Rules of Engagement from Marketo Summit: How Marketing Automation Wows Your Buyers


I spent last week connecting with marketing leaders, learning the latest tips and tricks, and posing for a pic with Fabio. Where was I, you ask? At the Marketo Marketing Nation Summit!

(Yes, I really met Fabio. You can be jealous.)

The event was full of great insights, but as a marketing automation specialist, I was most interested in the keynote by Marketo CEO Steve Lucas. He explained how marketers can use marketing automation to win in the engagement economy.

“What the heck is the engagement economy,” you ask? Well, I’ll tell you.

The Experience Is Everything

Steve’s talk came down to this: The relationship between buyers and sellers has changed. Buyers’ needs, not yours, drive the purchase process. And your buyers demand an engaging experience.

Because today’s buyers self-direct their purchase journeys, they choose what information and experiences to interact with. So marketers have to deliver content that’s relevant, valuable and engaging. Brands that do this will successfully move buyers through the purchase journey. The ones that don’t? They’ll fade away like Blockbuster.

To engage your buyers, marketing automation can be your secret weapon. I learned many tips from the summit and Steve’s keynote — here are five of my favorites.

1. Think Quality, Not Quantity

Marketing automation lets you reach huge numbers of people at once. So buying a massive list might seem like an easy way to maximize reach. But most platforms don’t even allow list purchasing, and for good reason. While you might get a few thousand names, those people didn’t opt in to receive your emails, and blacklisting is no joke.

Instead, focus on quality, not quantity, by segmenting your database. This lets you target people by interest, demographics, or actions like form fills. Your list might be smaller, but it will be made of people who want to hear from you.

2. Use Scoring and Grading to Your Advantage

Too-early sales contact is frustrating for both buyers and salespeople. So make sure you know which leads are sales-ready by using lead scoring. This technique measures sales readiness based on demographics (like job title or company name) or activity (how they’ve engaged with you before). It helps you judge which buyers are ready for what action.

For the most accurate scoring, look beyond clicks and opens. Focus on actions that actually matter to your buying cycle, like specific white paper clicks or form fills. Don’t be afraid to negatively score actions that aren’t ideal, like visitors who hit your careers site.

Once you’ve got lead scoring in place, take it to the next level with lead grading. Lead grading shows how closely leads match Sales’ ideal prospect. However, as Joe Reitz from Amazon Web Services mentioned in his session, this only works when both teams agree on what an ideal prospect looks like.

3. Get Personal

Personalized messages can deliver real value, while generic marketing hardly ever speaks to anyone. We all know this … but many marketers just plop in a {Firstname} token and call it a day.

Marketing automation can take personalization much further. Tokens can populate companies, locations, job titles: anything with a field in your database. Segments can swap out email content sections based on who’s receiving them. And real-time personalization can shift your website experience to match specific visitors.

4. Nurture for the Long Haul

The B2B purchase journey can be long and complex. Automated nurture journeys are a great way to engage buyers over time until they’re ready to purchase. But what makes a good journey?

In a breakout session, SiriusDecisions’ James Famico shared three qualities of successful nurture journeys: relevant topics, information mapped to buyer personas, and content for the right buy cycle stages. You can build those considerations into your journey from the beginning. Take frequency: If your industry has a three-year buy cycle, spread your touches out instead of emailing four times a week.

5. Think Beyond MAP

Marketing automation platforms are great for digital marketing. But to maximize engagement, it can help to think outside the box. Why not bring different mediums into your automated marketing programs?

Telemarketing is just one example. I loved this tip from the summit: Have a call specialist leave prospects a voicemail after business hours. That call triggers an automatic email with key discussion points. The two-touch combo will catch buyers’ attention, improve engagement and, most likely, convert more.

I gained so many great ideas from the summit, it’s hard to share just five! Now that I’m back, I’m ready to put all these new insights into practice. (I’m also ready for a nap, but that’s another story.)

Were you at the Marketo Summit? Do you have your own marketing automation tips to share? I’d love to hear from you — drop me a note in the comments.