about what their customers really like and don’t like. This signal-based preference data can be extremely powerful, especially when married with traditional firmographic and demographic profile data.

For example, signal data mapped to firmographic data can actually tell you that your target audience (let’s say marketers at high growth tech companies) are not engaging with your nurture programs, while a persona of less focus (let’s say marketers of b2c retail companies) are much more engaged. Perhaps your lead gen efforts are focusing on the wrong industry? Read more about signal data.

4. Onboarding data – Closely tracking and collecting data from your customer onboarding process can have a huge effect on loyalty and attrition. For example, capturing customer business goals as they come onboard can help you build segments and, then, content that aligns closely with customer needs. Collecting implementation requirements can help keep customers happy and on track with their experience. Read more about onboarding data.

5. Fiscal calendar data – Fiscal years have a huge impact on buying cycles. Companies typically plan and set budgets near the beginning of their fiscal year and often spend surplus budget near the end.

Aligning your messaging and sales outreach with these cycles is critical to successful timing. For example, if you are selling advertising and reach a marketing director as they are trying to spend a budget surplus, you stand a much greater chance of success.

For many, many years, sales closing rates have had a major impact on businesses all over the world.

If a consumer or prospect walked in the showroom, store, or office(or even called on the phone)—the skills of the sales person were everything.

Case in point, let’s look at the automotive industry as an example. In the past, two factors impacted the location of automotive dealerships:

  1. How much drive-by traffic did the location get?
  2. How many other automotive dealers were nearby?

The reason for #2 is pretty obvious—it used to be that when someone was going to buy a vehicle, they’d go “dealership hopping”—stopping at 3 or 4 dealerships (within a close proximity) so as to find the “best deal.”

It was during this period (the last 50+ years) that a sales person’s closing rates really, really mattered. After all, they were counted on to “close the deal” so as to prevent the consumer from continued shopping. Furthermore, they were competing against the skills of the other sales pros the consumer was dealing with.

But look at how the automotive industry has changed.

For the most part, consumers no longer hop from dealership to dealership.

Instead, they identify (online) the vehicle (or vehicles) they want, the prices of said vehicles, and the corresponding dealerships that carry these vehicles.

So, by the time the consumer shows up to the lot, the deal is often done.

The sale has already been made.

And the sales person has been essentially rendered an order-taker.

But this isn’t about automotive space. Rather, it’s a trend affecting almost every industry around the world.

The Numbers Don’t Lie

By this point, you’ve likely seen the numbers.

Depending on which study you read, the average consumer (B2B and B2C) makes roughly 70% of the buying decision before they ever talk to the company/sales person.

Yep, 70%.

If we further analyze this number and go back a decade or so, the average consumer had likely made 20-30% of the buying decision before they’d actually engaged the company.

Five years ago, we’re sitting somewhere between 40-50%.

Today were at 70%.

So the question is (for every business reading this right now), what’s this number going to average over the next 5-10 years and beyond?




Although we can’t predict the future, one things is for certain: The number isn’t going down…ever.

The Impact on Sales Teams and Closing Rates

If 70% of the buying decision is made before a consumer talks to a sales person, which department of a company has a greater impact on the actual sale—is it the Sales Department or the Marketing Department?

(If we’re willing to swallow the pill called “reality,” the answer is of course Marketing.)

Beyond the overall significance and roles of Sales and Marketing departments though, there is another trend one must recognize as a result of this shift.

Sales closing rates no longer carry the day.


Look at it like this: If your company has an 80% lead to customer closing rate, but you’re only generating 1% of the leads you could and should be generating (because your marketing is so poor), do you have any reason to celebrate an 80% closing rate?

This is just a simple example, but hopefully you see the point.

Truth be told, there are thousands and thousands of businesses out there with extremely high closing rates that are going out of business.

And the reason, of course, is because they’re not getting in front of enough people.

The sales team members are too busy “doing it the way it has always been done” while sitting in their cubicle and waiting for the phone to ring.

At this point, sales teams need to stop listening for the phone and stop waiting for someone to walk through the door and instead start assisting the marketing process.

In 2016 and beyond, the sales pros that will keep their jobs won’t be the one’s doing it the way it has always been done, but rather they’ll be helping Marketing to produce videos, write articles, develop podcasts, etc.

In other words, they’ll be very, very engaged in this thing we call digital marketing.

And if they don’t, at some point, they will be left behind.

Even with their high closing rates.



by - Marcus Sheridan

Marketing automation is blowing up, big time. And just like there is an arms race with content marketing, there is another battle going on when it comes to marketing automation software companies that are trying to establish themselves as “top dog” in a very nascent industry that’s getting ready to hit a tipping point and receive acceptance by hundreds upon thousands of businesses around the world. This movement makes sense though, because marketing automation software can change the entire sales, marketing, and customer service culture of an organization if used properly. I’ve seen it change mine and certainly seen the same with many clients. This being said, the debate and questions surrounding these solutions is constant.

Also, if you’re wondering why this post is 4,000+ words long, our answer is simple: This is going to be a big decision for your company, and we don’t want you to mess it up.

That being said, here goes…

1. Company Background

Marketo was founded in 2006, has over 2,300 customers, 300 + employees and over 100,000 users worldwide. Marketo has enjoyed explosive revenue growth, posting a 3,545% revenue increase over a three year period ending in 2011 ($32.9 million) and was named the 78thfastest growing business by Inc. magazine in 2012.

Pardot was founded in 2007, has over 1,000 customers, 59 employees and was named the 172nd fastest growing business in 2012 by Inc. magazine with a 2,001% growth rate over the three year period ending in 2011.   Pardot was acquired by Exact Target for $95.5 million in October of 2012.

Eloqua was founded in 1999 and currently has more than 1,300 clients and over 100,000 global users, with about 400 employees. On Dec. 20th 2012, Eloqua made big news by announcing it had signed a definitive agreement to be acquired by Oracle Corporation for $871M.

2. Platform Functionality

While all three of these companies offer marketing automation and many of the functional aspects of their software overlap, there are distinct differences in feature sets. Marketo does a good job simplifying the definition of marketing automation in their latest eBook, The Definitive Guide to Marketing Automation  : a category of software that streamlines, automates and measures marketing tasks and workflows to increase efficiencies and grow revenue.

The common feature set in marketing automation includes:

  • Email marketing
  • Landing pages
  • Lead management
  • CRM integration
  • Social marketing
  • Analytics and Reporting

We’ll use this feature set as the context for comparing these three platforms.



Marketo offers the ability to design emails with a visual drag and drop interface and the user doesn’t need any html skills to build a high quality design. Email can be sent based on actions, timing or a series of pre-defined steps. Testing email versions is simple and content can be changed dynamically to fit specific situations via rules and filter settings.  Email can include a social component with the Forward to a Friend feature. Reporting is available through a library of standard report formats.

Pardot also offers a WYSIWYG email design interface, along with 36 pre-built template designs. As with Marketo, email can be sent based on actions, time intervals or a range of other parameters and can include auto-responders. Email content can be configured dynamically – driven by prospect data fields and/or sales rep assignments. List segmentation, scheduling, social sharing and integration with preferred email programs (Outlook 2003, 2007 and 2010, Apple Mail, Gmail, Mozilla Thunderbird and Chrome) round out the features. Pardot also features an integrated spam analysis and rendering engine that shows how your email will look in the leading programs and browsers and help in getting maximum inbox delivery.

As with Pardot and Marketo, Eloqua has a very robust email platform, with multiple templates to choose from and customize while using a very simple user interface. In fact, the interface for building an email with Eloqua is the same interface they use in their landing page creation. No matter what segmentation you’re trying to achieve when dealing with your database, there are many possibilities, including behavioral filters, which lends itself to precision targeting for best results.


Just as it does with its email design capabilities, Marketo offers a drag and drop interface combined with a range of pre-designed templates with which to create landing pages.  Data capture forms are set up for progressive profiling which means you can obtain more lead data over time as prospects fill out subsequent forms.

A/B testing is easy with Marketo’s automated process and landing pages can be easily converted into Facebook pages.  Landing pages can be personalized using Marketo’s dynamic content capabilities and text, images and calls to action can be customized using a number of attributes in the prospect’s record or based on the prospect’s previous activities on your site.

Marketo also offers a social sign in capability with its landing page forms – a site visitor can fill out form fields automatically by connecting with their social profile of choice, which, for some users, is a great sign-in alternative.

Pardot also offers pre-defined templates and a visual drag and drop landing page builder to facilitate landing page creation.  Progressive profiling, dynamic content personalization and custom fields are additional features incorporated into Pardot’s landing page functionality. One unique feature is the ability to block the input of both invalid email addresses and free email addresses on landing page forms, which can help in providing higher quality leads to your sales team.

Just as it was with email, Eloqua shares many of the same characteristics as Pardot and Marketo when it comes to landing page creation—predesigned templates, dynamic content, drag and drop images, powerful form customization, etc. One feature of note here is what Eloqua refers to as “Microsites.” Specifically, they state:

“…When a single landing page isn’t enough, Eloqua Hypersites™ – content-driven, personalized microsites that greet your prospects by name, deliver targeted content and increase conversion rates – help you create a unique, relevant experience. You can develop, deploy and maintain Hypersites in Eloqua without any IT involvement using an intuitive content editor – or simply import HTML files.

Hypersites feature personalized URLs like that can increase visitor rates, personalization to improve conversion and powerful content management rules to match offers to prospect interests. Hypersites are particularly effective for industry and account-based marketing campaigns, new product launches and events.”


To track and report on the full sales cycle – from initial lead to closing the sale – marketing automation software needs to integrate with your CRM system. Marketo offers native integration (meaning the platforms seamlessly exchange data with each other) with Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics(as shown in the video below). Native integration allows for bi-directional data syncing – which means a change in Marketo will pass through to the CRM system and conversely, a change in the CRM system will pass to Marketo. This bi-directionalsyncing keeps both the sales team and marketing team aware of any changes triggered by either team and allows for more accurate tracking of prospects’ progress through the pipeline.

Marketo partners offer integrations with other CRM platforms such as NetSuite, Oracle and SugarCRM.

Pardot natively syncs with Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics, NetSuite and SugarCRM. Pardot also offers developers an API (application programming interface) with which to connect other third party CRM platforms.

Like the other two software, Eloqua does not act as its own  CRM, and instead uses what they refer to as their “integration studio”—which natively syncs with, Microsoft Dynamics CRM, and Oracle/Siebel CRM On Demand.

Designing an email template requires imaginative coding skills. When building a web page, you can use CSS, HTML5, Javascript, and a myriad of other languages that can be used to create fancy layouts and graphics. When designing email templates, however, you have to take a step back to the proverbial stone age of coding, where basic font and style tags. In this post we will learn about what really works and what doesn’t in HTML email design.


- Use in-line styles


- Create tables


- Avoid embedding videos and forms


- Keep it simple


Powerful marketing automation platforms are important business tools but can complicate the workflow for sales and marketing communications – making the simple and most effective marketing programs the most difficult to perform.


Join us December 17th at 2PM EST (11AM PST) for a 30 minute live broadcast where we will discuss how to better leverage your marketing automation investment in 2016 to improve your workflow, increase access to content throughout your organization, and how to simplify the production of content-rich communications like newsletters to increase engagement with your audience.


You will learn how these steps will help you to maintain brand control, keep marketers from "going rogue" by sending communications outside of your core marketing platform, and improve your marketing automation ROI.



Register Now


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