Marketing Automation Platforms (MAPs)

Blog_110_Marketing Automation Platforms

MAPs are a set of software tools with many moving pieces.


The promise of Marketing Automation Platforms is to integrate and automate marketing functions

Marketing Automation Platforms (MAPs) are receiving lots of attention in the B-to-B marketing sphere. Most of these platforms are targeted toward companies with large database records that execute the majority of their marketing efforts online. For originations that fit the aforementioned criteria, MAPs promise greater marketing efficiency, integration with sales CRM software, reduced external resource expenditures, and ROI tracking for each marketing event.

The strength of an MAP is its ability to capture digital transactional information for specific marketing actions. These actions can include the following:

  • Email opens, top performing links, and overall performance
  • Website visitation, visitor page interaction and analytics
  • Inbound marketing responses to posted content and landing pages
  • Social platform monitoring for sentiment and customer insight

These actions are generally considered first encounter lead generation activities found at the top of the sales funnel. It is at this junction that marketing and sales must agree on what a qualified lead looks like and what steps are necessary to move this lead through the sales funnel.

With the definition of a qualified lead identified, an MAP can provide the functionality to automatically continue to reach out to the prospect. As the prospect demonstrates intent to purchase, CRM software is able to provide sales with leads that require shorter close times and better success rates.

All of this sounds great, almost like push button marketing; however, there are several things to consider:

  •  MAPs are a set of software tools with many moving pieces
  • MAPs are not a substitute for a strategic marketing plan
  • Underestimating the amount of content required to shepherd the prospect through the sales funnel
  • The current marketing staff may not have the technical horsepower needed to manage the MAP
  • Time commitment and resources from IT will be needed for implementation, integration, and ongoing maintenance
  • Substantial learning curve and resources required for marketing and sales personnel
  • Implementation time of 6 to 12 months to see results
  • Identification of critical data chains for ROI reporting
  • Commitment from the executive wing to fund and nurture MAP implementation

MAPs focus is on digital interaction. What about traditional marketing and brand building? These software platforms are challenged to know what effect display advertising has with regards to purchasing behavior, brand sentiment, and brand loyalty.

Don’t get me wrong here. I see the benefit of ROI analysis and the positive potential MAPs can have when implemented properly. However, at the same time, I am also cautious about MAPS. My concern begins with the automaton nature of the entire process. The promise of inbound marketing is to engage with interested prospects and begin to build a relationship. Being inundated with additional email offers and qualifying phone calls can be a turn-off, stopping the relationship building cold. In addition, marketers must be cautious about treating prospects like Pavlov’s dog. Thinking that they can be trained to respond by redundancy is a danger.

Additional articles you may find of interest on this topic:

Big data and creativity

Determining Advertising Return On Investment

How to engineer a social marketing strategy

Please leave your comments or thoughts below
Copyright: multirealism / 123RF Stock Photo

Aviation Marketing: Trimming marketing expenditures

Blog 92 Aviation Marketing: Trimming marketing expenditures

How to keep share-of-voice and maintain industry presence

Cost reduction is nothing new. The great recession accelerated the learning curve on how to reduce expenditures by cutting personnel and marketing investment. However, as we fast forward to a new year and a recovering economy, when asked to reduce marketing expenditures one must take into account the value of marketing and the influence it has on the behavior of your customers and competitors.

Where to start?

Begin by taking a realistic approach to reducing marketing expenditures. Identify what is essential for maintaining share-of-voice, brand awareness and customer attention.

Outbound marketing areas to review:

  • Advertising
  • Directory listings
  • Direct Mail
  • Public Relations
  • Tradeshows
  • Telemarketing
  • Email

Inbound marketing areas to review:

  • Website
  • Social media channels
  • Video sharing sites
  • Newsletters
  • Search optimization
  • Events sponsorship
  • Tradeshow participation

Making smart decisions

A consequence of reducing marketing expenditures is a void in share-of-voice. It can be easy to justify drastic reductions in the hope of returning later when better financial times arrive. The fallacy of this strategy is that previous investment is lost and the completion fills the void left behind. Playing catch up is an expensive proposition because now the competition has the customer’s attention and it will require more investment to return to the status quo.

A more thoughtful approach is to review tactical executions such as reducing ad size, cutting back on frequency of placement, and the number of publications. If done correctly this can yield a reduction of 50% or more in outbound marketing cost while still keeping a presence in core industry segment publications.

Customer perceptions

While some may argue that marketing and the various tactics used to change customer behavior contribute little to the bottom line, customers notice the brands’ absence and begin to question brand health, viability and commitment to the industry.

Keeping a commitment to inbound marketing assures that these channels do not become neglected.  In fact, these channels can become the focus of the marketing efforts because they are owned and do not require continual purchase of space and time.

The following should be reviewed for tactical execution and resources needed to keep the outbound program vibrant.

  • Newsletters – keep customers informed by telling an expanded brand story.
  • Blogs – highlight employee expertise and extend the effectiveness and reach on social media platforms.
  • Emails – invite customers to events and keep a steady stream of valuable content delivered to the customer’s desktop.
  • Website updates – keep the site fresh with announcements and social media postings.
  • Video Produce iMovies and post to syndicated video channels for optimized web search.

Marketing budget reductions happen, those that that take a strategic approach can minimize loss of market share and industry presence.

Additional articles you may find of interest on this topic:

Why advertising is important in aviation marketing

Why internet advertising matters to aviation marketing

Emotional ties create strong brand loyalty

Please leave your comments or thoughts below.

Aviation Marketing: How to engineer a social marketing strategy

How to engineer a social marketing strategySocial marketing is not free – it requires time, money, and resources

Social marketing is an all-encompassing term that covers very specific strategies and tactics designed to engage customers and prospects. When considering the addition of social marketing into the marketing mix, it’s best to review current marketing strategy and determine where social marketing will have the greatest impact.

Aviation marketers that step into social marketing are really making a decision to become their own content producers. Implementing a successful social marketing program requires time, money, and dedicated resources. Without these, the effort will be shortlived and short on results.

Where to start

Social marketing strategy development starts with the answers to the following questions:

  • What are the goals for the social marketing program?
  • How will social marketing integrate the existing marketing program?
  • Who will lead the social marketing efforts?
  • What resources are available to ensure success?
  • How will social marketing ROI be measured?

The answers to the above questions will form the foundation of your social marketing strategy.

Below are a list of goals that can be used as thought starters when defining the goals for the program:

  • Increase the number of prospects on the sales funnel
  • Influence decision makers in an informational, non-selling manner
  • Add an interactive component to the website
  • Position executives and technical talent as experts in their field
  • Create product evangelists that recommend product or service offerings

How will social marketing integrate into the existing marketing program?

To have a holistic marketing program, a balance of outbound and inbound strategies and tactics need to be orchestrated. Relying solely on a blog to generate leads is not a good idea. However, integrating a blog on the website may be a good idea to feature technical talent, thought leadership, or respond to customer questions and comments.

Who will lead the social marketing efforts?

Social marketing cannot be relegated to the summer intern or administrative assistant. Having a Facebook page and Twitter account does not make one a social marketing expert.

Having a champion in the executive suite provides the focus, incentive, and resources to assure that quality content is being produced and tactical execution followed through.

What resources are available to ensure success?

Depending on the social marketing tactic, one may need writers, video producers, coders, designers, and/or digital media planners. Few aviation manufacturers have this type of talent on staff.  Selecting a firm that has access to this talent can provide the necessary resources to keep the program moving and cost in line.

How will social marketing ROI be measured?

Everything digital can be measured. It’s important to realize the role that social marketing plays in the overall marketing mix. Consider the customer touchpoints in the sales cycle and where social marketing can influence the sales process. A purchase inquiry may come through an email campaign, but where was the customer influenced that started the research process leading up to the purchasing inquiry?

Additional articles that may be of interest:

Why content development will drive the future of aviation marketing

Why aviation marketers struggle with digital marketing integration

Aviation Marketing: 3 ways social media can help build your brand

Aviation Marketing: Rethinking marketing media

Owned, Earned & Bought Media

Owned, earned and bought media provide the platforms for customer engagement.

In the not-too-distant past, magazine advertising dominated aviation marketing.  The proposition from publishers was simple – we will provide the content and the readership base, and aviation manufacturers will rent space in our magazines to advertise products and services. This was a successful business model which lasted over 6 decades.

Then digital technology came along, disrupting the publishing model and fragmenting the media landscape forever.

 “The irony is that while there have never been more ways to reach consumers, it’s never been harder to connect with consumers,” Brad Jakeman, President of Global Beverage Group & Chief Creative Officer at Pepsi Company.

 The changing media landscape

With every new communication technology and platform, there is a new twist on customer engagement. I find it beneficial to think in two directions for media:

  1. Inbound
  2. Outbound

In addition to the directions, I suggest segmenting media into:

  • Owned
  • Earned
  • Bought

Inbound and outbound media

Inbound media is a relatively new term derived from using social media to engage customers and prospects through conversation. The start of the conversation usually originates on the customer side in the form of an inquiry or comment posted to a web page, blog, or social media platform. Digitally literate aviation marketers monitor their social media sites for posts and respond accordingly to satisfy the inquiry.

Outbound media can be categorized as any communication sent from the aviation manufacturer that was not directly requested. Outbound media can take the form of magazine advertising, email blast, direct mail, promotions, television commercials, podcast, and You Tube videos.

Owned, earned and bought media

Owned media is any media entity or vehicle in which the aviation marketer controls content and distribution. A few examples include:

  • Company newsletters
  • Corporate magazines
  • Corporate websites
  • Product microsites
  • Twitter accounts
  • Facebook pages
  • Linkedin accounts
  • Pinterest boards
  • Videos distributed over a video-sharing site

Earned media happens when information is published by a third party because it is newsworthy, timely, or considered relevant. Examples include:

  • Published press releases
  • Published articles in magazines
  • Retweets from Twitter postings
  • Credit attribution for blog image or posting
  • SERPs (Search Engine Result Page)

Bought media is any space that is purchased for a specific time in which the advertiser places and distributes content. Examples include:

  • Advertisements in aviation magazines
  • Online banner advertisements
  • Pay-per-click search advertisements
  • Purchased email list
  • Purchased mailing list
  • Billboards
  • Radio airtime
  • Bus signage
  • Trade show sponsorships

Astute aviation marketers view the fragmented media landscape through the eyes of a publisher, selecting the media channels that best connect with their customer base and deliver the greatest marketing return.

photo credit: stefanomaggi via photo pin cc

Content development for aviation marketing is a communal affair

Content development for aviation marketing is a company-wide affair, led by the marketing department but requiring consensus and support from the C-Suite and the engineering department.

The Altimeter Group recently published a research study entitled “Content: The New Marketing Equation.” The research methodology is based on qualitative interviews from marketers in 38 companies. Many of the brands are leading B2B and B2C companies, including:

  •  Adobe Systems
  • American Express
  • AT&T
  • Coca-Cola
  • Ford Motor Company
  • General Electric
  • IBM
  • Intel Corporation

The study findings indicated that marketers are unbalanced as they shift from outbound (push) to inbound (pull) marketing. Respondents indicated that they were struggling with the constant demand for content generation. This is a natural evolution considering that outbound marketing is more campaign-oriented than inbound marketing which requires copious amounts of content to continually attract and engage customers.

Their findings go on to indicate that organizations need to rebalance and evolve from advertisers to storytellers. Rebalancing requires realigning resources, budget allocations, department staffing, company culture, and agency and service providers to be more effective and prepared to meet changing consumer expectations.

Generating effective and sustainable content marketing requires more than hiring a writer. Successful content marketing must be integrated with strategic marketing strategies including advertising, and it must become a foundation of the company culture.

Here are 4 steps obstacles that aviation marketers must overcome: 

  1. Understanding that content marketing is not free. Content marketing can reduce the media spend, but for content marketing to be effective, it requires investments in staff, production, and distribution resources.
  2. Implementing cultural integration around content marketing. Rebalancing requires departmental integration and cultural shifts as well as education, training and new skill sets for staff beyond the marketing department.
  3. Integrating content marketing with advertising. Placing all your eggs in one basket has its consequences. For optimal impact, content and advertising should be integrated – together the two can tell a richer brand story.
  4. Avoiding bright shiny objects. Don’t let new technologies get in the way of strategy and marketing fundamentals.

What does the future hold for inbound content aviation marketing?

Altimeter Group concluded that over the next five years, content marketing will become part of the corporate culture led by the marketing department. Finding, producing, and disseminating both internal and external content to the organization will become a core marketing function. However, it will be led by cross-pollination from the C-suite, sales and product teams.

The following is a complete slide share of the Altimeter Group study, including Altimeter’s Content Marketing Maturity model:

Why people-to-people marketing is replacing business-to-business in the aviation industry

In aviation marketing successful brands are creating loyalty and commanding premium pricing by connecting on a personal and emotional level with their customers. 

Historically, aviation industry component and system manufacturers have practiced traditional business-to business outbound marketing (push marketing model). The outbound model relies on bought media to push key messages to a mass audience, segmented by demographic, SIC code, business title or purchasing authority.

Tactical execution takes the form of:

  • advertising
  • direct promotion
  • trade shows
  • sales literature
  • web banners
  • micro sites
  • company websites

Often public relations tactics such as press releases and product stories in trade publications support out-bound efforts.

The push marketing strategy is predicated on disrupting the viewer to convey predetermined key messages that support product features, benefits and value propositions.

For many aviation industry manufacturers, this has been a successful approach to building brand awareness. However, outbound marketing requires a large invest-ment in bought media and advertising return on investment is hard to track.

Customers are disillusioned with the “about me” aspect of the creative product further challenging the advertising’s ability to disrupt the viewer in the work environment. In addition, outbound lacks the stickiness to build community and form a one-on-one relationship with the individual.

Enter People-to-People Marketing 

People-to-people marketing is predicated on building relationships with individuals and communities through conversations that nurture and build trust. Technology is at the heart of inbound marketing (pull marketing model).

One of the most intriguing aspects of people-to-people marketing is its not confined to the workplace. Personal computing power in the form of smart phones and tablets makes it possible to connect with customers in venues not traditionally associated with aviation marketing.

Social media outlets provide the means to listen and carry on conversations with individuals. People-to-people marketing requires aviation marketers to reevaluate and rebalance their marketing mix to achieve their marketing goals.

Successful people-to-people marketing shifts the focus from “me oriented” to “story telling” to create the personal and emotional bonds.

In addition, personal computing power opens up new venues for storytelling through video, slide share and other syndicated platforms. Inbound marketing also comes with a wide array of analytics packages to help establish data chains for measurement and marketing investment.

Finding the right balance

Today, successful aviation marketing requires an integrated mix of inbound and outbound marketing to tell the brand story. Aviation marketers are challenged to accomplish more with less, forcing them to reassess traditional marketing efforts and move towards more cost effective inbound marketing venues.

Many of these new venues are reaching maturity, offering integrated marketing and viable ways to reach prospects, establishing relationships and forming one-on-one connections with your audience.