Archive for November, 2009

The Time has Come for Marketing Automation

Last week I spent some time in the Expo at Dreamforce, salesforce.com’s annual event in San Francisco. As a marketer, I found I was drawn to the booths that had anything to do with marketing, sales or both sales and marketing. An observation I made as I toured the expo, is that marketing automation has finally arrived.

I have been aware of marketing automation software and SAAS for years. I’ve even bought marketing automation software and SAAS for various employers. However, it always seemed like my employers thought this purchase was just my preferred way of working, rather than the right way to manage marketing programs. I’m always happy to be accommodated, but nowhere near as happy as when I see that I’m surrounded by true believers. Last week at Dreamforce, I was surrounded by true believers. It seemed like everyone at the show believed that marketing automation was a “must have” and not just a “nice to have” anymore.

There were so many great providers of marketing automation at Dreamforce, it would be hard to list them all, but here are links to some of my favorites:

Eloqua
Genius.com
MarketBright
Treehouse Interactive
Marketo

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Salesforce.com entering social media space

Last week, I attended salesforce.com’s annual Dreamforce conference in San Francisco. It was a great event, with all sorts of exciting announcements and fun activities. One I found to be most interesting was salesforce’s announcement that they would be entering the social media space, with their new product named Chatter. CEO Marc Benioff described Chatter as Facebook for the enterprise, a tool that will enable co-workers to network and collaborate in whole new ways. In addition to bringing people together, Chatter will also bring other workplace entities (e.g. projects, content, plans, etc.) to collaborate along with the people. With Chatter, employees can follow and easily interact with members of their workgroup, their cross-functional project team, influential peers around the company, or key executives; they can also follow and provide inputs into various projects, content, strategies and reports as they evolve and are updated by others around the company.

Facebook’s astounding growth would indicate that there was an unmet need for social interaction services. That need is certainly just as high within the enterprise as outside it. Motivated employees always want to be better informed about things that are going on around the company, and Chatter will be a great tool for feeding that hunger. Salesforce’s timing is great too, because millions of working adults are already familiar with social media, and so adoption should be quick and easy wherever the service is acquired. My question is how many companies will consider a service like Chatter to be a “must have” vs. a “nice to have” in this economy. But the experts keep saying that our economy has turned the corner, so salesforce’s timing may turn out to be great in that respect too. For companies that do adopt, I’m guessing that effective use of Chatter will quickly become a performance criteria, just as effective use of social media in general is starting to become a key hiring criteria, at least for marketers (see post on that topic below).

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The buzz about Web 3.0

I recently was a guest at a really interesting meeting of a new consulting firm. We talked about cloud computing and Web 3.0 and various other ‘hot’ technology topics. Since the participants were at various levels of understanding of these technologies prior to the meeting, they assembled a reading list for those who were less experienced to come up to speed. Among the readings was a guest blog post on TechCrunchIT written by Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce.com. It characterized the evolution of the web this way:

  • Web 1.0 allowed everyone to transact, by taking away the cost and access barriers to certain types of transactions that were previously somewhat exclusive and expensive, for example trades at a brokerage house, purchases at an auction etc.
  • Web 2.0 allowed everyone to participate, by taking away the cost barriers to publication and geographical and timing barriers to making personal connections. As a result of Web 2.0, pretty much anyone can blog, wiki, network, etc., largely for free.
  • Web 3.0 allows everyone to innovate, by taking away the technology and capital barriers to creation of digital applications. As a result of Web 3.0, pretty much anyone can inexpensively create an application for their own purposes, to share with others or to sell for a profit. No more waiting for the big software company to solve your problem; you can solve it yourself cheaply and easily.
  • As a non-techologist, I am particularly excited about Web 3.0. Web 1.0 and Web 2.0 gave me faster, better, cheaper ways to do things I was already able to do on my own without the web. Taken to its logical conclusion, Web 3.0 will expand my skill set, and the skill set of many people who are much more creative than I, to do things that were well beyond our reach in the past. That’s worth all the buzz that technology marketers are creating about it.

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    New model for hiring great marketers

    I recently received a promotional offer from HubSpot to download an exerpt from a book called Inbound Marketing, by Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah. It was an interesting excerpt, in that it suggested we need to jettison our old criteria for hiring marketers, and adopt a whole new approach to staffing. I have been around long enough that I tend to grimace at “whole new world” propositions, but this one, like the one I wrote about immediately below, had some merit. Their idea is that going forward, we will need to hire for the following characteristics:

  • Digital Citizens: people who really understand and use all types of digital media, both on a personal and a professional level; people who enjoy the concept of interacting with diverse groups of people in a virtual space.
  • Analtycal Chops: people who measure everything and are always looking for ways to produce measurably better performance in their marketing programs.
  • Web Reach: people who bring to your team a digital “rolodex” like a salespeople used to bring a physical rolodex to the job. The more people who follow or friend your candidate through social media, they more they can get your message out to your target market.
  • Content Creators: people who can create such remarkable content that it will spread virally throughout various social media.
  • I agree with the authors that a person with these capabilities would be a fabulous asset to most modern marketing teams. And I find it intriguing to think that I would score my candidates on the basis of each of these criteria to determine the best person for the job. What do you think?

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    Interesting concept - layer P2P on your B2B or B2C

    Sorry for the long hiatus between posts. I got the flu and it just sucked the will to blog right out of me. But I’m feeling better now, and have just come across a very interesting blog post from The Brand Builder that I thought others might like to read here. It suggests that we have entered a whole new world, where P2P (person-to-person) communications will supplement whatever we all have been doing on the B2B (business-to-business) or B2C (business-to-consumer) front already. The title is P2P: Building the new Social Business Culture.

    I have generally been underwhelmed by “whole new world” stories in the past, but this one seems somewhat credible to me, and provides specific examples of what will change in businesses going forward, as a result of the new social culture that is emerging and currently demonstrated through the popularity of social media. It may be a bit optimistic in some regards (e.g. that the brand manager is actually going to get out of the office a lot in the future), but in a lot of respects, I think it captures the spirit of the change really well. Enjoy!

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