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Look at Marketing Automation, All Growed Up

By now you’ve seen the barrage of ‘key takeaway’ emails flooding the inbox following Marketo Marketing Nation Summit 2015. I have nothing new to add to the long list of ‘what software you should be using,’ ‘how to create content that converts,’ or ‘how to find your best buyer’ hoopla that is flooding out from every vendor who can spell the word booth. What I do have is a vindication that marketing automation has grown up – and it’s not stopping anytime soon.

When I started LeadMD, marketing automation wasn’t a term most people knew. I’ve had more conversations desperately trying to explain why not only MA but digital marketing is a valid thing than I would wish upon anyone. Frankly, I’ve done things defending marketing automation that no sane person should have to do – I’ve sat in the boardroom at auto manufacturers and have been almost laughed out. I’ve been to banks, credit unions and lenders and have been dismissed. I’ve seen the condescending look in the eyes of a medical device CEO as they shunned marketing software as ‘not for them’ – because hey, they’re different

I’ve been a part of literally thousands of conversations attempting to educate markets not yet ready for digital marketing platforms, and I bear the scars. I can tell you definitively that if you have a thin skin, you don’t want to be on the front of a technology wave.

That all changed in about 2013, when the majority of our conversations shifted away from ‘why’ and moved into ‘how.’ And here we stand, still fighting the fight of ‘how.’ I chose Marketo first in 2007 as a client and then again in 2008 as a partner. That decision has been attacked as many times as the notion of marketing automation itself, maybe more. So to sit atop my perch within the LeadMD booth all I can do is smile. I look out and see a LinkedIN headline sponsor. I see SAP next to them. I see Accenture debuting their presence at Summit with a larger booth than me. And all of it is good.

When large firms invest in MA and Marketo, we all win. MA becomes a true brand-level discussion and creeps out of the darkness of divisions. Tactics delivered by pissant ‘agencies’ that have popped up to pollute this space are dismissed in favor of goals like organizational change, digital asset management and ROI. We know that tactics alone don’t work – but neither does strategy. It’s only when we put these two together and add people and education that we ensure success.

The big logos in the room ensure that this perspective will happen as those names drive more and more investment into the space. We may have touted that marketing has had a seat at the revenue table, but they have been wearing a dunce cap. It’s true. Most marketers we speak to CAN NOT identify the conversion rates of marketing qualified leads (MQL) to even Sales Qualified much less actual revenue. The reason for this is simple. The time being spent on email templates and cute landing pages is not what drives success nor revenue. The maturity of the marketing team is on the rise, as nothing breeds’ knowledge like failure. I for one, am looking to the time when ‘how’ is no longer the question and instead ‘how much’.

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