Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Marketing automation evaluation criteria

Here is a list of questions that I used to evaluate the capabilities of the different marketing automation platforms.  When we were discussing the platforms with each vendor, they primarily focused on promoting their lead nurturing capabilities.  This list of criteria has strong emphasis on being able to effectively track, segment, and report based on customer activities.  Example, implement effective tracking to be able to analyze and score all customer behavior and then set up marketing programs based on customer engagement (activity) level.  Send one email to people that are highly engaged (actively reading email) and a different email to people that are not engaged (rarely open email).  Use different offers and messaging strategies based on engagement level.

Here's the criteria list that I developed:

Marketing Automation investigation

1.       Registration Forms:
o   Where do the forms sit.  We want the forms to sit on our website so we can track visits to pages, click paths, drop offs, and conversions.  Don’t want the pages to sit on a marketing automation platform micro site because we don’t get traffic and tracking if it’s not on our site.
§  Where do the Thank You pages sit and are there any issues adding Adwords tracking code to the Thank You pages
§  How do you protect content (asset) links.  You must be cookied in to be able to access the document/link.  If you pass the link to someone and that person is not cookied-in, that person will get either a short or long registration form
o   Go through the form behavior and tracking process for two scenarios:
§  Standard web form on our website passing data to the marketing automation system (double posting)
§  A form generated by the marketing automation system that is integrated with our website page.
o   Form integration with Adwords.
o   Tracking links:
§  Ability to parse data from tracking links built with Google URL builder
§  Capture the data and pass it into SFDC fields
§  Generate reports to show site visitors and conversions filtered / sorted by tracking link data
§  Preferred model is one landing page that parses data from the inbound link and then sets SFDC field values based on the parsed data.  Example:  have one landing page.  Inbound tracking link from Partner 1 sets SFDC lead source as Partner 1.  Inbound tracking link from Partner 2 sets SFDC lead source as Partner 2.
·         When is the data from the inbound tracking link detected by the marketing automation system.  Is it detected as soon as the visit happens or is it tracked after the form is submitted.  Can the form serve a different thank you page based on the data parsed from the tracking link?  Can the marketing automation system send a different confirmation email based on the data parsed from the tracking link?  (assume that once the parsed data is passed into SFDC, then that individual can be automatically added to a segment and lead nurturing campaign.
o   Gated forms:
§  Does it take custom programming to set it up
§  If there is a main gated form, how do you track the content that was downloaded and not just track the main registration form submission.
o   How will tracking work with a landing page that has multiple content items.
§  Example: Landing page with single form with 3 separate links for whitepaper, case study, and video.
·         Eloqua requires a tracking link on each piece of content.  For documents and videos, Eloqua requires a redirect page with tracking link on the redirect to get to the asset.
o   How to verify that the content downloaded data in the marketing automation system matches the campaign data in SFDC. 
§  Run a report to identify every email that has downloaded content in the marketing automation system by content piece.
§  How does document download tracking work
§  How does document download tracking work when the document is a not a webpage (i.e. the download is a PDF or exe file).
o   Is there any capability to create Personal URLs
o   Is there any capability for A/B testing that would automatically split traffic to each form based on visit percentages specified by the marketing automation user.  Example:  run an A/B test on a landing page and automatically send 75% of the traffic to the control landing page and 25% of the traffic to the test landing page
2.       Show us the email capabilities.  We’re currently emailing 200K people twice a week.
o   How to create emails
o   How to segment email lists
o   Is there any capability designed to make it easier to send A/B tests or different versions of emails to different sub-segments of lists.
o   How to stage emails to send at certain days/times
§  If we’re sending 200K emails, how long would it take the system to process and send all of those emails
o   Is there a way to stage email to send by time zone or state
o   Email reporting/metrics
o   What to do with our opt out list.  Is there a way to create an email suppression list without having to load all the opt out people into the marketing automation system (don’t want to have to pay for keeping these opt outs in the marketing automation system)
o   Can we track email activity history in the marketing automation platform and report on that data, but not pass the email activity history in SFDC.  Don't want to clutter SFDC activity history with email activity data.
o   Can we track every activity history except email activity in SFDC
o   Can we selectively trigger email alerts on opens/clicks by email campaign and by individual/segment.  (as opposed to an All On or All Off model)
o   How does the email system handle soft and hard bounces
o   What if any capabilities will the system provide to ensure the best possible email deliverability rates
o   How does the system handle duplicate email addresses
o   How does the system handle bad email addresses
o   Email preferences:
§  How to implement email preferences by content type
§  How to implement email preferences by email type: mobile, html, text
o   Email Opt Out:
§  Where are email opt outs tracked
§  Can we provide an email opt out process that offers an Opt Down choice before offering an Opt Out.
3.       Segmentation
o   Ease of building segmentation based on either demographic (field) data, campaign data, or activity data
4.       Reporting and analytics capabilities:  
o   ability to report and segment on activity data over any timeframe.  I’d like to see an analysis that allows me to segment the database by level of engagement:  identify those people that have opened only once, clicked once, opened twice, clicked twice, etc over any given timeframe.
o   Ability to dump all activity data into an excel spreadsheet.  Can I analyze the data in excel instead of using any analytics capabilities in the marketing automation platform.
o   Is there any way to cluster people based on tracking data and measure their activity.  Example, could we analyze everyone that came in on a certain Adwords ad group and identify the most frequently visited pages and the most frequent activities.
o   How does the system handle analysis when the customers being analyzed reside in both Leads and Contacts in SFDC.  Are there any constraints depending upon whether someone is a lead or contact in SFDC?
o   Are there any capabilities that make statistical analysis easier?  (linear regression?)
o   Is there a data warehouse behind the system and can you access more detailed data in the warehouse using SQL queries?
§  If there is a data warehouse, is each company’s data in a separate date cube?
§  Is there documentation on the data warehouse?
5.       Real-time site visit alert capabilities
o   What information can be inferred from people that are unknown (haven’t registered)
o   How does the data compare to the data in Leadlander reports.  Do the visit counts match and to what extent can the system infer company names from the IP address.
o   Can the marketing automation platform provide any click path analysis?  Can it trigger an alert or workflow based on a click-path (sequence of web pages visited)
6.       Lead scoring:
o   ability to use mathematical formulas, to apply aging factors, to score both demographic and activity data
o   ability to track lead scores over lead lifetime instead of pre-set timeframes (30/60/90 days)
o   Can we track and trigger workflow off lead score velocity: rate at which lead score is increasing or decreasing over a given timeframe.
o   Are there any limitations in passing lead score data from the marketing automation system into SFDC
7.       Lead Nurturing: setting up lead nurturing campaigns
o   Setting up lead nurturing campaigns with multiple paths depending upon how the lead/contact responds.
o   What kinds of analytics are available to measure the effectiveness of a multi-stage, multi-channel nurturing campaign.
8.       Webex and Adobe Connect integration for the registration process
o   How to implement the registration process in the marketing automation platform: registration pages, confirmation email with webinar link, confirmation email with calendar appt file, reminder emails
o   Can we set up multiple registration pages for one webinar.  Example:  if we have several channel partners, each channel partner would have their own custom branded registration page for the webinar.
9.       Other:
o   How to deliver actionable information to sales reps.  Don’t want to have to buy extra licenses just to send alerts or to share activity data.  Prefer to pass lead scoring and activity data into SFDC and triggering alerts from there.  Prefer to get real-time site visit alerts without having to buy an extra module/license.
o   Are there any opportunities to integrate social media with the marketing automation platform: linkedin, twitter, facebook, blog
o   Is there any way for the website to read the marketing automation system cookie and serve a different banner ad or web page based on the information in the cookie.  Example:  if a person is cookied in and visits the home page, serve a different page than if the person is not cookied in.
o   How frequently does the system synch with SFDC?
§  Is it possible to keep purchased email address records in the marketing automation system and not synch them to SFDC.
§  If there are 100K records in SFDC, does the marketing automation system have the intelligence to only synch incremental changes since the last synch.
§  How long does a synch take
o   How does the system behave  if an existing lead or contact fills out a registration form.
§  Does it generate a new lead or does it add just add the campaign activity history.
o   Issue:  Sales reps don’t associate all Leads/Contacts with Opportunities in SFDC.  Is there any way to use the tracking and analytics capabilities of the marketing automation system to infer who is associated with an opportunity based on Account name and their behavior?
§  Is there an easy way to create sub-segments based on Account Name and then track and score the field data and activity data in salesforce.com associated with an account that is associated with an opportunity.
10.   Implementation:
o   What code has to be implemented on the website
§  Are there any issues with our site being a word-press site
o   How does the data synch process work between salesforce.com and the marketing automation platform.
§  How does it process a new lead registration when there is an existing lead or contact that matches the email address.
o   When we transition from Eloqua to the new marketing automation system, how do we maintain the data that associates Records to purchased Lists.  That is not currently in a field in Salesforce.com.
o   How will the behavior of the resource center change
o   Is there any way to transfer any of the historical site visit and email open/click data in Eloqua into the new marketing automation platform.
o   What does the contract include.  Are there any other modules that we would need?
o   What goes into a typical implementation
o   Support:
§  What methods are available for support
§  Test the effectiveness of calling into the support lines
§  Is there a community forum where you can ask questions

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