Marketing Automation 101 (And How It Boosts ROI) [Podcast Episode]

Amanda Milligan
By Amanda Milligan
May 19, 2020

"Martech" can sound, well, technical.



But Moni OloyedeSenior Marketing Operations Manager at Fidelis Cybersecurity, explains that content is the lifeblood of marketing automation, and there are countless ways you can use marketing automation to improve the ROI of your content and measure its impact.


In this episode, you'll learn:

  • Why marketing automation can be valuable and insightful for content marketers
  • The basics for setting up marketing automation for any team size
  • How can marketing automation can assist in better identifying channel attribution

Related resources/links:


Amanda: This week, I'm joined by Moni Oloyede, she's the senior marketing operations manager at Fidelis Cybersecurity. Welcome to the show Moni.

Moni: Thanks for having me, Amanda.

Amanda: I'm really excited because I know very little about marketing automation if I'm being honest, actually, in my last organization, we were just getting Marketo before I left, and so, I was starting to learn more about like, bigger organizations dealing with marketing automation. But otherwise, I've been on pretty small teams where-- we currently use HubSpot. So, I have been dabbling in that, but I really wanted to have an episode about marketing automation because I think it has a lot of value in terms of helping you figure out how your content's working and also using those metrics you can get from it to communicate it up. So, I think it's a perfect fit for the show. So, I think to kick things off, we'll start pretty generally, in case people aren't really familiar, and if you're listening, this is going to be, if you're already in marketing automation and know anything about it, then this probably is not the episode for you. Check out some other episodes, because this is mostly going to be targeted to people who aren't experts in it. So, Moni, how do you define like, you say marketing automation or MarTech or these terms you see everywhere. Like, what do they mean? 

Moni: Sure. Yeah, it's a very broad term and it encompasses a lot. If someone's new, I would recommend they check out a gentleman named Scott Brinker at Chief MarTech, he has a basically like, landscape of all of the MarTech tools and categories and it's over 7000 pieces of software on it--

Amanda: Wow.

Moni: -- that grows exponentially every single year. So, as you can imagine, that's a pretty wide space. But generally speaking, I think of MarTech in kind of two elements. So, one is the actual software, the technology and there are two parts to that. It's a marketing automation platform and a CRM, they kind of like, they're the brother and sister. So, your marketing automation platform has common elements to them. Number one, is an email element. So, the ability to send and track emails, secondly, a web tracking element to it. So, on your particular website, you can sort of track and cookie where people go, what kind of content they download view, what web pages they download view, things of that nature. And then, there's an analytical piece to it as well. So, on kind of like, we were saying, right? Tracking all that information and then making workflows based off of that. So, for example, a common marketing technology concept would be lead scoring. The idea is you give numerical value to the people who interact with your content and engage in your website and based on a threshold number, let's just say, generate 100, that would trigger workflow to go to sales, you're-- in your CRM, and then they can take action based on that. So, those are the elements of marketing automation platform, which is one of the key elements of any marketing technology stack, as we would call it.

Amanda: That's an excellent breakdown. Thank you. So, it sounds like the most, one of the bigger benefits is just the efficiency of not having to manually check all these things. What other primary benefits are there to setting up a marketing automation process?

Moni: Yes, 1,000%. So, database management is the other one. So, outside of the marketing, outside of the actual automation piece, right? Is the database management piece. So, big, I would say value, even more so than kind of revenue today is data, right? We're in a data world and part of advertising and marketing is to send information to these people in a digital way, and marketing automation platform gives you a lot of, kind of power in that sense. So, I was mentioning like, you can track your database, basically, their activity on your website properties, there are ways in which you can now integrate with these marketing automation platforms and track people outside of your website properties as well. So, the database management also comes-- a key to that, right, like, where do you store that? How much storage do you need to store all of that data? How long do you keep that data? There are rules such as GDPR, we have Can-Spam laws, things to protect the privacy of that data, where it goes, when it goes to different systems. A CRM is like I mentioned before, which is a Salesforce for example. You can send it to other BI tools, other analytical tools, you can send it to like, shopping carts, things like that. And then that becoming the stack, right? That's now your marketing technology stack, right? Now, I'm integrating with a CRM, a shopping platform, another sort of web tracking platform and now you see where the technology comes into play.

Amanda: So, in all of this, where does content fit in?

Moni: Content is the heart, right? If it's a body, content is the heart, it doesn't move without it. It's the beat, it's the pulse. So, the technology would be sort of the brain and then the content is the heart, it doesn't move without it. So, we're tracking people's engagement with content, right? That's the main point of it. So, if we don't have that, I really can't do my job, the system, we have a saying in kind of marketing automation, right? It's not auto magical, right? People think they get these technologies and they're supposed to just magically make them a million dollars. It's like-- and content is one of the things that when people are taking technology tools that they actually overlook highly, kind of what goes into creating the content right. The right types of content, testing the content, all types of things, one of the most underrated pieces when people go out and choose these technology pieces, they don't understand what goes into, not only making the content but making the right content that your audience wants to consume.

Amanda: That's interesting, that that's commonly overlooked. What do you think are some of the things that are overlooked more often? Like, is it just literally like you said, the quality of it? Like, they don't realize that that's an important component to the success of the thing.

Mon: I don't think it's the-- I think it's two things. One is the housing of the content, just how much sheer content that you need is underestimated. I know from I've been in this sort of technology space so, we develop content like write papers and case studies and things like that and we highly underestimate like, how much content needs to change and be updated, how you versionize that, how you track the versionizing of that, and then content for different audiences, speaking to different roles, different industries, and again, goes back to the hows, and so, what do you do with that? The type of content that sales needs is different than the type of content that marketing needs, therefore the type of content that product marketing needs, where do you put all that information? When do you serve it to the customer? What time? Things like that, like, that's very-- all of that takes a lot and it's super underestimated. Like I've said, a lot of people think that's auto magical. Like, it just does it, it just does those things, like, actually no, you have to make all these decisions ongoing basis constantly. It's super underrated.

Amanda: So, let's talk a little bit about that, like that process of transitioning to marketing automation. Like, first of all, when is it appropriate to set something like that up?

Moni: Sure. Yeah, it all depends on the size of the company, I would say. People tend to look at some of the larger platforms too soon, in my opinion and don't give too much credit to some of the smaller ones and there are a lot of players in the space, I will say it's overwhelming. I know for myself if I was-- knowing nothing about marketing automation and just trying to like Google what's the proper thing, I'd lose my mind. It's like, where do you begin? It's so many things. But it's the size of the organization, I will say that HubSpot is a good sweet spot for a small to midsize business. I will say criteria is the person actually using the platform and their knowledge, it's all-- you're only going to go as far as that person's knowledge can take you, basically. So, the more enterprise level the platform, your Marketos and your Eloquas, you think that's like, you need a staff for something like that. Yes, one person can do it, but once you scale out of it, it gets a lot. So, think of it that way like, if you have one person kind of managing it, keep it to a HubSpot or something in that range, if you're even a small company 10, 20, 50 people, you don't even need something like HubSpot, there's Autopilot and a bunch of smaller ones that are very cost-- low cost and can do very much the basics of what you need, send an email, track things on the website and do the analytic parts. So, I would say the staff is the-- who can manage it is how you can approach it.

Amanda: Yeah, that's really helpful, just to get a sense of the scale and the different options because like you said, yeah, there's so many different possibilities, and it can be overwhelming. So, if you make the decision, "Okay, we're going to go with one of these.", it sounds like there's a lot, as you said, there's a lot of content and kind of decisions that need to be made before you just, you know, you incorporate and you're like, "Alright, we're done. This is going to start working.". Can you speak a little bit to those types of things? Maybe examples? It sounds like, I mean, audience persona is a main, a major thing, I would guess because--

Moni: It is. 

Amanda: Yeah, you would need to know like, what type of thing-- how you want to speak to you to those audiences? 

Moni: Yeah. And I was just going to say that I mean, one of the biggest things that again, companies sort of miss when they're looking at marketing technologies is it actually has very little to nothing to do with the technology itself and more about your particular business process and how you want to your customers and how you want to communicate to them. Because if you don't really know that, the tech is useless to a degree. So, I think it's more about kind of doing your due diligence from, kind of, you know, think about, the easiest way is the same thing about is like, when your customer comes and talks to you and say, "I want to buy your product.", how would you communicate that to them, right? And you can see it like, through people's websites, like just go on a common even, I'm more in the B2B space, which is really bad with this. Somebody, like a B2B example, like, you go to any sort of like government or tech website, go to like or something like that, with the B2B side, it's hard to understand just reading the language, what they do and sell. Have you ever run into that where it's like, I'm going on this company's website, and have zero clue what they do?

Amanda: Absolutely, yes.

Moni: Marketing Automation is not going to solve that, it's that approach. So, it's more of, thinking about you know, when someone interacts with your content and wants to buy your product or wants to learn about what you guys do or what information you have to offer, it's like, how do you want to communicate with them-- that with them and then go backwards? Because that's what a marketing automation platform is really trying to help you do, in a more efficient way. So, it's really about the process.

Amanda: Is there like a checklist of things that somebody needs to make sure that they have, at the very least considered or have something in place for before they start this process of setting up marketing automation?

Moni: Yeah, sure. So, it's, I would say, internally, is who's going to own a database, your database, that's huge for like a checklist. So, and how many people do you expect to be in contact with because a lot of these database is based on-- a lot of these marketing automation platforms are based on database size. So, knowing like, "Oh, if I have 1000 people that I routinely reach out to.", you clearly don't need a Marketo, right? That's for hundreds of thousands of people that says, "You know, I should look smaller, I should be, you know, working on just trying to do email communications, website management, you know, that's the size and I can have one person do that.". So, database is really a good key indicator of what types of platform you need, that's a good place to start. If you're just like, "I just need to figure out where I am in the spectrum of all these tools.", Database Class is a good thing. Staff, internally, like how much staff you're going to put to this, how much staff can you afford to put to this? How much are they willing to learn and scale up with the platform? If they're coming from a college, right? A graduate college. "I want to get a marketing automation platform for this person, I think, would be good, but they don't know anything about that.", again, that's scale small, right? They're learning along with you, it's not a bad thing. But again, you don't want to get a behemoth of a tool with someone who doesn't know anything about anything, right? If you have a skilled worker who's familiar with marketing automation, "I handled HubSpot, but I don't know Marketo.". Well, now you have foundational principles of the tool, right? You can scale up with that versus someone who doesn't know anything about anything. Because again, they're not going to know how to execute that platform and now you're stuck with someone who doesn't know how to manage it. So, that's huge. 

So, database personnel and then I would also say, again, content is going to be a huge one too. They don't execute without content. So, if you don't have, you know, I would at least say a serviceable website and a way to gather information, i.e., as you know, form structure on your site, and the content to deliver at least, I'd say, educational content you would need. So, something in the form of blogs, white papers or whatever for your industry that's educational that your audience can use, at least, you know, 5-10 pieces of something like that, I would say, you know, that would hold back on a marketing automation platform. Because again, it's not going to run if you don't have something to serve to someone to engage them with. So, website and some basis of content literature.

Amanda: Yeah, that's great. Would you be able to walk through, assuming you have all these things, right? And you have the content and say your goal is like lead driving, what that looks like, like what the benefits of that process look like. So, how does it flow? And then at the end, what is the-- what do you get out of having the setup? Does that make sense?

Moni: Yeah, no, it's absolutely, I mean, I would say too, that's a fantastic question, Amanda, for anyone who is asking, talking to these marketing automation platforms, that's a fair question. Like, if I'm going to talk to a Marketo and talk to the sales rep, tell me what I'm going to get from in, you know, investing in this platform; it's not cheap at all. Like, that's an absolute fair question to ask any, I would say any, you know, software when you're talking to them, tell me what I'm going to get out of this. But the overall benefit of a marketing automation platform is checking the buyer's life cycle to understand when you invest in certain sources or certain marketing activities, what revenue are you going to ultimately get out of that? In the beginning, I talked about kind of the two pillars of a marketing tech stack. The one, was the market automation we talked about and the other is the CRM, a customer relationship management platform, most popularly known one is, having these two together allows you the ability to see the customer life cycle. So, the marketing part will tell you, "Alright, I got this lead from a web form, a trade show with Google PPC, or whatever the source may be that I got the name from, I put them into a nurture campaign.", we call it a nurture campaign, right? Sending them a set of emails to entice them to keep engaging, they did that and then that led them to see a video demo of one of my products. So, marketing tracked all that information and then we've sent, they saw a demo, we sent them over to sales, that's when they get sent to a CRM platform for sales to then engage. So, sales engages them for a period of time, we call that product opportunity life cycle. And say, they close business from a B2B perspective, I'm talking about, they close business over say, six months for $100,000. We can track all of that activity, and then attribute it back to, Google PPC campaign, that a part of that revenue should be attributed to that, because that's how we got that lead. You can do all of that with a marketing automation platform, especially if it's connected to a CRM. That's the benefit, right? So, now I know to put more money, marketing standpoint into a PPC campaign and less into Facebook ads, or whatever it is, because that's what's closing my revenue. So, that's the benefit overall.

Amanda: Yeah, I'd imagine that's music to a lot of listeners' ears, because that's so much-- that's such a hard part of a lot of this, is being able to understand where the ROI is and so many things aren't as measurable. So, having this set up like that and give real dollar attribution is huge.

Moni: Especially now, things are moving more and more digital as we see now with our current situation, right? Even more business is going to be switched to digital and being able to track that, is going to be huge for how you now spend given that, you know, budgets are going to be smaller and things like that, it's more critical to know where to put my dollars and where they're more effective. Now, with all that said, the caveat to the marketing automation platform is, you have to have the right business processes set all that stuff up to track it properly, right? It's kind of like the small but massive thing that people struggle with.

Amanda: What are some of like, the typical things that aren't functioning correctly?

Moni: It's just a mis assumption, I think the thing people think that you know, again, if you put the process in place, it's supposed to happen overnight. I will say, you know, it's just 3-5 years, you know. Once you get a marketing automation platform, expect to take 3-5 years to get to understanding your buyers' journey and process because it's a learning, right? You're going from not knowing or assuming to now getting all this data, analyzing it, optimizing it, analyzing again, so on and so forth. So, there's learnings along the way that you just, you're not going to get around, if that makes sense, right? You just have to kind of go through the pains of understanding that. So, it's a process and know that and the bigger the tool and the more enterprise level you get, the longer that process is going to take. So, like I said, it's just knowing that going in, but when you get there, I mean, the knowledge that you gain about your customers, you know, is invaluable. So, it's worth the investment, just people got to understand that they have to have patience with it.

Amanda: Because you're getting learnings, not just from the ultimate result of what leads got you different amounts of sales, right? It's like, you can be tracking things on a more micro level, like each piece of content and how they're interacted with, right? Like, that could be a part of it too.

Moni: Absolutely. And per audience, right? It's different. Like, some audiences may like this piece of content, this audience like this piece of content, right? I think that's the other thing, you can get analysis by paralysis too, like, you can go really deep. We've talked to some marketing ops people. I mean, it's part of our thing is, we love the data so, we can go super deep with it. But you can go a little too far, where it's like, "Am I even making an you know, statistical difference anymore?". Like, stop it come back. So, yes, absolutely, you can get-- the wealth of data that you can get, you know, scary, I know to some people, but, you know, there's a lot of information that we can gather, but it's all from, 99.9% of businesses, we're just trying to serve the customer better. It's really ultimately what we want to do, right? I mean, no one's trying to harm anybody, we're just trying to gather information and give you the type of information that you want and not type information that you don't want so, you can now educate yourself and better understand and we can hopefully buy something too.

Amanda: So, there's a question I ask every guest on the show and it's basically because it's the side of pitching ideas like, getting buy-in for content. So, what do you think are like the biggest mistakes people make when they try to get buy-in for something, and you can take this from the angle of like, say they want to get marketing automation, and like, you said, 3-5 years, I feel like some people will hear that and be like, "No, like, we're going to do something that takes..". Like, I think a lot of people have this mentality, they do want to see it overnight, or they want to see something faster. What do you think are people's mistakes when they go into those conversations?

Moni: Assuming that. But I would say the biggest thing that's helped me is I've actually and I mean, it's benefit, of kind of my job so, it's a little bit of an unfair advantage. But I come with the data, you know what I mean? I don't come from kind of an emotional pitch, I come from, this is the data pitch. And, you know, you can say, you know, "It's going to take 3-5 years and you know, I don't want to do that.", but I could say, "How much money would I save you and, you know, wasted spend revenue over that period of time that you would like to get back if we invested in this?", you know what I'm saying? So, I, that's kind of how I do it, but I'm an analytical person anyway, that's my pivot. So, I just kind of come with, you know, kind of not undisputable facts, but kind of facts that let people decide which way they want to go. So, the emotional thing doesn't work with tech, I just don't try to even go there. It's like, "We make our customers happy.", it sounds good but nobody, that's not how they think. And if you can, you know, anytime that any marketing automation platform has stayed successful, and this is true across the board, right? The biggest thing that the C level likes, is the dashboards and the reporting; they love it. I don't know what it is but you can show them anything in a dashboard, they're like, "Oh my God.", mesmerized. So, it works every time so-- and that's how the marketing automation people when you talk to them, they're-- when they pitch you, that's how they get you too, they show you all the pretty dashboards and all the reports that you'll be able to show and all the revenue ROI you'll be able to show and they get-- they fall for it every time.

Amanda: So, somebody's never done the marketing automation and they're going to pitch this to their leadership, can you use the tools like, the people at these companies to help you make-- like, where are you getting the facts from if you haven't done it yourself?

Moni: These-- the marketing automation you know, salespeople, account teams, they love showing off the products. So, you can get demo from them, you can get product information for them, they would be happy, they'd probably even let you trial it. So, a lot of them will give you free trials depending on how you know what level of it is. I know like an autopilot something, that's free trials you can try it out. So, yeah, they're happy to give you all the information that you need to go pitch to your C level.

Amanda: Awesome. And knowing the objective of the show is to help content people better measure their results, do you have any suggestions on who else should be future guests on the podcast?

Moni: I mean, if you want to do more about sort of marketing operations, because there's a lot of us that like just deal with, like content, like I said, it's kind of like our heart, our breath so, we're in there a lot. I know Sara McNamara is a great speaker, she talks on Pardot and Salesforce, she can talk a lot about content too, as well, about this forever. I have a good friend named Helen Abrovanoff, who actually just, she's supposed to speak at Adobe Summit, but it got cancelled, but she just did one of their virtual events, another great one, years at Verizon so, she can talk all about content from a kind of how do you manage the regulations in different audiences and things like that. I don't know if you delve too much into like content management, that's a big thing for me too, as well. Like, what do you do with versions of things and how do you swap old for new and keep it updated and still trackable. That's a huge thing in our space, it's a big challenge.

Amanda: Yeah, we actually haven't done an episode on that. So, that would be really useful. 

Moni: Yeah, she'd be great for that. 

Amanda: Well, I think this is like, as our first foray into marketing automation on this show, I really appreciate you laying it all out there. I think it's set the perfect framework. So, thank you so much Moni. 

Moni: Thanks for reaching out. It's great synergy. So, yeah, we're content heavy over here. So, you'll find a wealth of people to talk to. 

Amanda: Awesome. 

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