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End of Year for Marketing Automation

The end of year is around the corner! And it's the time of year to clean everything up. Prepare for the next season. And of course to support sales with their final deal. It wouldn't be the first time some new KPI's are introduced late January, but tracking wasn't enabled as of January first. If only you would have known in advance!

I have described 27 marketing automation end of year tips in 5 categories. I hope these provide you some additional ideas to consider for your own end of year checklist. Though I'm mainly focused on Marketo, most of the tips on the end-of-year checklist are platform independent.If you have any additions, please leave them in the comments below.

  • A. End of Year Marketing Campaigns
  • B. Marketing Performance
  • C. Marketing Operations
  • D. CRM & Marketing Automation Data Quality
  • E. Marketing Budget & Targets

 

A. End of Year Marketing Campaigns

1. Holiday Season Campaign

Keep the momentum going! Out-of-sight is out-of-mind. So make sure you've scheduled some engagement throughout the holidays. Suggestion: Try something with a gift. That Always works this time of year.

 

2. Draft next year's Campaign Calendar

Don't stop with the holiday campaign. Make sure you have at least your Q1 marketing calendar ready. You don't want to start the year with a blank calendar!

 

3. Turbo-charge that hockey stick!

Are you in the software space? Perhaps in high-tech or business services? There's a chance you encounter a hockey stick effect every year. Some companies make up to 50% of their profit in the last month of the year. If you haven't reached your year targets yet, you might want to consider teaming up with sales to support them in closing deals. Crank up your account based marketing programs for the top deals in the pipeline.

 

4. Archive campaigns and folders

Maybe this is something for January 1st, but you could consider it right before the holiday starts. Check out your campaigns and folder structures in tour marketing automation platform. Archive campaigns, which are no longer needed in the next year. It will increase performance, as this programs are not loaded in picklists anymore. And your navigation is nice and clean for your users when they start the new year. If you use 'year' in your folder names, you could already set up new folders for each business unit for the next year.

 

B. Marketing Performance

5. Align with leadership

People change and so do their ideas. Don't assume leadership will have the same priorities for the next year. Meet up and discuss if any of the KPIs currently used need to be replaced.

 

6. What worked?

The end of the year is great time to evaluate what worked and wat didn't. So many people do this after the year has ended, whilst they already created the new marketing calendar. You want to make sure to evaluate what worked and what not, BEFORE you create next year's marketing calendar.

 

7. Check in with (sales) colleagues for tips for next year

They sales is busy closing the year, reach out to your colleagues and ask them for input. How did they experience this year? Do they have any tips for next year?

 

8. Prepare your end of year reports

Steal the show be being the first to report on 2016's performance!

 

9. Share best-practices

Even before everyone starts their next year's marketing calendar, organize a best-practice sharing session. You which campaigns worked or not. Invite those owners to share their pitfalls and learnings with the rest of the marketers.

 

10. Check your report settings

Quickly check how your reports are set up. Some reports use a fixed year (e.g. 2016). So they won't work in the new year. So these need to be cloned and updated with the correct year. Or you make the year dynamic (e.g. 'this year').

C. Marketing Operations

11. Give kudos to your team

Here's an open door! Thank your team for all their efforts to make marketing automation succeed at your company.

 

12. Compare the marketing operations roadmap

How did your marketing automation roadmap look like at the start of the year? What was accomplished? And what not? What does the roadmap look like for next year? How do they compare? Align met the sales operations team and/or CRM team? How do you align? How can you align better?

 

13. Set up those new business units

New year new business structures. Some companies choose to allows start new business units on January 1st, to have proper reporting. Make sure everything is set to go on January 1st though. Think about field picklists, account ownership, user access, campaign templates, reporting, etc.

 

14. Daily hockey stick updates

Do you experience the hockey stick effect, mentioned in #3? Update your commercial colleagues on a daily basis on the hockey stick progress. Drive that revenu!

 

15. Contract renewals

The hockey stick effect is also a reality for your suppliers. In marketing automation's case it involves your entire marketing technology stack. The end of year is good for getting more discount (if applicable). Though negotiations are harder at the end of year for bigger platforms. They well understand you won't pull the plug in the last few days of the year. As you will start the year without any platform to do marketing. So for bigger platforms, start negotiations in October! if you don't like where the negotiations are going, you will have plenty of time to switch before the end of year.

 

16. Educate (the team)!

You don't get all fuzzy inside when the holiday season is nearly there? If you are not planning to attend mandatory drinks or family dinners, you will now have plenty of time to stay up-to-date. Educate yourself on what's happing in the marketing landscape. Get your team involved too!

 

17. Deactivate old users

I hope you do this on a regular basis. Or even better, you have a process for this. But check your marketing automation users. Who no longer works at your company? Who never logs in? Do they really need that many permissions? Keep the list clean, keep your instance secure!

 

D. CRM & Marketing Automation Data Quality

18. Check for synchronization errors

You don't Always notice these. Check random log files. Compare and export from your marketing automation platform and your CRM.

 

19. Monitor data drop outs

Like #18, check whether there are records, which are not linked to any business unit. Or simply check which leads have fallen through the cracks. Make sure you end the year with good data. You don't want bad data to pile up every year.

 

20. Complete competitor lists

Are there any new competitors? Check your data workflows and update them where needed.

 

21. Check accounts and target lists

New year, new targets for sales. And sometimes target account lists are redistributed. Or business units shift their industry focus.

 

22. Archive old leads

Are those yearly list imports growing your database with garbage? Most marketing automation license fees are based on the amount of leads you have in the platform. Export leads without any activity for over X years. Then remove them. Keep your database healthy. End of year is the perfect time.

E. Marketing Budget & Targets

23. Budget versus cash flow

You might know your budget, but that doesn't mean you will be able to spend it completely in January. Check with a controller from the finance department what your options are. We Always want to beat the end of year marketing budget cuts (to lift profit), by spending it all in the first months of the year ;-)...... Well I hope you work at a company that doesn't see marketing as a cost center though ;-)

 

24. 'Waste' your remaining budget for this year

Thinking about #23, you might want to consider checking how much budget you haven't spent yet. You don't want your manager to think you can achieve the same results with less budget. That would automatically result in a budget cut for next year. I assume that, as a marketing automation user, you are very successful. And you want to innovate and improve every year. Driving company growth! You need more budget! Not less! So make sure to spend your budget!

 

25. Update conversion rates

A lot of your calculations (e.g. targets) depend on the conversion rates you achieve. How did those rates evolve this year? Should you make adjustments?

 

26. Calculate next year's targets

Next to budget, you also need to calculate marketing's targets for next year (together with leadership of course). Make sure you've got support on the new targets before the end of year. And make sure you can start reporting on progress on January 1st.

 

Do you have any additional suggestions?

27. Share your own best-practices with others

If you have any suggestions for additional items, or if you have any other feedback, please leave a reply below. It would be the perfect holiday gift for your Community peers ;-)

 

* This article also appeared on http://diederikmartens.com/end-of-year-marketing-automation-checklist/

It’s almost ‘Summit time’!

The MGM Grand in Las Vegas will welcome up to 10,000 marketing nation rockstars for the Marketo Marketing Nation Summit 2016 on May 9-12. I’m really looking forward to Will Smith’s keynote and some of the other great sessions I’ve put on my personal calendar. Next to that, I’m honored to present a session too. I’ll be taking you on The Road To Successful Marketing Operations, which includes topics like sales alignment. The session is on May 12 at 9.30am in room 319. Make sure to get your XXL coffee that morning, the night after the big gala at the Hakkasan!

 

About my presentation “The Road To Successful Marketing Operations”

At Quintiq, an international B2B Enterprise software company in supply chain planning & optimization, I started as the first marketing automation expert in December 2012. Within 2,5 years this turned into a marketing operations team of 5. How did that happen? What was the business case? In other words what were the lessons learned? And the pitfalls? Join the session and go home with strategic insights and actionable takeaways to help your colleagues excel in their commercial efforts.

 

The story about my first sales alignment success at Quintiq

One ‘stop’ during the journey is “my first sales alignment success”. That success opened the doors for me at Quintiq.

 

About Quintiq
Quintiq was founded in The Netherlands, but opened an office in the United States a few years ago. I’m working from the Netherlands office, which traditionally has a lot of global resources. But in the past years a lot of new global roles were hired in the US office. This included the CMO I worked for, who joined one month after I started at Quintiq.

 

The challenge
He called me on a Tuesday. He brought me up-to-speed on a 99% deal the US team was working on. At the last second the CEO of the prospect expressed her wish for one or more reference visits. This posed several issues. It was a relative new vertical for us, so there were very few references we had available. Another issue was that it can take up to a few weeks to arrange the visits. During that time competitors could potentially offer crazy discounts. But a few weeks delay also poses other common sales challenges.

 

The solution
I was already working on an idea that I called Prospect Portals. A Prospect Portal is a landing page specifically designed for one prospect. It has their logo on it. And it has thumbs of the sales team on it. It also has a fancy touch responsive slider on it, which is used to showcase all kinds of content. The pieces of content can be videos, presentations, and/or PDFs. We listed all relevant whitepapers, case studies, and video testimonials. We also added some of the presentations we did at their office. That way the prospect would have a great resource of all relevant materials.

 

The result

The next day I get a call from the CMO again. “You’re the talk of the day!”. The prospect browsed the Prospect Portal and came to the conclusion a reference visit was no longer needed, as the Prospect Portal covered enough. They immediately signed the deal. That’s a sales alignment success right?

 

Next steps

Hoorah! Sales knows I’m here! A few more Prospect Portals were built in the weeks after. And they were resulting in more successes. Some prospects even reached out to sales representatives to express their enthusiasm about the portals. It didn’t took long before the portals became mandatory for opportunities at a certain sales stage.

I noticed I was interacting more and more with sales directly, next to marketing and management. It also enabled me to learn more about the sales process. It also connected me with sales. This turned to trust. Which in turn enabled me to launch new initiatives easier (e.g. lead nurturing during later sales stages).

 

Productize it
It didn’t took long before the rest of the regions at Quintiq learned about the portals. In order to be scalable we involved the regional marketers. Obviously they were interested in sales alignment as well. We then introduced Account Portals, which were less fancy (e.g. no sliders). This way marketers could easily build portals themselves in Marketo with snippets. Account Portals were mostly focused on target accounts, whilst Prospect Portals were focused more on x% opportunities.

 

Spaghetti statistics
At a company quorum about a year later the names of some of the new clients for that quarter were announced. The team (yes, the team was more than one person by then ;-), recognized nearly all names. So we dived into reporting after that quorum. It turned out that all Prospect Portals that were visited by the prospect turned into deals, and all portals that were not visited didn’t turn into deals. Well… That’s some spaghetti statistics right?

 

Improvements
In the months after we kept adding more functionality. This included password protection, personal introduction videos for each sales representatives, direct contact options, and progressive forms for anonymous visitors (who do have the password). The forms enabled the sales representatives to discover new decision makers and influencers in the prospect’s decision making unit (DMU).

 

Final thoughts
I think it’s almost 2 years ago, since I built one of those portals myself. Knowing what I know now, those portals could be taken to the next level. I’ve also discovered some tools, outside of Marketo, that offer similar portal functionality. Combine this with some of the account based marketing (data) vendors and you could be on to something.

 

Hope to see you at the summit!

This is 1 of about 10-15 'stops' in "The Journey to Successful Marketing Operations", which I'll share during my summit presentation. If you made it to this part of the text, I assume the content got your interest. In that case, I hope you’ll be able to join the session on May 12 at 9.30am in room 319. Until then, feel free to ask questions and/or leave comments below or on my blog, where this article is also posted.

 

Best regards,

Diederik Martens

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