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Marketing Automation with Marketo

What does marketing automation mean for a lean sales team? Lean sales team means limited headcount, and does not consider low touch, high touch, pricing, industry…When I talk about lean sales team, I am specifically referring to lean sales for low touch sales process. The low touch sales process is directly related to lower ACV, high volume, shorter sales cycles. 3 questions I’d consider before establishing a marketing automation tool: What do you want marketing automation to accomplish? What customer-activity related triggers are significant? What cannot be replaced by marketing automation?

According to this VentureBeat article, marketing automation is about getting the ‘right’ leads in the hands of sales at the ‘right’ time. In many ways it’s an efficiency story:

marketing automation is based on the concept of nurturing leads with relevant content until the individual appears ready to buy, and then routing that prospect to a sales rep at the optimal point in the buying process. Marketing automation combines technology, typically hosted, with business processes that score leads based on fixed criteria like title and size of company, as well as dynamic criteria, such as which web pages the person viewed, whether the individual attended a webinar or clicked through to an offer.

Ultimately this information allows the marketer to better target messages and promotions to individuals based on their stated and implied interests.

To be honest, I’ve only regularly used Marketo. For a decent review of higher standard marketing automation tools, see How to choose the right marketing automation tool. There are also great FREE gmail plug-ins which I use, and can write a blog about later. With this in mind, I will walk through the ways I’ve used Marketo to nurture the end to end sales process–from prospecting and building the top of the funnel, to nurturing through a trial process, supporting customer success post sale, and providing renewal services.

In my last blog, I wrote about SaaS companies delivering software via a Freemium or Trial model. Trials and Freemium accounts could be time-sensitive or feature-limited to promote the customer to upgrade. In my past experience with Marketo, the goal of marketing automation was to get the customer interested, assist the customer during trial exposure, and encourage the customer to upgrade or renew.

I joined the company as the first hired sales person. We had a talented CEO/BD manager who wore 15+ other hats and a VP of Engineering who wore 17+ other hats. This means I was responsible for the end to end sales cycle and customer conversion. In my case, we had a 30-day trial with close to fully functional features. The users, number of projects, and external integration was limited, but available after upgrade. When I joined, we had 5-15 new trial signups/day. I was manually Ctrl+C, Ctrl+V-ing away. It all changed when we implemented Marketo. I went from manual spamming, to intelligent marketing automation.

In a 35-day process, I was “touching” 525 total accounts at some point of the trial–Day 1, Day 5, Day 14, Day 25, Day 30, Day 35. If you’ve signed up for a Free service, you might understand the annoyance of receiving 6 emails within 35 days. The benefit of an agile sales process is being flexible and being able to instantly change process depending on results. The more intelligent route was to go from time-based triggers, to activity-based triggers. After more than enough customer emails, we fine tuned Marketo to send 3-5 emails, depending on customer activity. In Marketo, there is a concept of Lead Score, e.g:

  • +30 points If New Lead has Phone Number

  • +20 clicks link in nurture email

  • +30 TFP Instance >0

  • (SVN)Commits Last 30 Days>2, +30

  • If Added Users used is >2, +20

  • TFP Artifact Last 30 days > 0, +50

  • Git Commits Last 30 Days>2, +30

  • IF SVN Instances >1 +20

  • IF Git Instances >1 +20

  • Email validated from “InvalidOwner” to “Active” - +50

Lead Score is related to activities which are deemed critical for a customer to upgrade. Depending on Lead Score, customers would receive certain emails, and the integrated CRM (e.g. Salesforce) would trigger tasks for sales representatives. In this example, the more a customer commits, adds version control instances, or clicks in email links, the more qualified a customer is. On the other hand, if a customer does none of these activities, emails and tasks will be triggered to encourage the customer to do commit, add instances, etc.

Once a customer upgrades to a paid account, score is related to account usage and renewal date, and all email campaigns and sales rep tasks are triggered based on the “paid customer” success criteria. If a customer does not upgrade to a paid account, all email campaigns and sales rep tasks can be triggered based on time from Created Date, or better yet, Customer Activities e.g open email, click on blog link. In my next blog, I’d be happy to write about marketing automation integrated with CRM.

If you want assistance on setting up your Marketo account or reviewing how Marketo fits into the Sales Workflow, please contact me at

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