As Chief Revenue Officer of Act-On Software, Shawn Naggiar is responsible for everything related to creating, managing, and growing revenue at the company. He joined Act-On in early 2008 as employee #7, and was a key architect in creating the company’s go-to-market strategy. Shawn built the revenue and service sides of the business from the ground up.

Shawn Naggiar on marketing automationMonique Torres: We know that lead generation and qualification continues to be a number-one concern for all marketers, regardless of the size of their company or the industry they’re in. Shawn, you’ve said before that marketing automation has a role to play here. Will you talk about that a bit?

Shawn Naggiar: One of the fundamental keys to the value of marketing automation is this concept of integrated marketing. Simply put, it’s the idea of bringing all of your online marketing channels, all the technologies that you use for online marketing, together into a single platform.

MT: So the tools are integrated, so you can manage everything from that one platform? That sounds like a big win in terms of execution.

SN: It is; but the bigger benefit is the integration of the data. So in a typical environment where somebody’s not using an integrated marketing platform, they may have an email marketing platform, and a web analytics platform, and a social media marketing platform. However, they really have no ability to understand what’s happening with their prospects across all of those channels.

MT: Can you walk me through that?

SN: A simple win for an Act On customer coming on board is simply understanding – for the people that are responding to my email campaigns, say – how many of them are being driven to my website, how many of them are converting into registering for a webinar, and how those activities are linked together. And then the sales and marketing organization has the ability to segment these prospects by their behaviors, whether it be by lead scoring or a straight behavioral segmentation.

At the end of the day it’s about leads and the quality of leads, and making sure that your most expensive sales resources are focused on the right ones. We give our customers the ability to get that data and to use it.

MT: Tell me a little more about how marketing automation helps with those leads.

SN: It comes down to data. The type of data that the marketing organization and the sales organization can sit down and look at together, and evaluate. The first question they need to answer is, what is the definition of a qualified lead? And what are the behaviors that result in a lead being qualified? The answers to these become part of the process that gets automated.

MT: So what does the marketing automation actually do to convert a lead into an opportunity?

SN: As the lead interacts with your online marketing, you get reports on all of their activities, integrated into a central location. You can see and understand the behaviors of your prospects across all those marketing channels. Because sales and marketing agreed on the value of actions, you can score those leads.

In essence prospects tell you when they’re ready to buy, by the scores they generate. Marketing automation not only lets you see that, but it proactively moves leads through the funnel and delivers them to sales at the right time.

MT: So you can see the stages? Like the raw lead, then there’s the qualified lead, and then there’s the opportunity, and then there’s the qualified opportunity.

SN: Absolutely.

MT: The old sales 1.0 mentality was anybody that had a name and a pulse, maybe anybody that downloaded a white paper or attended a conference, is immediately a lead and needs to go into the hands of the sales organization. But you’re saying that’s different now.

SN: Well, the rules have really changed there. Marketing has responsibility for much more of that funnel, if you will, than they did in the past. Buyers self-serve themselves into understanding what a product or company is all about. So the marketing organization is really required to take those prospects through more stages of that pipeline than they have historically.

And they do that through nurturing, through data, through analysis of the prospect’s behavior, and understanding what elements of the marketing programs that the prospects have been receptive to in the past, and feeding them more of it.

MT: Okay, let’s have an example here.

SN: If I have three different products, as a marketing organization I’m doing individual marketing activities for each of those products.

Well, understanding when my prospects are responding to a particular product line, being able to analyze that behavior, and then respond with some automated marketing programs focused specifically on that product or on that message, will take that prospect further down the qualification cycle, and just make the sales organization’s life a lot easier when it’s time to follow up. The prospect will be that much readier.

MT: My take on this is that the marketing system manages an effective narrative that is shared with the prospect, that engages the prospect. And after that engagement has gone on a while, progressed a bit, then it’s handed off to the sales person who translates that narrative into a customer’s story.

SN: That’s exactly right. And that sales person knows what the prospect was interested in. They know how to talk to that prospect. And they have a much better chance of being closing the sale, because the buyer is well-educated and really understands the benefits.

MT: Thank you, Shawn.

SN: Thank you.

Want to learn more about marketing automation? Visit Act-On’s Center of Excellence to learn more about attracting prospects, turning them into leads, and converting leads into customers.