How utilized is marketing automation today? An expert weighs in

Jeff Pedowitz

I recently had the chance to talk with Jeff Pedowitz, the founder and president of Pedowitz Group, a marketing services provider built around the transformative potential of marketing technology platforms. As a terrific example of this new breed of agency, I was very interested in his perspective on several of the most popular marketing technology topics being discussed these days.

1. What was your professional background before launching Pedowitz Group?

I started my career owning and operating 35 Subway sandwich stores in New Jersey. From there I moved into enterprise software, working for Computer Associates and SmartTime, holding roles in professional services and marketing. After this, I started my second business in sales training. I then went to Salesnet, an early competitor of Salesforce, working in the channel organization.

There, I was introduced to Eloqua in 2003 as a means to generate leads for our resellers. As they say, I found my calling and true passion. I loved it so much that I went to work at Eloqua as their first VP of Professional Services.

2. What was the spark behind starting the Pedowitz Group — what opportunity did you see in the market?

As VP of Professional Services for Eloqua, our team was developing new processes and best practices for demand generation all the time. We were responsible for training many of the early partners on how to do it. I saw all the money they were making with our training and figured I could do it as well if not better.

In the beginning, I truly thought it would be a lifestyle business, working 2 weeks a month and playing golf the rest of the time. After 30 days, I had more work than I could handle and reassessed the market opportunity. I saw that it could be something much bigger and way more special.

3. How utilized is marketing automation today? What holds back firms from utilizing it more fully?

There is such a greenfield for firms to adopt marketing automation. There are maybe 20,000 or so companies worldwide that have invested in one of the leading platforms. There are millions of businesses that are either using nothing or siloed components to drive demand.

There is such a greenfield for firms to adopt marketing automation. Millions of businesses are either using nothing or siloed components.

Of those that have bought, on average they are using about 15-20% of the available functionality. Lack of fuller adoption is based on several factors: resource availability, skill development, comprehensive functionality, use cases and process improvement.

All companies big and small struggle with resourcing. They never have enough to do all the things they need to in a given week. To be successful using marketing automation, it requires dedicated commitment and resources. Often times, employees are wearing multiple hats and scrambling to finish a variety of tasks. They don’t have the time to invest in using the platforms to their full potential.

Today’s platforms have evolved considerably from their early predecessors. They require a significant amount of skill, training, and knowledge to operate the entire stack. Many companies do not realize the amount of time they need to invest in training and skill development for their employees to truly become power users of these platforms.

The vendors have done a great job of building out functionality as they move into new markets and verticals. But the average customer is still using the basics — email, behavioral tracking, opportunity tracking, and CRM integration. Many have not begun to use lead scoring, triggers, omni-channel, personalization, or advanced segmentation.

The average customer is still using the basics. Many have not begun to use lead scoring, triggers, omni-channel, personalization, or advanced segmentation.

Vendors are starting to develop broader and more comprehensive training programs for their install base to address this. Without defining what you want to accomplish with marketing automation and developing the process improvements first, there will always be a disconnect between what the system can do and what you are telling it to do. As they say, garbage in leads to garbage out.

4. Single-vendor integrated suite or best-of-breed marketing stacks — what’s your view?

Ah, the age old debate.

Honestly, it depends upon what your goals and objectives are. A single suite offers tight integration, a single platform, consolidated data and tighter reporting. But it might not do everything the way you need it to, or go deep enough in a certain area to address your particular needs.

Best of breed allows you to selectively shop and address exactly what you want, but then there is a lot of work to integrate and consolidate data and reporting — and ultimately this is more expensive. Tough trade offs. I recommend that each company sit down and develop a thorough business and technical requirements document for their short and long term needs and then make decisions based on that.

5. We hear a lot about agile marketing, but as marketers, do you think we face the risk of running too fast these days? Is something getting lost, and if so, how do we recover it?

I think in today’s market speed is critically important, and without figuring out how to be more agile and move faster, you will fall behind.

That said, going fast and being agile is not a substitute for good planning and decision making. Companies should slow down before they speed up — build the right plan, validate their assumptions, get their data tight, improve targeting and segmentation, and of course have a thorough content plan. Without doing these things first, being agile means just making mistakes faster and will not set you up for long term success.

Going fast and being agile is not a substitute for good planning and decision making. Companies should slow down before they speed up.

6. What advice would you give to new marketers starting out in this field?

Be prepared to learn at an accelerated rate and embrace change. Today’s professionals are learning more every 3 months than they did in 4 years of undergrad. The market is changing all the time. New technology, disruptive forces. Change is a constant.

Invest in your career and don’t assume that your company will train you on everything that you need. There is an abundance of resources on the web where a marketer at any skill level can learn and grow.

7. What do you think might be the biggest disruption in marketing ahead?

I am not sure it is a disruptor but definitely a big trend: data and BI to me are leading the pack. With all the technology and channels feeding into marketing, data is everywhere. The companies that learn how to harness data, and develop meaningful insights and intelligence from it, will quickly outpace their competition.

Companies that learn how to harness data, and develop meaningful insights and intelligence from it, will quickly outpace their competition.

I am personally fascinated with AI and voice. The Amazon Echo and Google Home are driving incredible innovation around the connection of IoT. That innovation will break into business shortly and the possibilities are endless.

Imagine sitting in the conference room and just saying, “Alexa, what customers should we target next week and what would you recommend the offer be”. Alexa responds with “based on an analysis of your data, we believe you should go after these 5 customers in the financial vertical and use the ROI calculator for the call to action.” An exciting future for sure.

Thanks, Jeff!

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