14 Apr

How Wishpond.com Automated Their Marketing Blog for Extra Conversions

The most valuable part of a lead’s identity isn’t their name or email address, it’s what they care about.

Over the past couple months, we’ve been implementing a content-focused automation strategy at Wishpond, enabling us to show personalized blog content to each visitor based on what they care about.

Wishpond marketing automation

We all know that being able to deliver content that our leads are actually interested in is the basis of intelligent marketing and an optimized nurturing strategy. While many businesses are already doing this with email by integrating their CRM with email automation funnels, few are doing it elsewhere.

Let’s start simple

Everything in this article is built off a simple understanding: because of the developments in Javascript, Liquid, and cookie technology, our blogs (and websites) can be altered for each visitor based on information automatically delivered to the back end.

Who they are, what they care about, and how they prefer to consume content affects how our readers interact with our blog. Their actions and the information they give us are also used to affect how our blog interacts with them in return.

A quick breakdown to remind all of us how this works:

  • Someone visits our site for the first time and a cookie is automatically attached to their browser.
  • Our CRM collects the data from that cookie and creates an identity for them.
  • As they interact with our site their identity is updated based on pages they visit, information they give us, and any number of other actions/events which they take.
  • We can manually influence the labelling of leads/traffic by specifying certain actions/events which we deem important (the visiting of our pricing page, for instance).
  • We can manually influence the identity of our leads based on a specific series of actions/events they take (heading from specific blog articles to our product page to our pricing page, for instance).

 

Their individual cookies trigger changes in the script of our website and blog, which can affect the look of it, the things we offer, and the way in which we promote our content and brand.

How Wishpond labels site traffic, leads and clients to automate lead nurturing

To illustrate how Wishpond labels traffic, leads, and clients, let’s take a quick look at Wishpond’s site traffic from 7 minutes ago:

labeled traffic

This is a list of nine people on the Wishpond.com website. Five of them are new to our site, though one of those has already been tagged with a ‘landing page’ label, as they’ve gone to a URL reading ‘landing-page’.

The others have more updated identities with names and email addresses. We know that three are English speaking (as their browsers are set to the English language). We know that one of them is interested (or has already engaged) with a photo contest, and three others are interested in landing pages, popups, and sweepstakes. Two are power users.

All of these people will eventually also be labeled with their sector (once they’ve provided us with that information) and have automated, personalized paths to conversion or retention.

Isn’t this just fancy lead-scoring?

Yes, but with a small caveat related to content. Lead scoring is awesome, but it is limited by targeting communication and nurturing leads based on their score. What we’re doing is different: it takes into account a lead’s score but also recognizes their individuality beyond that single number.

This gets back to what I was talking in my introduction: the ability to deliver content and lead nurturing communication based on what someone cares about.

For instance, not only will our marketing automation platform know that the blurred-out lead above has a score of 10, it will also know that this lead is in the real-estate industry. This knowledge allows us to specifically cater to this lead, both with intensity of communication and the content of that communication..

The key automation characteristic for Wishpond is the sector of our leads, as we’ve found it to be the best indicator of what they’re interested in (better than subject matter, for instance). That said, you could structure your content automation flows (see below) based on any criteria you choose.

Building Wishpond’s Sector-Segmented Content Marketing Strategy

As soon as we learn the sector of our leads and clients we segment them into a content flow – something like this:

Real estate automation flow

This is the flow of CTAs a lead classified under ‘real-estate’ might see on our blog. A visitor would, initially, submit lead information for one of our generic pieces of content. As soon as they tell us they’re in the real estate sector, however, they enter this flow (green arrow).

  • The next time they arrive on our blog they see, instead of a generic banner, a prompt to download the Adwords ebook for real estate.
  • Once they do so (or, once 72 hours has passed, whichever is first) they will start seeing a prompt for the landing page template for real estate.
  • Once they’ve downloaded two ebooks (or 10 days have passed in which they’ve gone to the blog’s URL at least three times) they’ll start seeing a prompt to sign up for a VIP demo of our tools.
  • If they register for a demo, we view that as a conversion from this funnel, at which point they enter our demo conversion flow, which converts them from a demo to a subscription (primarily through email).
  • If they don’t convert for the demo they are put back into the continuous flow of lead nurturing (it goes without saying that any piece of content they’ve already downloaded won’t be shown again – thus the need for a large amount of content to optimally nurture leads in this way).

 

Our site can also recognize visitors who have already provided us with all the lead information we need, and so won’t keep prompting them for more. Instead of the full form on the right, our leads and clients would simply see the left-hand example, reducing barrier of entry and increasing value of engagement:

Lead forms

This content automation flow is paired to an optimized email automation funnel as well, which works to drive a lead towards a final conversion with personalized communication (but that’s a topic for a different article).

A fully-automated content flow:

Wishpond blog flow

The Challenges With Sector-Segmented Content Strategy

You may have noticed that this campaign structure requires a huge amount of sector-based content, and I’m not going to pretend otherwise.

Creating content flows for your business’ top sectors is a serious task, and shouldn’t be taken on lightly. But, luckily, this doesn’t all have to be rolled out at the same time, and much of it can be recycled.

For Wishpond, since we finished creating our generic content (e.g. a series of ebooks, templates, image libraries etc.) it’s been relatively straight forward to follow the same pattern for each of our top sectors. Once we’ve completed the content for each flow we create the label, scripts, and route each lead will take, working closely with our email automation and sales team throughout.

While it may seem intimidating to begin with, once you get into it it’s more straightforward than you might expect.

The Next Phase of Automation For Wishpond

There’s no end to personalization and automation, as the paths that our leads take can be constantly optimized and tested for more conversions. New content and flows needs to be created, as we mirror the paths of our leads step-by-step.

For the main flow that I shared above, for instance, we’ll be constantly tweaking asks, CTA copy, timing and content. At the moment, our primary blog conversion is a VIP demo with one of our sales people, but we will be A/B testing it against an immediate free trial offer to determine which provides a better ROI.

But the heart of it all remains the same: maximizing our ability to anticipate our lead’s movement and personalizing (as much as technologically possible) their interaction with our business and our content. As yet, only 5-10% of SMBs have adopted marketing automation, but that number is increasing steadily as cheaper, simpler, and more intuitive platforms pop up. Want to stay ahead of your competitors? Get into it, or get left behind.

About the Author:
James Scherer is content editor for Wishpond.com, a SaaS startup providing lead generation, CRM, and (soon) marketing automation tools designed for SMBs. He is the author of The Complete Sales Funnel Guide for Real Estate.

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09 Apr

Marketing Automation Market Size & Vendor Market Share

As of 2015, over 142,700 business are now using marketing automation software. Yet, only 369 of the top 10,000 websites have implemented it.

The marketing automation industry is now worth approximately $1.62 billion per annum, and Hubspot are the most popular marketing automation vendor, with a 36.3% share of the total automation market.

These are just some of the highlights from our recent analysis of the marketing automation industry, which we’ve published in our 2015 marketing automation industry report & buyer’s guide.

In this post, I thought I’d share some of the insights that we uncovered on vendor market share and on the industry in general.

Which marketing automation tool has the most users?

First of all, let’s look at which marketing automation vendors have the largest share of companies using marketing automation software.

2015 marketing automation market share1. Hubspot (36.3%)
2. Infusionsoft (24.3%)
3. Marketo (11%)
4. Pardot (8%)
5. Eloqua (7.8%)
6. Act-On (6.5%)
7. Silverpop (2.8%)
8. Ontraport (1.9%)
9. Sharpspring (1.3%)

The astute among you might have noticed that this market share overview incorporates two very distinct markets: small business marketing automation software, and enterprise automation software.

Separating the two isn’t easy, given that companies like Hubspot and Marketo cater to both markets. For the sake of simplicity, if we assume that 85% of Hubspot and Marketo’s users are small businesses, and 15% enterprise, we can create a more realistic picture of which vendors are likely to be leading each market. Let’s start by looking at the small business marketing automation market.

Which marketing automation tool has the highest market share among small businesses?

For the small business market, Hubspot are the clear leaders in customer volume with a 41.6% market share, followed by Infusionsoft with 32.8%, and Marketo with 12.6%.

small business marketing automation market share

Which marketing automation tool has the highest market share among large businesses?

For the enterprise market, Pardot and Eloqua (now ‘Oracle Marketing Cloud’) are neck-and-neck with 31.2% and 30.2% market share.

enterprise marketing automation market share

It’s important to remember, however, that this is based on the number of companies using each vendor, and not customer revenue or number of individual users.

While we did not collect revenue data in our study, a report by Mintigo found that despite only having a relatively small share of total users (7-8%), Eloqua received 26% of all marketing automation revenue. This is unsurprising given that their platform starts at $2,000 per month, and is used by the likes of American Express and Sony.

marketing automation market share by revenue

Which marketing automation software do the top 10k websites use?

All of the stats above are based on automation software used by over 309 million websites (approx. one third of the whole Internet). But what if we were to only look at the top 10,000 websites?

To our surprise, we found that only 369 of the top 10,000 websites were using marketing automation (3.69%).

Used by 85 of the top 10,000 websites, Marketo was the most popular vendor among the top 10,000, representing 23% of the 369 marketing automation implementations. Hubspot, Eloqua, Pardot, and Silverpop were all found to be used by at least 50 of the top 10,000 websites each.

marketing automation used by top 10k websites

What can we expect over the next 2-3 years?

Over the past three years we’ve seen exponential growth in marketing automation adoption, causing the industry to grow from being worth $225m to $1.6bn in a matter of five years.

Given the following truisms, it’s highly probable that this exponential growth will continue into the foreseeable future:

  1. Marketing automation is becoming more accessible, with new players reducing the cost and accessibility of software to smaller / niche businesses. Over the next twelve months we will see the major email marketing providers becoming more aggressive in their marketing automation offerings, which will create a surge in adoption.
  2. Marketing automation has reached a credibility tipping point. As it’s now used by everyone from American Express, Sony, Chrysler, and Intel to many of the most influential bloggers and online businesses, it’s becoming harder to be a skeptic.
  3. Despite the massive growth in marketing automation adoption, the overall penetration is still incredibly low. As we found in our study, with only 3.69% of the top 10,000 websites using marketing automation, there is still a huge number of businesses yet to adopt the software.

As far as market share is concerned, I predict that Hubspot and Eloqua will continue to engulf their respective corners of the market. Given the external growth of the market, though, it’s likely that most major vendors will continue to grow with the expansion of the market.

Whatever happens, it’s going to be a very interesting and exciting few years for the marketing automation vendors.

How this data was collected:
It’s important that we mention the limitations of our data: as not all vendors make their current usage numbers public, our conclusions should be interpreted as ‘a close estimate’, and not as gospel.

Our data was collected by combining data from BuiltWith®, a tool that monitors the technology used by over 309 million websites, with published usage figures, we were able to create two separate calculations based on each of these data sets.

When both numbers were very close (in almost all cases), we used the BuiltWith statistics, as they are likely to be more up to date. In the case that the two numbers were very different, we used the company’s reported figures.

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07 Apr

7 Considerations When Choosing Small Business Marketing Automation Software

Despite emerging in 1999, marketing automation software has only been accessible to large enterprise organizations until recently.

Over the past five years, the price of marketing automation software has dropped significantly, attracting tens of thousands of small businesses to marketing automation platforms such as Infusionsoft, Hubspot, and Ontraport.

Declining cost of marketing automation software

With the increased demand of marketing automation, the number of software vendors has also increased to a point where choosing the right software is an overwhelming task. In this post, we’ll walk you through seven of the most important considerations and questions to ask when choosing a software provider.

#1 Where will your business be in 2-3 years time?

One of the most common mistakes made when choosing marketing automation software is focusing only on what features you need in the near future. Most software vendors have tiered pricing, which can get very expensive as you require additional contacts and features.

Migrating between software vendors can be very difficult and expensive, so it’s important that you choose a tool that’ll allow you to grow over the years. Our advice is to map out the likely number of users, contacts, and likely features you’ll require in 1, 2, and 3 years time. With this information to hand you will be able to get a clear picture of probable monthly costs over time – and whether you’re likely to outgrow your automation tool in the near future.

#2 Will It Integrate With Your Other Software?

If you are thinking about implementing marketing automation software into your marketing strategy, chances are that you already have software that you’re using. Regardless of whether this current software helps you with your marketing or your customer service, it’s important that you have the ability to properly integrate them both.

Infusionsoft marketplace

In particular, be sure that your existing CRM system integrates with the automation provider you’re considering. As many marketing automation tools have been acquired or built by CRM companies, there is a degree of politics over which providers integrate with which CRMs – and the quality of those integrations.

#3 Your Budget: Both Today and in 3 Years Time

In a report by Autopilot, marketers reported that the cost of marketing automation software was one of the main reasons why they weren’t happy with their software.

Marketing automation software is typically expensive because it’s priced on value. In other words, companies like Infusionsoft are able to charge $300 per month because most small businesses generate more than this in additional revenue when the software is implemented.

Generally speaking, there are three pricing tiers in the small business marketing automation market:

It’s important to have a rough idea of what your budget for marketing automation software is, so that you can invest in your time in comparing the most suitable tools.

#4 How much upfront cost are you happy with?

As an extension to the aforementioned budget question, you should also consider whether you’re happy paying for your software upfront or not, as this will narrow down which tools are most suitable for you.

Hubspot, for example, require you to sign a 12-month contract and pay for their software annually (up front). Infusionsoft, on the other hand, are a bit more flexible but do require you to pay a mandatory $1,999 kickstarter fee.

If you want maximum flexibility with no setup fees, you may want to consider Ontraport.

#5 Which features do you require?

Within the marketing automation industry, it’s widely known that all vendors offer 95% of the same features. While some do certain things better than others, you can be fairly certain that they all offer landing page builders, lead nurturing, lead scoring, time and action-based emails etc.

While it’s good to double check that the provider does have all the features you require, it’s even more important to check that they offer them at the price tier that you’re hoping for. A lot of vendors, such as Pardot and Hubspot only enable certain features, like A/B testing, to their higher-paying customers.

Pardot pricing

The last thing you want is to end up paying an extra $500 / month for one extra feature that you needed but didn’t realise wasn’t included in your package.

#6 Platform usability

Marketing automation is an inherently complex idea. While most of the major software vendors do a good job of offering an intuitive platform, some are better designed than others.

How important this is will depend largely on who within your organization will be using the software, and how much of an issue user experience is going to be for those people. The best way to see whether you’re happy with a platform is to ask for a demo, or look at screenshots of the user interface.

You can see screenshots of all the major marketing automation tools by browsing our tool review pages in the menu above.

#7 Technical considerations: APIs, Deliverability & More

While not the funnest aspect of comparing vendors, it’s important to take into account technical aspects to ensure that you don’t run into any major technical obstacles when implementing the software.

The most important aspects to consider are firstly to do with the API. If you require custom integration with the vendor’s API, you should have your developer read through the documentation to ensure that it does everything you’ll need it to do.

Secondly, consider whether the vendor’s email deliverability rates are high enough. Most vendors have deliverability rates above 98% (with the likes of Ontraport boasting 100%). If you have a large mailing list, a few percent can result in thousands of extra emails being delivered, which can be a substantial amount of extra revenue.

Finally, if you’re hosting landing pages and microsites on their servers, you may want to check things like uptime, server speed, and other reliability metrics. As a general rule, we haven’t come across any major reliability issues like this with any of the major software providers.

In Summary: Finding the Right Tool for the Job

As you can see, there is a lot that you’ll need to consider before choosing a marketing automation software for your small business. After going through the consideration above, we’d recommend using our free automation tool matcher, which will help you narrow down the best tool for you in a couple of clicks.

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25 Mar

The Difference Between Marketing Automation, CRM, and Email Marketing

Considering that most marketing automation tools have a built-in CRM, email campaign builder, landing page builder, and much more, is there any point to having a separate CRM system or email marketing tool?

First off, let’s clarify what a marketing automation tool is and isn’t, and how it differs to a standalone CRM or email marketing tool.

What is marketing automation software?

Marketing automation is often described as ’email marketing on steroids’ or ‘CRM-driven email marketing’. While good marketing slogans, neither captures the essence or value offered by of automation software.

At the most simple level, marketing automation is the combination of CRM, analytics, and email marketing. In this case, the sum is greater than its parts, as CRM data provides additional insight into email marketing, and vis versa via analytics.

CRM vs. Marketing Automation vs. Email Marketing

As illustrated above, the alignment of CRM data with your marketing channels is surprisingly profound, as it aligns your marketing and sales teams and enables one another to build on each other’s work.

But before we go too deep into the value of marketing automation, what exactly are we automating with this software that we wouldn’t usually automate?

Where automation comes into the equation

Marketing automation provides the ability to automatically trigger emails (or text messages, postcards, voicemails, webinar invitations etc) when a segment of your contact list completes a certain action.

In other words, you can build a set of rules like ‘when a contact does X (downloads an ebook, visits a certain page, buys a product), or is Y (a C-level executive, a repeat customer), do Z (invite them to a webinar, cross-sell a specific product). When this is scaled up, you can have thousands of different emails being sent out to different customers every day – each one beautifully personalized to the recipient’s situation.

Here’s an example of such a sequence in Infusionsoft:
Infusionsoft campaign

The holy grail of marketing is to reach the right person with the right message at the right time. Unfortunately, due to human error and a limit on resources, we sometimes fall short on one or more of these points.

By automating your messaging you can, for example, ensure that every single lead is followed up with within 15 minutes of expressing interest, regardless of whether you receive one lead a day or 10,000.

What’s CRM and how does it differ to marketing automation?

CRM software simply provides a system for managing and organizing interactions with potential and future customers. While most CRMs allow you to communicate with contacts from within the CRM, this level of communication is relatively basic.

Let’s say, for example, your CRM has 10,000 contacts who are all interacting with your business in different ways. A CRM will record those interactions, allow you to prioritise which leads to focus on, and enable you to contact them manually or in one bulk-mail.

A marketing automation tool, on the other hand, allows you to set up pre-built campaigns that are automatically sent to individual leads when they complete certain actions. You can A/B test different methods of communication, and even combine multiple marketing channels (e.g. SMS and email), ultimately leading to a more scalable and efficient sales process.

CRM and marketing automation are not dichotomous. In fact, with CRM companies acquiring and bolting on marketing tools to their software, the line between CRM and marketing automation is becoming increasingly blurred.

So, in what instance would you be better off choosing a CRM instead of marketing automation?

When is it better to choose a CRM system over marketing automation software?

There are several valid reasons for why you might choose a CRM instead of a marketing automation tool:

  1. Cost – If you’re a small business just starting out, then a $10/month CRM may provide you with everything you need. Marketing automation software typically starts at around $200/month plus setup fees. For enterprise-level software, that figure can be anywhere from $1,000/month to unlimited. Ultimately the benefit has to outweigh the investment, which won’t be the case for every business.
  2. Needs – If your company does predominantly all of your sales & marketing ‘in the field’, you probably won’t benefit from automation software. Marketing automation satisfies an additional need, that isn’t necessarily present in every business. For those, a CRM will probably suffice.
  3. Migration & Integration – If your company has been using a CRM like Salesforce for ten years and your whole company is used to it, educating staff on a new piece of software is going to be a significant cost. On top of this, not all automation tools integrate with all CRMs, so implementing marketing automation can be a major time & financial investment, particularly for larger corporations.

In the majority of cases, though, marketing automation is the more powerful alternative as it provides additional insight and marketing capability on top of CRM.

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