Archives for March 10, 2020

How to Use Email Metrics to Make Data-Driven Decisions

While guessing the number of jellybeans in a jar might win you a prize, this type of guess work is much less successful when it comes to email marketing.

Thankfully, marketing automation provides marketers with a variety of methods to measure what’s working and what isn’t regarding your emails, along with ways to methodically test content when you’re unsure. This information allows you to make data-driven decisions about how to execute your email strategy and achieve maximum results.

Have you ever had a debate about which version of an email would perform best?

“Keep it short and sweet! Use lots of pictures – even emoji’s in the subject line!”

“We need to talk about the new features. Plus, my subject line is way more compelling, and it doesn’t need emoji’s!”

What if I told you that you can have your cake and eat it, too?

Welcome to the wonderful world of A/B testing. A/B testing is used to send different versions of an email to a portion of your list, and track how effective each version is. You can then designate what the criteria is for the “winning” email, and send the remainder of the list the winning version.

Why would you want to send an email that doesn’t really capture the interest of your audience? The simple answer is – you don’t. However, we don’t always know what is going to perform the best. In that case, we would A/B test the email.

A/B testing an email gives you an opportunity to use data to automatically choose which version of an email the majority of your list should receive. It also provides you with a chance to test variables within emails to see if there are changes that you should be making in order to maximize engagement and provide the most value to your prospects.

Your A/B test could be as simple as seeing which subject line will perform the best, or it could be a complex test where you’re checking a longer, text-heavy email versus a shorter, visual heavy email.

How do you run an A/B test, you ask? No matter which marketing automation platform you’re using, the steps are essentially the same: It’s as easy as counting to 4.

  1. Think back to your high school science class experiments. Remember the phrase “Isolate the variable?” The same rule applies when it comes to A/B testing. The first step is to determine which specific element you want to test in an email and keep it simple. We want to measure the differences between the two emails, and that’s hard to do with too many variables.
  2. Next, determine the length of time you want your A/B test to run, and the criteria for choosing a winner. Will it be based on email opens, or clicks?
  3. How much of your email audience do you want to use for the test? You can choose up to 50% of the original list, but the average is 25%. If you choose 25%, that means that 12.5% of your original list will receive the version A email, and 12.5% will receive version B. Once the test has concluded, the remainder of your list will receive the winning version.
  4. Now for the fun part — check your analytics! It’s time to see what worked.

If you’re using Salesforce Pardot as your marketing automation platform, you can see what happened with your A/B test by visiting Marketing>Emails>A/B Tests. elect the email you wish to see, and you’ll be taken to the initial report, where you can view a timeline for how each email was performing during the test period.

In this case, we were testing whether an image or a button was more effective for click-through-rates. We used the same subject line and body copy in both emails, but in the A version, we had an image as our CTA, while in the B version, we had a button as our CTA.

As you can see from the results of the A/B test, the image version of the CTA clearly outperformed the button version, so once the A/B test had concluded, the remainder of our list received the A version of the email. If we wanted to see how each individual email performed, we could click on the button under each version that says, “View Report,” and that will take us to each individual email so that we can see a map of how each email performed.

What did we learn from this test? For our audience, an image CTA was more effective in getting the prospects to engage with our email, so we should consider replacing CTA buttons with image CTA’s for future emails.

Does that mean we’re done A/B testing? Absolutely not. Now that we’ve determined the type of CTA to use, we can start A/B testing email subjects, so that we can find the most effective one. Then, we can then take a look at the email copy to see if there are improvements to be made. By continually testing different elements of our emails, we can learn valuable lessons about our audience and improve overall engagement.

What is the key to successfully making a data-driven decision regarding email performance? The metrics. After each email sent, regardless of whether it’s a single list email or an A/B test, check the email performance report to see what you can learn about what took place. For opens or clicks that are performing poorly, create a plan to improve or test those items in your next email send. For those that are performing well, take note, and try to incorporate those into future emails.

Understanding email metrics will enable you to make a data-driven decision about how to improve email engagement with your organization. Utilizing tools within Pardot like the A/B email testing functionality, and the email metrics reporting will give you visibility into what is and isn’t working, and allow you to take action based on qualitative, rather than purely quantitative data. Use this knowledge to increase your email engagement rates, and maximize results.

To learn more information about Engagement Studio in Pardot, visit Trailhead, and check out the Pardot Email Marketing for Pardot Lightning App Module.

We can help you find and implement the tools you need to make data-driven decisions. Our experienced and professional consultants are at your service to design the business you want. Learn more about how we maximize revenue for our clients.

How to Maximize Revenue with Technology and Automation

Who doesn’t want to make more money? Many companies miss out on the opportunity to fully maximize their revenue, because they’ve underutilized the ability to automate processes via technology.

However, just because a process CAN be automated, doesn’t mean that it SHOULD be automated.

So, how do you figure out how and what you should automate, and what the effect will be on your bottom line?

Why do people take their cars to a mechanic? Because the mechanic is an expert on the complex systems involved in making the car work as it should. In order to have an opportunity to automate your business processes via technology, you need to fully understand the process end-to-end, where all of the decision points are, and how changes in one part of the system will affect other sections.

What is the easiest way to visualize these business processes? Create a process map!

You don’t necessarily need lots of fancy symbols or expensive software to create one – they can be as simple as a few text boxes in a PowerPoint presentation, like this example that shows how an Account Executive may handle a new business demo lead that has been assigned to them from a Business Development Representative:

Basic Account Executive Process

Remember – it doesn’t need to be pretty, as long as it clearly communicates the information and decision points for the entire process. Once you have a process mapped out, you can visualize inefficiencies in the system, and determine if there’s an opportunity to automate part or all of the process.

Now that we know how the process works, how do we figure out what to automate?

When it comes to utilizing automation for maximizing revenue, problem identification is key. What is the pain point that you’re trying to solve for, and how do you expect automation to solve for it? Working through a problem solving framework will help you to identify the issues, people involved, and determine and implement a solution. What do those steps look like?

  1. Problem Identification: What is the biggest pain point, who is involved, and which systems?
  2. Brainstorm the Solution: Research the system capabilities, and brainstorm potential solutions.
  3. Make Predictions: What will happen, either positive or negative, if you implement the solution?
  4. Test Your Ideas: Build a prototype, and test it in a sandbox. Does it behave as expected?
  5. Evaluate: Was the solution effective, and did it solve the problem? What went right or wrong?
  6. Present Your Results: Present to the stakeholders, and seek feedback. Are any changes necessary? If so, start back at step 1, and run through the problem-solving framework again.

Just because you can automate a process, doesn’t mean that you should. We don’t want to automate for automation’s sake! However, the tool you choose is just as important as the problem you’re trying to solve.

Have you ever tried to cut a tomato with a claw hammer? Rather than getting uniform tomato slices for your sandwich, you just wind up with a squishy mess. Does that mean that the claw hammer wasn’t a good one? Nope. Was the tomato bad? No again. So why didn’t things work right when we tried to put them together?

It’s simple. The claw hammer was the wrong tool for the job.

The same thing goes when trying to choose the right piece of business technology to automate marketing processes.

Using the live chatbot on the corporate website to try to send a complex series of nurture emails to a prospect will most likely result in disaster. However, Pardot’s Engagement Studio is a solution that’s just right for the task!

Pardot’s Engagement Studio allows marketers to build responsive, intelligent, lead nurturing programs that engage prospects at the right time during their customer journey. At the click of a button, you can create steps to complete an action, set a trigger to listen for a specific event, or create rules to determine which path a prospect should take.

In the Engagement Studio program, you’ll be able to see how prospects are moving through each step, and ensure that the right actions are taking place at the perfect time.

Now that we’ve determined the problem and how to choose the right solution for implementing a solution, we need to measure the impact on our revenue.

There are two main types of data benefits that we may see once an automated technological solution is implemented – qualitative and quantitative.

Qualitative data seeks to describe a topic more than measure it, and may include items like increased customer satisfaction, and what a prospect’s attitude might be.

Quantitative data is structured and statistical, focusing on verifiable numbers instead of feelings. Prior to implementation, be sure to collect benchmarks to compare changes against. This will allow you to determine whether you’ve seen a positive or negative impact on your ROI due to the automation.

Now it’s time to make a data driven decision! Keep the following in mind:

  1. Metrics are not enough – collect the right metrics. Ensure that you’re collecting the metrics that will allow you to make data driven decisions.
  2. Having more metrics is not always better. Don’t get number paralysis – focus on the important metrics that take a reasonable amount of time to collect and analyze.
  3. Don’t make value judgments on volume metrics. Quality over quantity is critical here.
    Don’t assume the numbers tell the whole story. The most important part of sharing metrics is the story you tell to make sense of them!
  4. Understand that your metrics may change over time. Good metrics now don’t always equal good metrics later. Re-evaluate the metrics you’re gathering and analyzing regularly to ensure you’re looking at the most relevant numbers.

So, how can you make more money with technology and automation? By getting to know your processes and procedures, you can eliminate unnecessary steps, and automate steps to decrease the amount of necessary manual work that needs to be done.

You also have a problem solving framework at your fingertips, to employ whenever you see a pain point arise. Now that you understand how to determine the right tool for the job, you can more fully utilize your technology stack to the company’s benefit.

And finally, we are also able to measure the effectiveness of any automation and technological changes via qualitative and quantitative analysis, which will allow you to make the best data-driven decision for your company to maximize revenue.

To learn more information about Engagement Studio in Pardot, visit Trailhead, and check out the Pardot Engagement Studio for Pardot Lightning App badge.

We can help you maximize your revenue with technology and automation. Our experienced and professional consultants are at your service to design the business you want. Learn more about how we maximize revenue for our clients.

Why Should Sales Care About Marketing Automation?

“Why should sales care about marketing automation?”

As the Director of Institutional Sales Operations at The Princeton Review and with 7+ years in the sales and marketing operations industry, this is a question I’ve been asked time and time again.

I usually answer this question with a question: “Do you have large amounts of unqualified leads being assigned to your sales team, forcing them to waste time qualifying them?”

If the answer is yes, my recommendation is simple — the sales team should be working with the marketing team to develop a lead nurturing program, so that incoming prospects will be more qualified and in a buyers frame of mind prior to being turned over to the sales team.

“Why are my sales reps getting so many unqualified leads from marketing?”

This is a question no marketing team wants to answer.

Sales teams love receiving leads, but they hate working unqualified ones, as it’s a huge waste of time. They would much prefer to have all prospects who are sent to the sales team be ready to buy immediately. Preferably, they’re the perfect customer with lots of money, too.

While that’s a great dream, let’s come back down to reality.

If the sales team is only getting 100% qualified leads, then the criteria for what should be sent from marketing to sales is a bit too strict and should be relaxed. On the other hand, if the sales team is receiving a huge amount of completely unqualified leads that don’t want to have a sales conversation, we have a lead nurturing problem.

So what can we do about this?

Let’s take a closer look at the marketing funnel, and what it should accomplish.

A basic marketing funnel has three parts.

  • Visitor: A prospect has interacted with our company, but we don’t yet have any other personally identifiable information on them except for IP address.
  • Marketing Lead (ML): We have been provided with some personally identifiable information, like an email, about the prospect. However, they are not ready to engage in a conversation with the sales team, or they don’t yet meet the criteria for passing a lead to sales.
  • Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL): We’ve obtained enough information about the prospect to meet our criteria for passing a lead to the sales team, and the prospect is potentially ready to engage in a sales conversation.

Various methods will introduce prospects to different parts of the marketing funnel. For example, you may have a section on your website where people can sign up to receive notifications when new blog content is posted. They’re only signing up using an email address, so they enter the marketing funnel as a Marketing Lead (ML). However, in some of your blogs, you reference a piece of content that includes a feature comparison tool for your product. The feature comparison tool is a gated piece of content, so on the form, the prospect provides some additional information about themselves, like their name.

In general, those seeking information about different product features may be exhibiting buying signals, and it may be close to the right time to put those prospects in touch with the sales team. However, if you send those prospects immediately to sales, they might not be ready to have that conversation yet.

Nurturing leads will help move the prospect smoothly through the marketing funnel, allowing the prospect to learn more information about your company, and warming them up to be open to having a conversation with the sales team about your product.

It also allows your company to slowly gather more information about the prospect via progressive profiling, and allows the company to build a more complete picture about the prospect so that the sales team can have a personalized conversation with them.

My sales team is now completely bought in on the value of marketing automation, but it wasn’t always that way. It took some time to show them how automated lead nurturing could actually help them.

To get their buy in on this new process, the marketing team started by meeting with the sales team to discuss the goals for a new nurture plan, and what they were looking to accomplish after the prospects had completed the nurture program. This alignment help us identify the criteria required for sales to have a productive conversation with the prospect, and allowed marketing to map out a logical customer journey that we could support with various pieces of collateral.

Once the plan was approved by both sides, the marketing team got to work building this in our marketing automation platform, Salesforce Pardot.

Engagement Studio is the perfect tool for nurturing leads. What process did the marketing team take to create an Engagement Studio program for nurturing these leads?

  1. We started by creating a segmentation list in Pardot that was used for enrolling prospects into the Engagement Studio nurture program.
  2. From there, we created and identified lists in Pardot that contained prospects that should not be receiving this Engagement Studio program. We used this list as a suppression list.
  3. Next, we used completion actions on each Top of Funnel (ToFu) or Middle of Funnel (MoFu) form that we decided should be included to enroll prospects in this nurture program, which added the prospects to your newly created segmentation list.
  4. We then created the email templates that would be sent to prospects at specific stages during the nurture process.
  5. Create a new Engagement Studio program. Add your lists, both enrollment and suppression.
  6. Identify the business days and hours that you wish to send the emails from Engagement Studio, select the time zone, and determine whether you’d like prospects to enter the program more than once.
  7. Then it was time to start building out the Engagement Studio program, using our enrollment and suppression lists, email templates, and email sending criteria (this is the fun part).
  8. Finally, once we completed the Engagement Studio Program, we made sure to test the program in the Test tab to ensure the program worked as we envisioned.
    In this Engagement Studio program, the marketing team nurtured leads via a series of emails which contained calls to action (CTA) that asked the prospect to download additional content. The marketing team utilized progressive profiling to gather additional information about the prospect during this journey, and if the prospect completed the entire program, they were assigned to the sales team for further follow up.

The sales team was extremely pleased with the prospects being assigned to them, as these prospects already had a good understanding about the company and what it could do for their business, and were interested in hearing about what those next steps in the buying process looked like. The sales team also could spend more time on the qualification calls speaking to the prospects about their specific pain points, rather than wasting time gathering basic information like their company name, as that information was already gathered during the nurture process.

Nurturing leads with Engagement Studio will help marketing provide sales with qualified, highly engaged prospects who are ready to have a sales conversation. By nurturing the leads, the marketing team can ensure that prospects have received appropriate information prior to a sales conversation and have taken actions which demonstrate buying signals. The sales team will spend less time trying to gather basic information in order to qualify prospects, and instead can spend their time having quality conversations with prospects instead.

So, why should sales care about marketing automation? It will help improve their lead quality, accelerate the marketing and sales funnel, drive personalized experiences, and ultimately, help them close more deals.

To learn more about how to build Engagement Studio programs in Pardot to qualify leads, visit Trailhead and check out the Pardot Lead Nurturing for Pardot Lightning App module.

We can help you align your sales and marketing teams. Our experienced and professional consultants are at your service to design the business you want. Learn more about how we maximize revenue for our clients.