This is a continuation of a series of posts sharing my thoughts on the various components of a digital marketing stack. The series stared off with a post: “What does your digital marketing stack look like” and was followed up by a post on CRM. In this post I will share my thoughts on marketing automation and how social media can help demand generation managers turbo charge their demand generation efforts in order to drive faster time to revenue.

Marketing Automation Today

A recent study found that almost one fifth of companies adopting marketing automation systems boost revenue by 75% or more (source VentureBeat). With those impressive results, it is not surprising to see the phenomenal growth of the marketing automation category (with vendors’ revenues increasing 40-50% each year). These solutions help organizations nurture leads primarily on email and capture email and web-based interactions. Just this week, HubSpot filed for a 100M IPO. Impressive. Some of the other more commonly used marketing automation solutions include Marketo, Eloqua and Act-On.

In my opinion, today’s marketing automation solutions automate the otherwise very tedious task of nurturing leads and driving them down the funnel. As a marketer, I can’t even image life without it. However, what it lacks is context. What I mean is that it offers very little additional insight about the lead or prospect over time. If you acquired an email list, you probably have the lead’s title, phone number, email and limited interaction data based on responses to your emails and visits to your website. However, you have no clue on what his or her interests are. Your nurturing campaign is a ‘hope and pray strategy‘. This is where I believe social media can have a huge positive impact and offer lead level insights which can help drive faster revenue and even faster adoption.

So the question is how does social play in this mix?

It’s still early days but the idea of Social Selling (or as I like to see it – a more comprehensive ‘Social Lead Generation’ process) is catching on and forward thinking demand generation managers are embracing it.. There are four areas where social can play an important role:

Identify new leads:

There is no debate that social channels can be a gold mine to identify new leads. With the right solution that captures demographic, behavioral and ‘sentiment’ data and analyzes them using predictive methods, leads can be generated at scale.

Enhance existing leads:

As I mentioned above, the lead data in CRM and Marketing Automation systems offer only a partial view of the prospect. You typically have no knowledge of his/her interests or network of connections. Linking the publically available social profiles and analyzing the prospect’s public conversations offers rich insights which can be leveraged for superior segmentation and selling (or cross-selling /up-selling) by sales representatives.

Better segmentation:

Lead level analytics (discussed above) enable demand generation managers to better segment their lead database. For example a subset of the leads may be interested in ‘main topic 1’ and a ‘sub topic 2’. For a brand in the networking business it could be ‘segment 1’ interested in ‘networking + security’ while ‘segment 2’ interested in ‘networking + performance’. Nurturing these leads with relevant content based upon their interests that shared on social media results in quicker conversions.

Cross channel nurturing:

While email interactions are necessary, they are no longer sufficient. Your customers and prospects expect to be able to interact with you on multiple channels, including social media. So, email is not the only avenue for lead nurturing. Social channels offer an excellent alternative. Intermixing the two with an integrated cross channel nurturing solution will help drive superior conversions.

So how compelling is this potent combination of Social Media and Marketing Automation? Results of A/B testing done by IT World Canada indicated an increase in lead velocity of 500% and CTR of 2.5x compared to traditional methods such as email. You be the judge.

So are you ready to turbo-charge your lead generation efforts? Have you tried the potent combination of social & marketing automation? I would love your thoughts.