Tag Archives: ActOn

Inside Act-On: A Conversation with Nina Church-Adams

20180305 bnr inside acton nina church adams 351x200 Inside Act On: A Conversation with Nina Church Adams

Tony: What was the connection?

Nina: What I loved about sociology was the study of people and organizations and cultures, and how they all come together to create human experiences. Understanding how we relate to each other and what influences us is at the heart of what I like about marketing, and it’s made me very aware of the importance of focusing on the customer.

Tony: You began your career as a Fellow for International Bridges to Justice (IBJ), a nonprofit that protects the rights of citizens of developing countries. How did you wind up in marketing?

Nina Church-Adams: Working for IBJ was very satisfying, and for a while I thought I’d become a lawyer, but when I saw that other nonprofits with great missions could be managed better and realized I had an aptitude for business, I decided to get a master’s in international management with the goal of learning how to do nonprofit work better.

When I graduated from the University of West England, I wanted to put my education into practice and work somewhere I felt I could grow not just as a professional, but as a female leader. American Express was on the list of top 50 places for women to work, so I applied to be an assistant marketing manager there.

The HR director was skeptical of my nonprofit background and my master’s degree from outside the U.S., but the hiring manager liked it. I remember in the interview she said, “Tell me about the marketing that you’ve done. You might not have called it marketing, but I know that’s what you were doing.” She believed my experience developing people-centric programs was a valuable marketing asset, so she hired me.

Arriving at Act-On

Tony: What drew you to this position with Act-On?

Nina Church-Adams: I’d been following the tech scene in Portland for years and was very impressed with Act-On’s product and the company’s success. I’m also an avid consumer of marketing content and knew Act-On was a powerful thought leader in our field, so the idea of joining forces with them was intellectually exciting.

Then I met with Kate Johnson and Bill Pierznik, the company’s CEO and COO, and was struck by the direction they were headed and their desire to centralize the company in Portland. The changes they were undertaking aren’t easy to make, but there was a strong sense of “all for one and one for all” that included their employees, their product, and their customers, and I really liked that.

And I knew I could contribute. I’ve had a wide range of professional experiences, but the common thread has been leading teams through periods of transformational change, which I really enjoy. I think that’s the sociologist in me. I appreciate the complexities of organizational effectiveness, and I like to roll up my sleeves and work side by side with my colleagues to execute a plan.

How Marketing Automation Will Help Us Succeed

Tony: What do you think is the greatest challenge today’s marketers face?

Nina Church-Adams: Probably the biggest challenge is cutting through the clutter. We’re constantly inundated with media and messaging and stimulation. Marketers need to figure out how to uniquely engage their buyers.

This is a broad undertaking that needs to happen cross-functionally. Marketers are just one thread in a fabric woven together with sales, product, and customer success. These groups have to collaborate well and be tightly aligned to the goals of the business to deliver results – that’s what makes the fabric strong and attractive.

And because the customer journey is cyclical, this is an ongoing process. Once you have a clear vision for the fabric you’re making, you have to find the buyers who need it. And then you have to continue the conversation after they purchase to ensure the fabric is meeting their needs – and so you know when and how it needs to change to remain useful and appealing.

All this requires curation and focus and prioritization. And a platform like Act-On helps you manage this process by making it easy to reach the right buyers with the right message at the right time.

Tony: Where do you think marketing automation is headed?

Nina Church-Adams: I think we’re at a real turning point. The industry started out as email service providers, and then the emphasis on metrics and ROI – along with the need to integrate with CRMs and other MarTech – meant that marketing automation had to provide the features and functionality marketers need to drive their business forward. That’s a given now for any platform, and I think Act-On does all this beautifully.

But it’s no longer enough. Today’s buyers expect even more customized experiences, and that’s where I see Act-On as the north star. Our Adaptive Journeys™ vision is leveraging machine learning and predictive technologies to really understand a customer’s behavior and what they want and need, so marketers can engage with individuals in whatever way each person uniquely wants to.

What’s remarkable is that the application of business and artificial intelligence isn’t just happening in MarTech – it’s exploding across all industries. But the sociologist in me finds the role it will play in marketing particularly interesting. Our goal as marketers is to create more meaningful engagements with people, and our growing ability to leverage data will give us endless possibilities to do that. That’s the next generation of marketing automation, and Act-On is leading the way.

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How Act-On University Empowers Customers to Become Better Marketers

20171121 bnr acton u interview 351x200 How Act On University Empowers Customers to Become Better Marketers

Tami: It was world class. Much more than we could ever have expected. It’s helped us get up to speed quickly, Because of Act-On University, we were able to get up to speed in seemingly no time and launch our first campaign in less than one month.

The online courses in Act-On University are organized into learning paths that focus on different objectives, and our onboarding manager took the time to understand our marketing goals and recommend the paths we should take to meet them. He tracked our progress closely, and was always ready to help with our homework and quizzes.

And he was so warm and personal – much more than just a trainer on the other end of the line. To be honest, when onboarding ended, I kind of felt like our boyfriend broke up with us! (laughs).

Tony: But the memories will last a lifetime. What was the learning experience at Act-On University like?

Tami: The presenters are phenomenal – very knowledgeable and highly skilled at presenting the material in a way that’s easy to understand. The content is always engaging, and I love that the courses are interactive. There are usually 8-10 other marketers in the class. It seemed like they could all type their questions into the chat faster than me, but it was still great. They made the learning even richer.

Tony: How about the Act-On University learning environment itself? Was it easy to find what you needed on the site?

Tami: The site was very user-friendly. I went through the Demand Generation Marketing learning path, and all the courses I needed to complete were laid out in chronological order. One click showed me what sessions were available, and there were always plenty of options. Registering was easy, and I would get a reminder email an hour before the class. The whole process was seamless.

Tony: Were there other features you found useful?

Tami: I like that the trainers hold office hours that allow you to schedule time with them if you have specific questions. And I’m excited about the new Take 10 program, the ten-minute sessions on topics like lead nurturing and customer marketing. They’re valuable and easy to consume. I have them all on my calendar.

Tony: How is the university helping you and your team?

Tami: It’s giving us great confidence in using the platform and made it easy to train our colleagues. We showed a sales rep how to find and use the Act-On dashboard in the CRM, and he was blown away by features like Hot Prospects and the Website Prospector. During our meeting, he saw a college was visiting our website and reached out to them and booked a demo – all before we even sent our first email!

The university is also making me a better marketer. Before I came to rSmart, most of my experience was in corporate communications. Now I’m more focused on demand generation and campaign development, and the university is giving me access to all this intelligence from veteran marketers in those disciplines. I don’t want to say it’s like marketing for dummies, but it’s kind of like marketing for dummies!

But seriously, it’s made me a little obsessive about Act-On. Completing courses has been so enjoyable and satisfying that I took my laptop to the beach and continued working through them on my vacation! (laughs).

Tony: Wow, now that’s commitment! What role do you see Act-On University playing down the road?

Tami: All the learning paths will be helpful. Right now, we’re developing a good proficiency with the platform, but soon we’re going to be focusing on our content marketing, and I’m already making note of the courses and best practices that the university offers about optimizing TOFU, MOFU, and BOFU programs. That kind of guidance will be very helpful.

As a whole, the university gives me the confidence that as we grow our business, we’ll be able to scale with Act-On. And I feel good knowing that the Act-On team will celebrate our success as we achieve each new milestone.

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Inside Act-On: A Run for Fun and Community Service

20171026 bnr inside acton run 351x200 Inside Act On: A Run for Fun and Community Service

The poet Wendell Berry once wrote that community was something only really felt and forged in overwork – something we created through our service to others: “We are connected by work even to the places where we don’t work, for all places are connected; it is clear by now that we cannot exempt one place from the ruin of another.” The way he saw it, we’d know and recognize our community by the people we helped and good turns we did (what he called “good works”). We’d understand our place in the world by continually supporting and elevating others.

It’s a vision for service that sees community as a practice, rather than a principle, and one we’ve taken to heart here at Act-On.

Act for Good, our program for social responsibility and our way of giving back to the local and global communities we serve, is now in its second year, and has grown to encompass all manner of projects and initiatives: a partnership with the nonprofit Boys and Girls Aid to create welcome boxes for kids in Oregon’s foster system as they transition between placements; a lunch-and-learn with Dollar for Portland, a non-profit helping to alleviate medical debt; 200+ brown-bag lunches for Community Overcoming Relationship Abuse (or CORA), a Bay Area-based provider of services for victims of domestic abuse and violence.

Most recently, we were proud to take part in Portland’s 4k4Charity – a 4K fun run that’s a collaborative, annual event in its third year and dedicated to encouraging diversity and inclusion in the Portland community. Proceeds from this year’s run went to the Rosemary Anderson High School, a community-based school for alternative education open to students struggling in traditional public school settings. RAHS offers open-door, year-round access to students looking to complete their high school educations, and boasts a 90% graduation rate. Through 4k4Charity, we are helping provide students with access to technology and education that will empower and equip them for a successful future. Precisely the sort of institution that embodies Berry’s idea of service and community: solidarity and support through the work of education and empowerment.

It was an event well-aligned with Act-On’s core values and objectives – affirming our appreciation for Portland’s vibrant startup scene, strengthening our pipeline to the broader community, and encouraging and prioritizing wellness among our employees. This year’s event
was especially meaningful as our community honored Sam Blackman, the inspiration who started this movement of Portland’s startups collaborating to improve inclusion and diversity within our companies, and who died from sudden cardiac arrest in August.

We were also proud to have the third largest registration numbers of any company participating – no small feat in a city of runners!
Check out some of the photos and highlights from this year’s race below.

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Create a Personalized Buyer Journey with Act-On: A bisco Industries Success Story

blog title bisco 351x200 Create a Personalized Buyer Journey with Act On: A bisco Industries Success Story

Personalizing the Buyer’s Journey with Act-On Delivers nearly 1,400% ROI

When bisco Industries used Act-On to create custom product recommendations, the company increased conversion rates by 1,285% and created $ 100,000 in new opportunities. Implementing Act-On has also saved bisco $ 72K across the entire marketing department, and set them on track to generate $ 120,000 in annual revenue.

In this video, Adam Wong, bisco’s Director of Marketing, explains how Act-On helped his team reduce costs, increase sales, and pay off their investment in just 1.2 months.

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Inside Act-On: Preparing for GDPR Compliance

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We recently checked in with David to see how Act-On itself was getting prepared for being compliant.

“We’re on second base,” he said, but added there is work to be done to get to home plate.

He said Act-On began working about a year ago for the GDPR adoption. So far, that work has included:

  • completed a thorough third-party assessment of our preparedness for the GDPR;
  • completed employee training and awareness on the GDPR;
  • assessed our product and functionalities for possible GDPR enhancements; and,
  • proactively worked with industry, clients and partners to support GDPR awareness.

GDPR is a massive piece of legislation, and it touches all parts of a company from accounting to marketing to legal and even HR. For Act-On, we also have to ensure our product doesn’t hinder our customers from being compliant. We also have to make sure our third-party vendors that we use (such as our video hosting platform) would be compliant, which has come up as we renewed contracts.

NOTE: Act-On does not provide legal guidance for any compliance obligations. But David did write a blog post in July about what you need to know about GDPR. You can also access the European Union’s GDPR website.

Next Steps

Act-On is producing webinars and datasheets and other content about GDPR throughout the year. You can also email David if you have a question: privacy@act-on.com. We’ve prepared a handy GDPR checklist in order to help you get started on becoming completely GDPR compliant.

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Once-in-a-lifetime total solar eclipse brings Act-On team together across offices

blog title acton eclipse 351X200 Once in a lifetime total solar eclipse brings Act On team together across offices

Last week’s total solar eclipse was a once-in-a-lifetime viewing event and a good excuse to take a break from work routines and conference calls. And at Act-On, the bosses were OK with that.

A while back, Act-On’s Chief People Officer Susy Dunn wrote about identifying our core convictions “that define what matters most to us,” and the process we underwent at Act-On for developing them.

As a refresher, here they are below (read her post to see specifics for each one):

  • Act Together
  • Act with Integrity
  • Act to Win

Developing convictions (or mission statements, or values) can be a tricky thing. There’s always a risk they’re more often stated on some website landing page than embraced by the rank and file, and across many geographic offices.

Of course, there are always the planned summer picnics and holiday parties. But what happens in-between those events, day to day is what can really shape your culture and your convictions.

So, it was a pleasure to see Act-On join with thousands of other employers nationally to invest an estimated $ 694 million in their employees by encouraging them to walk away from their computers, assembly lines, and so forth and toward an open window, rooftop or parking lot to look up at the celestial skies.

The path of the total eclipse, which sliced diagonally from Oregon to South Carolina and was the first to traverse the United States from coast to coast since 1918, lent itself to planning a watch party at our corporate offices in Portland (where we were at 99.4 percent totality).

Actonians – yes, that is what we call ourselves – brought friends and family to work to see the big event. There was NASA-approved glasses shared, as well as treats and beverages. Act-On’s other offices along the path of the eclipse also participated. Even remote employees took a break to watch the event from their backyards.

Shawn Keeler, a regional sales manager based in our Scottsdale offices, suggested we get folks from all the offices to share their favorite pictures or videos from the eclipse. The response was overwhelming. Check out this 1-minute video we put together.

The eclipse has come and gone. But Actonians are still chatting about it, sharing their favorite memories from it, whether that was a cool picture they took, how streetlights came on, or how the sunlight through trees created amazing crescent shadows on the streets and sidewalks.

Watching the eclipse reminded us how small we all are, and how huge the universe is. But on a Monday morning in late August, it also brought us together.

“Just wanted to say a big thank you for making today’s eclipse viewing a fun and festive experience!,” wrote Stephen Schleifer, Act-On’s senior director for customer marketing. “Great way to bring the office together.”

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Talent Management – Interview Talking MarTech Careers with Michelle Huff, CMO at Act-On Software

Talent Management Interview Talking MarTech Careers with Michelle Huff CMO at Act On Software 351x200 Talent Management – Interview Talking MarTech Careers with Michelle Huff, CMO at Act On Software

Ginger Conlon: 

Hi, I’m Ginger Conlon, Contributing Editor to MarTech Advisor and welcome to our MarTech Advisor video series speaking with CMO’s, and joining me today, I’m excited to announce, is Michelle Huff who is CMO of Act-On software. Welcome Michelle.

Michelle Huff: 

Thanks! Nice talking with you again.

Ginger Conlon: 

Yes, thank you for joining us. So, we are going to talk about the marketing skills that you need to have today. Michelle and I talked about all the things going on in marketing automation and so, check out that video because these things are linked, they are so important to have the skills to take advantage of all these great things going on in marketing automation today. So, let’s start with a little bit about you, tell us briefly about your career journey to becoming CMO of Act-On.

Michelle Huff: 

Yes. So, my journey started off years ago in high tech and I first started off at a small, 30 person company doing web marketing in the late ‘90’s and then over time took on a product marketing role and it continued to be a fast growing business, through that I ended up taking on a product line and then we were acquired by Oracle and so I moved to Oracle. Eventually on the way ended up running, what they call, their outbound product management team for an entire product portfolio that had four different lines. It was interesting just to kind of see, you know, the old company I was at was about 600 people and Oracle at the time was about 80 something thousand and grew to a 120,000 when I was there in five years.

But then I ended up hopping over to Salesforce and so I was at Salesforce for about four years running for one of their divisions first product marketing, then all of their marketing departments and then ended up doing product management, was the General Manager of the division before I jumped over to Act-On. So, it’s been a fun ride, being able to see different companies and how they grow, how you scale, I mean just different sizes of companies and it’s fun to be back into a kind of a mid-sized business where we’re all in it together, really focused on making marketers successful.

Ginger Conlon:

Excellent, that’s a great journey.

Michelle Huff: 


Ginger Conlon:

So, with all the change today, there are skills and traits that have always been important, will continue to be important and then there are some new and evolving in importance traits and skills. So, what are you seeing as one or two of the most important traits and skills that a marketing leader specifically needs today?

Michelle Huff: 

Yeah, I mean, it’s interesting because it’s something I’ve always talked about with my team where, it’s funny, marketing, where, as you’re kind of growing in the ranks, some of the skills that require you to grow, to become a, specialist, senior specialist, manager, senior manager, are really different when you start taking on broader leadership roles and I think one really important one is around aligning and communication because at the end of the day, we’ve talked about before in our past interview about how marketers, leaders of marketing focus on the whole customer lifecycle, right, partnering not just with sales but also with the customer success team, normally we partner with whoever the product or service that you’re representing that team as well as the President and people officer. So, how you’re going about communicating your vision, what you’re trying to do, how you’re aligning expectations and goals across all of them determine kind of the success of your career.

So, I think those in particular is so important and then I also feel like, you know, marketing has become such a broad role, right, talk about all those different components and you think about digital, you think about, all the different things with marketing automation but then you also think about brand and customer marketing and it requires so many different skillsets and so, you’ll never be able to be an expert or have done, you know, the work in every single part of marketing and so I think the second part is really how do you, you know, build the skills that you can build a team of experts around you and be able to rely on them to help, you know, your whole entire department become more successful. Then I really just think, you know, being a little more tech savvy and understanding kind of that business acumen part, kind of that both, is just becoming more and more critical for marketers today.

Ginger Conlon: 

Great. So, you would think that as marketers we’re great communicators but maybe, you know, communicating with all these different constituents in your company isn’t what you’re used to do doing and trying to have this kind of broad approach to what you’re learning can be challenging, any advice for senior marketers to get better in these complicated areas?

Michelle Huff: 

It’s interesting because as you say, marketers are, it’s something we’re used to doing and I think it’s so true and I think sometimes people forget internally that you have to think about who your target audience is, right, and what’s important to them and then be able to make sure that you are communicating advantages, the benefits, you know, of what you’re trying to do and so, I think, that’s why the business acumen is really important because it’s – you have to understand that department, what’s driving them, what’s motivating them, what makes them successful, so that when you are trying to build an alliance, when you’re trying to get things done, you know, you’re really selling it, you’re always, selling your vision, getting people to adopt and be excited about what you’re trying to do and so it is using the same skillsets for marketers but I think sometimes people just forget that you need to kind of apply that internally no matter how big or small the company you’re in.

Ginger Conlon: 

Right, it’s great. It’s like you have to be customer centric internally and externally.

Michelle Huff: 

Exactly, right.

Ginger Conlon: 

Definitely. So, let’s talk about marketing teams now. So, there’s all this data, there’s all this technology, it’s changing the marketing landscape and that means that, as we talked about, you know, the skills, the marketers roles are changing, what they need to do is evolving and broadening. So, where are you seeing the greatest need in terms of marketing teams for new skills and what are some of the new skills that you’re seeing a need for today?

Michelle Huff: 

There’s a lot of them. We talk a lot more of marketing being more data driven, so having the skillsets around being more analytical, is definitely a key component. Content marketing is huge, so having creative writers as part of the team, there’s a lot of companies where it’s much more consultative selling, so, having kind of this expertise either in the market or the business or that, a better understanding of the broader solution is really important.

I just feel there are so many different skill-sets that in some sense, we talked about before, where it’s really that team because you don’t always want the person who’s going to be running your brand campaigns to always be the most data driven person, it’s great if they understand it but it’s nice to pair someone on that team who is, it can really help all the different parts of the business think about their world and how they want to be able to articulate the benefits and the value of what they’re trying to do. So, I think a lot of times it’s thinking about you and what skillsets you need to kind of balance with yourself but then also all the people on the team, so that collectively, you know, you’ve got kind of the best combination.

Ginger Conlon: 

Right. So, no matter what level you’re at, you need to be a great communicator, is kind of how it works now.

Michelle Huff: 

Well, yeah and thinking about complimenting, you know, your strengths and weaknesses with the rest of your team.

Ginger Conlon: 

Right. So, for you personally, when you’re hiring, what are some of the things that you look for in a marketer?

Michelle Huff: 

Well, it’s interesting because I’m obviously looking for expertise, right. So, when I’m filling a particular role you’re looking have you done it before, like, have you been there long enough to not just create something but see how it turns out, were you there long enough to see how well it did, any of the challenges, did you learn from any of it. I think communication is important, so much of it is, you know, because it’s how do you communicate internally but also marketers oftentimes are the ones who are speaking, they’re the ones who are presenting, so having great presentation and communication skills are really important.

Then I also just feel like, part of it is cultural fit because one person might work really well in one company but not necessarily kind of fit within that team, so, I think a part of it is testing that out for you and for your team because sometimes the brightest people, if they’re the wrong cultural fit, it just, it’s hard for them to be successful. Then for me, I like people to – a part of it is fun, like you travel a lot, would you go out for beers with someone, you spend so much time at work, is it someone that you think would just be a fun person to be around, I think it just makes work more enjoyable.

Ginger Conlon: 

Yes, absolutely. So, like you said, different skills for different roles. Is there any skill though that’s especially relevant today as part of a marketing team. I mean, you’ve mentioned a lot of things like the ability to collaborate, anything else?

Michelle Huff: 

Yeah, I would come back to the analysts. I think what’s been interesting is that, you know, I think sales a long time ago had their sales ops departments and people to help, you know, with kind of sales strategy and I think marketing also should really have a marketing ops person if they can, I know it depends on the size of the team but really having someone who can help you better track, measure, score, what you’re doing and then tie back because at the end of the day, you know, the impact that marketing is having, the way that you can justify more budget, the way that you can better help and understand are you being effective is how you measure things and so having someone who has not just the ability to be data driven and analytical but be thinking about how it applies to everyone’s role and can work with everyone jointly, just I think elevates the whole team and makes them that much better.

Ginger Conlon: 

Definitely. So, all right, there’s lots of change but some things don’t change, what’s the one trait or skill that’s always been important, that is just always going to be important as a marketer?

Michelle Huff: 

Yeah, I think it’s the communication thing, I don’t know, I keep coming back to it because I feel like as a marketer it’s how you do it internally but, sometimes when I see some of the best marketing campaigns out there, it’s not always the most creative, it’s really how are they communicating the value of what they offer and have connected with that persons need and it’s how they’re communicating, communicating visually, sometimes kind of emotionally or just kind of in the written form and that’s so important. At the end of the day, people are buying things because they’re seeing value and if you can communicate that it will take you a long way.

Ginger Conlon: 

Absolutely. Well, Michelle, thank you again for joining us. Michelle Huff, CMO of Act-On software great conversation, loved speaking with you, thanks everyone for joining.

Michelle Huff: 

Thanks for having me.

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Act-On Software’s Marketing Roundtable: Adaptive Journeys™

Act On Software’s Marketing Roundtable Adaptive Journeys™ 351x200 Act On Software’s Marketing Roundtable: Adaptive Journeys™

This transcript has been edited for length. To get the full measure, listen to the podcast.

What is Adaptive Journeys™?

NathanIsaacs: To kick off our Marketing Roundtable, we’re taking a behind-the-scenes look at the launch of Act-On’s Adaptive Journeys™. Michelle, can you tell us what is Adaptive Journeys™?

Michelle Huff: We were taking a look at customers and how, as marketers, we’re building these customer journeys about how people buy and how they end up adopting and becoming advocates for products. And you see a lot of things in the market today about how those journeys are very unique to every single person. And ultimately as marketers we’ve been building personas and tracks and really trying to put people into categories. And a lot of the things we’ve been doing as marketers are forcing people down this pre-defined path. And it makes people feel like they’re dealing with stereotypes.

What we really want to do is make sure that, out of all the things we build for marketing automation, we can allow marketers to build these journeys that can really adapt to each individual. We want to take advantage of all these technologies around machine learning and artificial intelligence to help us become much more adaptive in real time, and also fast paced.

Nathan: And this Adaptive Journeys™ for Act-On, it’s more than just a campaign, right? It’s really how the company’s going to be moving in the foreseeable future, in the next year, two years, and beyond, right?

Michelle: Exactly. For Act-On, we wanted to talk to other marketers and people who are looking into Act-On, and really make sure they understand where we think the vision of marketing is headed, where we think marketing automation is headed, and show where we are trying to take the Act-On product line.

In many ways, this is a vision launch, a product launch of things we’re building. But, also, it’s not just this single isolated campaign, but really a multi-channel campaign that really touches across all the different teams I have here at Act-On, from our brand team, demand team, our customer marketing team, as well as obviously our product marketing teams.

Early Results from the Campaign

Nathan: Paige, as head of the brand team, we recently launched this campaign. What have been some of the early results?

Paige Musto: This campaign has really been a great opportunity for us to build thought leadership around the business ‒ what we’re doing as far as innovation of the product. And we looked at the campaign and the integrated approach in a sense of: What can we do from a paid opportunity standpoint? What can we do from an earned opportunity standpoint? And then, what can we do from an owned opportunity standpoint? And some of the paid opportunities that we did here, we looked to activate the message across social media channels.

We also built thought leadership articles and worked with content sites, and ran various display ads and bylines, which then were combined with paid traffic drivers back to our Adaptive Journeys pages. Also, on the earned side we did a full media relations campaign around this. And we built out landing pages on our properties. And we did a lot of campaigns to get the message out there. Combining all these traffic drivers just in the short amount of time from launching this campaign ‒ I think it’s been a little over 30, 35 days ‒ we’ve been able to double the amount of traffic and impressions we would typically make with a standard campaign by activating these three key components of a marketing program.

And on the media relations front, we were able to double the amount of news coverage we received. And still it has afforded us the ability to speak to a broader topic around artificial intelligence, and marketing automation, and the customer experience. And so it’s a great story and narrative that we’re really building upon.

Nathan: Wow. It’s great to see 2x returns come in so quickly. Linda, can you talk about how we set these goals, what measurable goals you want for a campaign, and the importance of a multi-touch attribution?

Goal Setting For Your Campaigns

Linda West: Absolutely. This campaign was a bit unique. It was a very broad campaign. We’re trying to get this message out, not just to active prospects, but also to influencers, people who are early on in the funnel, and our customers. There’s a lot of different audiences we were trying to reach. Our goal set was a bit broader than we would normally have for a specific campaign. Usually you have a little more of a narrow focus. But in this case we were trying to build brand, drive demand, and reach into our customer base, and expand and enhance those relationships.

So when we’re doing goal setting, the first thing you have to think about is the audiences you’re trying to reach, and align those goals to the audiences and the discipline. So for us that’s brand marketing, and Paige talked about a couple of those metrics that we’re using. How are we influencing traffic? How are we influencing our coverage in the PR space? And then the next category is, are we actively influencing our prospects or our demand gen funnel? And here we look at two metrics.

First, are we getting net new people into the pipeline? Is this message and are the assets that we’re generating for this campaign actually driving net new pipeline? Are the people who land on these assets converting into leads and ultimately becoming opportunities? So we look at that … how many leads we’re generating within this campaign. And then also, is this message influencing existing opportunities? So are we generating net new and are we influencing existing opportunities? So we can see of course if there’s someone in an active opportunity, did they interact with that message? And did that impact their movement through the funnel?

And then on the customer side, it’s a little bit different because we’re not necessarily trying to get conversions out of existing customers. In that case, we want to impact renewal rates, upsell opportunities, and general engagement and health of our customer base. If we have a pool of at-risk customers that we’re targeting with this specific message, we would want to see an uptick in renewals for that group. For this particular campaign, because it was so broad, we had to go across those three areas and establish metrics for each distinct point in the buyer’s journey.

And that’s a little bit easier for us because we actually do have teams oriented around those three disciplines. We have a brand marketing team, we have a demand generation team, and we have a customer marketing team. So we have a set of goals for each of those teams at each of those functions. And for this campaign it would reach across all of those teams and we had goals aligned to each one of those things.

Nathan: Michelle, what do you consider when we pick a launch date for a campaign?

Michelle: You have to factor in a lot of different things. I think there are common ones that you think through, like, ‘OK, what are your goals?’ So part of this is I want to make sure I have an impact on sales and I have an impact in renewals. Then there’s an immediacy ‒ the sooner the better, because you can impact those more quickly. But then you may start to think through how long it takes to actually produce everything. Also … Is there any of that we can tie it to? Is there something we can do to make more noise? Obviously, that’s related to products. It’s the actual product cycle.

We’re a little unique here at Act-On because some places release something maybe once a year, three times a year. We actually release every two weeks. So it’s a very fast iterative process. We have to think about: How do we bundle up things into themes and how do we time when we make these announcements? And you want to factor in a lot of different things. And then sometimes you just look at the calendar because you’re trying to make sure that you have a consistent drumbeat of news. And sometimes you just look at days on the calendar and you just pick one and go for it.

Nathan: That’s what we always think you’re doing anyways, throwing a dart on a board.

Paige: I think another point, too, is with certain campaigns like this that are high visibility where you really want to make sure you’re activating your influencer and your media community, you also want to put in or buffer in extra time that it’s going to take to do the media relations and the pre-briefings. Working back from the date you want the launch to go, but also factoring in the fact that you need to go out and pitch, and scheduling press briefings, and get those lined up prior to the launch date.

Campaign Planning & Execution  

Nathan: Linda, you talked earlier about how many people this touched as we were launching the campaign. Can you talk about all the tactical stuff that happens when you’re launching a campaign?

Linda: Absolutely. I think some teams might struggle with this, especially as they grow, getting the science of a launch or a big campaign down. Because the reality is no two campaigns or launches are exactly the same. So building some type of consistent framework that takes into account all those little differences and all the unique challenges that come with every individual launch is sometimes difficult. And it’s easier when you’re on a smaller team because you can coordinate really quickly between different people. But as your teams grow and your objectives grow, it’s important to have sort of a framework for how you get things done.

I’ll walk through what we do here at Act-On. And this is constantly evolving. We’re constantly changing how we do things and adjusting as we learn, as we grow, as we try out new things. So first of all, we absolutely follow some of the SiriusDecisions guidelines in terms of how to structure campaigns, and how they should relate to each other. If we have a big launch or a program we’re trying to deploy, we always know it needs to map back to an overarching theme. That’s the first step that we take. How is this mapping into this overarching company theme or an overarching objective that we have as a company?

And then from there it’s: What audiences are we trying to tackle, what audiences are we trying to reach? Is it influencers, customers, prospects, etc.? And then from there you can drill down into specific tactics. Are we doing bylines, press briefings, blog posts, eBooks, new product pages on the website? You name it. We have a list of probably 100 odd tactics that we could potentially deploy for any given campaign. So we have this long list of potential tactics. And every time we have one of these launches, we go into that list – and this long list was actually developed in one of our marketing all-hands meetings. As a group, we sit and review all the possible things that we could be doing in association with the launch to get the word out and to activate different audiences.

And that becomes our to-do list. That becomes our compass as we work through the launch.

And we also have weekly meetings where the entire marketing team gets on the phone, and we go through and look at the status of each of the tactics for this week. It’s not a true scrum meeting, but it’s our marketing version of a scrum meeting. We do it weekly, and we go through and look at the week’s tasks, and make sure everything is aligned. And it’s important, especially as your team grows or your objectives get bigger, to make sure that not only do you have that framework and understanding of how you’re going to get things done, but also that the communication between the different internal teams is really tight.

So you have communication channels, not just formal ones in meetings ‒ those weekly scrums are a good one for us ‒ but also just informally, where you make sure that each of the individual teams and team members know who’s doing what, know who to go to for what, and feel comfortable reaching out and communicating and tackling issues. Because as much as we want to plan in advance, the reality is nothing ever goes 100 percent as planned. So enabling everybody on the team to feel empowered and feel like they can raise their hand if something is going wrong is really important in this process.

And in this launch particularly we didn’t have a ton of time. We were on a condensed timeline to get this out the door. So that’s when it becomes even more important ‒ when there’s an issue that pops up, or when someone has a concern. There were moments where we had little impromptu phone calls at 6 p.m. with a couple of people saying, ‘Hey, I’m concerned with this ‒ what do we do?’ And then we made an adjustment. And it’s important to make sure that people are comfortable doing that outside of the formal channels so that you can tackle those types of issues.

So that’s what we do. And in this particular launch, like I said, we were on a shorter timeline, so we did have a bunch of those little things that came up. And those are all equally important to tackle. Those little things can trip you up sometimes more than that overarching framework.

Nathan: Excellent. Everyone, I really appreciate your time this afternoon. Thank you very much.

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Our Customers Share Why They Love Having Act-On on Their Side

Our Customers Share Why They Love Having Act On on Their Side 351x200 Our Customers Share Why They Love Having Act On on Their Side

GM Nameplate

Like many manufacturers, GM Nameplate relied on traditional marketing practices to reach its audience. Cynthia Schulte, the company’s senior marketing manager, who’s responsible for promoting the company’s ability to design and build everything from labels and display screens to electrodes and circuit boards, wanted to streamline her work and strengthen her collaboration with sales.

Recognizing that a strong marketing automation system could take the company’s performance to the next level, Schulte set out to find a platform that would speed up processes, empower sales, and lighten her team’s workload. The six divisions she oversaw were using Microsoft Dynamics CRM, but a seventh – whose marketing was led by a colleague – was using Salesforce, so the product she chose had to easily accommodate both systems.

Schulte replaced GM Nameplate’s Email Service Provider (ESP) with a single instance of Act-On that included sub-accounts to support all the company’s divisions. “Implementing Act-On was simple and fast. It was up and running in two weeks, and we had campaigns in place within a month,” said Schulte.

The move transformed the global company’s approach to marketing by increasing overall sales and marketing productivity and providing the intelligence the business needed to understand its buyers’ behaviors ‒ and ultimately convert them into satisfied customers.

“Before Act-On, we had to manually enter lead information into our CRM and had no way to see how all our touchpoints interacted,” said Schulte. “Now all the information we capture automatically goes into Microsoft Dynamics, and a sales rep can look up contacts and see every email they’ve received, every trade show they’ve attended, and every exchange they’ve had with our company. This insight into prospect behavior makes sales more effective, particularly when they’re working with larger accounts and meeting with stakeholders they may not have had any interaction with.”

In addition to helping them work more intelligently, Act-On allows both sales and marketing to continuously optimize their work. “Act-On rolls up all this data into a single dashboard that lets us quickly assess the effectiveness of our activities,” Schulte said. “The feedback is immediate and actionable, and the interface is so easy to use. If you can use a computer, you can use Act-On.”

GM Nameplate’s switch to the Act-On system has made all the difference, Schulte reports. “Using Act-On to drive all our marketing programs is helping us get ahead of our competitors and become a leader in our industry.”

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Inside Act-On: 10-Step Guide to Rebuilding Your Lead-to-Revenue Funnel

Inside Act On 10 Step Guide to Rebuilding Your Lead to Revenue Funnel 351x200 Inside Act On: 10 Step Guide to Rebuilding Your Lead to Revenue Funnel

Seems straightforward, right? But if your lead-to-revenue funnel lacks the clarity and consistency outlined above (we were guilty of this), it’s time to rebuild it.

How to Rebuild Your Lead-to-Revenue Funnel in 10 Easy Steps

Contrary to popular belief, rebuilding your funnel doesn’t have to be a long, arduous project. Here’s a best practice tried-and-true (by us) process to get you there.

1. Identify key members to participate on a cross-functional team.

You want to form a cross-functional team (CFT) composed of two segments: a working team that develops, implements, and monitors the new funnel, and an executive stakeholder team that reviews, approves, and supports your new funnel stages.

Your working team needs to meet weekly, at a minimum. We found that we were meeting sometimes two or three times a week in order to stay on the same page. Your working team should consist of:

  • a project manager who maintains overall ownership and accountability for the project;
  • the manager of the team responsible for following up on MQLs — typically an inside sales/business development/demand gen function; and
  • representatives from demand generation/lead generation/marketing programs, marketing operations, marketing reporting, sales operations, and sales reporting.

Obviously, the size of your CFT depends on your company size — the smaller the company, the greater the chance a single person handles one or more of the above duties. The key thing to remember is you want your CFT people, who are experts in their respective areas, to be empowered to make decisions on their team’s behalf. Our CFT was quite sizeable, and it was important for us to maintain regular communication throughout the process in order to ensure we had buy in from all parties.

Your executive stakeholder team needs to consist of the following (or your company’s equivalent):

  • Chief marketing officer (CMO)
  • Chief revenue officer (CRO)
  • Chief financial officer (CFO).

Meet with this stakeholder team at the project onset to gather their specific opinions and criticisms of the existing funnel/funnel stages. After that, meet with them frequently enough throughout the project to obtain their approval on, support for, and potential changes to key elements before you move too far ahead with your lead-to-revenue funnel redesign.

You might be surprised to see that CFO had a spot on the list, but remember that your lead-to-revenue funnel is much more than just a marketing/sales issue, it touches all aspects of your business’ success.

2. Audit existing funnel stages.

After you brief the CFT on why rebuilding the funnel benefits your company — and them — work with this team to collectively and systematically outline your existing funnel. For each funnel stage, identify:

  • the current terms and definitions used (and, if multiple terms and definitions are used for a single stage, note that, too);
  • the current triggers that need to be hit for progression from one stage to the next;
  • areas where there’s known confusion or dissention, and who it impacts; and
  • areas where there are known issues, and what they are.

Auditing your existing funnel should be a relatively easy part of the funnel overhaul process. If your CFT struggles to complete the above steps, you either have the wrong people on your team or your funnel is so broken that your CFT’s time is better spent developing new funnel stages rather than autopsying old ones. (We may have been guilty of this as well.)

3. Establish baseline metrics for existing funnel stages.

Once you’ve identified your existing funnel stages and processes, it’s time to gather metrics. You’ll use these funnel metrics to pinpoint any remaining issues and to determine baselines against which to measure upcoming improvements.

You typically want to establish baselines using the most recent 12 months of data. If, however, you recently changed your go-to-market strategy significantly, you may opt to shorten the timeframe for your data pull to make the data as relevant as possible.

Gather as much of the following data as possible within your current environment, all based on net-new:

  • Volume within each funnel stage (count) — How many net-new records were added to each funnel stage in the last 12 months?
  • Average conversion rate between stages (percentage) — On average, what percent of net-new records moved from each stage to the next in the last 12 months?
  • Average velocity between stages (days) — On average, how quickly did net-new records move from each stage to the next in the last 12 months?

Once you have your baselines, you can compare that data against industry funnel averages to see where your existing funnel over- or under-performs. (Both Forrester Research and SiriusDecisions provide this type of funnel data. SiriusDecisions also can customize their funnel data to make it as relevant as possible to your company’s specific demographics and firmographics.)

4. Agree on proposed new funnel stages.

This is where it gets fun. Taking into account everything you’ve learned and the goals for your new funnel, gather your CFT to identify and agree upon what the new funnel needs to look like.

Remember the rules outlined earlier — each funnel stage needs to:

  • consist of a simple term and an easily understood definition that can be followed by everyone across all involved departments;
  • possess a firm, clearly-defined trigger for progression to the next stage that can be followed by everyone across all involved departments; and
  • be easily replicable in a consistent manner by everyone.

I find it easiest to start at the top of the funnel and work my way down. And start fresh — don’t try to Band-Aid existing funnel terms, definitions, and triggers.

5. Gain buy-in from executive stakeholders.

Once the CFT develops and agrees to new funnel terms, definitions, and triggers, it’s time to gain the approval and support of your executive stakeholders. But, don’t just present those elements. At the beginning of your presentation:

  • remind them why the funnel needs to be rebuilt in the first place;
  • share the baselines you developed and how your existing funnel data compares against industry averages; and
  • emphasize that sales and marketing is aligned on this — a CFT consisting of both sales and marketing functions is making this joint recommendation.

Then present your new funnel terms, definitions, and triggers. And be ready to explain or defend your recommendations. C-level executives may not be as deep into the funnel data as your CFT — don’t assume their questions are criticisms. Rather, use this project as an opportunity to educate them on all things funnel, gaining their respect and trust in the process.

6. Implement and test new funnel stages.

Once the executive stakeholders approve your new funnel stages, it’s time to put your new funnel into action and then test it. Here are some key practices to keep in mind:

  • Think through the best ways to implement your new funnel stages — opt for methods that make for easy, accurate reporting and easy transitions from one stage to the next.
  • Implementing these new funnel stages likely will require adjustments to both your marketing automation and your CRM systems/processes — plan enough time for this stage to allow you to thoughtfully work through the obstacles you will encounter (there are always some).
  • Test all stage triggers (what needs to happen for a record to move from one stage to the next) to ensure they’re set up correctly — this includes thoroughly testing all automation you put into place.
  • Walk through a “day in the life” of each role responsible for a record’s progression through each funnel stage. Make sure the progression is intuitive and that any automation that can be done is in place. Also verify that your marketing automation and CRM systems properly sync.
  • Create and check daily reports to identify any issues with the new stages.
  • Leverage resources outside the CFT as needed, especially when there’s manual work to be done.

7. Launch to Sales.

After working through any issues found during testing, it’s time to launch your new lead-to-revenue funnel to the rest of the sales and marketing teams. Here are a few tips:

  • Timing — It’s best to launch your new funnel terms/definitions/triggers to sales before going live, but only by a day or two. That way, they’re less likely to forget what they learn during your training sessions.
  • Content — Give your sales and marketing teams the same kind of overview you presented to your executive stakeholders; you want them to understand the why of what you’re doing, not just the how. You also want them to understand how it benefits both them individually and the company as a whole.
  • Sessions — If you have separate inside sales and field sales teams (one to qualify MQLs, one to close deals), it’s best to hold separate, live sessions for each team. That way, you can customize the content, screenshots, and benefits to their specific roles. Plan to record both sessions for easy on-demand access afterward. And lastly, record a shorter, on-demand funnel training session for new hires that doesn’t refer to the old funnel or old processes at all.
  • Presenters — Leverage your CFT as presenters, so the presentations are as relevant as possible to each audience. So the CFT project manager might choose to co-present with the marketing/sales ops CFT member for presentations to the executive stakeholders; likewise, the manager of the inside sales team probably will want to present to that team (although he or she might choose to have the CFT project manager or other CFT team members also available for the Q&A portion).
  • Tools — As a marketer, you know different people prefer to consume information in different ways. So create different types of tools for the sales and marketing teams to use as they get up to speed on the new funnel. You can easily create Quick Reference Guides by converting the session slides to PDFs. Build an FAQ for each team that answers the questions they’re most likely to ask. And if your company uses a collaboration platform such as Jive or Slack, consider posting all tools to a discussion thread there, so users can easily locate related information and get answers to other questions in real-time.

8. Go live with new funnel stages.

Finally — it’s time to go live! Things to keep in mind:

  • Choose your go-live timing wisely — don’t go live during your busiest season of the year, and don’t do it at quarter’s end unless your sales leadership approves that timing in advance. Make sure key members of the CFT aren’t on vacation during go-live so they’re available to help resolve any last-minute issues.
  • Celebrate! Your CFT put a lot of thoughtful work into this new funnel — celebrate their efforts and the upcoming improvements you can expect to see.

9. Monitor and measure.

Once your new lead-to-revenue funnel is live, it’s important to monitor it and measure the progress made with it.

  • Create and monitor daily a set of base reports for each stage of your new funnel.
  • Measure and report on progress against the baselines you established from your old funnel — volume, conversion rate, and velocity. You usually can build these reports in your marketing automation or CRM system.
  • Encourage users to alert you to any issues they encounter, then quickly resolve the issues and close the loop with the users on how you fixed their problems.

10. Tweak as needed.

Finally, you need to remain open to tweaking your new funnel as needed over time. But it’s a fine line — you don’t want to over-complicate it along the way. To avoid the funnel complexity creep mentioned earlier:

  • Stay true to the guidelines for efficient, effective funnels discussed earlier;
  • dig into any issue that crops up to find out if it’s related to the new funnel itself or to some other factor;
  • educate new marketing and sales leadership on your funnel terms/definitions/triggers as soon as possible after they assume their position;
  • reconvene your funnel CFT to review and then approve or veto any changes to the funnel that are deemed worthy of consideration. Decisions that impact your funnel stages can’t be made in a vacuum after go-live.

There they are — ten easy (ha) steps for rebuilding your lead-to-revenue funnel. In conclusion, if you suffer from indistinct and complicated lead-to-revenue funnel stages, you’re wasting marketing dollars and wasting your sales team’s time. With this clear, 10-step process, you can quickly rebuild your funnel, regain your sales team’s trust, and generate more pipeline for your company.

Have other tips for rebuilding a L2R funnel? Share them here!

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