Discussing How Marketing Automation Makes Lead Management and Nurturing Effective

Marketing Automation

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Marketing Automation in a Startup

Leveraging the Cloud for Demand Generation and Reporting

Even with so many tools out there today, marketing automation is still not an easy task, especially in the startup world. I sat down with Dave Ginsburg, CMO of Pluribus Networks, an SDN startup in Palo Alto, California, that has just announced a $50-million funding round and has been in the news a lot lately, thanks to its innovative approach in the network virtualization space. With more than 25 years of experience in marketing, Dave is sharing with us tips and real-world examples by using his current company, Pluribus Networks, and explaining his choices and the results.

You are seeing great customer demand and you got the investors' attention already. You seem to have it all.

What is the challenge that Pluribus has been facing?

Pluribus Networks has aggressive revenue growth goals as an SDN startup in a crowded space with very large incumbents. It must rely on effective marketing automation along with digital, social, and content marketing to provide its sales organization with an actionable pipeline. The goal for social media and content marketing is also to help build brand credibility and awareness. Any marketing automation solution must also be easy to run with a minimal learning curve, even if the company uses only use a subset of its capabilities at first. The

challenges faced by the company are no different from those faced by others in technology, and what was accomplished over the last year may serve as a blueprint for others.

You have both startup and large-company experience, which should be every chief marketing officer's background, because there are different challenges and marketing budgets in every environment. What was the solution you found for Pluribus?

Pluribus devised a marketing automation workflow spanning digital marketing, inside sales and major account management in an environment with limited resources, budget and  where no processes existed before. The company was already using Salesforce.com as its CRM platform and identified Pardot, a mid-market solution, as a natural choice for integration. Additional elements of the solution included RainKing (a service that provides contacts for active IT projects) for the front-end of the sales funnel, and GoToWebinar (by Citrix) for customer and partner webinars.  With the integration of these systems, Pluribus now has a complete system for actionable lead nurturing, campaign management, list integration and metrics tracking.  Note that all elements are cloud-driven.

Pluribus' social media strategy helps build in-bound interest and visibility, which is  accomplished via website SEO and Google Analytics to track visitors including referrers and content, and length of interactions.  For some content, Pluribus captures user registration data and relies on Pardot for tracking and actual hosting of the content.

Content marketing is a critical element of the implementation. In general, videos, customer case studies and short-form documents are more popular than traditional whitepapers.  Whereas in the past a ten-page whitepaper or eight-minute video would be posted and viewed, now the goal is to split the content into more digestible nuggets. Viewership is tracked and adjustments are made where required.

What about metrics? In a high-tech startup, let's be honest, not everybody understands what marketing people do, and showing not only what you did, but how those efforts affected the company is vital.

Pluribus'  two major sources of metrics are Pardot for automation and Google Analytics for its website. Spikes in traffic are attributed to special announcements including additional funding and product launches. From Aug 1, 2014 through Jan, 2015, Pardot-generated email resulted in 43,000 opens and 1,500 click-throughs, with a CTR rate of .42%.  Given a mix of filtered and unfiltered lists, the results were as expected. The 43,000 ‘visits' translated into 46 new opportunities entered into the system.

What is more interesting is looking at results across different types of more recent mailings.  Referencing the table below, the ‘Dec Update' goes to Pluribus' complete nurtured list, both qualified and unqualified leads.  The two financial mailings are interesting in that the first went to an unqualified list, and the second only to those who opened the first. The ‘Partner NV 2.2' mailing went out with expected strong response.

Finally, the ‘SC14' mailing also received strong response given it was a qualified event list.  Based on results, we refine mailing strategies to achieve higher hit rates.


Subject

Total Sent

Unique Opens

Open Rate

Clicks

Click-Through

21-Jan

Partner All About the Apps

182

24

13.2%

0

0.00%

21-Jan

Jan Update

32,490

2,492

7.7%

50

0.15%

15-Jan

Financial Target 2:  Sun Tsu

3,081

1,561

50.7%

21

0.68%

8-Jan

Financial Target 1:  STAC

27,022

2,409

8.9%

50

0.19%

10-Dec

Dec Update

33016

2378

7.2%

74

0.23%

5-Dec

SC14 Beowulf follow-up

926

400

43.2%

5

0.54%

4-Dec

Partner NV 2.2

180

40

22.2%

8

4.40%

Google Analytics are the other method of tracking interactions and success. The best way to view this is over time, with the chart below covering almost an entire year.  As expected, major news coverage or mailings supported by current events resulted in the most impact. The recent Series D announcement was of course an anomaly. The same chart also tracks both twitter and Linkedin followers, both experiencing strong growth over the last twelve months.

Focusing on the Series D announcement in particular, limited to Jan 20-24, we noticed strong growth in direct entries to our website where the visitor enters the Pluribus URL.  This reflects inbound interest.  We also saw strong referrals from our social presence. With regard to content, our intent was to direct visitors to a launch-specific landing page, and the Series D press release also saw strong viewership.

The combination of Pardot and Google Analytics permits Marketing to better predict performance for the coming year, setting expectations with sales after only one year of results... the same type of analysis available to much larger companies, but with much lower overhead and cost.

Where can people find out more about Pluribus?

There is a lot of information on our website, www.pluribusnetworks.com, but a simple Google search will show many industry articles and videos about the company - and don't worry, we will see you that you came to our website via an organic search, because we are tracking, as I said earlier - because I can sit here with you for hours talking about what we do, but what our customers, partners or the influencers are saying is much more important to us and those who want to do business with us.

Disclosure: Pluribus Networks is a client, but this is a marketing, not a technology piece about their SDN solution, and I thought that it would be helpful to share real numbers and real tips from a top marketing executive with those already following my blog. Also, I have not posted in a long time and I am planning to revamp this site a bit.

More Stories By Georgiana Comsa

Georgiana Comsa is the founder of Silicon Valley PR, a PR agency with a unique focus on the data infrastructure markets. Georgiana's decision to found Silicon Valley PR was based on her own experience as a corporate PR professional working with other PR agencies; she noticed that there was a need for a specialized, rather than a general tech PR firm, with media, analyst, and vendor relationships that would benefit its clients. With Silicon Valley PR, companies get to leverage the power of traditional and digital media relations to generate highly targeted press coverage, contributing to tangible business wins, which help them launch and grow their businesses.