Get closer to your CEO through marketing automation

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Marketing automation can help you build more effective campaigns that deliver more qualified leads to your sales team, but did you know it could also help you build a stronger relationship with your CEO? This month I spoke with Troy Burk, CEO of Right On Interactive, a marketing automation application provider. He provides a CEO's view of how marketing automation software can do more than just automate marketing processes.

How can marketing automation actually help marketers build a stronger relationship with their CEOs?

Burk: Start first by understanding what is important to your CEO. Typically there are a number of key areas CEOs put at the top of their list:

  • Company vision and strategy. Where are we going as a company? How are we going to get there?
  • People. Do we have the ability to find and retain the right people? Are we promoting teamwork within the organization? Who is going to get us where we are going?
  • Company culture. A great company culture is critical. Is our company viewed as having a great corporate culture?
  • Capital allocation. For every dollar invested, a measurable return is expected. How are we investing our money, time and resources?
  • Customers. Are we generating new customers? Are we retaining customers and growing them? Are we increasing the lifetime value of our customers?
You want to prove that marketing is having a profound impact on the organization and that marketing can provide some answers to these questions. That's how to make your CEO take note of the difference marketing is having on the organization.

What are the top three things to think about when implementing or improving your marketing automation platform, to ensure you are able to report on what matters to the executive suite?

Burk: Here's a framework to consider:

  1. Will it improve our teamwork? Can sales and marketing work more closely, as a team? Is marketing operating as a silo or is it connected to the rest of the organization? Are we using shared metrics and goals? How can we ensure we are moving more of the people in the right direction?
  2. Will it be disruptive? Can we leverage what we are already doing for quick wins? Do we have an agreed-upon workflow?
  3. Will it help us build a more predictable model? Can we free up resources to focus on strategy instead of the tactical stuff? Will this help guarantee our success?
What top measurements do you expect your team to deliver? How often? Why do you consider these things as the CEO?

Burk: First there's level of engagement. I like to receive daily reports from all my teams. From marketing, I ask for the behaviors of each prospect consuming our content across each stage of the customer lifecycle. What are the “likes,” follows, visits and downloads? Essentially, is marketing engaging with customers and prospects in a meaningful way? For sales, I want to track engagement of the team with accounts. We rank sales team members in terms of who is driving meaningful activity every day. Busy isn't good enough. We track specific types of engagement. And for client success or customer service, among those who are already customers I want to rate them by account. Do I have customers who are not engaged? Too engaged?

Here are some other considerations:

  • Growth in conversion rates. Are we increasing the velocity of prospects and customers moving through the buying stages? What is the duration and conversion of the stages? How do we move people through the stages more quickly? Are we stalling somewhere? Why and what can we do? How does the entire organization work to increase the pace of conversions?
  • Marketing influence over revenue. What is the marketing influence of programs and campaigns across all people who have responded and what revenue has occurred? How much is marketing influencing engagements?
  • Net new opportunities. How many new qualified prospects are we generating? Were they initially engaged with sales or marketing? This can be an indicator for future success. If there's a certain area of business where the pipeline is growing fast, it will provide an indication of where I might need to invest. I look to see whether this measurement is increasing or decreasing over time.
  • Can marketing automation help you make broader decisions for your business? What other key information do you look to your marketing team to provide to you?

    Burk: Absolutely combining disparate data into a single report—tracking such things as social media, geographic data, demographic data, marketing response data, webinar attendance and trade show attendance data, purchasing data, customer satisfaction data—allows you to be much more strategic in how you approach your customers. If there's a specific market that has an uptick I will focus more information there. Every day I ask my marketing team, “How many people have we engaged with today? Are we engaging with more people? Are more people moving faster through the sales pipeline?”

    What are the top three quick wins marketers can aim for when proving the value of marketing automation to their CEO?

    Burk: Consider these three factors:

    1. Visibility. Providing sales team with insight and visibility into how people are engaging with marketing content and messages.
    2. Better segmentation. Information on where and when to deploy marketing programs.
    3. Improving the buyer journey. Learning what should be delivered, by whom, via what outlet or method, tracked by conversion rate, length in each stage, etc.
    Any last advice?

    Burk: This can all seem overwhelming, so I recommend starting small. Use the resources you already have and roll out a marketing automation program in small bites. It's all about the customer because relationships drive revenue. And revenue lets the CEO realize his vision and strategy. When you make marketing an important part of this, your CEO is certain to pay attention and invest accordingly.

    Lisa Dreher is VP-marketing and business development with Logicalis Inc. ( She can be reached at [email protected], or via Twitter at @LisaDreher.

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