Marketing 101 for MSPs: Marketing Automation

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1 WHITE PAPER OCTOBER 2014 Marketing 101 for MSPs: Marketing Automation Strategies for Boosting Leads and Sales

2 2 WHITE PAPER: MARKETING 101 FOR MSPS: MARKETING AUTOMATION ca.com Table of Contents Introduction: Overview of Marketing Automation s Potential 3 What is Marketing Automation? 3 Marketing Automation and the Sales Cycle 5 How Marketing Automation Can Help 7 How to Determine Whether Marketing Automation is Right for Your Business 11 Steps for Getting Started 11 Conclusion 13 About This Document: Developed by the CA Service Provider Center of Excellence 13

3 3 WHITE PAPER: MARKETING 101 FOR MSPS: MARKETING AUTOMATION ca.com Executive Summary Marketing automation technologies can present a huge opportunity for many MSPs, a way to boost sales and marketing efficiency and productivity. This paper provides MSP leadership with an in-depth look at marketing automation, providing a definition of the capabilities these technologies provide, an explanation of the ways these platforms can improve sales and marketing results and some key factors to consider in deciding whether marketing automation makes sense for a given business. Finally, the paper provides some practical steps MSPs can take to get started with a marketing automation initiative. Marketing automation enables MSPs to build intelligent, programmatic management of the entire lead lifecycle, which can help organizations convert more leads to sales. Introduction: Overview of Marketing Automation s Potential As MSPs look to meet their growth objectives, they typically rely on sales and marketing teams that have limited resources and budgets and even less time. Consequently, how time and dollars get invested is crucial: there s no room for waste. Inefficiency, efforts that don t yield adequate ROI and languishing sales leads all represent a double hit to the business: time and money get wasted and sales targets get missed. The reality for many MSPs is that the process for managing leads, from initial website visit to ultimate contract sign off, isn t optimized and these penalties continue to be exacted as a result. That s why marketing automation presents such a big opportunity for many MSPs looking to grow their customer base. Marketing automation enables MSPs to build intelligent, programmatic management of the entire lead lifecycle, which can help organizations convert more leads to sales. Marketing automation can also provide the intelligence that sales and marketing teams need to make better decisions and spend their time and money more wisely. Marketing automation enables MSPs to better capitalize on the leads generated, make sales and marketing staff more efficient and productive and ultimately boost sales. This paper provides MSPs with a detailed look at marketing automation. It offers a description of how marketing automation works, how it can help and how to decide whether it is a worthwhile effort for your business. Finally, the paper offers some practical steps for getting started with marketing automation. What is Marketing Automation? Marketing automation is the process of taking a buyer-centric view of the individuals that interact with your business. With marketing automation, MSPs start to track and understand what is referred to as the digital body language of the buyer, monitoring their behavior to understand their needs, their stage in the buying cycle and so on and then automatically tailoring interactions accordingly. With these capabilities, MSPs can understand and address the needs of specific buyer personas all the way through the sales process customizing interactions to most quickly and effectively lead prospects through the process and ultimately convert the maximum number of browsers to buyers. Based on the profile of the

4 4 WHITE PAPER: MARKETING 101 FOR MSPS: MARKETING AUTOMATION ca.com prospect and the activities they engage in, marketing automation platforms enable automated and customized interactions, so organizations can immediately understand where a prospect is in the buying process, and help ensure they get the resources they need, when they need them. The evolution of marketing automation Marketing automation technology is a relatively new option for MSPs. While solutions were first delivered to market over ten years ago, those initial releases tended to be too costly and complex for all but the largest MSPs. It has really been only over the last few years that the solutions available are practical for a broad range of MSPs. Marketing automation has its roots in automation. After a visitor would submit a form on a website, an automation scheme would send a link to the requested white paper. Advanced automation platforms go well beyond these approaches to provide more sophisticated levels of automation and interaction. Longer term, marketing automation can set the stage for unlocking the entire digital footprint of the buyer, tracking not only what users are doing on the MSP s website, but what they are posting to social channels, what other sites they re visiting and so on, to understand and apply communications to users even more intelligently. Marketing automation: Sample scenario All Star MSP exhibits at a local business conference. As part of the exhibitor package, the company receives a spreadsheet with the contact details for the 220 individuals that attended. All Star s marketing coordinator uploads the list into the company s marketing automation platform, which then automatically does the following: All lead details are mapped against the existing prospect database. Existing leads are updated to reflect their participation in the event, and any additional details and updates are made. New leads are added to the database. All leads are assigned a score based on such attributes as industry, role and current and prior activities. Based on the scores assigned, 25 leads are identified as marketing qualified leads, and routed immediately to the appropriate sales representative for follow up. 20 contacts will be updated in the database, but left out of ongoing communications, according to prior opt out requests. 175 leads are separated into three separate market segments, and are automatically sent tailored s that reference the event, provide information about All Star and offer a description and link for a white paper on a relevant topic. For a two-month period, every two weeks, each of these leads will also receive communications that are tailored to their market segment and phase of the buying process. Based on ongoing activities, lead scores for each lead will continue to be updated. For example, for those leads that don t respond for a given length of time, points may be subtracted. For others, points may be added based on opens, Web page visits and resource downloads. Once lead scores reach a given threshold, they are forwarded to sales representatives as appropriate. Marketing automation: Key capabilities Following are the key capabilities of a marketing automation platform: Workflows, automation rules. Marketing automation platforms offer capabilities for building or customizing workflows and rules that help manage the automation of follow up with sales leads. Tracking and reporting on lead behavior. Marketing automation platforms reside between website analytics and CRM platforms. They can track online behavior, such as whether a recipient opens an , whether they click on a link within an , what website pages they visit and for how long and so on. Marketing automation enables MSPs to track a specific visitor s activities on the website and segment and test responses to campaigns, which provides insights for more effective lead lifecycle development.

5 5 WHITE PAPER: MARKETING 101 FOR MSPS: MARKETING AUTOMATION ca.com Before decision makers choose to sign up with a new MSP, they need to go through a number of steps, and the larger the potential deal size, the more people will ultimately need to be involved. Lead scoring. Once a visitor submits contact details, for example by using a Web form to register for a white paper, marketing automation can help with assessing each visitor. Through lead scoring and profiles, MSPs can ultimately specify whether a visitor is a legitimate prospect, or, for example, a student doing research. With lead scoring, these platforms enable MSPs to assign a numeric score indicating the strength of a lead across areas the business targets, whether by industry, company size, roles and responsibilities, budget size and so on. That information, coupled with points that can be assigned based on online behavior, such as pages visited, and documents downloaded, enables marketers to numerically identify the most qualified leads, and hand those over to the sales team. Marketing Automation and the Sales Cycle Many marketing processes were historically built around the assumption that each submission should be treated in the same way: that is, as if the lead was a legitimate prospect ready to buy. However, most MSPs have to contend with lengthy, multi-month sales cycles. Before decision makers choose to sign up with a new MSP, they need to go through a number of steps, and the larger the potential deal size, the more people will ultimately need to be involved. Thus, an MSP s staff can t assume someone filling in a Web form is ready to buy. In order to serve and market to the visitor most effectively, it is vital to understand the context of the form submission. If this is the visitor s first time visiting the site, and he downloads a market overview document written by an industry analyst, it could be that he is early in the sales process, just starting to research the market segment. On the other hand, if another visitor signs up to request an outsourcing assessment, and has visited the site on multiple occasions over a period of weeks, she may be further along in the sales process. Figure A. A visual representation of the sales cycle, and the percentages of leads that make it from one phase to the next.

6 6 WHITE PAPER: MARKETING 101 FOR MSPS: MARKETING AUTOMATION ca.com Based on these cues, as well as other information that gets compiled, marketing automation helps distinguish between these different buyers and it enables automated follow up that is aligned with their needs. Thus, for example, for the early stage prospect, additional guiding white papers could be offered. On the other hand, for the later-stage buyer, an with detailed service offering information could be sent. Ultimately, through a process known as nurturing, marketing automation can continue to push prospects forward in the sales cycle to the point that they re ready to buy. Figure A offers an overview of the sales funnel, the steps that an individual takes as they progress from prospect to customer. The diagram also includes sample percentages of the number of leads that will make it from one stage to the next. These percentages will vary for each business according to a range of variables, and it is important to track and manage these numbers over time for your specific business. This is vital in assessing where leads may be stalling, for example if a resource offered at a specific stage is not compelling enough to incite respondents to engage further. Further, this analysis can help management to predict, based on the number of leads currently in the funnel, how much new business will come in. Following is more information on each stage in this cycle: Tailoring content delivery to the buyer s needs Marketing automation enables the programmatic delivery of resources that are tailored to the needs of buyers at different phases in the sales cycle. Following is an overview of the three phases, and the types of resources required: Phase one. At this phase, the MSP needs to provide content to assist buyers in the earliest stage of the buying cycle. Generally, phase one content is meant to generate awareness for the service provider, establish relevance and communicate why customers choose the company. Case studies, industry news, papers from industry analysts and topical white papers can all be appropriate resources to provide. Phase two. At this phase, the MSP is typically well served by providing the prospect with resources that provide details on specific offerings, such as data sheets and service-focused white papers. Phase three. At this phase, MSPs can provide information that helps sway decision makers in the final stages of the buying cycle and facilitate their conversion to buyers. This can include providing resources that compare the MSP s value proposition versus the competition or that offer reassurances buyers want to receive before signing on, for example, providing details on things like hosting environment redundancy, backup policies, security mechanisms and so on. Anonymous. When a lead first visits your website, they are automatically tracked through a cookie. They remain anonymous since they have not provided any contact information. However, all of their activity on the website is tracked and scored. Inquiries. Upon associating the contact, either through a form submission or tagging, the contact is at the initial inquiry phase. At this point, leads are raw, meaning there hasn t been any filtering or validation done. Prospect. By tracking and scoring their behaviors as well as some demographic information, the automation system can determine if they are prospects, that is potential leads that fit the buyer profile. Marketing qualified leads. Based on scoring, prospects reach the marketing qualified stage, which means they are vetted and there s a strong possibility that they ll ultimately make a purchase. The lead is then routed to the sales team.

7 7 WHITE PAPER: MARKETING 101 FOR MSPS: MARKETING AUTOMATION ca.com Figure B. With marketing automation, sales teams can focus on those leads most likely to convert, which can help improve sales. Sales accepted leads. Here, sales representatives assess the lead and determine whether to accept the lead or recycle it, that is, move it back into the system for further nurturing. Sales qualified leads. Prospects become sales qualified leads when sales has identified that a prospect has a near-term opportunity. Closed won. Deals reach this phase once a deal is signed. Marketing automation can track, support and accelerate a lead s progress through this entire cycle. At the earliest stages, MSPs can do what is known as seed nurturing, for example identifying anonymous visitors to the site, tracking activities and providing them with social channels to get engaged. After leads provide contact details, lead scoring and nurturing can be employed to support leads throughout the process. At the bottom of the funnel, marketing automation can be used to track and facilitate the core steps involved in closing deals, such as delivering proposals, tracking whether they are opened or forwarded and so on. How Marketing Automation Can Help Depending on an MSP s size, objectives, challenges and strengths, marketing automation can serve different benefits. Following is an overview of the many benefits an effective marketing automation implementation can deliver. Improve sales productivity In many organizations without marketing automation, little if any lead qualification happens; effectively, leads come in and are immediately routed to sales. It is then left to the sales representative to undertake the calls and research needed to qualify leads and pursue opportunities a manual, time consuming and inefficient process. When marketing automation is employed, a whole set of efforts and analysis can be undertaken before leads actually get handed to sales. In this way, marketing automation can provide significant benefits in terms of sales representative efficiency, enabling sales teams to focus only on those leads with the highest chances of conversion, while still ensuring qualified leads are consistently identified and followed up on.

8 8 WHITE PAPER: MARKETING 101 FOR MSPS: MARKETING AUTOMATION ca.com In addition, marketing automation can boost a sales representative s ongoing efforts in managing prospects. For example, if a sales representative takes on responsibility for a new territory, and the organization doesn t have marketing automation in place, he may have to sort through hundreds or thousands of contacts in a database, some of which are undoubtedly cold, some hot, some not leads at all. The process of combing through this list to call leads and assess their interest, is difficult and time consuming. Consequently, time is wasted and valuable leads aren t capitalized on. On the other hand, with marketing automation, even if a sales manager has thousands of leads in her territory, marketing automation platforms can help her efficiently identify things like who s been most active in the last seven days, so she can focus on the leads that promise to be most productive on any given day. Objective lead definition and efficient hand off In many large MSPs, a divide develops between marketing and sales teams that stems from a lack of real visibility into the sales and lead generation cycle. Sales representatives complain that they re not getting enough leads. Marketing staff blame sales for not following up and closing the leads being delivered. Through their lead scoring capabilities, marketing automation platforms can help MSPs to effectively and objectively define what is a high-value lead, and ensure that those leads that meet that criteria are quickly and automatically delivered to sales. Marketing automation platforms support the specific definitions for marketing qualified leads, sales qualified leads and opportunities; and for systematically streamlining and effectively supporting the sales cycle at each of these phases. Ultimately, these definitions set the stage for effective sales and marketing collaboration, so representatives in both groups can objectively assess the sales cycle and identify opportunities for improvement. Capitalize on leads and boost sales In MSPs, both large and small, it is common for hard earned leads to go stale due to lack of attention. Sales representatives may reach out to a new lead initially to gauge interest, but leave the lead alone unless there s an immediate opportunity. Even with the best efforts and intentions, those leads may not be followed up on in time to capitalize on their potential, or ever. Figure C. With marketing automation, sales and marketing teams can work from objective information that promotes better coordination and results.

9 9 WHITE PAPER: MARKETING 101 FOR MSPS: MARKETING AUTOMATION ca.com Through its capabilities for nurturing, intelligent lead scoring and efficient handoff of leads to sales, marketing automation helps MSPs make sure they maximize the value of each and every lead that comes in. When a new lead is generated, the MSP can deliver nurture programs that feed the resources that help inform, educate and compel the individual. By automating the nurturing of leads, MSPs can expedite the lead s progress through the sales cycle, and ultimately boost their chances of winning the lead s business when they re ready to buy. Further, marketing automation can also support up-sell and cross-sell opportunities with existing customers. MSPs can integrate intelligence from a professional services automation platform, so for example, if a break/fix customer experiences several outages, the platform could automatically deliver an and resources that describe the MSP s proactive monitoring service. Improved sales cycle visibility Marketing automation delivers the visibility needed to improve sales and marketing operations. Leads, online interactions and activities are tracked across the buying cycle, which can provide significant insights. What is the percentage of leads that moves from the first to the second stage? How long is it taking for leads to advance to the next stage? What percentages of opportunities are won and lost? Marketing automation can provide answers to these critical questions. Improve marketing and sales content With the insights gained from marketing automation platforms, marketing teams can better understand content needs, assess the effectiveness of content in furthering the sales cycle and deliver content that more effectively supports leads at each phase in the cycle. Reduce cost per sale Historically, MSPs have been challenged with having to spend a great deal of time and effort for each sale that gets closed. A big reason for this is that different leads need different resources at different times in the sales cycle. Historically, this has led to a lot of manual effort on behalf of marketing and sales as they provide ad hoc, personal assistance to support prospects. Marketing automation allows MSPs to leverage content assets to their fullest potential, helping them most efficiently and effectively move leads through the sales cycle without having to do a lot one-off, dealspecific effort. Leverage staff more fully to scale Even in large organizations, one person is often responsible for managing automation. Commonly that one person can manage thousands of leads, and the automation of the cultivation of those leads. This offloads time and effort from sales and marketing, and ultimately one person can deliver the results of teams of people. Consequently, marketing automation enables MSPs to reach out to more prospects, and support them more effectively. Enhance visibility into marketing program effectiveness As outlined earlier, many MSPs have to manage lengthier sales cycles. Historically, because of the length and complexity of the typical sales cycle, MSPs have had poor visibility into the results of their marketing investments. When multiple individuals are involved in the buying decision, and the process can take six to

10 10 WHITE PAPER: MARKETING 101 FOR MSPS: MARKETING AUTOMATION ca.com Figure D. When effectively deployed and managed, marketing automation platforms can help management predict, and meet, sales targets. nine months, a single prospect may interact with the MSP in a number of ways. For example, a prospect s first interaction with the MSP might be at a tradeshow, but over time that specific lead may also download multiple documents, visit multiple Web pages and ultimately register for a demo before deciding to sign on for the MSP s service. In this type of scenario, how do you assign a given deal to any specific program, resource or campaign? With traditional reporting mechanisms, a marketing team would typically assign the deal to that first tradeshow or that last webinar, which would lead to ineffective allocation of marketing resources. With marketing automation, marketing executives can better understand where to allocate limited funds. By providing a holistic view of the lead s progress through the sales cycle, marketing automation enables more accurate linkages between specific marketing programs that ultimately delivered high-value leads or that were successful in advancing leads to closure. Leverage insights from website activity Traditionally, MSPs have had website metrics, so for example, a marketing manager could determine that they had 2200 unique visitors during a given time period. What website metrics don t tell is who these individuals are, and whether they are existing or new leads. With marketing automation, MSPs can fully leverage these interactions to track online behavior and better understand and address the needs of site visitors. Better predict and manage revenue generation Once an MSP begins to fully leverage marketing automation, they can experience a true paradigm shift, one in which marketing teams move from lead management to revenue management. With an accurate understanding of the entire sales cycle, executives can more effectively predict, based on the number of current leads, how many opportunities will be created, and ultimately how many deals will be won. This insight opens up significant opportunities for the business, enabling more effective marketing planning, sales operations and strategic business operations.

11 11 WHITE PAPER: MARKETING 101 FOR MSPS: MARKETING AUTOMATION ca.com How to Determine Whether Marketing Automation is Right for Your Business Given all the benefits outlined above, is a marketing automation platform right for your business, right now? The answer may be yes, but it may be no. Ultimately, the decision comes down to complexity, visibility, scale and effectiveness. Following are some key considerations for each area: Complexity. If your organization has a simple sales process and sales and marketing staff can understand where deals are coming from, the process and how to move leads through it, your organization may be fine without an automation platform. On the other hand, if your organization solely focuses on the prospects that are in buy mode, and doesn t dedicate time to nurturing leads earlier in the sales cycle, your organization may stand to realize some significant gains by investing in marketing automation. Visibility. If your organization is having difficulty determining value and the return your business is getting on marketing programs and investments, you should consider looking at automation tools and how they may help provide the insights required to better track program results, so you can optimize future resource allocations. Scale. If you re sending infrequent s and promotions, and the existing internal team can handle lead management manually everything from responding to unsubscribe requests to servicing inquiries and ongoing follow up your organization may not be running at the scale that would warrant an investment in an automation platform. On the other hand, if sales doesn t have the bandwidth to follow up with all the leads coming in, marketing automation may be beneficial. Effectiveness. This is an area where the if it ain t broke, don t fix it rule applies. If marketing is delivering the quantity and quality of leads required, and sales continues to meet its numbers, there may be no need to make changes. Conversely, if the results are lacking, marketing automation may be a remedy. For example, if programs geared towards prospects further on in the sales cycle, such as solution webinars, aren t getting the desired attendance, it may signify that the lead nurturing capabilities of an automation platform would improve results. In addition, other warning signs may be that the sales team isn t getting enough sales-ready leads, renewal rates are below target or paid traffic represents an inordinate amount of your site s visitors. Steps for Getting Started Once your business has decided to move forward with pursuing a marketing automation initiative, following are a few steps to take to get started. Step 1. Planning It is critical to invest time thinking about sales and marketing models, and planning how to support those models. When do automated responses occur? How are responses from returning prospects handled? How are new leads managed? What sources should be provided and when? Identifying priorities and approaches at this early phase can help guide subsequent efforts and set the stage for an efficient initiative.

12 12 WHITE PAPER: MARKETING 101 FOR MSPS: MARKETING AUTOMATION ca.com Step 2. Leverage existing capabilities Even if your organization doesn t currently have a full automation suite, you may be able to leverage existing capabilities to begin automating some efforts. Following are a few alternatives: Web forms. If your website has forms currently, you may be able to leverage those forms and underlying logic to begin doing some simple automation. For example, upon submit, logic can be used to automatically respond to the registrant with an reply, thanking them for their submission and offering another resource that is a logical follow up from the initial resource downloaded. CRM. CRM doesn t offer full marketing automation suite capabilities, and it s not advisable to try and build those capabilities within the platform. However, CRM tools do offer capabilities for handling automated responses to form submissions and tracking activities. If an MSP isn t going to invest in a marketing automation platform, it can be very advantageous to leverage these capabilities. systems. Many MSPs have used vendors or online tools for distributing s. If you have an existing delivery solution, assess what automation capabilities exist. Many automation vendors are adding to their platforms or partnering with other vendors to provide additional marketing automation capabilities. Lead scoring. In your current CRM or system solution, look for ways to add custom fields to assign point values for clicking links in s or responding to campaigns. Start simple in order to understand the weight of the values and see if it helps in weeding out ready and active leads versus the rest. Lead nurturing. Looking for ways to segment your database into distinct audiences. With that, you can develop nurturing campaigns by scheduling a set of content to go out at given interval. Step 3. Selecting a marketing automation platform Today, there are a wide variety of vendors and tools that MSPs can choose from 1. Before engaging with a vendor, it s important to start by defining objectives and criteria specific to your business. Toward this end, following are some key considerations: Measure everything. What are the metrics you plan to baseline against in order to understand whether or not the returns of a marketing automation platform make sense? How do you know if your automation is in fact improving business performance? Get unstuck. What are your current lead management processes and where are the specific areas you would like to automate? Are your problems at the top of the funnel, middle of the funnel, sales process, customer retention or cross-sell/upsell? Care and feeding. As with any technology, marketing automation tools evolve. Who is going to own it and ensure that it s being optimized? Who will be involved to add new and relevant content to feed that machine? Play nicely. What are the current systems in place that need to interact with the automation system? Does the automation system allow for integration into homegrown or third party systems? Time is money. How much implementation time will you need to invest to get this up and running? Will there be any expected downtime to your business once you pay for a system? 1 There are many lists available online, following is one we d recommend:

13 13 WHITE PAPER: MARKETING 101 FOR MSPS: MARKETING AUTOMATION ca.com By taking an honest look at the strengths and weaknesses of your organization and taking into account current and future needs before researching your first automation platform, you ll be sure to start moving in the right direction. Although a majority of marketing automation vendors provide similar offerings on the surface, it s important to look at the underlying strengths of each platform and map those back to your objectives. These key differences will play a big role in determining which is right for your business. Step 4. Implementation For larger, more complex tools and deployments, many MSPs may opt to work with independent consultants or vendors professional services to get the required design and implementation assistance. However, many new tools are more self-service in nature and simpler to use, and can practically be implemented by internal teams. With these tools, set up is a matter of installing JavaScript on the website, similar to the process required to set up a Web analytics program. Conclusion While it may not be the right technology for every business today, marketing automation represents a significant opportunity for many MSPs. Marketing automation platforms are simpler to use than ever, and through the efficiency and insights they deliver, they can help many MSPs boost productivity and sales. About This Document: Developed by the CA Service Provider Center of Excellence This document has been written by the CA Service Provider Center of Excellence team and is intended to provide our service provider partners with the guidance they need to address some of their most pressing challenges. Our team has rich expertise in service provider businesses, strategic consulting, technical deployments, sales and marketing. Our documents are informed by the Center of Excellence team s extensive experience over the past ten years in helping build successful service provider businesses and by interviews with some of our most successful service provider partners. This document is provided for informational purposes only and on an as-is basis. The guidance and results described herein are based on the unique experiences of our staff and partners, and may not be applicable to all organizations. For more information, visit the service provider page at ca.com.

14 14 WHITE PAPER: MARKETING 101 FOR MSPS: MARKETING AUTOMATION Connect with CA Technologies at ca.com CA Technologies (NASDAQ: CA) creates software that fuels transformation for companies and enables them to seize the opportunities of the application economy. Software is at the heart of every business, in every industry. From planning to development to management and security, CA is working with companies worldwide to change the way we live, transact and communicate across mobile, private and public cloud, distributed and mainframe environments. Learn more at ca.com. Copyright 2014 CA. All rights reserved. This document is for your informational purposes only, and does not form any type of warranty. CS _1014

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