The recent Adobe Marketo marketing software release continues to address the business challenge of buyer engagement. A challenge that is both fluid and increasingly difficult. We all know that with online and social channels B2B buyers now complete about two-thirds of their buy cycle journey online in a self-education process — a process that generally ends with a vendor short-list.
Only then are prospects reaching out to engage with those short-listed vendors. We also know that if you are not found during that discovery process, or fail to nurture leads during that process, then you're excluded from the sale opportunity. Even worse, you're excluded and you don't know it, so you can't do anything about it.
In only a few short years buyers have transitioned from information scarcity to information overload. Because they are bombarded with noise, buyers are now adept at filtering and tuning out vendor marketing, so delivering content to buyers during their self-education process is a monumental challenge.
The Marketo Customer Engagement engine is a more sophisticated approach to solving this problem that we've seen before. It's an approach that compliments both inbound and content marketing strategies with automation that enables marketers to better deliver the right messages to the right prospects at the right time.
Here's how it works.
Adobe Marketo created the concept of Smart Streams to build more intelligent nurture campaigns, or essentially make campaigns more adaptive to customer journeys, while at the same time simplifying the process.
Smart Streams essentially replace the grid or flowchart diagraming approach used by nearly all marketing automation software competitors. It's a more flexible approach that recognizes most conversations can't be scripted into simple conditional logic or a flowchart. That's just not how conversations occur. Instead, they take many directions so if marketers are to stay relevant with those conversations, with contextual content, their nurture campaigns must be able to more seamlessly transition.
From my experience in implementing different marketing software solutions, I wouldn't say that competitors such as Eloqua, HubSpot and Salesforce Marketing Cloud cannot adapt to agile conversations. However, when aligning nurture campaigns with customer engagement, which frequently pursue a start, stop, start again, stop again, restart track and transition execution, such a flexible cadence has a tendency to create a convoluted and difficult to manage flowchart diagram.
Beyond simplicity which puts sophisticated nurture diagraming into the hands of marketers (as opposed to technical resources), Marketo Streams are particularly helpful at inserting fresh content. Smart marketers have learned that triggered responses yield the highest conversions, and I believe the relatively new concept of real-time marketing holds a lot of promise, as long as this real-time or time-bound content can be easily inserted into new or existing nurtured conversations.
Marketo Streams also facilitate other problems that have been nagging marketers for years, such as inadvertently pushing duplicate content to recipients, losing cadence or pushing too many messages in too short of periods—a fatal error which increases unsubscribes. And when combined with Marketo Dynamic content the Streams permit even more flexibility to improve personalization and alter content based on customer segmentation or element.
Creating remarkable content is another vexing challenge. While many marketers have tools to measure content assets when deployed individually in particular scenarios, understanding how groups of assets perform when orchestrated in a campaign is a critical but unfilled analysis.
With Marketo, each program or stream may have its own dashboard. This is an interesting analysis for understanding the factors that most influence overall campaign performance. Content engagement is scored (from 0 to 100) and stack ranked according to a proprietary algorithm that compares content effectiveness based on the two dimensions of the Marketo user community and your own content distribution history.
You can also create near duplicate streams in order to experiment and compare different cast criteria, such as when content is delivered (day or week or time of day), content priority, or other factors. This takes multivariate testing to a new level.
When combined with more flexible campaign segmentation – for example, creating Streams by persona, buy cycle phase, product lines for multi-product companies or even geographical location for multi-national companies – this much more strategic view of content scoring offers a richer intelligence to gauge content efficacy and make adjustments that will likely trigger more significant results.
This is one of those innovations that you can expect competitors to imitate.
It's Time to Think Different
In 1759, scholar and writer Samuel Johnson published an article in his magazine, The Idler, citing the overabundance of marketing and advertising, writing among other things, "Advertisements are now so numerous that they are very negligently perused, and it is therefore become necessary to gain attention by magnificence of promises, and by eloquence sometimes sublime and sometimes pathetic."
Readers responded by suggesting that marketing and advertising were out of control. Since that article and for more than two centuries history has witnessed more of the same; more amplification, more lofty claims, more unsupported promises and ultimately more distrust from customers.
However, with a more thoughtful strategy and a more disciplined approach to marketing software selection, today's modern marketer is separating himself by talking instead of shouting, with dialogue instead of monologue and with a keen focus to deliver relevant, contextual and personalized content to recipients exactly when it's needed. It's a strategy supported by marketing technology that stands apart from the proliferation of marketing noise and offers a viable alternative to a perennial challenge.